Who I’m Buying and Selling Early in the Baseball Season

Troy Tulowitzki

 

Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzki and the Rockies lead the National League West.

Despite the fact that both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association both play very long regular seasons, even they can’t compare with the marathon that is Major League Baseball. The 162 games played by the big-leaguers is a long, grueling amount of baseball that starts cold, gets hot and then ends when the frost on the pumpkins starts becoming a norm.

Through the first three plus weeks of the MLB season, there are several things to analyze in moving forward. Who is at the top of the standings that shouldn’t be? Who is at the bottom that shouldn’t be and who is stuck right where we thought they’d be?

If you’re thinking of putting some money down on teams that a month ago you would have said “no way” too then let’s take a look. If you already laid money on teams that are struggling, there’s still time, but I would start worrying a bit.

Who am I buying and who am I selling?

Colorado Rockies – Colorado ranks first in batting average and first in slugging percentage. They also rank 2nd in runs scored and 2nd in fielding percentage. The Rockies have played nine games at home and nine games away. This shows they aren’t just taking advantage of the mile high air in Denver because they are above .500 on the road too. The only issue long-term is pitching where starter Jhoulys Chacin is now on the 15-dauy DL.

With the Dodgers and D-Backs middling around .500 only the Giants are a legitimate threat right now. That will change over the long haul, but with the current offensive pace I have to like the Rockies chances. Verdict: Buying.

Boston Red Sox – Let’s be real here, not many people thought much of the Red Sox heading into the season. Many experts had the Sox and Yanks at the bottom of the division thinking injuries and Father Time would have caught up to them. Yet here is Boston sitting atop the American League East.

Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester have been really good on the hill through the first month of the season and the team is actually playing better on the road then they are in Fenway Park. While I think they’ll need to improve their 15th overall ranking in slugging percentage, I like them to keep things going for the duration if the health stays up. Manager John Farrell has made a big difference. Verdict: Buying

 

Prince Fielder
Fielder is doing his part but the Tigers’ bullpen needs help.

Detroit Tigers – At 9-9 and coming off a sweep at the hands of a previously struggling Anaheim Angels team, there is cause for concern in Motown. Obviously the offense is not typically a problem as they rank 4th in the majors in batting average but their 22nd ranking in slugging percentage is cause for concern.

Prince Fielder is doing his share, but Victor Martinez is struggling and that needs to change. The most pressing issue for Detroit is their bullpen which has already blown several games. With no closer and a shaky middle relief section I’m suddenly not so confident in this team. Only thing saving them is a weak division. Verdict: Selling (for now)

Los Angeles Dodgers – At 8-10 the heavy favorites in the National League West are struggling in large part due to injuries to pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Now Chad Billingsley is on the DL with elbow issues.

If pitching were the only problem they might survive, but their offense is lacking now too. They currently rank 27th in slugging percentage and 29th in runs scored.  Teams with the payroll of Los Angeles should usually overcome these injuries but not even they are exempt. Verdict: Selling

MLB Futures Update

The new-look Toronto Blue Jays remain the bookies' favorite to win the 2013 World Series.

In 47 days’ time, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will take to the baseball diamond at Minute Maid Park, raising the curtain on the 2013 Major League Baseball Season.

With pitchers and catchers arriving in Arizona and Florida this week for Spring Training, there’s still plenty of deals to be done before that first pitch is thrown – not to mention a cavalcade of storylines that still need to fully unravel – but Casino Review is going to take this time to look at the updated MLB futures, and how they could still be impacted six weeks or so before the season proper gets underway.

Currently No. 1 on the MLB futures list is Toronto. Since November’s mega-trade with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays have held firm at the top of bookmakers list.

The retooled Blue Jays will welcome the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, and 2012 Cy Young award-winner, R.A. Dickey to the fold when the team takes to the Rogers Centre field for its first game on Apr. 2.

Whilst the collection of talent – the likes of which the Blue Jays have never seen before, even during its World Series winning season of 1992 and 1993 – has wowed bookmakers to the tune of 7/1 odds to win the World Series, bettors need only take a look at this season’s Los Angeles Lakers, or last year’s Miami Marlins for that matter, to see how this could blow up in their face.

Toronto is 7/2 to win the AL pennant at this time.

