It’s the most wonderful time of the year: baseball season. And even if you don’t agree, it gives you something else to gamble on which is worth a Tiger Woods fist pump any day of the week. While you should really take this season as the opportunity to fall back in love with baseball, at the very least you should gamble like a degenerate on it. With odds via Bovada and local bookie Fat Joey, ride these picks to a nice end of season payday; I guarantee it (But bet at your own risk — it’s your decision not mine).
My Winner: Boston Red Sox (+160)
Yeah, they’re the favorite but for good reason. They plucked David Price via free agency boosting their rotation and hurting last year’s champion up in Toronto. The Jays will mash, but an improved Sox rotation, bullpen, and a young core of exciting bats, plus maybe even the corpses of Hanley & Pablo Sandoval mean the Sox will take the cake. Mookie Betts becomes a household name this year, and not just because his name is Mookie.
My Longer Odds Pick: New York Yankees (+350)
The case for the Evil Empire is simple. After Aroldis gets back from his well-deserved suspension for going guns blazing on his girlfriend and starts coming out of the Yankee pen guns blazing instead, Yankee games suddenly become six inning affairs. Betances, Miller, & Chapman make up what looks like the best 7-8-9 in history. If the rotation can hold up and Bae-Rod can carry an offense made up of old men and fast kids then you could collect a nice return on your investment.
My Winner: Cleveland Indians (+250)
Guess what Jake Taylor– the Indians are going to win the whole fucking thing. Well, at least, the division. Yeah, the Royals won the Series and the Tigers made some splashy free agent signings. But pitching & defense win championships, and the Tribe has their best rotation since the Rick Vaughn-Eddie Harris days. Also, their up-the-middle defense is tops in the division. Potential Gold Gloves with Gomes & Lindor, and enough thump up and down that lineup to take the crown to Cleveland.
My Longer Odds Pick: Minnesota Twins (+1000)
Before you call me a homer (Go Twins), these are great odds for a team that was in the playoff hunt until the last few weeks of the season. The stats pointed to a bit of luck in Minny last year, but they’ve got an electric offense filled with young talent (The potential of Buxton/Sano makes my loins moist) that could take another step forward next year. Now, they’re going to need some luck on the mound. Starting off Jose Berrios in the show when they break camp will help, but if they can get some quality innings out of the rotation and maybe swing a trade or two come July, your boy could be showering himself in cheap beer when the Twins clinch in September.
My Winner: Houston Astros (+160)
Cash in on the Astros. Empty your Bovada account on them. I could list the tangible on field things, but the number one thing is this team just has a swagger about them and some solid momentum. They remind me of the back-to-back World Series (losers) Rangers, but with a younger core and more long-term potential. Carlos Correa is going to win multiple MVP’s in his career, but for now, he will settle for being the centerpiece in an offense that can swing it with the best of them. Loved the Giles pickup to solidify the back end of the pen, and there’s enough in the farm system to add more late season help.
My Longer Odds Pick: Seattle Mariners (+400)
There’s something to be said for a post-hype sleeper and the Mariners could be it. Disappointing as hell last year, but there’s reason for optimism. Not many better 3-4-5 bats than Cano/Cruz/Seager (Especially when you consider that Cano was on fire in the 2nd half), and that rotation is quietly pretty scary. You get a step forward from Taijuan Walker, healthy seasons from Paxton and Iwakuma, and usual dominant Felix and the Mariners could be right in the mix to let you make a quick buck.
Wild Card Teams: Kansas City, New York Yankees
My Winner: Washington Nationals (+110)
Yeah, the Mets made it to the Series and have a dynamic rotation. I spoke earlier about post-hype, and the Nats are ultimate post-hype. They got the bad juju of Matt Williams outta there, and Dusty Baker (I can’t believe I’m saying this) will lead them to the division crown while mowing down toothpicks. Harper and Co. will have plenty of punch and the rotation will make up for a meh bullpen. As long as Papelbon doesn’t murder someone, you can lay it down on the Nats.
My Longer Odds Pick: Miami Marlins (+600)
This is more about how bad the Braves/Phillies will be and less about the Marlins having a chance. Maybe if Giancarlo hits 55 bombs, Fernandez wins the Cy Young, and a swine flu epidemic sweeps the Nats & Mets, then maybe taking an early season +600 flier will pay off.
