MLB Spring Training has finally arrived and that means we are on the cusp of another season of baseball betting. What does this mean for PayPerHead agents? Well; more action of course.
Opening Day is March 29th this year, which means we are less than a month away from regular season baseball. Spring training camps have been open for a couple of weeks now and have been playing live games in preparation for the upcoming season.
Each and every free agent of note has a new home, giving some hopeless teams a real shot at the playoffs this year and leaving some previous contenders with a tough hill to climb.
As with any season, the usual favorites are atop the predictions for each division, but some new faces are coming forth as well. A recipe made up mostly of conventional thinking with a few pinches of hope mixed in.
This will be the same with sports bettors. With some betting smartly, siding with the big boys like the Yankees or Dodgers and others taking a shot with the Diamondbacks or new-look White Sox. The latter are favorites of our PPH agents with these teams having little to no realistic hope of coming out on top. While I am very high on both Arizona and Chicago having good seasons, they are not equipped for World Series runs.
With a lot to cover in the MLB right now, let’s break down each division so you can play your season as a PPH agent out and find success.
American League East Preview
Perhaps the biggest free-agent signing came from the AL East and will really define the season for this division. The Yankees pulled the trigger and signed ace Gerrit Cole to lead their starting rotation for the next eight seasons. So what does $324M buy you in this market? Well, as far as bookmakers are concerned, not a single extra win.
The Yankees have the same projection as last season at 101.5 games and are poised to dominate the AL East once again. The lack of extra wins can likely be attributed to the injuries to James Paxton who and Luis Severino. Paxton will miss some time as he returns from surgery while Severino will again miss the entire season as he needs Tommy John Surgery. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are also dealing with injuries which should be a big worry for anyone looking to bet on this team’s win total. While they should still take the division, it’s worth keeping an eye on their IR.
The only legit threat that the Bronx Bombers have in 2020 comes from the Tampa Bay Rays, who are on track for another 90+ win season. The Rays put in some solid work in the offseason, adding some pop with Jose Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to their batting order.
The Boston Red Sox seem like the clear choice to come in third as the 2020 season nears. They are still a talented team and can’t be totally written off. But, they lost two of their best players in Mookie Betts and David Price since the end of last year and have done little to try and replace them. They are a big market team in a transition year and might be buying at the trade deadline if they are in this division race come summertime. Worth keeping an eye on.
The Totoro Blue Jays might content for third place in this group with a lot of young rising stars. That group is led by Vladamir Guerror Jr. and Bo Bichette, both second-generation players and true MLB talents. Toronto also signed the MLB ERA leader from last year in Hyun-Jin Ryue, who ended the year with a 2.32 mark. Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi further bolster this team but they are still a few pieces away from a winning season.
Last, and also least, the Baltimore Orioles. What is there to say about the Orioles? No really, What can be said for this disaster of a team. The only question is whether they will again lose 100 games and lead the division in failure. Spoiler alert, they will.
American League Central Preview
This division will be tighter than many think with the Twins struggling to repeat their 2019 performance. They exceeded all expectations last year, won 101 games and took a lot of money from a number of sportsbooks early on. They were the most profitable team to bet on last season but don’t expect an encore. They won’t be a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but they also won’t run away with the AL Central again. The problem for them is the rest of the teams they rival have gotten significantly better.
At the top of that list has to be the White Sox, who had one of the best offseasons in recent memory. They added catcher Yasmani Grandal, powerhouse Edwin Encarnacion to DH and give them a big boost at the plate. Chicago did no ignore their pitching staff and added left-handed studs Dallas Keuchel and Gion Gonzalez to help them contend. Add to that a strong core of youth talent and this team has a real chance to threaten the Twins and are expected to win 85.5 games.
A close third has to be the Cleveland Indians after adding a legit MVP talent in Josh Donaldson. They did lose Corey Kluber but managed to hold onto Francisco Lindor and appear to be a team that can’t decide if they need a retool or rebuild.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Tigers will again be some of the worst teams in the league. Neither has done anything to improve in the offseason and their own battle this year will be with each other.
American League West Preview
Public opinion aside, the Houston Astros have a stranglehold on this division and will be locked into a postseason spot yet again. They should also compete for another pennant despite their cheating scandal which really sent shockwaves throughout the entire league. Already we are seeing the fallout, with Astros players getting hit by seven pitches in just the first five games of spring training. Whether teams will be content with making their feelings knows when the regular season starts remains to be seen. But it’s clear the Astros will be the villans of this league for at least the rest of this season. Their season win total right now is 93.5 at most sportsbooks and it will be interesting to see just how they react to being aggressively booed by every fan outside of Minute Maid Park.
The biggest “what if” in this division has to be the Oakland Athletics. Coming off a very impressive 97 win season, the A’s could very well take the division crown this year if they can repeat such a feat. Online bookmakers aren’t optimistic about their chances, saddling them with a win total of 89.5. But they might not have to do much better than that to emerge atop the MLB standings when the regular season ends.
If things go off the rails in Houston, the Los Angeles Anges also have a shot to usurp them atop the division. But, they will have to really overachieve to see that goal come to fruition. LA did well by adding Anthony Rendon to man the hot corner and give Mike Trout another big bat to help him in the lineup. They do lack depth in the middle of their rotation which might push them closer to a .500 team than expected but their season wins are projected at 85.5.
