If you live in the Midwest and more closely follow the teams from the American League Central and place sports picks, it has a little bit of this and a bit of that which has not amounted to much.
The beauty of all sports is you never know for sure what will happen and this is especially true when viewing the sportbooks betting odds. The absolutes are seldom absolute and you have to breakdown all the elements to consistently win MLB picks.
There are three phases to baseball, pitching, hitting and fielding and for this article we ponder the batting results from the AL Central and attempt to get a read on what lies ahead.
Kansas City Confidence is Riding High
If you read my spring training reports or listened to me on Yahoo Sports radio podcasts, I often mentioned how confident several Kansas City players looked in March. Having been within one game of being World Series champions, they proved to themselves they belong as an upper tier squad and individually they were above average to very good players. After averaging 4.1 runs per game last season, their new-found confidence has the Kansas City Royals rippin’ the horsehide at five RPG. Players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez are crushing the ball and not only having high batting averages but high OPS figures which has meant a lot of extra base hits.
The departure of Billy Butler as DH only opened up an opportunity for Kendry Morales and all he’s done is bat .300 and lead K.C. in runs batted in. The Kansas City starting staff is good, the bullpen is galvanic and if the offense stays in high gear, MLB baseball handicappers will have no problems backing this bunch.
Tigers Similar to Last Year
Detroit’s offense looks very much the same as what we saw in 2014. The Detroit Tigers are scoring 4.5 RPG compared to 4.6 last season and the vast majority of the offense is coming from the top 5 slots of the batting order with not much happening below that group. Though Detroit has a fine record, they suffer from too many three and outs from spots 7-9 in the batting order and you wonder at what point would manger Brad Ausmus maybe slide somebody with a good OBP into the 8 or 9 hole to increase scoring potential. Detroit offense is still strong, just top heavy.
Cleveland and Chicago in Free Fall for Different Reasons
With its recent outburst, Cleveland has climbed to 4.4 RPG, but that is not helping them versus the MLB odds. Their pitching staff as a whole has an ERA approaching 5. What the Indians need besides better pitching is stability from its offense. Certainly mound opponents will dictate to a certain degree the amount of runs scored, but two recent examples show Terry Francona’s club is all over the board. Just this past week Cleveland tallied 10-3-10 runs in a three games stretch and from April 21st thru April 26th they rang up 6-0-13-1-6 runs over a five-game period. Every manager prefers his team performs on an even keel.
The Chicago White Sox on the other hand have been quieter on offense than Tom Brady about the ‘Deflategate’ report. Chicago has a number of large players by size, yet they are dead last in the American League in home runs with Nelson Cruz having as many as the entire White Sox team (14). The impression one gets is overall the entire team is not being aggressive, taking too many pitches yet still only 14th in the AL in walks. It’s time for these bats to wake up or it will be a lost season on the South Side of Chicago.
Minnesota Surpassing Expectations, For Now
The Minnesota Twins are above .500 and backers are cashing with them at places like WagerWeb. To a degree, credit first-year manager Paul Molitor for instilling a more positive attitude and establishing an edge at Target Field (12-5, +8.8 units). Yet similar to last year, you wonder how long a basically faceless offense can continue to score runs at a 4.5 clip. No question the pitching has taken a giant leap forward, but is Mike Pelfrey really going to be this year’s Phil Hughes for Minnesota? You just get the feeling losing eight of 10 is right around the corner for the Twins.