MLB Divisional Props
by Dave Schwab - 8/15/2012
The MLB regular season has entered the stretch run and every division title still remains up for grabs. While four teams have a fairly comfortable five- or six-game lead heading into the final month and a half of games, there are two divisions that appear to be ended right down to the wire; the AL Central and the NL West.
BetOnline Sportsbook has released money lines for the teams that are still embroiled in all six division races, but we want to focus our attention of these two divisions to uncover where the value lies in the numbers.
Heading into this Tuesday night’s games, the Chicago White Sox had a two-game lead over Detroit and a nine game lead over Cleveland. Unless you believe in miracles, we will leave the Indians at +1300 out of this discussion and focus on the Tigers at -175 and the White Sox at +110 to win the AL Central.
These odds clearly suggest that Detroit will catch and pass Chicago for the division title, but is that really the case? Detroit is 61-55 overall, but since July 24th it has sandwiched a 2-6 run to close out the month and a 1-5 stretch this past week around a six-game winning streak. What used to be a fairly consistent team has become extremely streaky, which is not the best attribute to have in a tight divisional race.
The White Sox are 12-7 since July 23rd with no more than two losses in a row. They have won their last six series and are 32-26 at home and 30-26 on the road, as opposed to the Tigers 33-23 record at home verses a losing 28-32 record on the road. The only chink in the armor is a 4-7 record head-to-head against Detroit, but the two teams still meet seven times before the end of the season.
There are still three legitimate contenders in this division race, with Los Angeles and San Francisco tied at the top of the NL West at 63-53 with Arizona 4.5 games back. Looking at the current money line for each of the three teams, the Giants are the favorites at -120, followed by the Dodgers at +115 and the Diamondbacks at +450.
In this scenario you might want to consider going chalk and risk a wager on the higher money line. It is not that LA cannot keep pace with San Francisco or that Arizona cannot get hot and catch the two, it is the simple fact that the Giants are the best team of the three. In this case you are wagering on the fact that the cream always rises to the top, especially over the course of a 162-game regular season.
Buster Posey has been an unstoppable force since the all-star break, and a change of coasts has breathed new life into former Phillies’ outfielder Hunter Pence, who is finally paying some dividends with his bat. Tim Lincecum has appeared to regain his form with solid outings in five of his last six starts. Overall the Giants are currently ranked third in the NL in hitting with a .263 batting average and are fourth in pitching with a team ERA of 3.66.
The biggest advantage to placing a wager on San Francisco to win the NL West is that this team knows what it takes to win the division and is just one season removed from an amazing run all the way to a World Series title. That experience could prove invaluable come the first week in October when the Giants and the Dodgers wrap up the regular season with a three-game set in L.A..
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