MLB Handicapping: Overrated Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 4/6/2015
The start of the baseball season each year is filled with such optimism and hope. In many cases, there is too much of both. The betting public gets too excited about teams, futures odds get driven down lower than they should, and casual bettors give the teams too much credit in their betting - and lose money as a result. Here, as we enter the long, glorious regular season, are five teams that are overrated based on their futures price ( odds to win the World Series are from Bovada):
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Washington Nationals (6/1): I have nothing against this team, but history makes this one easy for us. It's never a bad idea to be skeptical of favorites at this time of year. There is a lot to like about this team. The upside for the rotation is very high, they have some nice bats, and their division is very soft. It's very hard to wire the field in baseball, though, so it very hard to see any value in this price. Max Scherzer might not be able to handle the pressure of his massive contract. Injuries could derail any of the other starters or the bullpen. A whole lot is expected of Bryce Harper this year, but he may not deliver. I find it easier to trust several managers than I do Matt Williams. Add it all up and this team is no lock to win it all in October. No value here and odds lower than they should be. That's pretty much the definition of overrated.
Boston Red Sox (10/1): This is a case of the public jumping on a beloved brand name. If it was a lesser-loved franchise that was in this exact situation then they certainly wouldn't be at this price. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez are both nice players, but both have reasons for some concerns - Sandoval is the size of the sun, and Ramirez hasn't been consistent or a great teammate - and the Red Sox overpaid for both. The rotation is solid but not nearly as can't-miss as some people seem to be suggesting. Catcher is now a concern. Chemistry is a big concern, too, after the disaster of last season. This team is in the mix for the AL East for sure, but I don't see them as a lock to win it by any means. That means I certainly don't see them offering anything close to value at this price.
Chicago Cubs (16/1): I really don't like this whole Kris Bryant situation. The rookie had a great spring and clearly seemed ready for the pros. Management made the decision to start him off in Triple-A this year, though. I could get behind it if it was driven by concern for the player. It was all about managing the team's bottom line - keeping him affordable for longer if he works out like he looks like he could. Not exactly a winning attitude - which isn't surprising for a team that has made losing an art form for decades. It's not just that, though. There is plenty of talent on this team, but it's ridiculously young. So many times in recent years we have learned that we have to be patient to let young squads grow into themselves. The Pirates, Mariners, Royals and others have shown us that you can't rush development in recent years. Because the fanbase is so rabid and the drought so long, people are desperate for a breakthrough at Wrigley, and they are ahead of themselves. Good team? Sure. A contender? Talk to me in three years.
Chicago White Sox (16/1): Apparently rampant optimism is a problem all across Chicago. I like the direction this team is moving - just like I like the Cubs. They have retooled, managed contracts well, and built a much more solid foundation than they have had. They were not great last year, though, and despite the odds I just don't believe that they have yet done enough to be a real contender. I am not nearly as positive about Jeff Samardzija as many seem to be - frankly, I don't even understand why people are such believers in him. Even if I am wrong, though, the rotation is still only three guys deep, so the fourth and fifth starters are massive concerns. The bullpen has questions, too, and the team really overpaid for David Robertson - a player very likely to disappoint. A lack of depth stretches into the field, too - if guys like Melky Cabrera or Adam Eaton get hurt then they would be in too much trouble. If everything worked exactly like it was supposed to then the team could be a contender. That just doesn't happen, though, and I don't like their chances of weathering the inevitable storms. Like the other Chicago team, I would buy stock in the club long term, but expecting the breakthrough now is too much. No value at all here.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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