by Matt Foust - 06/02/2008
Fans, bettors, and prognosticators frequently go into each MLB season with preconceived notions about certain teams. The finish to the previous season, off-season maneuvers, and MLB futures odds seem to be enough to make just about anyone an armchair expert. Of course, there are always surprises - anomalies that make both expert and amateur look like dolts. That's what we are going to look at, the three biggest idiot makers of the early MLB season. Leading off…
1. The Detroit Tigers
Nobody thought the Tigers would be fighting the Royals for the AL Central cellar at the end of May. However, that's exactly where Detroit finds itself. Granted, they are having a tough time keeping Kansas City out of last place, but they have made a valiant effort.
This team had 6/1 odds to win the AL pennant at the season's open. So, what happened to make this team such a horrendous bet? Well, they are just 5-17 against AL Central opponents, they have kept small losing streaks alive by going 14-18 off a loss, and they have failed to string together a big winning streak by going 10-13 off a win. Not surprisingly, this team is a huge money line loser and they have also surprised many bettors with the number of games they have had under the total. Their much-hyped offense has been streaky for most of the early season.
However, look for them to improve as the season goes along. Justin Verlander received Cy Young-hype prior to the season, and it's doubtful he'll continue to perform like Greg Gohr. The Tigers are not likely to get ridiculous odds against many teams either. They've earned a more reasonable line for bettors by going 0-6 against teams the likes of Kansas City.
2. The Tampa Bay Rays
Most people felt that the Rays would be much improved this season, but I don't think anybody thought that they would be in first place in the AL East at the end of May. While I still think it is unlikely that they will win the division, they definitely have staying power. Don't look for this team to fall off that much in the standings and they should be a consistently good bet for the rest of the season. So far, they have been an excellent dog bet going 9-11 in this situation, and a good bet as a favorite too with a 26-11 mark. Almost 75 percent of the Rays wins have been by two or more runs, making them a decent run line bet as well when game analysis pushes a bettor in this direction.
The Rays have frequently fallen into that perfect odds range for bettors as they have surprised sports books this season too. There have not been outrageous stakes on a Tampa Bay game that often as a result and, despite being two months into the season, they are still in a little bit of feeling out period as far as oddsmakers are concerned. However, there may be some pretty heavy tilts in the Rays' future if they keep playing like they have been.
3. The Colorado Rockies
I don't know if anybody thought the Rockies were headed back to the World Series, but I doubt anybody expected this kind of collapse either. Colorado is in a major hole and this team doesn't appear to have the fortitude that last year's team showed in its late-season surge. Granted, they looked pretty miserable early in 2007 too, but this just seems different. Their vaunted 2007 offense hasn't returned in 2008 as they are 22nd in the league in runs scored.
The Rockies are a perfect example of how following expectations can translate into bad betting. Colorado has been a favorite 31 times and they've only won 13 of those matchups. As with most teams in Colorado's condition, they have been a bad dog bet as well going 7-19 when receiving favorable odds.
I don't look for Colorado to finish in the NL West cellar, but I don't see them getting past the Diamondbacks or Dodgers either. However, their poor performance early may actually make them a decent bet in the middle to later part of the season.