Dirty Dozen: 12 Hottest MLB Teams
by Robert Ferringo - 05/23/2007
Right now it looks like Andruw Jones, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Zambrano are locked in a heated game of Who Can Cost Themselves The Most Money In Free Agency By Tanking Contest. So far it's a dead heat.
Not only has Zambrano (4-4, 5.61 ERA) suffered the indignity of falling behind Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis in the Cubs rotation, but he's also portrayed as a cross-eyed oaf in that MLB 2K7 commercial with David Wright for PS2. Dye has nine bombs but is hitting .221 in 120. He's well on his way to becoming the black Adam Dunn. Finally, on Sunday Jones passed the Hat Trick (three K's) and the Golden Sombrero (four K's) and went straight to the Kryptonite Condom (five K's). In the meantime he's been dropped from cleanup in Atlanta's lineup and is now getting closer to the pitcher's slot than a wannabe $120 million man should be.
That triumvirate has been pretty poor thus far this season. However, the White Sox and Braves remain profitable while the Cubs are climbing back into the N.L. Central race. I look for at least one of them to get a deal done before the trade deadline, which hopefully will boost production. At least one of them will stay cold - with flashes of greatness - for most of the season and end up costing you at least a couple hundred bucks by either grounding into inning-ending double plays or failing to produce enough of them. Finally, I think that one of them will be involved in a blockbuster deadline deal. Call it a hunch.
Now we'll move on to the Dirty Dozen Baseball Report. It's like a power ranking, only different. And to spare you the time of emailing me something to the effect of, "Hey (write expletive here), how could you rank (random team here) ahead of (e-mailer's favorite team here)? Are you an idiot or something?" let me just say that the rankings are in no way a statement on who I think is going to win the World Series or be the first to cure cancer. Instead, it's just my thoughts about how teams had played during that prior week as well as where I think they're headed in the upcoming week.
Without further ado, here is the Dirty Dozen:
1) Boston Red Sox (31-15, +1367) - The good news: the BoSox have been wrecking people. The bad news: every starter not named Julian Tavarez is shackled with heavy chalk. Only seven of their 31 wins (23 percent) this year have come by one run so there is value on the run line if you think they're going to win. Also, Kevin Youkilis is becoming one of my favorite hitters. Everything about his approach epitomizes this tough Boston lineup and that's the reason they'll be playing deep in October.
2) Detroit Tigers (28-17, +915) - It's amazingly difficult for a team that made it to the World Series the previous season to come back and remain a profitable venture the following year. But that's exactly what the Tigers have done. The pitching staff is still short-handed without Bonderman, Rogers or Zumaya but the offense has picked up the slack. They are No. 2 in scoring in MLB and have played 'over' in 10 of the last 15 outings.
3) Cleveland Indians (27-17, +838) - Before their recent two-game letdown, lookahead, train wreck in Kansas City the Indians had been devastating, ripping off a 7-2 tear and outscoring opponents 61-40. That's an average differential of 2.4 runs per game, and they've covered the run line in their past 10 victories. The starting staff is in the Top 10 in ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and opponent's batting average.
4) Milwaukee Brewers (28-18, +948) - Milwaukee has waffled a bit after that bloodbath in Philadelphia. But if you've read my Brew Crew report you would have completely anticipated that. They are just a .500 team on the road, which is a concern, but they have a 10-game home stand staring them in the face after they finish up on the West Coast. Look for a strong showing at Miller Park, especially against the Marlins in that four-game set.
5) New York Mets (29-16, +738) - The real value in this team lies in Rick Peterson. The pitching coach has coaxed outstanding starts out of guys like John Maine, Oliver Perez and Jorge Sosa. Those three remain undervalued by the betting public and have allowed the Mets to remain one of the most profitable teams in the league. Keep in mind that the Mets have made it to this point without Pedro, El Duque, Jose Valentin, Moises Alou and a there-in-spirit-only Carlos Delgado. That tells me they'll only get better.
6) Los Angeles Angels (28-19, +615) - The Angels have been impressive in Detroit this week and are 7-3 in their past 10. But the Halos have won just 11 of 23 road contests this year. But that's why I love the Halos. They make it so simple: bet on them at home, and bet against them on the road.
7) Arizona Diamondbacks (25-22, +267) - Again, another team that makes it easy on you. If they've won a couple in a row ride the wave. If they've lost a couple in a row either go against or stay away. Orlando Hudson has cooled off after an All-Star start and they still struggle against lefties. But look for some payback on the Astros, who come to The BOB for a four-game set.
8) Atlanta Braves (27-19, +326) - Beware the Bravos. They are devalued right now because of their poor play in Washington (where they struggle) and in Boston (which is a buzz saw right now). But while most may be jumping off the bandwagon I'm hopping right back on. Their next 16 games after the Mets series (which I expect Atlanta to win) are against the Phillies, Brewers, Marlins and Cubs. Those are organizations the Braves thrive against and I would be surprised if they did worse than 10-6.
9) Los Angeles Dodgers (26-20, +386) - The Dodgers are without question the worst interleague team of all-time, barely mustering a fight while getting swept in Anaheim. But they won two of three over the division-leading Brewers so that gets them a bump. This weekend they'll welcome a sloppy Cubs team to Chavez Ravine. After that is a very manageable nine-game road trip with stops in Washington and Pittsburgh.
10) Kansas City Royals (19-28, -62) - That's right, I'm going to the Royals. Why not: they've submarined my two biggest plays of the past two weeks and are the only thing standing between me and the Bahamas. They've gone on a 8-4 tear, including a 6-4 road trip, and have earned +912 in profit over that stretch. I've had my eye on this bunch and they really have been playing solid ball, with three of those four losses by just one run. I don't think it will last but you can still find outstanding value on this young bunch.
11) Philadelphia Phillies (23-23, -217) - The Phillies have quietly become one of the hottest teams in the N.L. They went 7-3 on their 10-game home stand. And while the competition wasn't the toughest they were playing without Ryan Howard. The secret is out on our boy Cole Hamels, who has won his last four starts in dominating fashion despite not being posted as a favorite of more than -146. If you see him at less than -150 it's an automatic play.
12) Chicago White Sox (22-19, +472) - This is still a tough team to get a read on. They scraped out six wins in their past 11 games and the offense has started to show signs of life. Before getting shut down by the A's, they were averaging 6.2 runs in their past five contests - more than 2.0 runs better than their season average.
Baker's Dozen Team - San Francisco (23-22, -336)
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