MLB Betting: Who will rise and who will fall in second half

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, July 12, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Which teams will climb the MLB standings over the second half and which teams will fall? Hopefully we have your answers right here as we try and project the rest of the MLB season.

With the All-Star Game from Citi Field coming up on Tuesday, July 16th, this seems like the perfect time for our MLB picks on which teams that did not have the best of starts will make a playoff push after the break and which teams that are in the playoff mix as of right now will fade away.

As we approach the break, the two teams with the two best records in the Major Leagues both reside in the National League Central in the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are also a couple of surprises in the American League East in the Baltimore Orioles, who seem intent on proving they were not “lucky” last season like many believed, and the New York Yankees, who have hung around in the division race with a crippled team.

There is even a surprise in the American League Central, not because the Detroit Tigers lead the division but because they are not easily pulling away as predicted. Also the Atlanta Braves of the National League East have been in first place for more days this season than any other team in baseball, at 101 days and counting through the games of Thursday, July 11th, 2013.

So will any of these situations change between now and the end of the season? We now present our top three choices to rise and our top three choices to fade in the second half. Any reference made regarding MLB Future prices come from 5 Dimes as of July 12th.

Teams to Rise
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are already the hottest team in baseball as of this writing as they have risen from a last place tie with the Toronto Blue Jays to second place in the American League East. We are looking for them to ultimately catch the Boston Red Sox and win the division, giving Tampa Bay nice value at +1800 on the current World Series futures. We felt that the Tampa Bay lineup was top-heavy early in the year and tailed off badly after Evan Longoria in the cleanup spot, but that has not been the case as James Loney has had a great year after escaping from the Los Angeles Dodgers and rookie Wil Meyers has looked vey good since being called up from the minors. Most importantly, David Price has been magnificent since coming off the Disabled List, an indication that his early season troubles were directly attributable to his triceps injury, and rookie Chris Archer developed nicely in Price’s rotation spot while he was out, giving the Rays nice added pitching depth especially with Jeremy Hellickson rediscovering his fine form.

Pittsburgh Pirates: If you followed the Pirates the last two seasons, this has been the time of year when they started going into the tank after surprisingly good first halves, ultimately finishing under .500 to extend their current streak to 20 consecutive seasons with a losing record. However, this year has a different feel to it and not only do we not expect the Pirates to drop out of their playoff battle, we actually expect Pittsburgh to win the NL Central with its far superior bullpen compared to the St. Louis Cardinals making all the difference. This looks like the year where holding on to their best prospects at the trading deadline the last two years and resisting the urge to part with one of them for immediate help pays off. In fact, unlike the past two seasons when Pittsburgh’s strong first halves were really Fool’s Gold, this is one year where the Bucs could actually trade one of their prospects for an added bat or another starting pitcher as they are legitimately good this year and probably for many years to come. Just imagine where the Pirates would be if Andrew McCutchen was not underachieving compared to past seasons! This team is good enough to contend right now even without a trade, especially if McCutchen returns to form.

Kansas City Royals: We mentioned that the Tigers are having a tough time pulling away in the AL Central, and currently it is the Cleveland Indians hanging around in second place just 2½ games out with Kansas City in third six games back, but we think the Royals, currently a whopping +5000 to win the World Series and +2200 to win the American League pennant, will be the team rising up to pose the biggest threat to Detroit before all is said and done. Remember that the young Kansas City offense was one of the best in the league over the second half of last season, and after an erratic start to this year, the bats have started to come around since George Brett took over as batting coach. The biggest difference between this year and last though has been the pitching, which was terrible while holding the Royals back last season but that this year is currently fourth in the American League in ERA, thanks to the additions of James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis to the starting rotation and a bullpen full of live young arms.

Teams to Fall
New York Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi has probably done his best job ever keeping the Yankees competitive until now with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Cutis Granderson and Mark Teixeira missing most of the season, leaving Robinson Cano as the only true superstar in the everyday lineup. Well, Rodriguez has yet to play for the Yankees this year, he is stinking things up while rehabbing in the minors and he may be facing a suspension to boot. Granderson and Teixeira both returned for a few games and both landed right back on the Disabled List, with Teixeira now out for the season, and Jeter literally came back yesterday and had his first game as a Yankee in 2013 cut short due to soreness. In other words, the current Yankee roster of youngsters and outcasts like Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells may be forced to try and carry this team to the end of the season, and we simply do not see that happening.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have a tough decision to make at the trading deadline. You see, this year was supposed to be the beginning of a rebuilding process, and this was supposed to be the best year to trade some veteran players for some prospects to start replenishing what is now a bare minor league system. Then a funny thing happened as while the Phils are still one game under .500 at 46-47 as of this writing, they just won three out of four games vs. the second place Washington Nationals, leaving them at a manageable 7½ games behind the Braves in the NL East, close enough to actually become “buyers” at the deadline. We are not buying that though as rebuilding the Philadelphia farm system should take precedence over a quick fix in a supposedly lost season for an aging team, so do not expect a second half push regardless of how much pride the remaining veterans (and there may be less of them in a couple of weeks) on the team have.

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles are winning in an entirely different manner this season than they did last year, when a plethora of one-run wins and an unbelievable record in extra-inning games were the very reasons why most experts considered them “lucky”. This year, Baltimore is bludgeoning opponents, leading the Major Leagues in home runs as a team led by individual home run leader Chris Davis while ranking fifth in runs scored, fifth in batting average and third in team OPS. However, this is still a team without a true ace on the pitching staff, and unlike last year when the Orioles also lacked an ace, the collective work of the starters has been lacking this time around with a 4.76 ERA. Also consider that closer Jim Johnson was unhittable last year and that has not been the case this season as he is 2-7 with a disappointing 3.83 ERA and six blown saves. Do not expect a second straight playoff appearance as the lack of pitching finally catches up with Baltimore, which looks like a severe underlay at just +1000 to win the American League and +1800 to win the World Series.