The 2015 MLB season begins on Sunday and here are our favorite Futures and Win Total bets. Then, check back in September and October to see how we did, be it good or bad!
Spring has sprung and the weather is starting to warm up a bit in most places, which can only mean that the 2015 Major League Baseball season has arrived with opening night taking place this Easter Sunday night with the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Chicago Cubs. And even with the season now upon us, we still feel we have some live MLB picks on current future prices and team win totals at 5 Dimes.
We are presenting a bit of everything here two days before the start of the season as we have one World Series future, one league pennant future, one division future and finally five team win totals split between two ‘overs’ and three ‘unders”, one of which involves the defending American League Champions.
Now granted, some of these plays may have lost some value since they first opened over the last couple of months, but we feel that all of our selections still hold value at even this late date provided you can get at least the odds that we did for each selection.
So without further ado, here are those Future and Team Win Total selections, with all lines and odds currently available at 5 Dimes.
World Series Future
Washington Nationals to Win World Series (+600): Yes, the Nationals are the current favorites to win the World Series, but we still feel that +600 is a good enough price for a team that could have the best starting pitching staff in many years! Washington was able to sign former Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in free agency without trading away any frontline starters, and Scherzer should be even better in the National League than he was in the more hitter-friendly American League that employs the Designated Hitter. That means that the top three Washington starters of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann would all be aces for most other teams, and their fourth and fifth starters Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez, who himself is not that far removed from receiving some Cy Young votes in his first season in Washington, would probably be second starters for many of those same clubs! Offensively, the Nationals sat just outside the top 10 in most statistical areas last season and that could improve a bit if Bryce Harper is healthy for the entire season, not that too much offensive improvement is necessary given the pitching staff.
League Pennant Future
Seattle Mariners to Win American League Pennant (+575): The Mariners won 87 games last year for their first winning season since 2009 and they finished just one game out of the second wild card spot, which would have marked Seattle’s first playoff appearance since the 116-win team of 2001 that lost to the New York Yankees in the playoffs. So what did they do to get themselves over the hump in an attempt to end that playoff drought? Oh, all they did was sign the Major League leader in home runs last season in Nelson Cruz, who slugged 40 homers while knocking in 108 runs! The Seattle pitching was good enough last year led by perennial Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez and one of the best second starters in baseball in Hisashi Iwakuma, but the Mariners struggled offensively ranking 14th in the American League in batting and 12th in runs scored. Enter Cruz, who suddenly gives the Mariners a formidable middle of the lineup in the cleanup spot, batting behind annual All-Star Robinson Cano and ahead of rising star Kyle Seager, who joined Cano on the All-Star team last season.
League Divisional Future
Cleveland Indians to Win AL Central (+245): The Indians may not necessarily be the “best” team in the American League Central, but they may be the least flawed and they are not the favorites to win the division. No, that honor goes to the Detroit Tigers as usual at +240 at 5 Dimes, but Detroit will have a hard – no, impossible - time replacing Max Scherzer and its bullpen is still in shambles. As for the rest of the division, the Minnesota Twins will be fighting for the worst record in all of baseball, the Kansas City Royals figure to regress after their World Series run and the Chicago White Sox seem overhyped right now. We will have more on those latter two teams later. But back to the Tribe, the offense was good last year and could be even better now with the addition of Brandon Moss and Jason Kipnis now healthy after a wasted 2014 season. And the pitching staff may be underrated, led by Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco as the top two starters followed by the promising Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.
Team Win Totals
Arizona Diamondbacks ‘over’ 72½ (+105): The Los Angeles Dodgers are clearly the class of the National League West, but we expect a tight logjam behind them with the San Francisco Giants taking a step back and the rest of the teams in the division all improving their win totals over last season. In fact, we would not be surprised to see a separation of less than 10 games between second place and last place by year’s end! And that brings us to the Diamondbacks, who had the worst record in the majors in 2014 at 64-98. Now are not necessarily saying that the Diamondbacks will escape the division basement, but keep in mind that this was a team beset by injuries last year, so much so that only nine players on the opening day roster were on the active roster to end the season! On paper at least, this team looks better than the teams that won 81 games in the back-to-back seasons prior to last year provided it can stay healthy, as the Snakes added a slugger that was unable to avoid the injury bug in Mark Trumbo and also a closer in Addison Reed last season, and now this year they added Cuban phenom Yasmany Tomas to a already good lineup (when healthy). Also the firing of Manager Kirk Gibson could be addition by subtraction.
