The Angels won eight in a row heading into Monday’s play against the Dodgers, and finally look to be that team we thought they were when Las Vegas sports books opened them with low odds of 8-to-1 to win the World Series.
Before this eight-game streak started, bettors could have had the Angels at 40-to-1 at the LVH Super Book, but heading into a three-game set at Dodger Stadium they are down to 25-to-1 to win it all.
There’s still a long way to go for the Angels (22-27), who remain nine games behind the AL West leading Rangers, but there is plenty of optimism since the team is firing on all cylinders. They are playing as expected, finally, and manager Mike Scioscia’s job appears to be safe now.
Interleague play still a big deal? We’ve got the full interleague schedule going early this week on where inter-city rivalries take place in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and the Bay area, but do these games seem like that big of a deal anymore? Has the novelty worn off?
We’ve been watching interleague play all season because of the Astros’ move to the AL West, making an unbalanced schedule. The receipts at the gates will tell the story of whether or not baseball America still gets fired up, because attendance has been dramatically higher in the past when AL teams meet the NL teams.
Best bounce-back team: Bettors are always looking for any kind of edge within all the trends available in baseball, and one of them is how a team responds after a loss, especially those considered good teams.
Do they quickly forget about the loss and come back strong the next day, or do they sulk and breed more mediocrity? One of the best teams in baseball coming off a loss this season has been the St. Louis Cardinals. They have had two consecutive losses only three times this season, one was a two-game streak, and the other was a three-game losing streak.
Of their 17 losses this season, St. Louis has won 13 times the following game. That type of resilient consistency is why they also have the best road record in baseball at 18-9.
Would you throw him a ball? Of all players who have put the ball into play or strikeout on an 0-2 count with at least 10 occasions this season, Boston’s Dustin Pedroia has been the best, going 12-for-26 (.426).
Why would any pitcher try to challenge a contact hitter like him in those situations? However, if facing Toronto’s J. P. Arencibia in the same situation, it doesn’t take much to make him bite. He’s 0-for-17 with 10 strikeouts.
Moneyball II: Josh Donaldson was a catcher who could hit, but had defensive troubles behind the plate, kind of like Scott Hatteberg from a few years ago as chronicled in the movie “Moneyball.”
The A’s moved Donaldson to third base last season, and this year he’s become the best in baseball at hitting on a full count. He’s gone 14-for-27 (.519) in those situations with 14 walks for a staggering .683 on-base percentage, the type of numbers that have to make A’s GM Billy Beane proud.
Beane maximizes his low budget by acquiring thrifty players who take pitches and get on-base. The more runners on base, the better chance of scoring. That formula has worked for over a decade and many other teams have copied it, or at least tried.
This year is no different as the A’s $60 million payroll is the fourth lowest in baseball while sitting in second-place in the AL West. They currently lead the majors with 204 walks this season.
Fireman of the year: When Pirates fans saw that the Bucs had traded away All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan before the start of the season they had to be thinking, “Here we go again.” Over the past two decades Pittsburgh has routinely traded away star players as they built for tomorrow.
The past two seasons, the Bucs have been in the thick of division races, at least through July. Losing their closer did not give much hope for 2013.
When Jason Grilli was announced as the closer by manager Clint Hurdle prior to the season, no one said or wrote the decision was going to turn out well. And why would anyone? Grilli had bounced around from the majors and minors for the last 14 years with a 21-25 record and only 5 saves. How is this guy going to be able to replace Hanrahan?
Well, it’s worked out better than anyone thought. He saved his major league leading 20th game in 20 opportunities on Sunday at Milwaukee, a place where the Pirates have been tormented ever since 2007. Best of all, the Pirates (31-19) have now won 10 of their last 12 games and are only a half game out of first-place in the NL Central.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].