The Major League Baseball offseason is still months away but that won’t stop our free agent watching. This years class of free agents includes several key All-Stars including starting pitchers David Price and Johnny Cueto as well as another big name starter that could opt out in Zach Greinke.
While the focus will be on the top tier starting pitching the number of top hitters is solid as well. This group includes players like outfielders Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Heyward. Other names that stand out include first baseman Chris Davis and catcher Matt Wieters who both look to move on from Baltimore.
Here is a quick look at where a few of these stars could land around Major League Baseball during free agency.
David Price: The Detroit Tigers starter will be the main focus among all the options on the mound. Look for the Tigers to make a run at him after Price pitched to a 9-2 record with the fourth lowest earned run average in the American League. That being said if the Dodgers lose out on Greinke we like his chance to move out West.
Zach Greinke: At this point we expect Greinke to opt out of his final year of a three year $71 million dollar deal he signed with the Dodgers. This opens him up for another pay day. One team that could be a sleeper that many could look past is the Orioles who could lose as many as nine players this offseason.
Matt Wieters: Wieters is a big force behind how well the Orioles pitching staff has done over the past few seasons. Unfortuantly for the Orioles, Wieters is represented by Scott Boras who will be looking for a big time pay day this offseason something that likely won’t come from Baltimore. This opens up the door for Wieters to sign with the Atlanta Braves as he played his college ball at Georgia Tech and has a home in Atlanta. (more…)
Every ball fan thinks that they have the best stadium in the MLB. While every stadium may be special to those who hold it dear, from an outsider looking in, there are only a select few that can really lay claim to being the best in North America. A stadium is so much more than a piece of architecture. It needs an atmosphere that can only be generated from fans as well as some fantastic food to wrap your chops around. Below are some of the best.
Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park is baseball. The oldest stadium in the MLB, it has been with us since April 1912 and is one of the most beautiful in the country. It’s hard not to admire the brick facade on Yawkey Way, the Citgo sign is charming, the Pesky Pole is poignant and Green Monster makes for great entertainment whenever a right-handed slogger is in town.
The Fenway Frank is arguably the most famous hotdog in the world but if you are not in the mood for that then you can enjoy some of the finest chowder and lobster rolls on the east coast of America.
Bostonians, alongside New Yorkers, have always had a reputation for being rowdy, but inside Fenway this rowdiness in nothing but good natured fun. Honestly, you will be spending as much time laughing as you will watching the action in the ballpen.
This stadium is the beacon of baseball in the west. It is one of the original cathedrals of the sport. The third oldest stadium in the MLB has splendid views of the portrait-worthy San Gabriel mountains. They keep things simple here. Baseball is the order of the day not novelties that other stadiums often fall victim to. Better yet, with the warm climes of the west coast you are never in danger of having a game called off for rain.
With room for 56,000 fans, the noise that reverberates around the stadium can be deafening, especially when Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig are tearing it up out on the field. But it is so enjoyably immersive at the same time. It is also a stadium where you are more than likely to see some A-List celebrity in attendance.
A Dodger Dog is also a culinary treat that gives most dogs a run for their money. It is dangerously good.
Coors Field – Colorado Rockies
All that needs to be said about Coors Field is that it has its own microbrewery. Beer makes such a difference at ball parks and you will find none better than at the home of the Colorado Rockies. The stadium itself is blessed in the fact that it is modern and yet old – it is now in its 20th year – giving the stadium a retro-chic feel while the fountains add a touch of opulence. However, the best thing of the stadium, which is located in the vibrant downtown, is the awe-inspiring views of the Rockies in the distance.
The stadium can certainly hold its own when it comes to food as well. Amongst other dishes, it would be criminal if you did not treat yourself to a Taco Dog, a chorizo frankfurter with cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. It is fusion at its finest.
True to form, the Denver residents that go to the ballpark are some of the best in the country. They get behind their side at every opportunity, giving the stadium a fantastic atmosphere.
