Top Three Most-Overvalued MLB Teams Down the Stretch
It’s been over four months since the start of the 2016 MLB regular season. Each team has played about 110 games, more than enough to sort out the good from the bad. But some of these better teams aren’t quite living up to their high expectations. Here are three clubs in particular that might be worth fading in single-game situations between now and October.
The Rangers (66-47, +24.90 betting units) wrapped up the weekend with the best record in the American League, and the most profitable record in all the majors. But underneath that record lies a .500 ball club. With a run differential of plus-5 on the season, Texas carried an expected Pythagorean record of 56-56 into Monday’s action. That’s eighth in the AL, just a half-game better than the 49-62 Los Angeles Angels and their minus-4 run differential.
Texas did end up making some improvements at the trade deadline, picking up catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.849 OPS) and DH Carlos Beltran (.895 OPS). However, the Rangers were already a Top-10 scoring team despite ranking No. 15 in hitting value. They might be able to maintain that run production now that Lucroy and Beltran are in town, but run prevention is still a big problem – Texas ranks No. 23 overall in pitching value, with injured starters Colby Lewis (4.25 FIP) and Derek Holland (4.81 FIP) not expected back until late August.
San Francisco Giants
Over in the NL West, the Giants (64-48, +2.36 units) have been in first place for so long, everyone’s forgotten about them. They’re a much better team than Texas at plus-50 in run differential, but that still translates to a 61-50 Pythagorean record. The Giants are also in a big-time funk at 6-15 in their last 21 games.
Once again, pitching is the problem. San Francisco is No. 18 overall in pitching value, with a bullpen that ranks No. 25. Is help on the way? Starter Matt Moore (4.46 FIP) and reliever Will Smith (3.92 FIP) came over at the trade deadline; they have a combined 1.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) on the season, hardly enough to move the needle going forward.
On one hand, the Astros (57-55, –11.77 units) have outperformed the Rangers with a plus-35 run differential, and expectations have already been lowered after a quiet trade deadline and a 3-10 record in their last 13 games. Houston also has one of the best pitching staffs in the big leagues at No. 3 on the WAR charts. There should be room for long-term improvement with the Astros.
Unfortunately for them, the short term doesn’t look so good. Starter Lance McCullers (2.98 FIP) went on the DL last week with a sore right elbow and is out indefinitely. And set-up lefty Luke Gregerson (2.42 FIP) is on the shelf with a strained left oblique, although he might be back in a couple of weeks. Houston has a mediocre batting lineup at No. 17 in value, so every pitching flaw becomes magnified in importance. Bet accordingly.