by Josh Nagel - 07/31/2008
It's that time of the season in Major League Baseball when teams have declared, through trade -- deadline activity or lack thereof - their intentions for the rest of the season. While some teams are acquiring star players through trades on likely a short-term basis for a pennant run, others are dumping salaries and trying to reload with younger talent through the trade market.
Once the dust settles, this is often a time when you will see teams go on significant winning and losing streaks based in some part on their new personnel - for better or worse - combined with their mindset depending on whether the club is a contender. Teams like the Yankees and Angels, who each made significant upgrades through trades, are prime candidates for a string of wins, while others, such as the Indians and Braves, find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Here is a look at some MLB betting trends through July 30:
American League East
Boston Red Sox - The slumping Red Sox have lost five out of six to the Yankees and Angels, and have dropped seven of their last 10 overall to fall back into second place behind the Rays. Despite a record that is 14 games over .500, the Sox are just +431 units to their backers, an indication that quite a bit of juice is lost when this team drops a game as a fairly significant chalk. For instance, those who bet Daisuke Matsuzaka at -165 against the Angels' Jered Weaver -- and lost -- realize that all it takes is a few defeats in that price range to take a big chunk out of your bankroll.
Baltimore Orioles - If they played in the NL West, the Orioles would still be in contention at 51-56. As it stands, their record is not too bad for a team from which much wasn't expected and ranks among the worst in MLB in most pitching and defense categories. Last week, Baltimore stopped a five-game losing streak by winning three-straight and taking home underdog money +135 or better against the Angels and Yankees, boosting its season result to nearly 300 units to the good.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox - Two three-game win streaks wrapped around a four-game skid pretty much summarizes the inconsistent but successful season for the White Sox thus far. Though daily value might be hard to find - as they often seem to lose games they should win, and vice versa - those who back them for the long haul could find a lucrative investment, as they have brought home 1,052 units this year.
Cleveland Indians - By dumping C.C. Sabathia and Casey Blake in a trade-deadline purge, the Indians effectively threw in the towel on their disappointing season. This team could be a prime candidate for a double-figure losing streak, the type teams with nothing to play for often provide. This could provide a rebate of sorts for anyone who hung their hopes and betting dollars on the Tribe this season; a needed one at that, as the Indians have gashed their backers to a debt of 2,535 units on the season.
American League West
Los Angeles Angels - By grabbing this year's official Rental Player for the Playoff Race, Mark Teixeira, the Angels defined themselves as the team to beat in the American League. Taking a few games from the Red Sox in Boston in dominating fashion didn't hurt, either. Since they have done most of their damage with an underrated pitching staff, the Angels also are a surprising 21 games over .500 against the under for the season.
Texas Rangers - For a team that is just three games over .500, the Rangers are up an astounding 1,428 units for the year. How do they do it? Put simply, they give bettors bang for their buck. In four of their past five wins, Texas has been at even money or better, and three of those cashes were better than +135. This is what happens you mix the best offense and worst pitching staff on the same team; the Rangers predictably are dogs most of the time, but they have shown they can out-hit their pitching. It's a never too far fetched to take a flyer on them against any other team's ace on a given night; this strategy has proved profitable for those willing to gamble with the Rangers.
National League East
Florida Marlins - This is another team that is netting big value on a per-win basis, as the 57-51 Marlins have netted bettors just over 1,700 units this season. They are picking it up in big chunks, such as last week's consecutive road wins at Chicago that scored 390 units for wins at +230 and +160.
Atlanta Braves - The Braves have been injured and underwhelming and, now with the trade of Teixeira, they have decided to look toward next season. With Chipper Jones and their top three starters on the injured list, it's no surprise that they could not keep pace in the division. They have lost five in a row, and have cost hopeful bettors more than 1,800 units on the year.
National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals have bounced back from a five-game losing streak by winning four of their last five. They have made up for lost time at the cage, too, with 483 units coming in those four wins, bringing their season total to 1,306 units of profit. An overachieving starting staff, led by 12-game winner Kyle Lohse, is the primary reason behind the solid values the club has provided.
Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates quietly have had a successful year, at least by their recent standards. They have put together a lineup that scores a respectable 4.94 runs per game, seventh in MLB. However, their team ERA of 5.25 is the league's worst, giving them another hurdle to clear on the road to respectability.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers - This is the best team in a bad division, which really isn't saying much. Even so, the Dodgers could be a dangerous team if they somehow manage to take the division and reach the playoffs. They have postseason-quality pitching and would be a tough team to eliminate in a seven-game series. Now that they picked up Manny Ramirez this club could be a postseason dark horse.
San Francisco Giants - The Giants have some promising young pitchers, but they have been far from enough to carry this team. Barry Zito has been a colossal disappointment, and the Giants must have the least fearsome lineup in the majors. With this season pretty much conceded, they will have to after some big-name free agents on offense in order to return to anything resembling a competitive level of play.