My Winner: Chicago Cubs (-150)
I hate this because I hate giving odds on futures. That being said, the Cubs are too strong to just ignore. They were already looking like the favorites, then they went ahead and added Jason Heyward. The Cubs have depth at every spot and enough close to the show MiLB guys to swing a deal for whatever they need in July. It won’t be a gimmie division, but it’s hard to bet against the Cubs.
My Longer Odds Pick: St. Louis Cardinals (+250) or Pittsburgh Pirates (+300)
Call it a cop out, but I think this will be the tightest division race, so I’m giving you all three contenders. I don’t think you can go wrong dropping money on either because anyone could win it. The Cards experience plus the pact with the devil they apparently signed about a decade ago bodes well. The Pirates have a young core of talent all approaching their prime and talent in the system. If these three all make the playoffs again, I’m not going to bat an eye.
My Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (+150)
It blew my mind that the Giants are getting better odds than the Dodgers because apparently Vegas is all-in on the every-other-year Giants hype. I’d take the Dodgers lineup, rotation, and bullpen over the Giants, not to mention arguably baseball’s best farm system. They have “rotation questions,” but also at least eight guys who could slide in their right away. Factoring a full season of Corey Seager (who will easily win ROY), and the team having more money than Jesus, the Dodgers take the West.
My Longer Odds Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks (+300)
I’m a firm believer that D-Backs GM Dave Stewart is fucking terrible at his job. He essentially gutted his farm system for $9 million and a couple years of Shelby Miller. That being said, they’ve got the best hitter in the division in Goldschmidt, and adding Greinke/Miller solidifies the rotation. They could have a chance to make a run if the top two get bit by the injury bug or underperform.
Wild Card Teams: New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates
AL Pennant Pick: Houston Astros (+700)
Ride this hype wave all day. The Astros are going to be scary good for years to come, but I’m all in on them pulling a 2014 Royals and taking a huge step forward this year.
NL Pennant Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers (+500)
This factors in a big deadline move that involves them eating the shit out of at least three big salaries, but at this point, the Dodgers don’t care. It’s winning time.
World Series Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers (+1100)
Good guy Clayton Kershaw wins Game 6 to clinch, Yasiel Puig convinces management that he’s worth all the headaches for at least another offseason, and Magic Johnson becomes what I believe will be the first person to garner an NBA title and MLB title to their resume.
AL Cy Young:
Chris Archer – TB (+1200) – Archer was lights out last year and he’s entering his prime. Every time I see him break off a slider I shit my pants in amazement. That should earn him a Cy Young.
Mookie Betts – BOS (+900) – .300 AVG, .360 OBP, 100 Runs, 20 HR, 25 Steals. Take that to the bank.
Jose Berrios – MIN (Odds Unavailable) – Should be in the rotation by May and post pretty decent numbers. In this year’s class that might be enough.
NL Cy Young:
Stephen Strasburg – WAS (+1400) – “This is the year Strasburg becomes elite and wins a Cy Young” – Me, last year. This year is the year.
Paul Goldschmidt – ARI (+500) – The best player not enough people are watching. If the D-Backs compete this year, he’s taking it home.
Corey Seager – LAD (Odds Unavailable) – The dude already hits 3-hole for a playoff team. This shit is too easy.
Bonus: The Crash Davis All-Stars (My Favorite Players to Watch)
C – Kyle Schwarber – CHC: Bit of a cop-out since he won’t catch much but so far he’s murdered two windshields in Spring Training
1B – Miguel Cabrera – DET: Best pure hitter in baseball as long as he gets back on the healthy train.
2B – Brian Dozier – MIN: Underrated as hell, could hit 30 bombs with 20 steals this year.
SS – Andrelton Simmons – LAA: SS is glove-first for me, and Simmons is a fucking wizard. Could care less that he will hit .240
3B – Nolan Arenado – COL: Plus glove + Plus arm + Plus bat + Coors Field = Awesome.
OF – Mookie Betts – BOS: My mancrush on him is out of control. Going to hit .300 and go 20/20. And his name is Mookie.
OF – Yoenis Cespedes – NYM: Web gem throws, pimp job HR’s, and riding a horse into spring training. Yo Knows.
OF – Mike Trout – LAA: He’s kinda good I guess.
DH – Evan Gattis – HOU: Because watching a grown grizzly bear hit home runs is awesome.
SP – Marcus Stroman – TOR: Because he’s my height (I’m short) but throws 96 with filth stuff.
SP – Jose Fernandez – MIA: Honestly I don’t want to like him, but I love watching his starts. Electric as hell.
RP – Aroldis Chapman – NYY: