Betting on baseball is actually more popular in terms of overall bets than even the NFL at many sportsbooks. Not that MLB wagering rivals NFL betting in terms of popularity, but in terms of how many games are available for betting and how long the season runs. What it means is there a constant need for and interest in baseball odds, matchup reports, game previews, trends analysis and more from the exhibition schedule in March through the end of October each year.
Here's excerpts of OddsShark.com's gambling previews for 15 MLB squads as we count down to Opening Day!
Baltimore made the postseason for the third straight year in 2016 but bowed out to the Toronto Blue Jays in the wild-card game. The Orioles won 89 games, but they boasted only a plus-29 in run differential. They ranked seventh in the American League in runs scored, ninth in batting average and ninth in on-base percentage. The pitching staff was mediocre, to say the least, ranking 10th in the AL in ERA and strikeouts.
The Tigers do indeed boast some big bats, but a lot of the potential success of this team hinges on yet another stellar season out of 34-year-old ace Justin Verlander as well as the younger arms around him in the starting rotation and how well (or even if) they progress in 2017.
For years, this team has been led by the great Verlander and Miguel Cabrera but their window is closing. There are nice complimentary pieces in place in the Motor City, but there are also holes. This season could be one filled with highs or one with lows that ends in a total fire sale.
The Seattle Mariners have become a trendy preseason pick to make the playoffs entering the 2017 Major League Baseball season, and I don’t get it. Reason being is that they didn’t exactly make any type of major splash in the offseason — depending on how you feel about the Jean Segura-Taijuan Walker swap — and the AL West is likely to be a very competitive division. Add a rapidly regressing “ace” in Felix Hernandez to the equation and we have an overrated ball club on our hands.
With many contrasting outlooks for the Mariners in 2017, what’s a futures bettor to do? Here’s an analysis of the Mariners odds and my advice on how to proceed.
The Rangers seemed preoccupied with revenge when they met Toronto in October and it ultimately cost them. Rougned Odor, the man who took it upon himself to physically avenge the bat flip in a dust-up with Joey Bats earlier in the year, threw a loose ball in the 10th inning of Game 3 in the Big Smoke and the error allowed the series-winning run to cross the plate for the Jays. Texas was deemed the luckiest team in baseball last season, winning more one-run games than any other club, but to win a playoff series – and especially the World Series – they’re going to need a little more than luck.
A lot like the rest of the Rangers team, Mr. Odor is not without his faults but it’s obvious that he’s extremely talented. The Rangers have a loaded mix of young, skilled position players and savvy veterans coming into the new season but it’s still unclear whether or not they’re a mature enough group to contend in October.
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Perhaps in an attempt to replicate the success of the Chicago Cubs, the Astros took to the free-agent market this offseason to add some veteran talent to their group of upstarts and MVP candidates. The new additions include Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Aside from the flashy names occupying their depth chart, something flying under the radar is that they have one of the top bullpens in the league. In 2016 their bullpen posted a league-best 7.9 WAR to go along with a 3.56 ERA.
The Mets have made postseason appearances the previous two seasons. They lost the 2015 World Series 4-1 against the Kansas City Royals and were dispatched by the San Francisco Giants in the National League wild-card game last season. Is that a sign of the Mets regressing? Nah. However, with the Washington Nationals looking like an extremely stiff test in the National League East, 2017 is set to be an interesting season in the Big Apple.
This season for the Nats, however, is World Series or bust. They mortgaged the future for center-fielder Adam Eaton by trading two of the best pitching prospects in baseball and it looks like they’ll lose their superstar slugger Bryce Harper to free agency at the end of the year.
Expect management in Washington to sell the farm if the Nats are in contention near the trade deadline as they’ll need a few more pieces if they want to compete with the likes of the Cubs and Dodgers in a very top-heavy National League.
Players like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier are the new wave of Yankees that will hopefully don the pinstripes for a long time. Don’t expect this group to be contending for a World Series title in the meantime, but they should be relatively competitive in the perennially tough AL East.
With the top of the order set to feature Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Morales, Troy Tulowitzki, Devon Travis and Russell Martin, there will still be more than enough runs to go around. The problem for this team is going to be holding on to any lead they might get with a bullpen that leaves a lot to be desired.
Although the window closed a bit with the offseason departures, there’s still a stiff breeze rolling through the crack and if the pitching staff doesn’t regress, the Jays should be on their way to their third straight appearance in the postseason.
Gone from 2016’s championship roster is Aroldis Chapman, who was quickly replaced by former Royal Wade Davis as the team’s closer. Center-fielder Dexter Fowler also changed uniforms, which conveniently paves the way for 2012’s sixth overall draft pick, Albert Almora, who’ll have a shot at earning a full-time role.
Sportsbooks will see plenty of action this season on the Cubbies, given their gigantic fan base, including a fresh load of bandwagon followers, but what’s the right approach to take entering a new season?
The Cardinals fired the first shot of the offseason when they signed Dexter Fowler away from the Cubs to a whopping five-year, $82.5-million contract. Fowler will certainly do plenty of things to help the Cards, as his presence should rectify defensive issues at center field and give the lineup a true leadoff hitter. With Fowler batting leadoff, Matt Carpenter will be able to move down the batting order and properly utilize his power.
However, the team also watched Matt Holliday, Brandon Moss and Jeremy Hazelbaker leave town. Those three players combined for 60 home runs and 157 RBIs last season. Filling that void in the lineup is not going to be easy. The likes of Jedd Gyorko and Stephen Piscotty will need to show more power in their bats to make up for the holes in the lineup.
Maybe it was naïve to think a team with as little depth as the Giants could play an entire season averaging nearly five runs and nine hits per game. Even with the second-half offensive slump, the Giants made the playoffs for the fourth time in seven seasons. San Fran could have made a deeper playoff run if they had a competent closer, but the team paced the MLB with the most blown saves in 2016.
This prompted the front office to bust open the vault and sign closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62-million contract. In the past two seasons, Melancon has recorded 98 saves in 104 chances while posting an ERA of 1.94. This signing should solidify the bullpen but depth is still a lingering issue for the Giants entering 2017.
The Dodgers have won the NL West for four consecutive seasons but have never made it past the NLCS. In fact, the last time the Dodgers made it to the World Series was 1988. So maybe it’s hard to believe this LA squad has the fourth-best odds to win the Fall Classic.
A stacked starting rotation features the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. Kenley Jansen is one of the best closers in all of baseball. Plus the lineup features one of the best young players in the MLB in Corey Seager, who finished third in MVP voting during his rookie season.
While most teams who lost their team leader in home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage would consider it a devastating loss, the Red Sox aren’t most teams. Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are set to anchor the offense, while the pitching staff is shaping up to be one of the most dangerous in the league after team president Dave Dombrowski went all-in to acquire ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox.
Looking ahead, however, the pitching staff is one of the best that baseball has to offer and is set to dominate 2017. Corey Kluber took his game to unseen levels in the postseason, recording a 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 34 1/3 innings of playoff mastery and Andrew Miller was making opponents look silly with a slider that was seemingly acquired at the same crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul.
All this, plus the addition of masher Edwin Encarnacion and the rise of the sensational Francisco Lindor, make the Indians one of the favorites to win just about everything in 2017.