by Mike Hayes - 03/28/2006
Just days after the White Sox ended 88 years of frustration on the south side of Chicago by brining home a World Series title, we took a look at some potential value plays on World Series futures for 2006. With the season now just days away its time to make some more 2006 MLB predictions and see whether their remains a dark horse or two worthy of a wager.
Back in November the Mets were an obvious value play at 33-1 and that proved correct as the best you will get now is the 7-1 being offered at Pinnacle Sportsbook, with most books giving 5-1 or 6-1.
With the addition of Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the Mets were a steal at 33-1, but with an aging and suspect starting rotation a wager in the 5-1 to 7-1 range doesn't seem wise.
Even though they haven't won the series since they beat the Mets in 2000, the Yankees were and remain the favorite to win it all in 2006. Back in November the Yanks were as high as 5-1, but now the best you can get is 3.5-1 at Canbet.
Other values spotted in November were the White Sox, who were listed as the fifth or sixth choice at as much as 16-1, the Phillies and Giants at 33-1 and the Dodgers at 50-1.
The Dodgers have dropped to as little as 12-1 at Bodog, but can be had at 20-1 at both Pinnacle Sportsbook and Canbet. There is a lot of fluctuation in the odds on the Giants, probably due to the many questions surrounding Barry Bonds. The fact is if he is healthy, plays and produces the Giants should make the playoffs in a weak division. If he is not healthy, or doesn't play for some other reason, the team will struggle to reach .500. The Giants are worth a play at the 35-1 being offered at Pinnacle Sportsbook but not at the 15-1 or 20-1 you will find elsewhere.
The Phillies can be had at about 40-1 at just about all sites, but they would need a lot to go right, including a big year from new closer Tom Gordon, to win it all. Even still, the 40-1 does represent some value considering this team has been on the verge of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The White Sox, who have the looks of a team that is capable of winning back-to-back titles, are as low as 4-1 at Bodog but remain a nice 10-1 at Pinnacle Sportsbook.
A couple of teams that look a bit more appealing now than they did in November are the Red Sox at nearly 13-1 and the Angels at 17-1, both at Pinnacle Sportsbook. I'm betting Coco Crisp will fill the void left by Johnny Damon's move to the Bronx well and the Red Sox starting five could prove to be among the best in baseball. The Angels will no doubt be serious playoff contenders due to their starting pitching backed by one of the best bullpens in the game. The Twins look like a playoff caliber team and at 40-1 or better could be a nice play. They do play in what has become a tough American League Central Division though with the White Sox and Indians also as contenders.
If you are one of those people that believe things happen in threes and expect the Cubs to follow the lead of the Red Sox and White Sox to end yet another historic drought you can get the Cubbies anywhere from 10-1 to nearly 30-1.
How about the real long shots? You can get 600-1 on the Royals but you would probably have more fun throwing your money out of the window while driving around town. Of the teams at 100-1 or more, I think the Orioles, currently 125-1, are probably the best team, but they are in the toughest division in baseball and could easily be staring up at the Red Sox, Yanks and Blue Jays by the end of the season.
Still, the Orioles could surprise some people this year. They played well in the early part of last season and gone this season are headaches Sammy Sosa and Rafael "I never took steroids" Palmiero.
A couple of teams to stay away from as far as I'm concerned are the A's at 12-1 and the Blue Jays at 17-1. The A's have had a number of chances and have not been able to get over the hump so why should 2006 be any different? For my money the odds would have to be significantly higher for a play here. The same is true for Toronto. Yes they have improved and might even end up being the third best team in the American League, but third best doesn't get you into the playoffs so I'd take a pass at these odds.
Whether you have a feeling about a particular team or you just want to bet a few bucks on the hometown nine, it is important to shop around because there can be a significant difference in the odds.
Take the Arizona Diamondbacks for example. If they somehow pull off the unlikely and find themselves sipping champagne come October, I would sure as hell want to cash a ticket at the 150-1 odds being offered at Pinnacle Sportsbook as opposed to the 66-1 you can get at Canbet. In fact, in virtually every instance the odds are considerably fatter at Pinnacle Sportsbook so you might want to check there first of you are interested in taking any of these 2006 MLB predictions.
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The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's MLB picks service.