The baseball season is more than one-third in the books and a few sportsbooks are still offering futures on who wins the National and American Leagues pennants and advances to the Fall Classic.
Here are the updated MLB odds and we take a closer look at who might be over or underrated as the year progress.
American League Outlook
The defending champion Kansas City Royals are at the top of the heap at 11/2 betting odds despite their recent downturn. Overall Kansas City is the team to beat because they have improved offense and though the starting pitching is not as strong as a year ago, the bullpen is lights out. No reason yet to make a move but watch for the Royals to pick up a starting pitcher in July or early August.
Houston is at 13/2 but I can see them fading, even though nobody else in the AL West has shown an inkling of wanting to move up. The Astros do not have enough starting pitching and while the home runs are terrific, all the strikeouts catch-up to you later in the season when the games mean more.
Detroit (6/1) and the New York Yankees (8/1) are next and as a baseball handicapper, plenty to not like about both these teams, yet they still have good players. The Tigers need and above average Justin Verlander because they have starting pitching issues beyond David Price. Also, other Miguel Cabrera and to a lesser degree, Jose Iglesias, the offense is at just 4.1 runs a game, which explains why they are 20-20 in games decided by two or more runs.
Not sure what to make of the Yankees because they have been up and down with some wild streaks. The return of Masahiro Tanaka is huge if you are making sports picks and once Jacoby Ellsbury returns likely late in June, the Yankees become more a player in very winnable division.
The Los Angeles Angels are 9/1 and show no signs of improving at this time and Seattle, Texas and Toronto are all 11/1 and has significant problems which they have to fix to be taken serious. For now, the Royals, Yankees and Tigers look to be the futures sports picks.
National League Outlook
At several sportsbooks it is a three-way chase to win the National League. At more than one wagering outlet, Washington, St. Louis and the L.A. Dodgers have equal odds, all about 3/1. The biggest disappointment has been the Nationals, who were projected to win 95 games this season and presently even reaching 90 is a stretch. Injuries and ineffectiveness have curtailed the offense which is averaging just 4.3 RPG. The starting pitching which was supposed to carry the team has two-fifths of the original group on the DL and when Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister were pitching, they were not very effective. If they can get everyone finally healthy maybe Washington can reach their potential, but in some ways they resemble Oklahoma City from the NBA and just might not put it all together.
St. Louis has been the class of the NL and one the best bets all season and they have the kind of pitching the Nats were supposed to have with a team ERA of 2.71. If the Cardinals were to maintain this brilliance, this would be the lowest ERA in baseball since Houston in 1981 (2.66). As I’ve stated many times over the years here, one-run games often have a randomness to them from year to year for results and a team’s strengths or weaknesses are often found in the other outcomes the Redbirds are 28-11 in contests decided by two or more runs.
All things considered, the Dodgers have held up rather well. Once you get by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, they are getting by with oft-injured Brett Anderson and two nobodies named Mike Bolinger and Carlos Frias for starting pitchers. Fortunately the offense has most of the season been strong, especially at home where they average 4.7 RPG. L.A. has shown they are not as good as St. Louis, losing five of seven recently and might have to get Cole Hamels to level the playing field.
The defending World Series champion Giants are next at 8/1 and continue to hang around with a great manager and group of players that know how to win. Pittsburgh (10/1) and Cubs (11/1) follow San Francisco, with the Pirates more established and ready with veteran players who are used to winning, while Chicago is on the upswing. San Diego is also at 11/1, but right now the Padres reek of .500.