MLB Handicapping Advice: Overrated Teams
by Robert Ferringo - 4/2/2013
There is no one in sports as optimistic as a Major League Baseball fan in April.
Hope is the calling card of the spring. And as the 2013 baseball betting season gets underway, there are teams and talents and t-shirt-emblazoned fans just dying to believe that this could be Their Year. The result is a sort of delusion that leads to misguided money management and broken dreams for bettors trying to ride the lightning on their favorite team or that I-called-it underdog.
Most teams, like the Mets or Padres or Royals, and their backers have misplaced hope as the season begins. The unforgiving gauntlet of baseball’s 162-game schedule will see to it that their weaknesses are exploited. But deep down those clubs and their fans know they are bad and that it is only a matter of time before they are fodder for the upper-echelon. Acceptance is in their future.
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But there are several teams, and rabid bettors itching to pour money into them, that enter the 2013 baseball season with a totally irrational sense of self. These are the truly dangerous teams that promise nothing but empty promise. These overvalued, overrated teams are poison to baseball bettors’ bankrolls, and targeting them early in the year is imperative for maintaining a summer of sanity.
With that in mind, here are some overrated MLB teams as the play begins across the Major Leagues:
New York Yankees
The Yankees are always going to be one of the most overpriced, overvalued teams in baseball. They are right there with the Dallas Cowboys, Duke basketball, and Notre Dame football as THE public teams in their respective sports. The oddsmakers know this, so they are always jacking up the lines on these teams.
But for the first time in a decade the Yankees actually look vulnerable. Several prognosticators have actually predicted that the Yankees would finish in last place in the East for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. Yet, despite this the Yankees season win total was set at 86.5, they were still one of the favorites to win the A.L. pennant.
The main problems for the Yankees are age and injuries. Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are all on the disabled list to start the year. Their replacements are past-their-prime former stars like Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki and Kevin Youkillis. Not only have these guys left their best baseball behind them, but also none of them are True Yankees.
Further, the Yankees pitching staff is a house of cards. Guys like C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and A.J. Pettitte – the foundation of the rotation – have a lot less tread on the tire than even their advanced ages suggest. They are one injury to Sabathia to fielding one of the worst staffs in the East.
It could be a long summer for the Yankees and their smug fans. And I’ll enjoy every second of it.
Toronto Blue Jays
No team in baseball was as active this winter as the Blue Jays. They hired a new manager and restocked the roster, primarily through a stunningly one-sided trade with Miami, and the Jays enter the season ready to take a step forward. They entered the season as the favorites to win the East, and their 89.0 Vegas season win total was the highest of anyone in the division.
But let’s slow down on the Blue Jays.
I’m not that convinced that anyone the Jays stole from the Marlins will be there to help them win in August and September when things get serious. Jose Reyes has a long history of leg problems and is now playing on turf. Mark Buehrle was shipped out of the American League for a reason. And Josh Johnson simply cannot stay healthy.
Sure, the Jays added other supposed studs like R.A. Dickey (coming off a career year, changing leagues, and advancing in age) and Melky Cabrera (rebounding from a suspension-shortened season). But this team is going to take time to gel. Right now it looks like a hodgepodge of underachievers and baseball nomads.
Toronto has been the single most underrated franchise of the 2000s. But now, after their spending splurge, they have swung violently to the other side of the ledger. We’ve seen teams that made big offseason moves flop in the regular season before. (Look no further than the 2012 Marlins.) So until I see something from this group, I refuse to believe they are as good as the public believes them to be.
After three straight playoff appearances and two of three years winning the American League pennant, the Rangers appeared on the verge of becoming the New Power in the A.L. But this club may have shuffled the deck one two many times over the past few years, and the club that is starting the 2013 season is not as good as the one that was run out of the postseason in one game last October.
Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, three core guys in this clubhouse, moved on this offseason. The Rangers whiffed at their chances to bring in a true No. 1 ace for a pitching staff that has played over its head (thanks in part to a monster offense) the past several seasons. And after last year’s lackluster stretch and postseason run, the trajectory of this team seems to be going downhill.
But everyone still thinks that the A.L. West is a two-horse race between the Rangers and the Angels. I am not so sure. This Texas lineup is not nearly as deep as it was in 2010 and 2011. And that has a ripple effect throughout the whole club. On top of that, a lot of guys that were brought in to be supplemental pieces or hired guns – like Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski – are now supposed to be the team leaders. I don’t know if that will work.
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis is one of the model franchises in the sport and has been a paragon of consistency over the past 15 years. However, this looks like somewhat of a rebuilding season for the Cardinals after a World Series title in 2011 and a trip to the NLCS last year.
Even if the Cards, who have had some strength sapped by free agency and injury the last two years, manage to rework the roster on the fly, the fact of the matter is that guys like Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa and Chris Carpenter can’t be replaced overnight. And while the rest of the baseball-loving world still looks at the Cardinals as one of the top teams in the National League race, when I look at them I see a Potemkin village.
The Cardinals will still be a heavy favorite over every team in the Central other than the Reds. But I think the talent gap between St. Louis and teams like Milwaukee and Pittsburgh is as slim as it has been this decade. But the oddsmakers will set the spreads based on public perception, and I think the public still has a skewed view of this team.
St. Louis isn’t going to fall off the map. But they do look poised for an average year. But, when you have the level of expectation and hype around a team that the Cards do, that’s simply not good enough.
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Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last six years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2012 with an amazing $11,700 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click here for more information on his MLB picks.
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