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MLB Betting Report

July 27, 2014

We’re slightly beyond the midway point in the 2014 baseball season. That means it’s time to take a look back at what happened in the first half and a look ahead. You can still place your wagers on the team you think will win the World Series. Many of the preseason favorites (Tigers, A’s, etc.) are still among the current favorites. But there have also been some surprises and disappointments.

American league

Let’s start with the teams performing as expected…

First off, if you’re feeling a bit crazy, a $100 bet on the Houston Astros to win the World Series will pay out $300,000, per BetOnline’s current odds. Of course, according to ESPN.com, the Astros are just 0.1% to make the playoffs. But, hey, if you’re bored and have money to burn, why not?

Actually, save your money. Wager on some of these teams that actually have a chance to win the World Series. Let’s start with the hottest team in baseball – the Oakland A’s. Oakland has led the AL West all season and recently got even better with the addition of Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs. The A’s are +500 currently. So a $100 bet will bring you back $500 if the A’s win the World Series.

The only problem with betting Oakland is the fact they’ve been so mediocre in the playoffs. But maybe this will be the year they get over the hump. Speaking of teams that can’t seem to get over the hump in the postseason, the Detroit Tigers are among the favorites. Detroit’s line stands at +700. If Justin Verlander can ever find his old form, the Tigers are going to be tough in October. If you don’t have confidence in Verlander, you shouldn’t have confidence in the Tigers.

The Angels are sort of a Wild Card in the AL and probably will win a Wild Card spot. Los Angeles has been one of the best teams in baseball the past month. But it’s going to be hard for them to overtake Oakland in the AL West. However, they have more bettor friendly odds at +1200. What is going to hurt Los Angeles – other than pitching – is they will have to play in a one-and-done game just to get into the “real” playoffs.

Other teams still in contention

Oakland, Detroit and Los Angeles are the clear-cut best teams in the AL right now. That will likely continue throughout the remainder of the season. But, as you know, there are 6 playoff teams and once the postseason starts, anything can happen. Therefore, if you want to find a good value bet, take a team likely to make the playoffs that has favorable odds.

The teams that come to mind are Baltimore (+2500), Toronto (+1600) and Seattle (+2800). These are all teams with excellent chances of making the playoffs. Baltimore and Toronto are deadlocked in the AL East. Seattle is right there in the Wild Card chase.

Clearly these teams aren’t the best teams in the AL but anything can happen in October. There are only 3 strong teams in the AL. 3 additional teams will make the playoffs. If you want a $100 bet that could potentially pay out big, these are your best choices.

The Kansas City Royals are another team worth mentioning. Although I wouldn’t spend much money on them. The Royals are +4000 but they are close in the Wild Card chase. If they can pull off a solid trade by the deadline and Detroit suffers a key injury, they have a shot to win the AL Central.

 National League

The first half of the season has been rather entertaining. There have been a few teams in the National League that have surprised us all. And there are some teams that aren’t living up to expectations. Let’s go over the good and bad of the National League, from a bettor’s perspective.

A league full of disappointments and surprises

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta BravesThe National League has been strange this season. There have been many surprising teams (Milwaukee and San Francisco) as well as some disappointing teams (Pittsburgh and Colorado). And there are teams that are still in playoff contention but not quite playing up to expectations (Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington, Atlanta).

The favorites heading into the season in the NL were Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. In fact, they were big favorites over everyone else. But it has been Milwaukee that has been the best team throughout most of the first half of the season.

Let’s take a look at BetOnline’s current odds to win the World Series…

Right now, there are 2 teams that stand out over everyone (Milwaukee and Los Angeles). The Dodgers record isn’t what I expected before the season, but I still think they’re the best team in the NL, and possibly baseball. Los Angeles is still the NL’s World Series favorite (+650 to win World Series). Next on the list isn’t even Milwaukee. It is Washington (+1000). Milwaukee is +1400. Ditto for St. Louis and San Francisco.

The only other teams with any reasonable playoff chances are Atlanta (+1600), Pittsburgh (+5000) and Cincinnati (+5000). The Braves have issues with their starting rotation due to injury and don’t have a great offense. They have a decent chance to make the postseason, but they do nearly every year. And they rarely make deep runs.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are interesting teams. If either one can find a way to make it to the postseason either as the Wild Card or the NL Central champions, a 50/1 could come through for you. But that is a long shot. If you’re feeling frisky and want a long shot with at least a puncher’s chance, those are your 2 best bets.

Assessing the chances of the favorites

Los Angeles is the most talented team in baseball. They got off to a slow start but have come on strong, just not as fast as they did last season. Clayton Kershaw is clearly the best pitcher in baseball. He’s performing at a level unlike we’ve seen since Greg Maddux was in his prime. The Dodgers biggest problem is their underachieving outfield. What appeared to be the best in baseball before the season, the Dodgers outfield has been a huge disappointment.

Still, Los Angeles is the team to beat in the NL. If it isn’t Los Angeles, Washington is a team to look out for. If Bryce Harper can stay healthy, that adds a much needed bat in the Nationals lineup. But if they are going to win it all, Stephen Strasburg is going to have to finally step up and be the true “Ace” we’ve all been waiting for. It hasn’t been a great season for him, but there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around.

 

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