The MLB All-Star break is a great time to take stock in how teams did in the first half of the season (though technically most teams hit the halfway point nearly two weeks ago) and see if there’s any betting value left in the futures.
As we’ve written many times before, you’re not likely to find value in the top contenders as their odds have been pounded already and you’re likely to get similar odds if you wait until October. So, we’re looking more for teams that the oddsmakers haven’t adjusted on – or who the public hasn’t fallen in love with – yet.
Now, I don’t have a great overlay like we found last year at this time with the A’s at 60/1 to win the AL West. They still ended up losing the division to the Astros, but they caught them on Aug. 18 and I was able to sell my $100 ticket on PropSwap for $2,500 to lock in a profit. Even for those who weren’t able to do something similar, anyone following my advice and backing the A’s after the All-Star Break (or fading the Nationals as I also recommended) did quite well.
Let’s see what we can find by going division by division (current odds are from the Westgate SuperBook except where otherwise stated):
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE AL EAST
My preseason value pick on the Rays at 10/1 to win the division was looking great early, but they’re now 6.5 games behind the Yankees and I’m not confident enough to reload on them at 15/1 (though I’m still holding out hope with my 30/1 ticket to win the World Series if they can hold on for a wild-card spot). The better team to back now, in my opinion, is the Red Sox at 20/1. They’re 9 games back of the Yankees, despite being knocked around by them in London, and have the ability to catch them (as long as the Yankees come back to earth, say, around 60 percent).
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE AL CENTRAL
My other preseason value bet on the Twins 3/1 to win the AL Central doesn’t look as good as it did a few weeks ago as the Indians have cut the Twins’ 11-game lead down to 5.5 games. If you followed me on the Twins before the season, I wouldn’t blame you if you now take the Indians at 425 to lock in a profit; however, I’m letting it ride.
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE AL WEST
Well, the A’s are 20/1 at the All-Star Break this year (which is what they were at most books at this time last year, except for me finding that 60/1 at William Hill) and I’m going to jump on the bandwagon with them again. They trail by 7.5 games, but have been playing their best moneyball lately as they went 14-5 heading into the break, including a 2-1 series win over the Twins and a 2-2 split vs. the Rays while dominating the teams they’re supposed to beat (10-2 vs. Orioles, Cardinals, Angels and Mariners). If the Astros slip at all, the A’s can catch them. And just like last year, I still think there’s value on the A’s in daily action as they’re far from a public team.
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE NL EAST
I really like this Braves team (and they’ve also been good to me on 1st Inning Yes wagers), but they’ve opened up a 6-game lead on the Nationals and Phillies and the value is long gone on them at -350 to win the division. However, if you believe like I do that they’re going to hold on and likely be the No. 2 seed in the NL (and be favored vs. the NL Central winner in the divisional playoffs), the 14-1 World Series price seems fair.
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE NL CENTRAL
I don’t listen to many “talking heads” so I don’t know if this has been mentioned much if at all, but the 4.5 games separating the five teams in the NL Central is less than the gap between first and second in any other division. This is as wideopen as it gets and my value pick is the Pirates. They’re only 2.5 games back of the Cubs, but they’re 20/1. Like the A’s, they come into the break playing their best at 14-7 in their last 21 games, and while they started that run going 6-2 against also-rans like the Marlins, Tigers and Padres, they also went 2-1 against the Astros, 3-1 against the Cubs and even though they went 1-2 in the middle of those series in Milwaukee, they turned the tables by going 2-1 in the final weekend series against the Brewers back in Pittsburgh. If you’re really looking for a longshot, the Pirates are 60/1 to win the World Series.
TULEY’S TAKE ON THE NL WEST
The Dodgers, despite losing their last three games before the All-Star Break to the Padres, still have the best record in MLB at 60-32 (.652) and lead the Diamondbacks by 13.5 games. They’re so far ahead that the Westgate and other books in Vegas don’t even have division odds posted for the NL West. Even if the Dodgers came back to the pack, I don’t think any of the other teams are good enough to make a run at them. The Dodgers are 6/5 to win the NL and 3/1 to win the World Series, but again I’d hold onto my money until October.
TULEY’S TAKE ON DAILY BASEBALL ACTION
As alluded to above, I’ll be looking to play the A’s in individual games (certainly as underdogs but also as short favorites) and think we’ll also be getting fair prices on the Pirates and, to a lesser extent, the Braves. We’re always looking for overrated teams to fade and just like we saw the Padres take down the Dodgers in the last three games before the break, I believe we’ll see plenty of times where there’s value in fading the Dodgers the rest of the regular season as they coast to the division title. I’m not saying to blindly go against them every game, but be willing to take a shot when there’s an opposing pitcher you trust (and, of course, if/when they rest starters) and you’re getting close to 200 or higher.