No. 2 on the MLB futures list is Washington. The Nationals are considered 8/1 to win the World Series next season, and 15/4 to win the NL pennant.

After enjoying the franchise’s best season since moving to D.C., Washington had the luxury this winter of sticking with what brought it to the dance. Aside from the usual tinkering and sorting that goes along with the offseason, the team did add closer Rafael Soriano to the bullpen, at the cost of a two-year, $28 million contract. That instantly makes the Nationals a better side.

At 8/1 to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers sit level with Washington on the World Series futures list, but the Southern California side narrowly trails the Nationals in terms of the NL pennant. The Dodgers are considered 4/1 to win the National League.

Like the Blue Jays, the Dodgers were involved in a blockbuster trade last year, only in this case it happened during the season. The arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford might not have come in time for the Dodgers to catch San Francisco in the NL West, but odds makers like the side’s chances from the off this season.

The MLB futures’ top five is rounded out by Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels, both of whom are considered 9/1 to win the World Series, and 9/2 to win the AL pennant.

After winning the AL pennant in 2012, the Tigers haven’t made a huge splash in the market this offseason, but with it expected that Victor Martinez should return from injury (ACL) this season in the DH spot, odds makers like the Motor City side to contend again. It doesn’t harm that AL MVP and Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera will be back at third base.

The Angels did make a splash this winter, signing free agent Josh Hamilton from under the noses of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton – who has suffered alcohol dependency issues – is a risk but one the Angels and bookmakers like, especially when the long ball hitter is next to Albert Pujols.

We’ve included a breakdown of all odds pertaining to the World Series, American League and National League below, but here are a few more noteworthy observations.

World Series champion San Francisco finds itself in joint sixth spot on the World Series futures (14/1) alongside Atlanta, Cincinnati, the New York Yankees and Texas. The Giants are tied with Atlanta in fourth place on the NL futures (7/1) behind Washington, the Dodgers, and Cincinnati (6/1).

The Yankees and Rangers (both 13/2) are tied for fourth spot in the AL with plenty of questions surrounding the organizations, not least in New York’s case the uncertainty surrounding the health and possible PED usage of Alex Rodriguez.

At the other end of the futures list, Houston is the least favored team in terms of the World Series (200/1) and, in its first season in the league, the AL pennant (75/1).

After shipping the majority of its high-priced talent north to Toronto, Miami finds itself at the bottom of the NL list, alongside the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies at 50/1. Each of those sides, as well as Minnesota and the New York Mets, is considered 100/1 to win the World Series.

 

Odds to Win 2013 World Series

Toronto Blue Jays 7/1

Los Angeles Dodgers 8/1

Washington Nationals 8/1

Detroit Tigers 9/1

Los Angeles Angels 9/1

Atlanta Braves 14/1

Cincinnati Reds 14/1

New York Yankees 14/1

San Francisco Giants 14/1

Texas Rangers 14/1

Philadelphia Phillies 18/1

St. Louis Cardinals 20/1

Tampa Bay Rays 25/1

Boston Red Sox 30/1

Oakland Athletics 33/1

Baltimore Orioles 40/1

Chicago White Sox 40/1

Milwaukee Brewers 40/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 50/1

Kansas City Royals 50/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 50/1

Cleveland Indians 75/1

San Diego Padres 75/1

Seattle Mariners 75/1

Chicago Cubs 100/1

Colorado Rockies 100/1

Miami Marlins 100/1

Minnesota Twins 100/1

New York Mets 100/1

Houston Astros 200/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 AL Pennant

Toronto Blue Jays 7/2

Detroit Tigers 9/2

Los Angeles Angels 9/2

New York Yankees 13/2

Texas Rangers 13/2

Tampa Bay Rays 12/1

Boston Red Sox 14/1

Oakland Athletics 16/1

Baltimore Orioles 20/1

Chicago White Sox 20/1

Kansas City Royals 25/1

Cleveland Indians 40/1

Seattle Mariners 40/1

Minnesota Twins 50/1

Houston Astros 75/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 NL Pennant

Washington Nationals 15/4

Los Angeles Dodgers 4/1

Cincinnati Reds 6/1

Atlanta Braves 7/1

San Francisco Giants 7/1

Philadelphia Phillies 17/2

St. Louis Cardinals 9/1

Milwaukee Brewers 18/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 25/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 25/1

New York Mets 40/1

San Diego Padres 40/1

Chicago Cubs 50/1

Colorado Rockies 50/1

Miami Marlins 50/1

All odds supplied by Bovada.

