So much is made of odds. It gives fans a chance to gauge where Vegas is putting their chips, and in turn it provides the public with an idea of how the consensus perceives individual teams. While the silver bullet in gambling is not always to rely on the contenders, it has more to do with making a balanced prediction on one of the ‘lesser’ teams.
Each year, there are a handful of fringe teams which by means of trade, free agent signings, arbitration and extensions insert themselves into the equation by giving odds-makers a reason to put them higher on the list.
This year, with only a few weeks left until pitchers and catchers report, there are quite a few teams with surprising turnarounds in the way Vegas sees them.
Note: Starting rotations include players on the DL who likely start at some point in the season.
Stocks are Up
Toronto Blue Jays: After benefiting from a Miami Marlins fire sale, the Blue Jays appear to have a truly dominant team for the first time since the early 90s when they won back-to-back World Series (’92-’93). With a top-of-the order lineup that will likely feature Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, a starting pitching rotation that starts with R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, and a sufficiently deep bench, the Blue Jays will enter the 2013 season with high expectations in the AL East.
Part of this equation is a Yankees team that made no blockbuster moves during the offseason, and a Boston team that, even while filling needs, will enter the season with a whole new set of puzzle pieces to put in place. Current WS odds: 8/1
Los Angeles Dodgers: Of all the teams moving up or down on the betting list, perhaps the Dodgers have had the most positive improvement. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will round out the Dodgers new starting rotation, and if veteran Josh Beckett can turn things around in LA, the Dodgers will have a strong rotation entering 2013. This also assumes Hyun-jin Ryu and Aaron Harang can put up decent 4th and 5th starter numbers.
Offense is where the Dodgers seem to have the most upside. Their lineup could look something like the following: Mark Ellis, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis. At any given point in the season, with all of these players healthy, the Dodgers could boast a veritable “Murderers’ Row.”
The place where the Dodgers lack is in the bullpen. Retaining Brandon League was a step in the right direction, but for the time being, moves will have to be made to acquire middle and late releif if the Dodgers will stay strong down the stretch, something they had an issue with last year. Current WS odds: 6/1
Stocks are Down:
Boston Red Sox:
Suffice it to say 2012 was a lost year for the Red Sox. Suffice it, and move on. General Manger Ben Cherington wasted no time this offseason and made moves to shore up the team in several areas. This comes after a season in which three star players were shipped off to Los Angeles, and in the middle of September, then-manager Bobby Valentine was quoted as saying “This is the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball. It could use help everywhere.” That will not be the case in 2013, as long as mostly everyone can stay healthy. Rotochamp projects the Boston lineup as: Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The question is, can the Red Sox pitching staff return to form? Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are both coming off the worst seasons of their career. Add to that a total meltdown in the bullpen, mostly orchestrated by Alfredo Aceves. Last year, Aceves was one of baseball’s worst closers, going 2-10 with an ERA of 5.36. Add to that 8 blown saves.
Enter: Joel Hanrahan, to save the day. If it were the beginning of any other year, one might look at the Red Sox roster and consider them contenders in the AL East, but after last year’s poor performances and managerial meltdown, Vegas odds-makers have had to put things into perspective. Current WS odds: 25/1
Cincinnati Reds: Their 97-65 regular season finish in 2012 had all the signs of World Series contender, but their early exit in the NLDS took some of that sheen off.
Looking at their projected opening day lineup, one would think the Reds might take a step back in terms of overall record: Shin-Soo Choo, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Ryan Hanigan, Zack Cozart. However, their real problems lie in the starting rotation and bullpen.
The tape is out on flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman which will make it markedly more difficult for him to repeat his 1.51 ERA in 2012, given his limited arsenal.
A starting rotation featuring Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake puts them in position to contend, but the rest of the pitching staff will have to pick up some slack in order for the 2013 Reds to repeat their success of 2012. Current WS odds: 12/1
2013 will bring plenty of shuffling up and down the odds list throughout the regular season, as player additions will eventually prove themselves successes or failures. However, one thing is for sure; the MLB betting landscape is more fickle than it’s been in years, with perennials like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Giants having big question marks.
The top ten:
Los Angeles Angels 6/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 6 /1
Detroit Tigers 7/1
Toronto Blue Jays 8/1
Washington Nationals 8/1
San Francisco Giants 12/1
New York Yankees 12/1
Cincinnati Reds 12/1
Philadelphia Phillies 14/1
St. Louis Cardinals 14/1