We are about 50 games through the 162-game regular season of Major League Baseball and now seems like a great time to look into the odds and find some value from rising or falling teams. I want to find a favorite or two and then a future hedge out or two via longshots a bit down the card.
I think that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and I think its relatively hard to debate it in all honesty from a roster standpoint. The Yankees are boasting a 30-17 record with All-Stars like Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton out of the lineup and contributing zero to very little to the team’s early success.
Both Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius, who are both above-average MLB starters at their position, have also played fewer than 10 games combined this season as well. The Yankees’ healthy starting lineup will be something like Hicks, Judge, Voit, Stanton, Sanchez, Gregorius, LeMahieu, Torres and a combination of Gardner, Frazier, or another bat at DH.
The other team that has a claim for the best team in baseball is the Astros, whose top of the lineup boasts less power and fewer strikeouts. However, the Yankees’ back end of Gregorius, DJ, Torres, and Gardner smokes every other team in baseball in terms of depth.
The starting rotation in a playoff series would be something like Severino, German, Paxton, and Tanaka, a group that easily rivals the Houston starters of Verlander, Cole, Peacock, and McHugh. The Astros’ bullpen has a lower ERA than the Yankees, but very similar xFIP’s, and I expect the Yankees to be the better bullpen moving forward with the addition of Betances.
If you wanted to compare all of these units and debate these two teams, you could have great arguments for both sides, but I think the Yankees win in the end. The great thing about this is that the Astros are +350 and the Yankees are +650. This is by far my favorite bet on the board.
I don’t want to actually bet on an NL team to win the World Series because I don’t think that any team can touch the Astros and Yankees in the World Series. But the lines are long enough that we can just attack whoever we think can get there and then hedge out when they are large underdogs down the line.
My favorite top team here is the Phillies. The Phillies have a lot of young talent all over, and I think that they should be closer to the Dodgers than they are. I have never had a lot of faith in the Dodgers, after they have advanced to two straight World Series and then lost. I think the NL is getting deeper at the upper levels, and I think the Phillies have the pop and the arms to get there. I’ll take the Phillies at +900 over the Dodgers at +450 any day of the week.
My favorite long shot on the board is the Cardinals at +1900, slightly down from the beginning of the season. The Cardinals have been one of the streakiest teams in baseball, but I think that has hurt their odds too much. The Cardinals have implemented this strategy that I call “floating” for a long time, and this is my prediction that it may just end here.
At some point, the Cardinals need to be aggressive, and I think they need to be big players for Bumgarner when the time comes. Their starting pitching is not good, but an addition or two and then maybe seeing if someone like Alex Reyes can stay healthy/finally be good and maybe this team has a chance to actually look really good at the end of games.
What their starters are lacking could be made up for by Miller, Martinez, and Hicks in the back end, possibly giving you five innings in a big-time postseason game if they are necessary. The offense isn’t killer, but it has enough in it to win games if the pitching can keep up with its end of the bargain.
If you want someone else as a longer shot, look at Cleveland and hope they can make noise in the playoffs. The combination of Kluber, Bauer, and Carrasco can take any team a long way in a five-game series if they are right. If they can pull out one upset, you will be sitting pretty at +2500.