MLB Futures Odds: Gauging Public Overreaction
by Trevor Whenham - 2/21/2012
With the start of each new baseball season there is one certainty on which you can rely — that the betting public will dramatically overreact to the offseason had by several teams. In some cases they will assume that teams will be headed for a 162-0 record because they have improved so much. After a rough winter, though, the assumption will be that other teams will be lucky to win 20 games.
The enthusiasm or sense of disaster usually fades once reality sets in by the end of April as we have seen what teams are capable of and what we can expect from them. Until then, though, there are often nice opportunities for value from betting against the public’s wild whims.
Here are five teams that the public is almost certain to overreact to early in this MLB season (Odds to win the World Series are from Bovada):
Los Angeles Angels (13/2)
On one single day — Dec. 10, 2011 — this team went from the fringes of the ranks of the elite to the talk of the town. That’s the day, of course that they picked up Albert Pujols, and then added C.J. Wilson for good measure.
With the best player in baseball and what could be an exceptional rotation it’s no wonder that people are giddy.
There are still major issues with this team, though — like if Vernon Wells can remember how to play baseball again. They also have to play the Rangers a whole lot this year, and that will be a real challenge.
Are they a serious contender in the AL? Absolutely. Are they the best team in the league as the odds suggest? I’m not buying it yet, and anyone who is doesn’t know what patience is.
Detroit Tigers (8/1)
They were solid in the playoffs last year, they have the best pitcher in the American League right now, and they made a big splash when they signed Prince Fielder. People are giddy about this team — especially in Michigan.
While there are good reasons to be optimistic — especially given the issues several teams in their division have — there is a long road to travel between where they are and where they want to be.
Their rotation beyond Verlander is questionable, they have faced injury issues that they can’t afford now, and there are a lot of bats in the lineup that need to prove that they can live up to potential.
This could be a very good team, but it needs to prove that it is, and it will take a while for the lineup to find their way.
Washington Nationals (28/1)
It’s not even the end of February and I’m already tired of hearing about Bryce Harper. The phenom will be given every chance to make this team this year. Their other phenom, Stephen Strasburg, is healthy and ready to go again.
There is some real buzz that this could be a team to take a massive step forward this year. While it’s certainly possible, they have a lot to prove to show that they are ready for the big time.
There are a lot of potential issues.
They overpaid massively for Jayson Werth, and he has to prove he can earn his money much better than he did last year. Ryan Zimmerman needs to stay healthy. The rotation beyond Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez needs to step up.
I think they have made nice strides in the right direction, and I think the future is bright. It’s just too soon to believe that that future is now.
Texas Rangers (28/1)
After two near misses this team is back for another run. They’ll get plenty of attention because of their bats, and because they won the massive bidding war for Japanese star Yu Darvish.
I’m hesitant to be as excited as many will be about this team, though, until they show that the rotation is ready for the struggles of what should be a tough season.
Is Darvish going to flourish in the new league, or will it take him a while to adjust? Can Neftali Feliz make the transition from closing to starting? Can Derek Holland carry forward the momentum from his tremendous season last year, or will he fall back to earth? How about Derek Holland? Can Colby Lewis pitch more like 2010 than 2011?
This rotation has the chance to be more than good enough to make this team a serious contender yet again. It also has a chance to be very frustrating and wildly inconsistent. Until I have a better sense of which is likely I’m going to reserve my excitement.
Milwaukee Brewers (35/1)
It was not a good offseason for the Brew Crew. First they lost in the playoffs. Then MVP Ryan Braun was exposed as an alleged drug cheat and faces a suspension as a result. Then Prince Fielder left town. It’s no wonder that people have jumped off this bandwagon like rats off a sinking ship.
While they aren’t the team they were — especially if Braun is out of action to start the year — they also aren’t nearly as bad as people seem to think they will be. The rotation of Greinke, Gallardo, Marcum, Wolf, and Narveson is certainly in the top half of the league, and could be much better than that. Guys like Hart, Morgan, and Weeks are still nice players. Aramis Ramirez is a very solid addition to the lineup. The bullpen is solid.
This is not the team they were last year, but they aren’t a total train wreck, either. There is absolutely no need to panic, yet that’s just what a lot of people seem to be doing.
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