Oriole Park – Baltimore Orioles
Oriole Park was the first retro park to be made, having opened to the public in 1992, and it is still one of the best in the country. Some of the inspired touches include the effortless and natural incorporation of the old B&O Warehouse. The iconic clock is also something of real beauty while the two-tiered bullpens are sublime and the view of the field from Eutaw Street is one of the best in the MLB.
by Keith Allison
Sadly, subsequent buildings have been built since the stadium opened and this has ruined the view somewhat. Nonetheless, the views are still pretty stellar.
For foodies, Oriole Park is a haven with Boog’s BBQ sandwich being absolutely heavenly. The sandwich is made up of pit beef, something that tastes as unreal as it sounds.
The race for a Triple Crown is heating up in the National League between Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt. These two young super stars are emerging as two of the top players in the game of baseball and now they have a chance to compete against each other for a potential Triple Crown. This is much like a few seasons back when Miguel Cabrera battled Mike Trout before taking home the first Triple Crown since 1967.
Now the chance for another Triple Crown has increased after Giancarlo Stanton went down with a hand injury. Stanton was projected to hit over 50 home runs at one point before hurting his wrist. This opens up the door for both Harper and Goldschmidt to over take him in that department. This gives us a chance to take a look at each of their seasons to this point.
Starting with the Washington Nationals outfielder, Harper is putting together the best season of his young career. Harper who doesn’t turn 23 till October is hitting .338 with 26 home runs and 62 runs batted in on the year. Currently those numbers put Harper in second in batting average, second in home runs and fourth in runs batted in.
Goldschmidt on the other hand is leading the National League with a .340 batting average just two points ahead of Harper. Along with the batting average, Goldschmidt also leads the National League with 72 runs batted in while being sitting in fifth with 21 home runs. While Harper is much younger, Goldschmidt will only turn 28 in September.
The one spoiler in this mix could be Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Arenado is currently hitting .292 with 24 home runs and 70 runs batted in over 86 games. The Rockies third baseman helped his cause before the break picking up tens hits over his final five games raising his average from .279 to the .292 mark.
Could we have a three way race for the right to take home the Triple Crown?
MLB betting options have expanded over the last few years, as now bettors are able to break the game down into halves. The first half of a baseball game is seen as the first five innings of the game. Within the first five innings, baseball betting fans have the option of wagering on how long a pitcher will last and how well a batting order may fair. Here is a look at a few things to consider in the first half of a baseball game.
1. Effect Of The Starting Pitcher – The starting pitcher is essentially the main premise of how your bet will be determined. If you bet on the first half of a baseball game, you are risking the majority of your wager on how well you expect one team’s starting pitcher to fair over their opponent. The typical starting pitcher should go about five innings before handing things over to the bullpen. In some cases however, the starting pitcher get’s roughed up by the batting order he faces and hands things over to the bullpen. When this occurs, it is very rare for bettors to win their wager.
2. Value Of The Underdog – On the moneyline, the difference between a half and full game in baseball is very small. However, in theory, the underdog should be able to make a move during the first half of a game, before the favorite get’s its act together and wins the game, outright by the end. One of the many factors that favor the underdog is that in a five inning game, the starting pitchers ideally are evenly matched. As well, an underdog may be able to get its offense going against a favorite.
For instance, taking into account an underdog’s offense against a specific favorite’s starting pitcher can be of great value. Such as when James Shields of the San Diego Padres faces the Toronto Blue Jays, he gives up an average of five runs. Since the Padres are the better team, the Jays would be seen as the underdog in this situation.
Importance of team ERA (Earned Run Average) stats
When experts bet on sports, they look at every possible stat to determine which ones matter and which ones do not. Betting on baseball requires a long list of stats and they are all important, but few are as important as team earned run average (ERA). Even though the ERA stats are skewed because of the conditions under which certain stats count towards an ERA while others do not, the best online sportsbook experts know that team ERA is extremely critical when picking a World Series winner.
The key to using team ERA when choosing a World Series champion is in using the restrictions of the ERA stat to your advantage. Remember that we are talking about team ERA and not the ERA of individual pitchers. When you are putting the entire pitching staff into one stat, then you are getting a more accurate picture of how the staff is performing. If the top three starters have a combined ERA of 3.25 but the team ERA is 6.50, then you know that the bullpen on that particular team is not reliable.
