Major League Baseball Preview - Best Totals on the Board
So here it is, baseball is around the bend and so are the many opportunities to pluck a few bucks from your bookmaker. Give him a deposit in March and watch him double it in October when you go to collect. But the key is, we've got to do our homework because there are lots of punters who have the same game plan, only there's won't pan out...but ours will!
Over the Rainbow
Boston Red Sox (83) - I wrote specifically about this total a few weeks ago when the numbers were scarce. One book did post a very early number at 79 ½ but restricted the maximum wager to $50. Sounds like a teaser line to get you to sign up with them. However, the real number is 83 and I still like over in this one.
The Red Sox have two bona fide stud starters in Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz but the only problem is they pitched like a couple of pansies last season after taking their lead from the mercifully departed Josh "Diva-licious" Beckett. Sure you've got John Lackey pronouncing himself fit and ready (might have been nice if he decided to do that, oh say four years ago, prior to signing his five-year deal with the team,) but I'm looking at him as an innings chewer at best. But the Sox went out and got a great character guy in Ryan Dempster who could be a big part of Boston's successful starting rotation.
Factor in a very solid batting order peppered with names like Pedroia, Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, Napoli, Victorino as well as Big Papi and now you've got an opportunity to score some runs. Finally, the bullpen has got to be one of the best in baseball with not one but three pitchers who could be your closer. Joel Hanrahan is the All-Star they plucked from the Pirates organization with Daniel Bard back to the pen fulltime and former Astros closer Andrew Bailey who spent most his initial Red Sox season on the shelf. Then you've got a pair of Japanese imports in Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa who boasted WHIPS under 1.00.
Play Boston Over 83
Cleveland Indians (77 ½ ) - I'm a big fan of Tito Francona and if he brings half the magic that he brought to the Red Sox for lo those many years then the Indians will be winning more than losing this season. Sure the starting pitching staff is a bit of a mess but maybe Ubaldo will return to his dazzling self when he hurled for the Rockies.
Play Cleveland Over 77 ½
LA Angels (92) - Josh Hamilton is now part of a lineup that sports Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and who cares who else. If Hamilton can keep his head on straight and not reach for the yayo then this team has the potential to win the World Series. Give me Over all day long with this demolition crew.
Play Los Angeles Angels Over 92 in baseball betting odds.
Under the Radar
New York Yankees (88 ½ ) - The AL East is no longer the Yankees, the Red Sox and three other teams we can't quite recall. It has gotten better and there is a noticeable power shift with Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay all loading up. The Yanks have been aging for a good long time but they have traditionally been masters at filling the voids and making you forget about guys like Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neil. But their run is over and their fall from grace will happen this season. All of Boston will rejoice in the notion that misery loves company.
Play New York Yankees Under 88 ½
Chicago Cubs (73) - Let's not waste the ink debating this. They're the Cubs.
Play Chicago Cubs Under 73 for your MLB picks.
Cincinnati Reds (91 ½ )
The Reds won 31 one-run games last season and shattered their projected total last year of 86 wins with a jaw-dropping 97-win season. It won't happen again this season and there will be a lot of teams loaded for Reds when they come to town. They have not had back-to-back 90 wins seasons since 1979-1980. That streak is safe.