MLB Betting: Strength of Schedule in American League

Doug Upstone

Sunday, April 5, 2015 5:13 PM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 5, 2015 5:13 PM UTC

It is go time to make MLB picks and to start to the daily routine of looking over the betting odds in order to find the best value. Scheduling certainly can help or hurt teams to begin the season. 

While there is no way to 100 percent accurately know how each team will perform in 2015, as a MLB baseball handicapper, I can do my best to forecast how the year could start out for several teams based on how the overlords of the game set up each team’s slate and how they finished last year or might play this season.

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Houston Astros – Hardest Schedule
If you are studying the MLB odds, Houston has a daunting first sector of the season. Of the Astros first 48 trips to the park, an unbelievable 39 will be against teams who posted winning records a season ago. Granted, the nine against Oakland should not be as tough as last year and six of those will be at Juice Park (Minute Maid). Nonetheless, six will be against division frontrunners Anaheim and Seattle and other AL matchups include Cleveland and at Detroit. For good measure, the ‘Stros will visit improved San Diego in a three-game series and have a two-game set with the World Series champions San Francisco. Hard to imagine, but if you are forecasting MLB picks, if Houston would begin 20-28, that would be considered an accomplishment.


Minnesota Twins – 2nd Hardest Schedule
The Twins are much like Texas Tech was in the Big 12 for basketball this season. Though the Big 12 did not enjoy much postseason success, they were acknowledged the entire regular season of being either the best conference or the most competitive. This is the presumption of how the AL Central will play out, maybe not the strongest division in the big leagues but having four teams capable of finishing over .500. Of Minnesota’s first 35 contests, 28 will be in division, thus there is a real possibility the Twins will be out of division contention before many of the 10,000 lakes in the state are warm enough to go swimming in. Who are the other seven encounters against, just four with Oakland and three in Seattle, that’s all. Can ace Phil Hughes pitch on two days rest from the start of the season all year?


Baltimore Orioles – Easiest Schedule
For a team that won their first division crown in 17 years, made it to the postseason for the second time in three years, the exodus of talented players for a club coming off 96 wins was shocking. That is why sportsbooks made the Orioles win total in the 82-83 range, not seeing where they improved in any manner other than having injured players from a season ago return. Nevertheless, the Birds might begin the season better than expected, playing 24 of their first 40 contests at Camden Yards where they were 52-33 (+14.1 units) in all home games for 2014. Travel will not be an issue either for the O’s who do not leave the Eastern Time Zone until June 1 trip to Houston. Baltimore’s three most difficult series outside the division are all at home (White Sox, Angels and Mariners). Last season the Orioles were dominating 47-29 in the AL East and anything even remotely close should mean a fast start.

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Oakland Athletics – 2nd Easiest Schedule 
Before spring training, more than one preseason publication was calling for Oakland’s demise. A few had the A’s finishing last in the AL West with their personnel losses and coming off a 16-30 close to the regular season. However, after seeing the offense will still score, the infield defense improved and the pitching in better shape than first thought, manager Bob Melvin should at least have a .500 club. The Athletics might even contend in the division to start the year, facing only 16 teams that were over .500 among their initial 42 contests. In this early grouping, Oakland will have 20 conflicts with Houston, Texas and Minnesota, thus if the pitching and defense is in place, even an offense in search of an identity should have them over .500 at the first quarter pole. 

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