The baseball season gets underway on Sunday and one of the great joys of summer is the consistency in which games are played. Every day (apart from the All Star Break), you can watch the best in the world compete. If you miss a few innings, a couple games, or even a week, it’s easy to pick up when you return from your life. As the season approaches, there are several props worth a few dollars. Not only are these good values, but they will keep you entertained when watching games throughout the season (as long as you keep your wagering responsible!).
Dodgers to win the NL West: 23/20
You have to lay juice to pick the Mets or Cubs to win their divisions. The Dodgers, who won the west by eight games last season, are 23/20 to beat the Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres. Nobody thinks Colorado or San Diego are legitimate competitors. Arizona added Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, but the team was only 79-83 in 2015. Are they 15 games better now? The Giants added Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to a team that struggled in one-run games last year. They could be a 90-win team. But, as good as the Dodgers’ competition is, no team in baseball (besides the Cubs) has more depth and talent. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet and, if LA needs to make a splash in the middle of the year, their deep pockets won’t hesitate to add at all costs. If LA is in the race in July, they’ll do what it takes to win.
Sonny Gray to win the AL Cy Young: 14/1
Oakland’s ace enters the fourth year of his career with a lifetime ERA of 2.88. He finished third in the Cy Young voting last season. He was also third among AL starters in WAR and has improved in each of his campaigns. The A’s are likely to be an improved team in 2016; they lost a franchise-record 35 one-run games last year. With a new bullpen poised to hold more leads, Gray is likely to surpass his career high of 14 victories. Last but not least, he plays in perhaps the most pitcher-friendly park in the league.
Last year, Dallas Keuchel (6/1) took the trophy and David Price (3/1) finished second. Why Chris Sale (5/2), Corey Kluber (7/2), Felix Hernandez (19/4), Carlos Carrasco (15/2), and Chris Archer (9/1) is anyone’s guess. At 14/1, Gray offers great value.
Jon Lester to win more than 13.5 games: 9/10
Two years ago, Lester finished fourth in the AL CY Young voting. He has earned 15 or more wins six times in the last eight years. While his win total dipped last season (11-12), his WAR was a solid 3.1 (his top figure since 2011). Lester’s Cubs have an MLB-high 93.5 over/under win total and skipper Joe Maddon, three-time winner of Manager of the Year honors, employs a defensive scheme that help his pitchers get extra outs. Lester’s second season in the National League should be a good one, and 14 or 15 wins seems very likely.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)