MLB Picks: AL East Betting Trends

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:17 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2014 8:17 PM UTC

The quality of baseball being played in the American League East is substandard, except the New York Yankees and even they are not striking fear into the hearts of those setting MLB odds. What does this mean for the remainder of the AL MLB season?

The AL East is the only division in baseball which has just one team with a record over .500 (Yankees at 15-10). Plus, if you utilize the runs scored/runs allowed barometer, this is the only division among the six in the majors where every team is in negative numbers. 

New York Yankees
Despite the Pinstripe's record, sportsbooks setting the betting odds are not impressed with New York to this point. How can you tell?

Thus far, New York has only been a favorite of -165 or higher twice (one was against the Cubs at home). Compare that to the past three years when in 2011 and 2012 they had already been chalky favorites seven times by now, and last year they had been -200+ on the money line twice. 

This Yankees team appears to be improved with the personal moves in the off-season and has feasted on left-handed starters with a record of 8-4. If this division continues to be as weak as it's been thus far, New York should stay in contention, however, this is not the Bronx Bombers of earlier this century. 


Baltimore Orioles
Two years ago, the Orioles were baseball’s biggest surprise in winning 93 games and were the best bet in the game at a sensational +38.4 units for those making MLB picks. A huge chunk of their success was based on an unimaginable 31-10 record in one-run games and they returned to earth last year with 85 victories. 

Baltimore has stumbled to start the season, ranking only 23rd in home runs and now first baseman Chris Davis is on the DL, further curtailing power potential. 

Seeing the O’s starting pitchers are 13th in ERA and 12th in on-base percentage allowed, hard to imagine hope is forthcoming from this area, leaving Baltimore in betting limbo. They are not a good or a bad play most nights at the moment. 


Toronto Blue Jays
Expectations were pretty low for these northern birds coming into 2014 and for the most part, they have only slightly overachieved what most MLB baseball handicappers thought they would do. In all likelihood, the Blue Jays will hit home runs and score runs, but have dry spells because they strikeout more than normal and take fewer walks, limiting the number of potential base runners. 

Where this could all goes south for Toronto is the starting rotation, which is 13th in innings thrown, leading directly to an overworked bullpen, that at some point collapses. 

While the sample size is small, the Jays have to do a better job as favorites because their 6-9 mark (-5.6 units) will not cut. The only positive from this, because of poor pitching in this role, Toronto is 11-4 'over'. 


Boston Red Sox
Let’s face it, this is not the same Boston team as a year ago. That group was galvanized by a tragedy that struck the city and like all championship teams; they came together as one and overachieved in many areas. 

The offense is generating a hair over four runs a game, where as opposing teams are scoring what the Red Sox should be scoring at 4.6. Also the defense isn't nearly as sound.

The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury has mattered and the replacements have not come close to replacing his numbers. 

The first aspect of improvement can start by playing better at Fenway, where they are just 5-8 and -6.1 units. At least one good thing for the BoSox faithful, nobody in the division and started fast, thus they are staying in contention.  


Tampa Bay Rays
For years now, sportsbooks and baseball experts looked at the Tampa Bay roster and wondered how this could even be a .500 team based on talent. Yet everyone learned with Joe Maddon as the skipper, the Rays have been in position to win 88-92 times annually. 

Maybe it will turn around, however, this organization has been about pitching and defense. With Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson all on the DL, Maddon has been forced to start a much-traveled Erik Bedard among others. 

The bullpen usually ends up being a strength for the Rays, with everyone having assigned roles. Unfortunately, because of weaker starting pitching, the Tampa Bay bullpen is 12th in innings in the AL. 

Take away the 4-0 record in one run games, a lack of hitting and pitching has the Rays in a devil of a position at 7-15 in all other contests, at -13.3 units.

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