The 2016 Major League Baseball season is one week old and the big story emerging from the first week of action was just that. As in Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies.
Considered by many observers as a mid-grade prospect at best with power but a high propensity to strike out, the Colorado shortstop made history this past week with his performance as he replaces the soon-to-be-suspended Jose Reyes.
The 23 year old hit .333 in his first week in the majors but the “story” is his seven home runs in 27 at bats with 12 RBIs.
The expectations for the Rockies are not high for this season although if Story continues to develop the quartet of Story, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez could spearhead one of the most productive offenses of the past few seasons.
Aside from producing numerous postponements due to weather related issues typical of early sprint, the other noteworthy developments included the performances of several teams.
Atlanta and Minnesota shocked the baseball world by going from worst to first in 1991, causing big headaches for Nevada sportsbooks with some huge futures payoffs.
A quarter of a century later such issues are not likely to be repeated as the Braves (0-5) and Twins (0-6) are the only teams yet to post a victory.
At the other extreme the Baltimore Orioles are the only team yet to lose, having started the season 5-0.
Cincinnati’s 5-1 start is also surprising considering the Reds are thought to be one of the weakest teams in baseball in a season that projects as having some very good teams at the top and some very bad teams at the bottom with a relatively small middle class.
One thing to keep an eye on as the season unfolds is teams that are able to win on the road. The typical team, in all sports, wins more at home than on the road with only a handful of teams in any sport having winning road records at the end of a season. Often a team that is able to win on the road early is showing signs of being more improved than may be generally perceived and those teams can make for attractively priced underdogs through the middle to end of May.
Expected to be a contender for winning the World Series, the Chicago Cubs are off to a hot start winning five of six games – all on the road. The Cubs were dealt a severe blow when Kyle Schwarber was lost for the season but their depth will allow them to overcome the loss of a promising star in the making.
Defending World Series champion Kansas City has started 4-1 but they’ve yet to play on the road.
Seven teams have played all their games thus far on the road – including the aforementioned Minnesota. Atlanta’s winless start has come at home.
Obviously one week’s worth of action provides little insight as to how any team’s season will play out. Generally it takes about a month and a half – about 40 games – to get a true gauge on a team vis-a-vis versus spring training expectations. That’s why Memorial Day is considered the first key milepost of the season.
Here are some thoughts surrounding three series to be played this weekend.
San Francisco at LA Dodgers: This is an early season rematch after the Giants took three of four from their long time rivals in San Francisco this past weekend. The Totals were evenly split with a pair of low scoring, 10 inning 3-2 games sandwiched between a pair of Giants’ routs – 12-7 and 9-6. The Dodgers have the best starting pitcher on either team, Clayton Kershaw, but Giants have the much deeper rotation with Madison Bumgarner ably supported by newly added Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
Dodger Stadium has long been a pitcher’s ballpark. The preferences in this series will be to back the Giants as underdogs in starts by Cueto or Samardzija and with Bumgarner as well if we get a rematch between Mad Bum and Kershaw. The Dodgers can be backed as favorites of -125 or less against other than that Giants trio. The UNDER is still the preferred way to back the Total but only at a line of 7 or higher. Playing UNDER 6.5 or 6 can be dangerous even at pitcher friendly venues.
Toronto at Boston: These AL East rivals meet in a rematch of last weekend’s series in Toronto in which the visiting Red Sox took the first two games of their series before Toronto won the finale. The first two games, in which the Sox scored 8 runs in each, went OVER the Total while Sunday’s finale stayed UNDER as the Sox were shut out 3-0. Beyond David Price the Red Sox starting pitching is average at best although Clay Buchholz is the best of the rest.
The Blue Jays have a pair of young up and comers in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. In playing this series the focus will be on playing the OVER using 8.5 as the key number, provided Sanchez, Stroman, Price and Buchholz are not involved. Should we get a matchup involving two of those four pitchers the approach would be to take the Underdog if priced at +120 or higher and consider the UNDER but also at what would seem to be a high Total of 8.5 (or higher) given to the configuration of Fenway Park.
NY Mets at Cleveland: The weekend’s lone interleague series matches a pair of teams whose success relies much more on their quality starting rotation than any semblance of potent offense. Each may have the deepest rotation in its league. As such the preferred plays in this series will be both on the Underdog and the UNDER. The Mets have the better of the two rotations but also the weaker offense, which lends itself to looking toward the Indians as home underdogs of any price.
The Mets would be worth considering if getting at least plus 120 with any of their starting pitchers. But the UNDER would be the most attractive option, especially at 7.5 or higher. More likely we shall see Totals of 7 even though the series will involve the DH.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]