Four Teams That Will Dissapoint Baseball Bettors
by Trevor Whenham - 03/28/2007
As baseball handicappers we're at a dangerous time of year. Spring training is almost over, optimism is high in virtually every city, and we can read all sorts of reports about players that are going to have monster years. It's easy in the face of all that to fall in love with a team. That can be costly. Every year there are teams that seem poised in the spring to have a big year, yet they don't seem to turn that potential into betting success. Here are four teams that have the potential to break loyal bettors' hearts and wallets:
1) New York Yankees. The Yankees are poised to be a betting disappointment because the Yankees are always a betting disappointment. That's what happens when a team's huge fan base is so blindly loyal and so willing to accept ridiculously overpriced odds on them virtually every time they play. They are the ultimate public team, and proof that the public isn't always that smart when it comes to betting. It's not that they are going to be bad. It's just that they almost certainly won't be good enough to overcome the hefty odds they face.
Beyond the regular problems that the Yanks present to bettors, you have to be concerned about their starting pitching as well. With Chien-Ming Wang starting the season injured, and Andy Pettitte not managing to stay healthy through spring training, an already questionable staff has some real challenges. Carl Pavano is a mental case that hasn't pitched for over a year. No team would be thrilled to have him as their opening day starter. Kei Igawa looks to have promise, but he's never pitched in North America before, so it's a total crapshoot how he will do. Only Mike Mussina comes into the season healthy and completely reliable. A staff like that isn't going to help make this team profitable.
2) Detroit Tigers. Last year's squad was one of my favorite sports stories in a long time, but that doesn't mean that I am going to be betting on them blindly this year. The Tigers will be competitive, and will likely be in the thick of a competitive A.L. Central, but they likely won't be able to keep up with the lofty public expectations. A couple of things make it hard for me to have confidence in the team. First, their bats were their downfall last year, and an aging Gary Sheffield doesn't do a lot to remedy that problem. Second, it is far from certain that the pitching will be as solid as it was last year. It seems unlikely that Kenny Rogers will be as good as he was last year, Justin Verlander has struggled throughout the spring and there is an unnerving combination of age and injuries in the bullpen. The public will be all over the Tigers after last year, and I don't think that they'll be up to the challenge.
If you look at where the profit came from on the Tigers last year, it was all on the road. You'd actually have lost money if you bet them at home, but they made some pretty serious money on the road. That indicates that they exceeded expectations and snuck up on teams. They aren't going to be able to do that this year, and their profitability could suffer accordingly.
3) Washington Nationals. Some bettors will look to the Nats to be this year's Royals on the betting front. The Royals last year were bad enough to always be underdogs, but won just enough games to be surprisingly profitable. That sounds like a good theory, but the problem is that the Nationals just aren't going to win enough games. Get your punch lines ready, because this team is going to be so bad that they'll have to be the butt of all your jokes. They are going to be really, really bad. Their five likely starters have 60 career wins. Alfonso Soriano is gone and Nick Johnson will miss a couple of months with a broken leg, so their best, and really only, decent bat is Ryan Zimmerman. There's pretty much no one of note in the farm system that will be ready to contribute this year. Washington is rebuilding after the mess that was the Expos, and this year will be proof that it's going to be a long process.
4) San Diego Padres. The Padres are a team that is fairly consistently better than it looks like they should be, so it's always hard to know what to expect. In fact, the lack of depth that seems to be their biggest problem this year has been their biggest problem almost forever. I'm not confident that exchanging Josh Barfield for Marcus Giles at second base is a move that is going to pay off. If any of their starters go down then an offense that is already destined to struggle to score at home could really be in trouble. I also don't have a lot of faith in a pitching staff that is topped by the consistently disappointing Jake Peavy, and which will rely on three pitchers - Greg Maddux, David Wells and Trevor Hoffman - that are all old enough to remember a time before there were cars. If everything were to go perfectly, the Padres could win 90 or 95 games, but they are as close to that as they are to 75 wins. This team is a crapshoot, and they have the potential to disappoint bettors regardless of what outlook they have for the team.