From the Jim Hurley Network Staff
Contributing Sportsbook Editor
We know that "Opening Day" was technically several days ago down in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks. And, that the first Sunday Night game of the new season set the stage for this first big Monday. But, FOR MOST MLB TEAMS, it's OPENING DAY! That means it's time to quickly review how the season is projected to play out according to regular season win totals posted in the legal betting markets.
We'll go division-by-division, starting with the NL East. The numbers you see below reflect a general composite of betting lines from Las Vegas and offshore.
NY Mets 73.5
Washington was supposed to be a juggernaut last year, but fell off the pace just a bit. Many metrics-based approaches are expecting a bounce back in 2014...which makes the Nationals once again a favorite to compete for the league pennant. Their number of 90.5 is only third best in the markets (behind LAD and St. Louis). But, they have a much easier schedule than those two in the division-heavy rotation. Plus, Atlanta has taken some big hits to their rotation, and may have trouble getting near 86.5 wins.
St. Louis 91.5
Chicago Cubs 69.5
Pittsburgh was a huge surprise last season. Time will tell if that was due to innovation and talent, or just one of those fluky things that happens in baseball all the time. The market is skeptical about playing contention, but is admittedly giving the Pirates much more respect than they used to get. Could be a great race if St. Louis stubs its toe. But, they have the best 5-man starting rotation in the league. Keep an eye on the Cubs, who have had a chance now to fix much of what had been wrong with the prior management regime.
LA Dodgers 94
San Francisco 85.5
San Diego 79
The Dodgers are still dynamite. But, Yasiel Puig is a powderkeg that could blow up the season if he's not contained. Is San Francisco ready for a bounce back season? The Giants sure are hoping Tim Lincecum is. All sorts of potential drama in this group...and any of the also-rans could make a run at respectability. No true doormats in this set, which isn't true in the other NL divisions.
Tampa Bay 88.5
NY Yankees 86
Moving now to the AL, this division is so competitive that nobody is currently projected to reach 90 wins...or to FAIL to reach 80 wins. Bad injury luck will probably hit one of the five teams. And, there are some thoughts that the Yankees are right on the precipice of collapse with all of their old veterans. Fascinating division...and one that will be much better than those records would indicate when they play outside their own division.
Kansas City 82
Chicago White Sox 75
Detroit made big news spending big money last week. That should help keep everyone's eye on the ball in the pennant chase. Some see this division as equal to the NL East...with Detroit being the equivalent of Washington positioned to coast past a lot of mediocrity and worse. Skeptics about regarding the potential this year for CWS and Minnesota.
LA Angels 87
Basically what you'd get if you took the AL East and traded Houston for Toronto. A lot of great talent here, but not enough playoff spots to go around. Seattle's hoping to make a move after spending huge on Robinson Cano. Looks like a race where losing a step costs you immediately because three good teams re ready to run by you.