Spring Training is underway, and that means that the long, glorious baseball regular season is just around the corner. That, in turn, means that it is a great time to take a first look at the 2014 World Series contenders to look for some attractive futures value (all odds to win it all are from Sportsbook.ag):
L.A. Dodgers (+550): I don’t trust the Dodgers in general this year and certainly not at this price. They have talent, but the number of egos that need to fall in line makes for a volatile mix, and they rely heavily on their rotation without having enough depth if one of their top three guys is lost for a significant amount of time. I expect them to fall short like they did last year, and I see no value at all here.
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Detroit Tigers (+800): I have even more issues with the Tigers than the Dodgers at this price. They have struggled with mental toughness in recent years despite being good enough to do some damage. Ditching Prince Fielder deals with some of that toughness, but it was at the expense of a lot of offensive production. I don’t think they have gotten better overall, and there is a decent chance that their pitching won’t be as good as it has been.
St. Louis Cardinals (+900): I like the depth and talent of this team. I like the coaching. And they are in a good spot in their division. The price is a touch low, but this is the most attractive team we have seen yet.
Washington Nationals (+1200): Last year the Nationals were a major disappointment when I had a lot of faith in them, so I am a bit gun-shy to back them again. The rotation is more than solid, though, and the young talent is wiser and more experienced with every game. The upside is huge, and I like the management. At this price this is my pick to win it all.
New York Yankees (+1200): The Yankees are always far too much of a public team, and this year is no exception. There is the potential for the team to be good — especially if Tanaka is as good as promised and Sabathia benefits from losing about 200 pounds. The roster depth is a concern, though, and the Jeter retirement tour and the absence of A-Rod could all be overwhelming distractions. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team were to shine, but I certainly am not going to bet on it.
Boston Red Sox (+1500): I am very skeptical about this team and their chances this year. I just don’t believe. Of course, I was pretty vocal in my lack of faith last year, too — right up until the point that they were spraying each other with champagne. My skepticism has little value here, but I don’t think their price has any, either.
L.A. Angels (+1800): Can Albert Pujols get healthy and remember how good he is? How about Josh Hamilton? Can Mike Trout keep being superhuman in the face of massive pressure? Is this rotation good enough? That’s a whole lot of questions, and I only feel good about the Trout answer. Not interested.
Toronto Blue Jays (+5000): You have to back a long shot, and this is the one for me. At their price last year — they were favored to win it all before the season — they were ridiculously overbet. At this price, though, the public has overreacted, and there is real value. The lineup is still strong, and Jose Bautista is poised for another big year. They have upgraded at catcher, which was a major concern. The rotation is solid — especially if Brandon Morrow can finally stay healthy. The division isn’t as strong as it has been. The Jays could fall just as flat as last year, but they could also be a real surprise. Worth throwing a few bucks on.
The rest of the field
Tampa Bay Rays +1500
Atlanta Braves +1800
Oakland Athletics +1800
Texas Rangers +1800
San Francisco Giants +2000
Cincinnati Reds +3000
Pittsburgh Pirates +3000
Baltimore Orioles +4000
Seattle Mariners +5000
Kansas City Royals +5000
Chicago White Sox +5000
Cleveland Indians +5000
Philadelphia Phillies +6000
Arizona Diamondbacks +6000
San Diego Padres +6000
Colorado Rockies +7000
Milwaukee Brewers +7000
New York Mets +10000
Miami Marlins +12500
Chicago Cubs +12500
Minnesota Twins +12500
Houston Astros +25000
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