The Texas Rangers put in some good work this offseason, acquiring veteran help in the form of Corey Kluber and Todd Frazier. Those moves do ring a bit strange, as the Texans seem to think they can actually contend this year. The fact is, those two players will help but not enough and betting odds don’t even have set them to improve on their 78 win season. It seems a waste of money but maybe the main office has a long term plan in place.
Bringing up the rear will again be the Seattle Mariners who won just 68 games in 2019 and put up a big fat doughnut this offseason. They made not a single significant move to get better and expectations are that they actually regress en route to a complete franchise rebuild.
National League East Preview
The Atlanta Braves a strong bet to sit atop this division come season’s end. They did lose an MVP player in Josh Donaldson. But managed to add OF Marcell Ozuna to help fill the void in their batting order along with Will Smith and Cole Hamels to add to their pitching depth. Felix Hernandez was also signed to a minor league deal, but even if he makes the opening day team, who knows how long he stays there. Either way, this is a team that, despite losing their best player, might have gotten better overall. They have significant young talent to play with and should walk into the playoffs with their third straight NL East crown.
The New York Mets will be nipping at their heels, coming off an 86 win season and expected to take a small step forward. They signed Dillen Betances away from their crosstown rival Yankees and even are taking a bet on Rick Porcello. Porcello was the 2016 Cy Young Award winner but posted a very poor 5.52 ERA last year and fell out of favor in Boston. Reigning winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard lead this rotation and could easily bring this team to the playoffs if all goes well.
You might be surprised to see the reigning champions here but the Washington Nationals are expected to win just 90 games and could very well find themselves in third place after a championship hangover. The reason for their expected slip is due in large part to the loss of Anthony Rendon and their talented veterans getting that one year older. This team did win it all last year but did it in spectacular fashion as an underdog who needed to win the Wild Card just to get in. Plus this is looking more and more like a sneaky stacked division in 2020.
The Phillies did add Didi Gregorious and Zack Wheeler to help this team keep Bryce Harper happy. But the fact this team has too many bad players which outweigh the few great guys they actually have. This team is still a year at least away from contending for the division but might be making some moves at the trade deadline if they feel like making a run.
The Miami Marlins will again be at the bottom of the NL East, the club which all others beat upon. Despite adding some intriguing talent with Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, and Matt Kemp, this team still stinks and will contend for nothing in 2020.
National League Central Preview
The NL West could possibly be the most hotly contested in 2020 with four teams expected to finish within four wins of each other.
The Cardinals (87.5 wins) took the crown last year and have the depth and talent to go for two, despite losing Marcell Ozuna to free agency.
The Cubs (86.5 wins) are perhaps the most jarring story in the division as it seems they have gone from a perennial postseason team to a team in trouble. They might be in line for a complete rebuild as they seem to be jumping back and forth between buying and selling. The Cubbies are coming off an 84 win year and have done nothing significant to think this year will be any better.
The Reds (84.5) pulled of a great move by stealing Mike Moustakas away from the Brewers and also added Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama. Akiyama, for those unaware, is a two time Golden Glove winner and six-time All-Star form the Korea League. After bolstering their bullpen with Pedro Strop and Wade Miley, they are a very sneaky dark-horse play to win this division.
The Brewers (83.5 wins) had a give and take offseason and should again have a strong season within the division. They lost catcher Yasmani Grandal and infielder Mike Moustakas to the open market. But they pivoted quickly and added Avasall Garcia, Justin Smoak and Ryon Healy to help fill in the blanks. Their biggest issue is their lack of a true ace but they make up for it by having the best player in baseball, Christian Yelich.
And then we come to the Pirates. Each division needs a punching bad the Pirates are again the team to beat in the NL Central. They shipped one of their best players in Starling Marte to Arizona and the only moves made of note were in the front office. This sets them up for a 2021 rebuild but will be forgettable again this season.
National League West Preview
After the offseason acquisitions of Mookie Betts and David Price from Boston, the Dodgers have managed to improve a team that led the MLB in wins last year. They reeled off 106, most in franchise history, and won the NL West by a staggering 21 games. They haven’t won it all since 1988, but unless their team plane crashes, they are a lock to win this division for the eighth straight season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will likely take the second spot behind the Dodgers but hope it won’t be by 21 games again. The D-Backs signed Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte in the offseason and could make noise int he postseason if they can manage to snag a Wild Card berth.
The San Diego Padres have a whole big stinking heap of young talent, led by Fernando Tatis Jr. But it just won’t be enough to keep them in the playoff hunt down the stretch. It would take a meltdown from Arizona for them to even have a chance of sniffing the playoffs. They are a year or two away, but when their talent starts to break out this will be a team to watch.
The Colorado Rockies had a really rough break this offseason after failing to move star Nolan Arenado. So instead of starting their rebuild with his massive contract off the books, but they now have a pissed of superstar who will likely opt out of his deal in 2021. This would leave Colorado with nothing to show for him and are highly incentivized to move him before the trade deadline. This would leave a bad team without their best player and contending with the Giants for the last spot in the division.
The San Francisco Giants have even worse contract issues than the Rockies. They are saddled with veterans who are overpaid and untradable which has all roads pointing to a rebuilding year. They will do all they can to focus on dumping contracts and not winning.
That does it for our quick rundown of each division as we head into Spring Training. If you are a PayPerHead agent, use this information to help promote baseball betting to your clients and also to get you started in your annual research.
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