By Adam Brown
The baseball season has begun!
One of the great things about being a British baseball fan is that we can legally gamble on these games. We can gamble on any games across any sport.
With this in mind, it’s time to look where your money should go, where it should avoid going, what hype we should be buying stock in, and what bandwagon’s we should avoid/get off at all costs.
One of the great gambling strategies if you’re not willing to stake huge amounts, and want to play it low risk/high reward is to bet on awards that are hard to win, and require continuous and arduous efforts such as World Series champions. It’s hard to predict, but you’ll be rewarded with inflated odds and bigger gains off smaller profits.
Pittsburgh Pirates to Win the World Series – 28/1
This ranges from 18 to 28-1, a big price for a team coming off consecutive playoff appearances, with no glaring weakness and with a legitimate MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen. In comparison the Blue Jays max out at 25’s, and the Mariners at 16’s. FanGraphs projects the Bucco’s to be in the postseason, and gives them a 4% chance of winning it all.
In a small sample size of four here at “Call To The Bullpen”; including myself, our chief Ollie Connolly, Ed Overend and Darren Helley, all four of us predict the Pirates to make the postseason, with Darren and myself saying they win the Fall Classic come October. What other evidence is required?
Paul Goldschmidt to be the Home Run King – 20/1
Arizona is a delightful park to hit in, a real hitters park, add Coors Field, the apex of hitter friendly stadia, and that’s the venues for about 55% of Goldschmidt’s games this year. In addition, he blasted 36 round trippers in his last fully healthy season of 2013, and had 19 before injury stifled him last time round.
As it’s an award that relies on durability and production, you’re wagering on a healthy season from the D-Backs first baseman, but if healthy, he’s likely to be in the mid 30’s at worst, which would definitely leave him in the mix for the crown.
Rick Porcello to lead the league in Wins – 100/1
Ok, I’m a Red Sox fan talking himself into the current rotation. No, it’s not going overly well. However, I’m rather fond of Porcello, I think he’s ascending, and could solidify himself as an above average to good pitcher this season.
The real reason this bet could have some value, the Red Sox offence is ridiculous. RI-DIC-U-LOUS. They’re going to lead the league in runs scored, they’re going to play half their games at Fenway, and the law of averages would deem that their pitchers will have great run support.
With that run support, which could potentially surpass what he received with the Tigers last season, and improvement on Porcello’s end, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to exceed the 15 wins he got last time round.
Chicago Cubs to make the playoffs – 2/1
Why would you bet on the Cubs? Look at their roster, then subtract the young players they’re relying on to perform. We saw last season with Xander Bogaerts and Nick Castellanos that prospects don’t all come up and dominate immediately. There’s seasoning to be had.
Hypothetically, even if Bryant, Baez and Soler all have seasons beyond expectations, that pitching staff, starting and relieving is clearly not even amongst the best three in that division.
Sell your Cubs stock, or wait until next year, because they’re coming, but not yet.
San Francisco Giants Win Total – Over 83.5
The whole even year/odd year Giants quandary is one of the great coincidences I’ve ever witnessed in sports, yet it seems almost certain to happen again. This team is lacking. It’s lacking offence, losing Sandoval and then Hunter Pence going down hurt. It’s lacking pitching, after Madison Bumgarner of course. In a division with weak teams is what bumped this total above 80, but don’t be suckered in on the “defending champions” label, this is a sub .500 team.
Philadelphia Phillies Win Total – Under 68.5 – Evens
This team is a complete atrocity. After Cole Hamels, the rotation goes Aaron Harang-David Buchannan, Jerome Williams and Sean O’Sullivan. Re-read that! Now re-read it again! They’re more than likely going to be sending the lesser pitcher to the mound in 80% of their games, before they trade Cole Hamels, which they will. To make it worse, the offence is no better. They project to be the worst team in the league at First Base and Right Field. They project to be in the bottom five in Shortstop, Left Field and Centre Field as well.
This team is an absolute shoo-in to lose 100 games, this is a no doubter.
Lowest pitcher ERA – Over 2.00 – 5/6
How many times has a pitcher finished under an ERA of 2 this millennium you ask? 4. Pedro in 2000, Clemens in 2005, and then Kershaw the past two years. That’s an exclusive club. The scepticism arrives seeing Kershaw having done this in back-to-back years. When’s the last time a pitcher did it three times consecutively. Pete Alexander from 1918-1920. History suggests Kershaw isn’t doing this again, and if he doesn’t, nobody is. This seems like another sure thing.
Hit leader to have over 210.5 hits – 20/23
How many times since 1996 until present day has the hit leader not hit this target? Once, Matt Carpenter and Adrian Beltre hit 199 in 2013. Last year Jose Altuve had 225, a considerable margin clear of the required target set. In 2012, Derek Jeter had 212, and in 2011 Adrian Gonzalez had 213, as did Michael Young, whilst Jacoby Ellsbury had 212. This isn’t as likely as the other two, but it still seems like logical that someone surpasses that number.
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