While college football is my area of expertise for sports betting, spring time is a target rich environment for some action. From now through mid-summer, we have a number of sporting events that can be made a little more interesting if you spend a week’s pay in hopes of cashing in. We’re talking baseball, the end of the NBA and NHL, the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, and a number of MMA and Boxing events sprinkled in throughout.
It’s now the second full week of February, and we all know what that means: Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training throughout this week for all big league teams, starting off what is, without question, the most grueling regular season in all of sports. As a personal rule, I don’t pay attention to baseball from Opening Day until the Stanley Cup Playoffs and NBA Finals are wrapped up. Why? It’s 162 games, and it matters a hell of a lot more how you finish down the stretch, not necessarily how you start. Right, 2008 Mets?
This week, I’ll give you my futures bets on the AL and NL pennants, the World Series, the World Baseball Classic, and some win totals I like. Let’s get to it.
World Baseball Classic
Growing up a baseball guy, I remember when this idea was started. Mirroring the World Cup in soccer, it was supposed to give baseball a global stage to show the best in the game. Just as others have fallen victim to, the copycat approach doesn’t necessarily work. Many top players in the game neglect the event to get ready for their long season, and I really can’t blame them.
That being said, it is a fun little shake up to Spring Training. At vegasinsider.com, the favorites are the Dominican Republic at 5/2 and Team USA at 18/5. Both teams have pretty loaded rosters, so this isn’t surprising. However, looking at their odds, that payout doesn’t get me excited. Moving down the list, I see Puerto Rico at 20/1. Their lineup is solid with notables like Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Beltran. If their rotation can overachieve, this could be a pretty enticing bet. Personally, I think Puerto Rico should be absorbed into Team USA so we can drop the dominance hammer in another international event, but that’s a different topic.
The bet: Puerto Rico, 20/1 on vegasinsider.com
The American League is completely up for grabs this year. You have a number of teams who are the prohibitive favorites based on betting odds, including your reigning AL champion Cleveland Indians (+250) and the extremely talented Boston Red Sox (+200) who added an ace this offseason in Chris Sale. The Astros (+580) are another team in play, and even with their tumultuous offseason, you can’t ever count out the Kansas City Royals (+1500 – RIP, Ace).
My gut reaction is the Indians. You get a full season of Andrew Miller, the young lineup continues to get better, and you get some true power in Edwin Encarnacion. Most forget that the Indians didn’t even have their best hitter all-season last year in Michael Brantley. With the Indians, you don’t have a lot of value. If you’re someone who is seeking a big payout on a dark horse, put some faith in the Seattle Mariners (+1000). A solid lineup featuring Cano and Cruz, and a solid rotation with King Felix as the catalyst. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, but look for this to be the year that streak ends.
The bet: Cleveland Indians (+200)
I feel like I shouldn’t have to write this section, so I’ll keep it brief. The Cubs (+120) will win the National League. Period. They’re the most talented team in the league, and they’re more than likely going to get better. I’m not a Chicago guy, nor am I one of those new Cubs fans, but you can go ahead and accuse me of jerking off the Cubs because they deserve it. At +120, you’re working with even money, which is actually surprising to me, as I fully expected them to be somewhere in the -110 to -150 range. If you want a little more value, I guess you could look at the Mets (+750) with their starting pitching, assuming they can all stay healthy.
The bet: Chicago Cubs (+120)
It feels like a cop out to predict a rematch in the World Series, because baseball is crazy, and post season baseball is even worse. But with the Indians coming back adding Brantley and Edwin, and the Cubs being the Cubs plus Schwarber for a full year, I really can’t go against it. If those teams face off once again in October, we can really only hope that the series is half as good as last year’s. I’d take the Cubs to repeat for the first time since the Yankees did it in the late 90’s, especially at +300. The Mariners and the Mets are great values if you’re chasing that high payout at +2000 and +1500 respectively. If you like money, take the Cubbies, if no other reason than ‘Go, Cubs, Go’ being an absolutely electric song.
The bet: Chicago Cubs (+300)
Many sportsbooks haven’t put out their official win totals up, mainly due to potential injuries throughout spring training. Look for most books to list them in late February. As for now, if you’re going to head to the Caribbean and hit up Atlantis, below are the win totals that I’d like to put some money on.
Cubs Over 95.5: The Cubs will likely hit better than last year, and still have great pitching. Take the over. I wouldn’t be shocked if they topped their 103-win mark of last year.
Diamondbacks Over 78.5: Shelby Miller pitched awful, Greinke got hurt, and AJ Pollack was out for essentially the entire season. If two of those turn around, you could easily have a .500 ball club.
Yankees Over 83.5: They won 84 games last year and ended hot, even without Chapman and Miller. They get Chapman back, add Matt Holliday at DH, and Gary Sanchez gets a full season. Don’t be shocked if this young Yankees team challenges Boston for the division and makes a Wild Card appearance.
Angels Under 76.5: This will happen. Short of the Cubbies winning the NL, this is lock of the year. Outside of the best player in baseball, this team is hot garbage. If the prop bet exists, I hammer the fact that the Angels trade Trout midseason and start the complete and total rebuild. Their farm system is bad, their major league talent is bad, and the only way to rectify that is to sell off your biggest asset. Scioscia is a great manager and Trout is an all-time talent, but watch for both of them being gone by season’s end..
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