Baltimore Orioles ‘under’ 82½ (+105): The Orioles have been considered the “luckiest” team in baseball for two years in a row, and yet Manager Buck Showalter has somehow guided these overachievers to the playoffs each of those last two seasons, last year as American League East Champions with the second best record in the AL at 96-66. Most teams regress the following season when their record is better than their peripheral numbers, and that was expected in Baltimore last year. Instead, they duplicated that feat from the 2013 season, so now what are we supposed to do with a team that has exceeded its peripherals in consecutive years? Is Buck some kind of miracle worker that transcends the numbers and has his team overachieving every year? Something like that is not supposed to happen in a sport that has a long 162-game season, so we will tempt fate here and look for the expected Baltimore regression to finally surface in 2015, especially with the power hitting of Nelson Cruz now in Seattle.
Chicago White Sox ‘under’ 81½ (+105): There is a buzz around Chicago these days, not only with the Cubs having the makings of a good young ballclub this year but also with the hope of the White Sox competing for the American League Central title after finishing 73-89 last year, an improvement over the 63-99 record two years ago. Pardon our skepticism but we are just not buying into this division contender talk! Sure, the White Sox added a nice starter in Jeff Samardzija to give them a reliable second starter behind the great Chris Sale and they added the closer they lacked last season with the signing of David Robertson away from the Yankees. That is all well and good but we are not enthralled with the rest of the starting rotation after the top two. Jose Quintana has the potential to be a very good third starter, but he needs to gain some consistency before being regarded as such. And then, the bullpen still looks like a mess leading up to Robertson, who himself has really only had one season as a full-time closer after the retirement of Mariano Rivera. Some improvement is possible but we do not expect nine more wins than last season without more pitching help.
Colorado Rockies ‘over’ 71½ (-145): Remember what we said about the accordion-tight National League West behind the Dodgers with the bottom teams in the division from last year expected to improve? Well, the Rockies are part of that group and although -145 may look steep, this ‘over’ may be our favorite win totals of all at 71½, and after all this is one case where you might find better odds elsewhere. (Note: Bodog has the ‘over’ 71½ at -130). The Rockies finished just two games ahead of the Diamondbacks last season with 66 wins, but keep in mind that was with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez missing much of the season. That had more impact on the road where the Rockies went an atrocious 21-60, as Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are two hitters in the lineup that do not need the help from playing in Coors Field. Granted Colorado will not win many Gold Gloves defensively, but they could now have a future winner of that award in third basemen Nolan Arenado. If the Rockies can get full seasons from the top two hitters and with the infield defense seemingly improved, we could see enough improvement in the road record to get Colorado to at least 75 wins overall.
Kansas City Royals ‘under’ 80½ (-110): Last year the Royals capture the imagination of the entire nation with their unconscious playoff run in September leading them to their first post-season since 1985, ending the longest post-season drought of all the professional North American sports, and that dream ride did not end until Game 7 of the World Series with a narrow loss to the San Francisco Giants in what was a battle of wild card winners. Now it its time for reality to set in, and that reality is that the loss of Scott Shields, who was a bust in the post-season but was great during the regular year, leaves the Royals below average at every spot in the starting pitching rotation, assuming Yordano Ventura will be the new ace, followed by Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Edinson Volquez and Danny Duffy in that order. Sure Ventura can hit 100 MPH with regularity but he does not have much movement on his fastball and simply has not done enough yet to be a bona fide ace of any staff, and none of the other starters behind him exactly exude confidence. The bullpen remains great but it may not have many leads to protect with the shaky starters and the lack of power in the starting lineup.