MLB Handicapping: NL West Betting Odds and Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 7/28/2010
The San Diego Padres continue to be the surprise team in baseball. They own the best record in the National League and have made first place in the NL West seem like home owning the top spot since June 19.
Through July 26 the Padres held a 3.5-game lead over San Francisco, a six-game lead over Los Angeles and an eight-game lead over Colorado in the division.
This is a team that was an underdog in 10 of its last 16 games while in first place in its division. The San Diego Padres odds to win the World Series opened up at +10000 at the start of the season. Those are the same odds the Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles opened up with. To put that in perspective, those teams are currently an average of 22 games under .500.
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The oddsmakers have finally taken notice. The Padres are regularly favored right now and their odds to win the NL West improve each day. On BetUS the Padres are currently -350 to win the division. This is up from -275 after a weekend sweep of the Pirates. The Giants are listed at +350, with the Dodgers +750 and the slumping Rockies priced at +1000.
Along with the NL East race this is one of the only legitimate four-team division races going on in baseball. And this will be the best division race in baseball by far.
The main reason the NL West will be filled with drama late into September is because the Padres are leading the division. This is a team that has struggled immensely to produce any semblance of an offense. It will be tough to stretch that modest 3.5-game lead without much punch at the plate.
Another reason why these last two months will be a dead heat in the division is the way the MLB schedule works out. San Diego plays 19 of its last 30 against the other three NL West contenders. We are leaving the 37-62 Arizona Diamondbacks out of this discussion for obvious reasons. The Dodgers (21 of 34), Giants (19 of 31) and Rockies (21 of 36) also have similar stretches of games against NL West contenders. You could make a case that the four NL West contenders control their own destiny within the division.
The Padres have a grueling stretch of road games that sends them away from Petco Park for 17 of 20 games. The Giants, Dodgers and Rockies have all shown they are more capable of getting into a division race and making a late season push. The Padres have no such track record.
The Rockies have gone through some incredible hot streaks under manager Jim Tracy, and star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returns this week just in time for the race to heat up. Tracy said his team without Tulowitzki is like the Cardinals without Albert Pujols.
The Giants actually have a better pitching staff than the Padres and the Dodgers have been the most consistent offensive team as of late. Of the remaining schedules nobody has an easier path than the Rockies, who will play 33 games at Coors Field and 28 away. Colorado will also play 16 games against last place National League teams over these next two months.
With the Padres a relative newcomer to an August and September division race and their lack of offense, there is really no value with San Diego, especially at –350, according to my NL West predictions. The Giants have the best chance to catch the Padres and at +350 they have incredible value, especially considering they see San Diego 10 more times this season, including six games in San Francisco. At +1000 Colorado is another viable candidate, especially after what the Rockies have shown us the last couple years.
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