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Pythagorean Theorem MLB Betting Season Win Totals Projections and Analysis

Although the bulk of the offseason was spent in a labor lockout, there will be MLB baseball played in 2022. In fact, the owners and players were able to agree on a new CBA just in time to still fit in a full 162-game regular season. Other than Opening Day getting pushed back a week, the season remains intact. With the first games just days away, now is the time to lock in preseason MLB betting futures picks.

One of the most popular markets when it comes to MLB futures betting is that of team regular-season win totals. There is certainly no one-trick pony for handicapping baseball win totals. However, one fairly popular method that many bettors use is the Baseball Pythagorean Theorem. The following article briefly describes this formula and breaks down what the numbers project for each team in the upcoming Major League Baseball season.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Toronto Blue Jays MLB betting season win totals baseball Pythagorean Theorem
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Introducing the Baseball Pythagorean Theorem

Simply put, the Pythagorean Theorem suggests whether teams over or underachieved in the previous season. The two key statistics this formula relates are a team’s total runs scored and allowed. The base version of the formula uses the exponent number of 2. However, refined versions have indicated that 1.83 oftentimes provides an even more accurate assessment. Thus, the Baseball Pythagorean Theorem reads as follows:

Winning Percentage = (Runs Scored) ^ 1.83 / [(Runs Scored) ^ 1.83 + (Runs Allowed) ^ 1.83]

The number that the formula generates can then simply be multiplied by 162 to yield a team’s expected win total for a full 162-game season.

Applying the Formula to MLB Betting Season Win Totals

Of course, one should not solely rely on the Pythagorean Theorem when making MLB betting season win totals picks. Team transactions, personnel changes and other non-numerical factors must also be accounted for. With that being said, this mathematical formula can provide a terrific baseline for bettors to go off of.

Even for non-bettors, Pythagorean Theorem win totals can serve as a point of interest. Every year, MLB teams fall into the camp of over or underachieving. The 2021 baseball season was no different. Using Pythag winning percentages, one can analyze whether a team is due for positive or negative regression in the upcoming MLB betting season.

Pythagorean Theorem Predictions for 2022 MLB Season

Top Candidates for Positive Regression

One noticeable trend for MLB betting win totals based on last year’s Pythagorean Differentials is that there are more candidates for significant positive regression than negative. According to the formula, no team underachieved more than the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. 2021 was a long, and miserable year for baseball fans in the desert. The D-Backs only managed to win 52 games, good for a .321 winning percentage. When compared to the team’s Pythagorean winning percentage of .377, the Diamondbacks underachieved by an incredible nine games! The numbers suggest that Arizona should have won 61 games last year.

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Of course, the Diamondbacks are not expected to be any good again in 2022. Thus, betting Arizona over the MLB betting season win totals line of 67.5 is easier said than done. However, the Pythagorean Theorem suggests that two successful teams from a year ago also drastically underachieved. One of those is the reigning champion Atlanta Braves. Perhaps the Braves’ status as a team that should’ve won more than 88 regular-season games was justified by their run to the World Series title.

The formula also suggests that the Toronto Blue Jays underachieved by nearly eight wins last season. Even just a few of those games would have been enough to send the Blue Jays to the postseason. Instead, they wound up fourth in the AL East Division.

Mitch Haniger Seattle Mariners MLB betting season win totals baseball Pythagorean Theorem
Credit: Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times

Top Candidates for Negative Regression

Last season, no team had a more improbable year than the Seattle Mariners. Despite posting a negative run differential for the year, the Mariners were in the mix for an AL Wild Card berth right down to the final weekend of the regular season. Such circumstances are very rarely seen in baseball. Seattle wound up winning 90 of 162 games which equates to a .556 winning percentage. Based on the team’s runs scored and allowed, the Pythagorean Theorem believes that the M’s should have won less than 47% of their games. The resulting differential between the team’s Pythagorean and actual win totals from a year ago is a whopping -14.2!

The fact that Seattle’s MLB betting season win totals line sits at 84.5 would suggest that they will again finish above .500. While oddsmakers have factored in the team’s statistically-defying season from a year ago, they have not gone far enough according to the formula. Another AL team that the Pythagorean Theorem believes drastically overachieved last season is the New York Yankees. Despite underperforming bats and limited pitching depth, the Yankees won 92 games and earned an AL Wild Card berth. The numbers indicate that New York overachieved by roughly 6.5 games.

On the NL side of things, the San Francisco Giants are a team that the Pythagorean formula suggests fading in 2022. Entering last year, expectations were little to none for the Giants. The fact that they not only reached the postseason but won more games (107) than any other team was truly odds-defying. The formula indicates that San Francisco overachieved by about four games last season.

2022 MLB Betting Season Win Totals Analysis for Every Team

In the tables that follow, readers will find three numbers for each MLB team. The first column designates the differential (in wins) that each team had last season relative to what the Pythagorean Theorem calculated based on their runs scored and allowed. The second column houses the MLB betting season win total over/under lines for the upcoming 2022 season. The final column simply provides the sum of each team’s market win total and their Pythagorean Differential. This puts into perspective whether the formula believes they will go over or under their season win total and how large the gap will be.

American League Pythagorean Win Totals

All MLB betting odds taken from Bovada Sportsbook

Team2021 Pythagorean Differential2022 Betting Market Win Total2022 Pythagorean Win Total Prediction
Baltimore Orioles2.461.563.9
Boston Red Sox-3.585.582.0
Chicago White Sox4.492.596.9
Cleveland Guardians0.076.576.5
Detroit Tigers-2.078.576.5
Houston Astros5.792.598.2
Kansas City Royals-3.274.571.3
Los Angeles Angels-3.884.580.7
Minnesota Twins-1.981.579.6
New York Yankees-6.591.585.0
Oakland Athletics0.869.570.3
Seattle Mariners-14.284.570.3
Tampa Bay Rays1.088.589.5
Texas Rangers1.774.576.2
Toronto Blue Jays7.892.5100.3

National League Pythagorean Win Totals

All MLB betting odds taken from Bovada Sportsbook

Team2021 Pythagorean Differential2022 Betting Market Win Total2022 Pythagorean Win Total Prediction
Arizona Diamondbacks9.167.576.6
Atlanta Braves6.690.597.1
Chicago Cubs-2.874.571.7
Cincinnati Reds0.574.575.0
Colorado Rockies1.569.571.0
Los Angeles Dodgers2.898.5101.3
Miami Marlins5.376.581.8
Milwaukee Brewers-1.590.589.0
New York Mets0.488.588.9
Philadelphia Phillies-2.185.583.4
Pittsburgh Pirates-2.666.563.9
San Diego Padres4.288.592.7
San Francisco Giants-4.185.581.4
St. Louis Cardinals-5.385.580.2
Washington Nationals6.871.578.3

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