It’s Spring, and as the old adage goes, hope is eternal. This year in Major League Baseball it is as true as I can remember as no less than 25 teams could have legitimate dreams of postseason baseball. Take a division like the National League Central. With the Cubs influx of young talent (even if they will have to wait nine more games for Bryant), the Reds and Brewers again healthy and the Pirates and Cards no-doubt contenders, all five teams can at least entertain the notion that they will be playing in October. The same could be said in the AL East (though Tampa Bay might be a bit of a reach). In fact, aside from Philadelphia, Minnesota, Texas, Houston, Colorado and Arizona, is there a team that would absolutely STUN you if they made at least a run at a wildcard?
That makes this season incredibly interesting and exciting, both from an on-field perspective as well as a wagering perspective. So without further ado, PLAY BALL! And welcome to the 2015 MLB Season. Be sure to stop by early and often for regular daily picks.
MLB 2015 SEASON PREVIEW:
Here are my five favorite plays – though in general I’m not in love with win total wagers for two reasons; one, the book holds your money for six months, two, they generally pay with extra juice (-115 or -120). But, if you have some cash to float and you want to root for/against a few teams all summer long, here are my three favorite 2015 wagers.
WIN TOTAL OVER/UNDER’S:
Baltimore Orioles – 82.5: The AL East is a daunting division, but I’m not big on the Yankees, I think the Rays will really struggle to score runs, and I don’t think Boston or Toronto are unbeatable either. So why on Earth are the runaway defending champs set at barely above .500?? Both Manny Machado and Chris Davis are back to join an already potent offensive lineup. The starting pitching isn’t dazzling, though they were very effective last season. However, this offense alone should carry them to at least mid-80’s in the win column.
Cincinnati Reds – 77: Last year was a disaster for the Reds as they were on of the most severely impacted teams on the injury front. But this year Votto and Bruce appear to be healthy, and though Homer Bailey will start the year on the DL, it doesn’t look like anything serious. They have caught a lot of flack for having Jason Marquis in the starting rotation, but in all fairness, he won the job with a good Spring punctuated yesterday with a one-hit, five-inning performance against the regular Blue Jays lineup.
This was a playoff team in three of four seasons prior to last year. Latos and Simon departing will hurt a bit. Adding Marlon Byrd in left field gives them one of the better potential lineups in the NL Central, assuming Mesoraco and Frazier remain strong and Votto, Bruce and Phillips bounce back. Billy Hamilton setting the table with a healthy Votto batting second bears some tantalizing possibilities.
I don’t think they’ll win the Central, but this feels like at least a .500 team to me.
Chicago Cubs: 82.5 – I’m going to stay in the NL Central for my final play. Perhaps it is my optimism in the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates, perhaps it is well-learned skepticism for the Cubs, but whatever the reason, I’m finding it hard to stake money that the Cubs will be two games over .500 after not finishing out of last in half a decade. Yes, they made some great moves, namely signing Jon Lester to be their bonafide ace. But after him, there are some real pitching question marks. Arrieta could be an excellent number two, but if he regresses this season, it could be a long year. They are immensely talented; Castro and Rizzo will be joined by Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler this season, but it is asking a LOT of a very young team to make the kind of progression that gets them to 83 wins. This team isn’t a bad bet for the 2016 or 2017 World Series, but I’m going with patience this season.
World Series Odds:
Last year, I came real close to hitting a huge payday on my preseason flyer, the Kansas City Royals. This year, I’ll take one more longshot as well as a few more reasonable plays.
Cleveland Indians 20/1 – Aside from the SI jinx, this is a godo value pick. They have a Cy Young candidate in Kluber and a good, athletic young lineup. Top to bottom, this should be the best team in the AL Central as the Tigers take a small step back with an aging lineup and the loss of Scherzer.
Los Angeles Angels 16/1 – Why is everyone sleeping on the team with the best record in baseball last season? Especially as Mike Trout gets better in his fourth full season. This team is loaded on both sides of the ball and has one of the softer divisions in the league, making it much more likely they are at least in the tournament.
Baltimore Orioles 33/1 – This is my favorite value play. I think the Orioles will win the East and this time around they have some valuable postseason experience under their belts for the bright lights of October. 33/1 is an awesome value for the defending AL East champs.
Los Angeles Dodgers 17/2 – Don’t let the loss of Matt kemp fool you – replacing him with Joc Peterson is going to be an upgrade. This lineup is stacked and the pitching rotation is as good as anyone’s with Kerhaw and Greinke anchoring it. The Padres have made enough splashy moves to challenge in the West, but it is still the Dodgers division to win.
Washington Nationals 6/1 – I just don’t like the value here. They may end up being the overwhelming best team in baseball, but these odds are WAY to slim given the unpredictable nature of the MLB postseason. You can likely get this team at a similar price most of the year, so I’d hold off unless you are just SOLD that Bryce Harper can make the leap to bolster a less-than-dynamic offense.
Enjoy the season – be sure to check back daily for a ton of free picks all season long!