MLB Futures: Drama Remains in only Three Division Races
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | Aug. 14, 2013
With the MLB playoffs set to begin in less than seven weeks, it’s now truly the stretch run of the season. If you are looking for excellent division races to monitor or wager on at Bovada, then ignore the AL Central and the NL East and West.
There’s little doubt the first team to clinch its division will be the Braves in the NL East as they have a 14.5-game lead over preseason NL pennant favorite Washington. Atlanta’s magic number is 31, meaning it should take care of business early next month. It could be sooner considering Atlanta has only seven games left (four in St. Louis from August 22-25 and three at home to Cleveland from August 27-29) against teams currently with winning records. Back on July 25, the Braves led by eight but a 14-game winning streak ended any chance for the Nats. There are no futures to win the East, with the Braves second-favorites to win the pennant on baseball futures at 11/4.
In the NL West, the Dodgers were in last place as recently as July 1 and were 2.5 games behind division-leading Arizona at the All-Star Break. Los Angeles has been on a rampage since the break, winning every series and losing only three games to take a 7.5-game lead. Not even injuries to stars such as Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez have slowed the LA freight train. The Diamondbacks likely didn’t have enough to catch LA as it was but lost starting outfielder Cody Ross for the season earlier this week. There are no futures on the NL West, but the Dodgers are 9/4 pennant favorites.
The NL Central is very much a race, with Pittsburgh holding a three-game lead over St. Louis. Can the Pirates hang on despite an offense that is averaging just 3.86 runs per game? Bovada oddsmakers have Pittsburgh as the -125 division favorite. The Cardinals appear the deepest team in the division and have the best run differential in the NL. If there’s one flaw, it’s that St. Louis hasn’t been good in games decided by one or two runs – only eight teams have fared worse from a winning percentage perspective. The Cards’ run differential in those games is -34, which is 29th. St. Louis is +140 to win the division.
The Tigers remain World Series favorites at 5/1 and are in control of the AL Central with a 6.5-game lead. There’s nothing they don’t do well, ranking No. 2 in the majors in runs and No. 1 in batting average, on-base percentage, run differential and quality starts. Detroit has a five-game series with second-place Kansas City this weekend – two doubleheaders – and can all but put the Royals away.
In the AL East, first-place Boston is a -150 favorite as it has a three-game lead over Tampa Bay, which is +150. Working against the Rays is their final six games of the season are on the road, where Tampa Bay is .500. The Red Sox and Rays play one more series, starting September 10 in Florida.
The closest race is the AL West, with the Rangers leading the A’s by a game. Texas has been red-hot and bolstered their lineup with a trade for White Sox outfielder Alex Rios. They are the -130 division favorite. The A’s are even money and have six games left with Texas. Texas gets to finish the regular season with seven at home, while Oakland closes with six on the road.