MLB Betting: Interesting Teams in the Second Half
by Trevor Whenham - 7/18/2014
The midseason break in baseball - always a brief but merciful respite - has almost drawn to an end. That means it is time to gear up for the second half of the season. One of the constants in baseball is that things always change after the all-star break. Every year there are teams that look very different after he break than they did up to that point. Sometimes they change gears and play much better as things get serious and their playoff futures hang in the balance. Other times they have been playing over their heads in the first half, and a natural regression occurs as the pressure mounts. For handicappers, the ability to pick out these teams that are due for a change with some consistency can be a very profitable habit to develop.
Here are three teams that stand out as worth a closer look:
Cleveland Indians (47-47): The Indians are in a tough spot to read right now. On one hand, they have basically no hope to win their division, and they are out of the wild card spot by a decent margin right now. Their most coveted asset, Asdrubal Cabrera, is a free agent at the end of the year, so the temptation will be strong to deal him to realize something from their asset. On the other hand, though, they played better going into the break than they have been earlier, so there is hope. Plus, Francisco Lindor is tearing up the minors. He could find his way into the major league lineup to offer a boost, or he could be a prized asset if Cleveland wants to become buyers. We can't be certain what path the Indians are going to take, so we will have to pay close attention in the coming days. What we can be reasonably sure of, though, is that this is not going to be a .500 team in the second half like they were in the first.
New York Mets (45-50): You have to have a pretty good memory to remember a time when the Mets were relevant. Bettors love nothing more than ignoring this team, and they don't suffer from it at all. While I certainly don't expect the Mets to shock the world and spring into contention in the second half there is a good chance that they will be solidly better than they have been so far. In fact, in the last 10 games, in which they went 8-2, they have shown the reason why I am optimistic - at least compared to my normal state of mind regarding this team. This is a ridiculously young squad - they have been burnt to the ground, and are rebuilding from the ashes. They have very young players all over the team, and as time has gone along this year we have watched those players grow into themselves right before our eyes. I'm not suggesting that they have Mike Trout times six in the lineup all of a sudden or anything, but if they can keep growing then they could make some noise. They also have 35 games left against teams in their own division, so they could be motivated by the chance to play spoiler in a wide open race.
Boston Red Sox (43-52): The Red Sox have scored fewer runs than every team in the American League - even the truly pathetic Astros. Last year on this date they led all of baseball is scoring - and by just a little bit. There are plenty of reasons that contribute to the steep decline, but the fact is that no matter what they shouldn't be as bad as they have been. At some point they are going to score a few more runs - even if it is just for a stretch of games. If and when that happens it will be a very good thing for astute bettors. After their World Series win last year the struggles this year have really turned bettors off of them. They are 9.5 games out in a really bad division, so they are likely to toil in (relative) anonymity throughout the rest of the season. It would take a whole lot for casual bettors to pay attention to this team again. If they can get their bats to perform with even a little bit more pop - which they really should be able to do - then they could deliver some nice value without rising near the radar, never mind above it.
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