2012 MLB Predictions: Five Teams Oddsmakers will Undervalue
by Aaron Smith - 3/30/2012
Betting on baseball is quite a bit different than betting on any other sport. The season lasts for more than six months, so it is clearly a grind. Baseball handicappers need to be wise when it comes to money management. Successfully wagering on baseball depends largely on finding value. If you are good at finding value in MLB odds, you will be a successful MLB bettor.
It’s important to remember that one year makes a huge difference in baseball. Almost every year a team climbs from the cellar to the top of their division. Perception is not always reality in this league, and that is exactly what you need to take advantage of to be successful.
Let’s take a look at my 2012 MLB predictions for five teams that I believe oddsmakers will undervalue in the 2012 season.
There are definitely reasons to believe the Brewers won’t be as dominant as last season, but I think there will be an overreaction here. Prince Fielder is a major loss from the middle of the lineup, but this team still has plenty of very good hitters. A few weeks ago it was assumed Ryan Braun would be out for the first 50 games, but he’ll be available from Day 1 after winning his appeal. Remember, Braun is the reigning MVP winner and he is capable of putting up some gaudy numbers.
The Brewers may have the best bullpen in baseball, and the starting rotation is solid as well. Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke serve as a powerful one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Shaun Marcum had a poor postseason, but he is an underrated pitcher who should give the team another good season.
Bookmaker lists the Brewers season total for wins at ‘over/under’ 85.5. I think this is too low for a team with a stacked lineup and a highly-motivated super star.
Most people remember that the Indians shot out of the gates last year before the Tigers blew past them during the summer months. Cleveland went from 69 wins in 2010 to 80 wins in 2011. The Indians have had one of the top farm systems in baseball for the last few years, and I think we are starting to see that show up in the form of more wins for the Tribe.
The Indians bullpen had the fifth-best ERA in the American League last year, and I expect them to be even better this year. Cleveland has all kinds of talented young arms to turn to at the end of the game. Situational specialists from both sides give this team an edge. Justin Masterson has turned into a reliable ace, and I have to think Ubaldo Jimenez will improve on last year’s numbers.
Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, and others give the Indians a nice young nucleus of hitters as well. Bookmaker lists the Indians season total at 78.5. Look for the Indians to surprise people this year.
St. Louis Cardinals
It seems strange to see a team that won the World Series last year as an undervalued team, but I think the Cardinals fit the bill this year. There’s no denying that losing both Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa in the offseason is a major blow, but this team still has plenty of positives.
Adam Wainwright is the most talented pitcher on this staff, and he will be back after missing the entire 2011 season with an injury. Jaime Garcia is one of the best young pitchers in the game. Chris Carpenter has some injury question marks, but he is a gamer who should have another solid year. Without Wainwright the Cardinals had a respectable 3.74 ERA, and that should improve in 2012.
The middle of the order will be Beltran, Holliday, and Berkman. Though there is no Pujols there, this team should score plenty of runs. Bookmaker lists the Cardinals season total at 84 games. Expect the Cardinals to compete for the NL Central again this year.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were in a state of flux all season in 2011, and they still finished with an 82-79 record. The team went 17-11 in August and 17-9 in September. The news of new ownership for the Dodgers has to make the whole team feel more at ease going into 2012.
Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young award last year and he should be dominating again this season. Matt Kemp put together a brilliant season and is hitting the prime of his career. The Dodgers play in what I believe is one of the weakest divisions in all of baseball. There is no dominant team in the NL West, and that leaves the door wide open for an underrated team to do some real damage.
Bovada lists the season win total for the Dodgers at over/under 80.5 games. I think oddsmakers are underestimating the importance of improved team chemistry.
Los Angeles Angels
The other Los Angeles team made a ton of noise in the offseason. Picking up Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson meant that the Angels made a bigger splash in the free agent pool than anyone else in baseball. Before this team made major upgrades, they won 86 games last season. Oddsmakers know they will be better this year, but I think they will prove to be a dominating team.
With Weaver, Haren, Wilson, and Santana you could make a good argument that the Angels have the best four-man rotation in baseball. Keep an eye on Mike Trout, who is likely to get plenty of time in the majors this year. He is one of the highest-rated prospects in baseball. With Pujols in the middle of the lineup, the Angels run production should increase in a big way.
Bovada lists the Angels season win total at over/under 91.5. Look for this team to surpass that number quite easily.
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