The 2017 MLB season is almost upon us. The Cubbies finally broke that curse in 2016 and are without a doubt once again the team to beat. Bookies have not been kind in regards to the future markets so with that in mind we will approach the season preview a tad differently. Basically all divisions have odds on favourites and there is zero value in playing any division bets or league bets at this stage. I tend to find you will get better value a month or so into the season. Just as we did last year getting the Indians at $21 to win the AL. Which they did ! I will be updating any future plays via twitter as usual. There looks to be about 7 teams which have been given the chance to win the World Series in 2017. Cubbies still the standout though. Let’s get this season underway
Note: All prices quoted via Crownbet at time of writing..
Best Bet Cubs over 95.5 $1.73
The Boston Red Sox have really gone all out to add to an already solid young core of players. The addition of Chris Sale is huge, although the injury concerns and recent struggles of David Price offsets this a little. A solid young core of players in Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley Jr make this team sprinkled with veterans the clear top pick in the division.
After a surprisingly good 2016 the Baltimore Orioles may look a tad weaker, however this could be Machados breakout season (as if 2016 wasn’t good enough). My pick for AL MVP by the way. A pretty solid, not flashy pitching staff and solid closer in Britton plus the home runs they always manage to tally up may keep the O’s close to the Sox.
In what looked like the season they may finally win it all the Toronto Blue Jays just fell short in the ALCS against the Tribe. The loss of Encarnacion is huge but the teams core is still the same. There will still be runs and a solid pitching rotation they will be competitive again, the relief pitching does leave a few questions though. Still should be in the running for the division come the final months of the season if not then the wild card.
It’s really hard to get a read on the New York Yankees, they finally decided to rebuild yet they managed to stay very competitive. Sanchez and Bird are exciting players and the relief and closing situation is one of the best. Starting pitching though. Tanaka’s arm could drop at any moment and Pineda and Sabathia may have had their best days. Could be a contender to bet in play with often when behind early on.
Then comes the Tampa Bay Rays. The fact that Chris Archer is still there is a shock. Adding Rasmus helped but where are the runs coming from. Longoria is past his best. This division is so strong, they can’t win enough to get above .500. The starting pitching is the strong point though so that at least will deem them competitive.
Boston Red Sox
Orioles o81.5 $1.88
There can be a case made for why this is now the weakest and aside from the NL Central the most obvious division to pick. Cleveland Indians after falling one game short of the World Series are a stronger team, with the addition of Encarnacion and a full season of Brantley and Miller. They are a firm favourite to win it all amongst the experts and a visit to the ALCS looks at worst a guarantee.
How the years have not been kind to the Detroit Tigers, the remains of a once 100 win team are still there but its a crumbling mess, sort of like all the professional sports teams in the same city. Social and economical issues in the city have played a decent part in this teams fall from grace. Still competitive lead by Cabrera and Verlander, a run at the Wild Card looks likely.
A couple of seasons removed from a World series win the Kansas City Royals will need bounce back seasons and a relative free injury record to reach those heights. In what looked like a dynasty in the making it just hasn’t gone to plan. The death of young pitcher Yordano Ventura could be the cloud hanging over this teams season.
The basement dwellers of seasons past the Minnesota Twins may have what it takes to avoid that this season. There seems to be an okay future on the horizon but the pitching staff once again is going to be a mess. They should get some runs from that lineup though.
They finally decided to got all out and rebuild. About time. The Chicago White Sox have a bright future with Moncada and Anderson but give them time. It worked for the other Chicago team.
Tigers o82.5 $1.95
After hyping them up in 2016 I was left rather frustrated with the Houston Astros, a very inconsistent team, either winning by a handful or scoring none. The core to the team has gotten a year older Correa and Altuve are MVP calibre and they have a pretty good rotation. Can they be consistent enough. I hope so.
How it has all gone wrong in the post season for the Texas Rangers two seasons is a row. They will be going for the division 3 years running and it looks like they should be there abouts. I have concerns with the starting pitching after Darvish and Hamels. An injury to either of these 2 will be an issue. It looks a 2 horse race for the West.
Can the King bounce back ? the Seattle Mariners will be counting on it. This team won’t win games with the bat, that lineup is just too weak outside of Cano and Cruz. Starting pitching is the strong point though I see them falling just under .500 come seasons end due to relief pitching and lack of runs.
AL MVP Mike Trout continues to be the only attraction for the LA Angels, Richards and Shoemaker are decent starters but there isn’t much else here to get excited about. Trout will be a front runner for the season awards and the world will keep on turning.
Not sure with the stagnation in LA, not sure with it in the bay area either. The Oakland A’s have been hanging around bottom of this division for a few seasons now and Billy Beane has not looked to fix that anytime soon.
Astros at $2.10 to win division
A rather comfortable division win in 2016 the Washington Nationals likely won’t find it easier this time around. Bryce Harper is the obvious NL MVP favourite, but can he turn up in the 2nd half of the season. That pitching rotation is amazing lead by Scherzer, so aside from a brain collapse from Dusty Baker they should win around 95 games again.
Speaking of strong starting rotations do they get any better then what the New York Mets have. Syndergaard has turned into a legit Cy Young candidate, then you still have deGrom, Matz and Harvey behind him. That batting lineup looks pretty consistent with no real weaknesses. Could pip the Nats for that division.
Now is where the NL East gets a bit blurry, the Miami Marlins are exciting to watch at least led by Stanton, however they suffered a tragic lose in the death of ace Jose Fernandez in late 2016, like the Royals this could hang over there season. The rotation took a big blow and I can’t see them pushing a wild card due to this.
