Athletics at Rays Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/19/2013
I don't know if you've seen the movie "Moneyball" about Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, but it's one of the best sports movies ever made. Beane caused a statistical revolution in the game with his use of statistical analytics when determining which players to sign, but, while successful, it still never got Oakland an AL pennant. Could that change this year?
Count me among those shocked that the A's somehow won the AL West in 2012 when they were projected to have somewhere around 75 wins. And count me shocked again early this season that Oakland has the best record in the American League. Oakland finished off a sweep of Houston on Wednesday night -- its second sweep of the Astros already -- and is 12-4. Why? The A's lead the major leagues in runs by a wide margin and are Top 5 in on-base percentage (there's your Moneyball reference), homers and slugging percentage.
That the A's are scoring so much is made more impressive that stud Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. He strained a muscle in his left hand after an awkward slide in last Friday's game. Cespedes also missed more than three weeks last season with a similar injury but put up great numbers. The 2012 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up was hitting.200 with three homers and seven RBI in 11 games this year. Some compare him to Bo Jackson.
Oakland's offseason trade of Chris Carter and Brad Peacock to Houston for shortstop Jed Lowrie has been yet another success for Beane. Lowrie has shown flashes of becoming an elite hitter at his position when healthy. So far, so good. He's hitting .373 with three homers and 13 RBI. Coco Crisp also looks like an all-star, hitting .333 with four homers and RBI. He's on an 11-game hitting streak. Realize that Crisp's career-best numbers are a .300 average, 16 homers and 71 RBI (not all in one season). He has only hit better than .280 once in the past seven years. Thus, his start is likely a fluke.
Friday's game at Tampa Bay begins a six-game road trip for the A's. It's the start of six straight at home for the Rays.
Athletics at Rays Betting Story Lines
Oakland starts lefty Brett Anderson (1-2, 4.34) in this one. He dominated Seattle and Houston in his first two starts, allowing just two runs and nine hits while striking out 16 in 13 innings. But then the Tigers, the top-hitting team in the majors, touched up Anderson for seven runs and eight hits (three homers, the first three off Anderson this year) in 5.2 innings. Anderson had only six regular-season starts a year ago as he was coming off elbow surgery and didn't face Tampa Bay. Thus, most Rays haven't seen him. Evan Longoria leads all with eight at-bats and has a homer.
Don't expect much offense from Tampa Bay. The good news is the Rays beat Baltimore 6-2 on Wednesday night (and visited the O's in the series finale Thursday). It was the first time in nine games that the Rays scored more than four runs. Tampa Bay is in the bottom of MLB in runs, average, homers, on-base percentage and slugging. Not a soul on the team is hitting .300, and only Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria are contributing much. Starting shortstop Yunel Escobar is hitting a robust .104. Outfielder Matt Joyce is at .190. Yet the Rays won't be calling up outfielder Wil Myers from Triple-A anytime soon. The 2012 Minor League Player of the Year was acquired in the James Shields trade from Kansas City, but the Rays want to delay a year of future arbitration and free agency by delaying a call-up, likely until June. With their lousy stadium deal and attendance, the Rays have no choice in matters such as these. It's why I would bet anything that ace David Price is in a different uniform next season.
Tampa Bay goes with young right-hander Alex Cobb (1-1, 1.93) on Friday. He blanked the Indians over 7.1 innings on four hits in his season opener but allowed four runs and seven hits in 6.2 innings of a loss in Boston last time out. The 25-year-old overpowered the A's in two starts a year ago, winning both and allowing just one run and eight hits while striking out 14 in 16 innings. No current Oakland player has more than seven at-bats against Cobb. And none of them have homered.
Oakland won last year's season series with Tampa Bay 5-4, including four of six in Tropicana Field, the only big-league stadium worse than the A's O.co Coliseum.
Athletics at Rays MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Tampa Bay opened at -107 and Oakland -103 with the total at 7.5. The A's are 13-3 “over/under” (6-0 on road) and 11-5 on the runline. The Rays (all trends for them entering Thursday) are 4-7-3 O/U (4-2 at home) and 8-6 on the runline.
The A's are 4-0 in their past four series openers. They are 13-3 in their past 16 Friday games. Oakland is 7-0 in Anderson's past seven starts vs. a team with a losing record. The Rays are 6-1 in their past seven home games against a lefty starter. Tampa Bay is 1-4 in its past five series openers. Tampa Bay is 5-1 in Cobb's past six home starts. The Rays are 6-2 in Cobb's past eight starts vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in the A's past five road games against righty starters. The under is 4-1 in Anderson's past five series-opening starts. The under is 9-1 in Cobb's past 10 home starts. The under is 6-1 Cobb's past seven series-opening starts. The over is 9-2-2 in the past 13 meetings in Tampa Bay.
Athletics at Rays Picks and Betting Predictions
The Rays are 2-1 against lefties this year, with Zobrist, Longoria, Ryan Roberts and Desmond Jennings all hitting well above .300 against southpaws. No one has homered yet, however. Oakland is 8-4 against right-handers, with Lowrie and Crisp, switch-hitters, raking against them. Oakland is 6-0 on the road this year. The sweep of Houston wasn't too impressive, but the one at the Angels was.
Tampa Bay has hit better at home, but the team will be traveling late Thursday from Baltimore, while the A's were off. Still, Cobb is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and I think he keeps Oakland in check. Take the Rays and the under.
Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of member’s baseball picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top MLB handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's MLB Picks
Get all of Today's Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks