MLB Futures Revisited

BaseballPrior to the start of the Major League Baseball season, I offered some baseball futures bets that, in my mind, held some value.

With most teams having completed about 50 of their 162 games, let’s take a look at how those bets are shaping up:

Team to win A.L. West Division: Los Angeles Angels (+350)

This is not the best start to my retrospective piece about betting futures. The Angels are in third place in their division and are seven games behind division-leading Texas.

The Halos are five games under .500 on the season, but are also five games under .500 at home.

The Angels are showing no speed on the base paths (Trout leads the team with six stolen bases, only one other player has more than two SBs on the season) and are next-to-last in home runs in the American League. The starting pitching is mediocre and the bullpen, as predicted, is nothing special.

The encouraging news is that, so far this season, the Angels are 8-8 vs. the two teams ahead of them in the divisional standings (Texas and Seattle) and their bullpen was just bolstered by the return of Huston Street, who has been on the disabled list since April 28.

A trade for a big bat or a speedy base runner by the All-Star break is probably what this team needs in order to jump-start the offense. However, with the contracts of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the Angels will more than likely have to pick up a looming free agent as a “rent-a-player” and hope for the best.

So far, not so good.

Team to win N.L. pennant: St. Louis Cardinals (+700)

NL Pennant OddsAs I mentioned in my futures article, this was a “gutsy” play. The Chicago Cubs are playing out-of-this-world baseball right now and lead the Cards by 9 ½ games in the standings.

But it’s not as bad as it looks.

St. Louis is a mere three games out of a wild card spot and if it can improve on its 13-15 home record, the Cardinals should stay in the hunt for the postseason all summer long. This team is either first or second in the N.L. in major team statistical categories such as runs, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS (On-base percentage + slugging percentage).

This team’s problem is its lackluster pitching; there are no real standouts on the team. So, it’s feast or famine for the Cards.

Will they catch the Cubbies?

No.

But teams no longer have to win their division to make the playoffs, and we’ve seen some wild card teams get hot at the right time to win the World Series.

The jury is still out on the Cardinals, but at 7-1 what did you expect?

Team to win A.L. pennant (+1100) and World Series (+2800): Cleveland Indians

ALPennantNow we’re cooking.

The Indians were expected by many to finish no higher than third in their division this season.

I, however, was much more optimistic.

I didn’t feel the Tigers or Twins were going to make any noise in the A.L. Central and had the Indians pegged as a wild card team, finishing just behind the Royals.

The Royals are six games over .500, but only lead Cleveland by a game and a half (as of May 31). The Indians are 14-7 this season against A.L. Central foes, and they’ll see those teams plenty in the second half of the season.

With a run differential of +30, the Indians are for real this year — and are a threat to win the division. Once they get into the playoffs, anything can happen. Having these two futures bets is a good thing.

Miami Marlins regular season over/under 80.5 wins

I took the “over” on this proposition, with the caveat that the beginning of the season would “make or break” this team.

The Marlins barely survived the early going, but have clawed their way back to being an above- .500 team. The worst part of their schedule is over and, as long as they can stay healthy, there’s no reason to think they can’t stay at or near the .500 mark.

If I were giving a grade card for my futures picks, this one would receive an “incomplete,” because there’s really no lean on which way this ship will sail. Will they continue to struggle against division foes (11-17) or will they be able to compete?

Detroit Tigers regular season wins over/under 85

I very emphatically took the “under” here.

The Tigers are playing not-surprising-to-me .480 baseball right now. That’s a pace to win 78 games. Can they find a way to win eight more games and go over the total?

Of course… but not with this manager.

Brad Ausmus is like Rocky — every time he’s on the ropes and you think he’s going down, something happens and he’s off the hook. He needs to be fired. If it weren’t for the 8-4 record vs. interleague opponents, the Tigers would be in much worse shape, and we’d be talking about who their new manager is by now.

I still expect Ausmus gone by the All-Star break and I think there’s no way that this is an 86-win team. The Tigers finish no better than third in the division, behind both the Indians and Royals.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.

Ryan Dickey
Ryan Dickey is a full-time firefighter in Dearborn, MI, and a life-long horse racing fan. He is a handicapper and contributor to prominent horse racing Websites as well as a freelance sportswriter/photojournalist. He covers local high school sports and community events for multiple outlets, including bi-weekly newspapers and has over 200 works published to date.

Once again the owner of a race horse, Ryan is president (and currently sole member!) of Firehouse Racing Stables, LLC. This year @FirehouseRacing plans to send its first thoroughbred, That Is So Right (a 4 year old chestnut gelding), to run at tracks in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and, possibly, Indiana.

Having lived in Las Vegas for six years and working in the sports gaming industry, Ryan knows sports handicapping from “both sides of the counter.” Feel free to contact him on Twitter (@rdickey249) for questions, comments, criticisms, or critiques.

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