With Spring Training games on the horizon, we're taking a look at how the MLB futures odds are stacking up for season win totals and which batter will hit the most home runs.
If MLB commissioner Rob Manfred got his way, there would be more than one rule change going into effect for the 2017 season. If the grumbling I'm hearing from players and fans is any indication, there would be no changes coming this year.
After proposing several changes in hopes of speeding up the game, Manfred only got one okay from the players union. The one change is intentional walks where managers can now just inform umpires of their intentions and forego the usual four tosses to send the batter to first base. Fans in attendance or watching games from the comfort of their own living rooms are advised not to expect this to have a noticeable effect.
There were 932 intentional walks issued in 2016, those free passes spread out over 2,428 games. I've never actually timed how long an IBB takes, but going on 30 seconds, we're talking something like 12 seconds per game that will be saved. Some of the other changes Manfred would like to see -- and MLB could automatically impose by giving the MLBPA one year's notice -- such as limiting the number of trips to the mound and installing pitch clocks would decrease a game's length, but the new intentional walk rule will not.
Just as the new rule won't have much effect on the length of a game, it also isn't going to create ripples in the current MLB futures odds. Those numbers still peg the Chicago Cubs as the team to beat in the +400 to +450 range, with Boston just behind at 5/1 or 6/1.
Reds My Pick To Have Best Shot At 100 Losses
Season win totals are beginning to appear in Las Vegas, and we should start seeing them at SBR's top-rated sports books very soon. Early numbers range from the Cubs at 95½ down to the San Diego Padres at 67½.
My SBR colleague Kevin Stott discussed some of his picks earlier this week, and my first thought is I sure hope he loses his 'Under' 91½ play on my beloved Houston Astros. Just kidding...well, not really since I'll be pulling for them to go 162-0. Leaving the fan in me aside, that actually is a nice play since I feel Houston needs one more solid arm in the rotation to be among the top contenders.
I'm starting to crunch some numbers and should have several plays on win totals in the near future, but the first team that really jumps out at me is Cincinnati. The Reds went out at 70½, putting them fourth from the bottom ahead of Milwaukee (69½), the Chicago White Sox (68½) and San Diego (67½). My belief is the Reds have the best shot of them all to drop 100+ in the loss column this year, thanks in part to playing 19 games against both the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Cincinnati also faces Boston and Cleveland as part if its interleague slate, so I'm really liking the 'under' on the Reds.Do Baseball Bettors Dig The Long Ball?
Fantasy baseball owners bet on a lot of things when they draft their teams, including which players will be at or near the top in the HR column. MLB odds are out now on just such a prop bet, and the slugger at the top of many of those lists is Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (5/1).
Given his history of injuries, there are better returns and better chances to lead the majors in bleacher souvenirs. Baltimore's Chris Davis (12/1) has a tailor-made swing for launching long flies and reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant (12/1) is also a threat. But the stick I really like belongs to Colorado's Nolan Arenado. Coming off a 41-HR campaign and playing in Colorado, Arenado is a nice choice with a 10/1 return.
Whoever hits the most homers and which teams are the biggest winners and losers, you can safely bet on following the action and free baseball picks here at SBR.