Are the Baltimore Orioles for Real?
One week ago, the Baltimore Orioles were +4000 outsiders to win the 2016 World Series. They’re +3300 at press time. Does this make the Orioles the biggest bargain in baseball history? They’ve started the 2016 campaign with six straight victories, picking up a quick 6.89 betting units against the moneyline. Baltimore was the last undefeated team in the majors heading into Tuesday’s action; meanwhile, the 2-4 New York Mets (+1200) and the 2-4 Houston Astros (+1600) remain well ahead of the O’s on the MLB futures market.
There’s a reason why Baltimore’s World Series odds haven’t moved as much as expected since Opening Day. Several reasons, in fact. The Orioles weren’t a particularly good team last year, finishing 81-81 for a loss of 3.52 units. They didn’t do much to improve in the offseason. And despite their 6-0 start, the O’s aren’t the best team in the majors right now.
Sweet Home Chicago
That honor goes to the Chicago Cubs (6-1, +4.77 units). After seven games, the Cubs have a run differential of plus-29, or 4.1 runs per game. Baltimore’s run differential of plus-14 works out to 2.3 runs per game. There are two other teams with better differentials: the San Francisco Giants (5-2, +2.69 units) at 2.6 runs, and the St. Louis Cardinals (4-3, +0.95 units) at 2.7 runs.
Then there’s the matter of Baltimore’s schedule. The O’s swept the Minnesota Twins in the first three games of the season; the Twins (0-7, –7.00 units) went on to lose their next four games as well. Then Baltimore put up back-to-back wins over the Tampa Bay Rays (2-4, –2.55 units), who are now +5000 to win the World Series. Winning all these games is admirable, but let’s see what Baltimore can do against stiffer competition.
Take Me Home
If there’s any one area where the O’s are likely to regress, it’s on the mound. They lead the majors with 89.6% of runners left on base. Something closer to last year’s 73.6% is more likely in the long run, which means more of those stranded runners should be crossing the plate in the future.
Baltimore’s success this year depends heavily on the top three starters in the rotation: Ubaldo Jimenez (4.01 FIP last year), Yovani Gallardo (4.00 FIP with Texas) and Chris Tillman (4.45 FIP). All three performed poorly during spring training, and Gallardo coughed up five runs in five innings against the Boston Red Sox (–210 at home) on Monday, only to see Baltimore rally and win 9-7. It could be just a matter of time before Jimenez and especially Tillman get rung up, too. The Orioles can’t score nine runs every night.