The gap from the top to bottom of this division should at least for another season be rather large. The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are rebuilding nicely and have some money around for some key free agents at the end of the season. Exciting players abound. Watch these teams over the next few years.
Not much more can be said about the Chicago Cubs, this team looks destined to become a dynasty lead by Bryant and Rizzo. Still packed full of young players and classy veterans how do they not win 100 games again. The rotation, bullpen, bench all strong. Can they go back to back ?
The ever consistent St Louis Cardinals are the only real threat to the Cubs for the Central, though i have a hard time thinking they can win 100 games or more. I like that rotation I like that Molina is still there behind the plate but the runs concern me, can they produce like they did in 2016 ? Will take career years for any chance of the division.
If your looking at teams that could go either way in 2017 its the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is enough here to suggest they win 90 plus games, yet things could go tragically wrong and they could fall well under .500. The best outfield in the MLB will be the engine behind the offense, they need Cole to lead this young pitching staff if they want to be in the picture come October.
Its seems to be a common theme these days, teams deciding to rebuild and go the route the Cubs took. The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers have jumped on that bandwagon. Neither will finish above .500 and they don’t want to. It’s a tough division with the Cubs so they know where they stand. Give them both a few more seasons of growing.
Cubs o95.5 $1.73
Can Kershaw carry the LA Dodgers to a NL West title again.? Yes, but he has help this time. Seager has grown into an All Star and if Puig and Pederson can get a bit more consistency this team is looking very dangerous. If Ryu can avoid injury that rotation may not need to be the burden on Kershaws shoulders as it was in 2016. I like this team a lot.
Always there aboust the San Francisco Giants will be relying on pitching to lead the way. Arguably a better overall rotation then the Dodgers, it the runs they will be the issue for the Giants. Posey need to have an MVP calibre season and I just don’t see it. Expect them to be in the Wild card picture that’s about it.
If you want a team that could shock, its the Colorado Rockies. The batting lineup is dangerous and they will always score runs in Coors Field. Gray is a decent pitcher but his number will always looked skewed. Arenado for NL MVP and the Rockies in the playoff picture finally.
How it all went so wrong for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016. Led by Goldschmidt they posses an interesting offense capable of winning games on there own. I worry about the depth of pitching, and if Greinke is putting up those numbers what hope does the rest of the rotation have. A home field that does not help them close out games, has my concerned.
After breaking the bank a few seasons ago the San Diego Padres experiment did not work. Now in the cliché rebuilding mode there isn’t much to be excited about here. They have the lowest projected win total and you can see why. A tough division this could be a long season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Rockies o80.5 $1.88
Season Player Props
Most Home Runs
Nolan Arenado $11 – Coors Field and another year of growth. Good price.
AL Cy Young
Justin Verlander $11 – Think Sale and Kluber are too short going for value.
NL Cy Young
Jake Arietta $13 – Kershaw probably wins it, but at $2 I will take the value pick again.
Manny Macahdo $15 – A year better and plays day in day out. Value is there.
Nolan Arenado $9 – Harper too short for me. Arenado will put up the numbers.
My Official Predictions
AL East – Boston Red Sox
AL Central – Cleveland Indians
AL West – Houston Astros
AL Wild Card – Texas Rangers & Baltimore Orioles
AL Champion – Cleveland Indians
NL East – Washington Nationals
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card – New York Mets & St Louis Cardinals
NL Champion – Los Angeles Dodgers
World Series – Cleveland Indians
Best Bet – Yankees $1.91 (1u)
Next Best – u7.5 Runs Cubs/Cards $1.82 (0.5u)
New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays (3.00am AEST Live ESPN)
Yankees ($1.91) – Tanaka (14-4, 3.07 ERA) 2016
Rays ($1.92) – Archer (9-19, 4.02 ERA) 2016
So the 2017 season kicks off in the famous Tropicana Field (sarcasm) with the Yankees visiting the Rays. Chris Archer had a down season in 2016 and it’s hard to believe this guy could lose 19 games. Says more about his team then him though. He is 2-5 against the Yankees over the last few seasons though his BAA is hovering around the .200 mark. With a 3.03 ERA over 10 starts. I do expect him to bounce back this year. Tanaka who has had his injury issues put up some solid numbers. He is 3-0 for his career at Tropicana Field and I like that to continue. A .157 BAA there and 1.80 ERA. The price is right for the Yankees here. A team I usually avoid. Hopefully my luck with them changes in Game 1 of 2017
Chicago Cubs vs St Louis Cardinals (10.30am AEST Live ESPN)
Cubs ($1.80) – Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) 2016
Cardinals ($2.05) – Martinez (16-9, 3.04 ERA) 2016
What a match up for the main game for the opening day. Division rivals and the 2016 World Series Champs. There will be plenty of games between these two over the season though and each team will be keen to set the tone from the get go. Martinez was great last year, though his stuff at Busch Stadium wasn’t his best, going 7-7 over 16 starts. The Cubbies managed to get to him as well 4.80 ERA and .257 BAA going 1-4 in 5 starts. Jon Lester had a sensational season and bounced back showing his best days were not behind him. He was stunning in his start at Busch last year going 8 shutout innings and held a 2-0 record against the Cards with an 0.87 ERA over 3 starts. Have to go on last seasons numbers here. Both teams have their bats but this looks a tight one and traditionally batters can take a few games to heat up. If you like the head to head have a go at the Cubs, you won’t get them at that price too often.
Total Runs u7.5 $1.82
I look forward to the banter throughout 2017. Feel free to share your opinions on the season ahead at @MLB_TheProfits on Twitter. Happy Punting