Short slate of baseball before football kicks off

 

If the Dallas Cowboys upsetting the New York Giants on Wednesday night has put you in the mood for a spot of betting, there’s no need to wait until Sunday afternoon’s NFL kickoff games. Ahead of Sunday’s 13-game schedule there’s plenty of sporting action to be had.

First up is a short slate of Major League Baseball games on Thursday night. While most teams are currently prepping for three-game sets this weekend, 10 teams will be in action tonight. Four of the five games are series closers, with three involving teams looking good to make the postseason. The other is a biggie.

Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves are looking to close out their series against Colorado with a win Thursday night.

Kicking things off, Tim Hudson (13-5, 3.76 ERA) and the Atlanta Braves (77-60, 39-32 home) host the Colorado Rockies (56-79, 26-38 road). The Rockies have been nothing to write home about this season and the focus here will be on the Braves trying to maintain 4 ½ game lead in the race for a Wild Card spot. Jhoulys Chachin (2-4, 4.85 ERA) will go for the Rockies so Hudson is the favorite in this one. Despite Colorado having taken one of three from the Braves this week bet on the Braves at +110 to cover the spread.

Atlanta’s NL East rivals Washington will also be in action tonight. The Nationals (84-52, 42-25 home) host Chicago (51-85, 17-51 road). Leave it to the lowly Cubbies to help the Nationals out of a mini-slump. The Nats have taken three in a row against Chicago this week after struggling over the past two weeks, and with Jordan Zimmerman (9-8, 3.01 ERA) looking to make-up for a poor outing Saturday, it’s hard to see past Washington on Thursday. Oddsmakers agree. The Nationals enter the game as -1.5 favorites at -120 odds.

Elsewhere in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers (67-69, 26-41 road) finish off a four-game series at Miami (60-77, 31-37). You’d have to be a diehard fan to watch this one, but some in-play action could be interesting for bettors. For the record, the Marlins are favored despite Milwaukee having taken two of three this week.

Over in the American League, AL West-leaders Texas (81-55, 38-30 road) has one game left in Kansas City (61-75, 31-37 home). Unsurprisingly, the Rangers enter the game as favorite (-1.5 at +115 odds) but Kansas snatched a victory on Tuesday and Rangers starter Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA) is ripe for the pickings. Take the Royals for the upset here.

Rookie David Phelps will take the mound for the Yankees' opener in Baltimore on Thursday night.

The biggest game on tap Thursday night will be the New York Yankees (77-59, 36-31 road) travelling to Baltimore (76-60, 37-30 home) for the first of four. New York managed to edge one game ahead in the AL East after defeating Tampa Bay on Wednesday, while Baltimore fell to Toronto. This weekend’s series will be even bigger than last weekend’s showdown in the Bronx.

Thursday’s matchup see David Phelps (3-4, 3.13 ERA) go for the Yankees against Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54). Phelps is spelling the injured Andy Pettitte. The rookie has impressed this season, maintaining a respectable ERA under the big lights of New York. Hobbled by injuries, the Yanks welcomed back Alex Rodriguez this week and despite Mark Teixeira still being on the DL, on Wednesday night the Bombers looked like they might be ready to turn a corner. Baltimore head into this one as underdogs and could be worth a stake, but this one smells like a statement game for the Yankees. Expect Derek Jeter to lead by example.

After all of that, if you still fancy an NFL warm up, College Football is back Thursday night with Pittsburgh (0-1) traveling to Cincinnati (0-0) in a Big East showdown. The Bearcats are narrow favorites (-4 ½ at -115) in what will be the team’s season opener.

Utah (1-0) travels to Utah State (1-0) on Friday night before a full slate of college games takes center stage on Saturday while the race for the MLB postseason continues across the weekend, including what could be Stephen Strasburg’s last outing of the year (Vs. Miami, Friday 7:05 PM ET).

Then, of course, NFL Week 1 kicks off proper on Sunday, with the pick of the bunch looking to be San Francisco at Green Bay and Pittsburgh at Denver. Oddsmakers like both home teams here, but Pittsburgh could well get after Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the [narrow] upset.