Baseball blog writers also know that team ERA helps bettors to understand how stable the pitching staff is. If the team ERA jumps up and down throughout the season, then that indicates that the team will have a problem getting consistent production from the players during a critical time such as the playoffs. It also indicates that the manager of the team is not satisfied with his pitching staff and keeps making moves to improve it. All of these elements are important when betting on baseball games.
In my personal opinion, I have a vast amount of knowledge surrounding the game of baseball. Absorbing stats, learning more about the background of each player, and understanding the importance of a pitcher’s duel all have their roles when it comes to betting on baseball.
One analogy that immediately comes to mind involves the 2015 Houston Astros. They’ve had one of the best records in Major League Baseball this year, but few believed they would ever do anything after moving to the American League. This is with good reason, considering they’ve lost over 100 games a few times over the last five years.
However, some gamblers have cashed in on their recent success, and did so before the sports world caught on to their potential. The naked eye tells us they’ve been horrible, and on the surface, it doesn’t look like much has changed to their team. However, what if I told you they have had 3 No. 1 draft picks over the last 5 years. Two of them are having a major impact in 2015.
Slowly they’ve been rebuilding their team, and even though the players wouldn’t be considered household names, this is quickly changing.
The Problem with Betting Baseball
In other articles, we’ve shared the idea that knowledge is crucial to betting on sports. When it comes to baseball, it’s a must if you want to build a winning strategy. The biggest issue is you have to learn more about each match-up. This is not by teams either; instead it is the opposing pitcher against each batter.
How well does he pitch against left-handers? Does he throw a pitch that half of the batting order will struggle to hit? Does the team allow their starting rotation to go farther than 6 innings? Does the bullpen struggle to hold leads? What relievers pitched the last game and will be unavailable this game? When it comes to baseball, I could provide you an entire article with nothing but questions revolving around the game.
Most baseball gamblers do this already, but for someone just getting involved in baseball betting, it can feel more like a job. If you are up for this sort of “tedious” back-end work, then you’re going to love it.
Betting on a team typically means you are either giving or receiving 1 1/2 runs. Without the proper knowledge behind the game, you might as well flip a coin to pick the team you will root for any given night. In addition, there isn’t really an unwritten rule about “home field advantage” like you would see in NFL football. The best scenario would be someone like Chris Sale, pitcher for the Chicago White Sox.
Sale has recently struck out 10 or more batters in four consecutive games, and his earned run average is ridiculously low. If he was going up against a team that struggles to score runs, it’s probably going to be a good bet right now. Then again, if the opposing pitcher has been just as good, it’s pretty much back to the background knowledge of the game (discussed earlier).
So if you wouldn’t consider yourself a baseball guru, then it’s best to leave baseball betting to the professionals. Otherwise you could end up losing a substantial amount of money in the process.
The 2015 Major League Baseball season is set for another roller coaster ride. This comes after another amazing season that featured a playoff trip for the Kansas City Royals, a third World Series title for the San Francisco Giants in five seasons and the end of Bud Selig as commissioner of baseball.
Now as we start to look at the 2015 season we can all start to predict which teams will make the playoffs and what players will walk away with the major hardware? That being said we will take a look at both including which teams have a shot at the playoffs in 2015.
In the American League starting in the Eastern Division the team that continues to stand out is the Baltimore Orioles. We know what has been said and how Vegas has ranked them in their division but that won’t change the fact they still have one of the games top lineups. Along with the Orioles this should be a season we also see at least one wild card team.
Over in the National League, the Washington Nationals look to strong on paper with their only real test coming from the Miami Marlins, The New York Mets have struggled to stay healthy while the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are in the midst of a rebuilding project.
Back in the American League the Central Division could be a four-team race to the finish now that the Tigers lost two components to their starting rotation. Out West the team to watch is the Seattle Mariners after the team added another key piece in Nelson Cruz to bolster the teams offense.
In the National League, the Central Division could have a new face atop with the Chicago Cubs taking that honor. Now this is a long shot for many but look at what they did this off-season as well as the potential of Kris Bryant. Moving out West the San Diego Padres have a real shot at the division after landing an entirely new outfield and James Shields this off-season.
The American League wild card teams will feature the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians while the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals take those honors in the National League. Now we just have to sit back for another month till opening day gets underway.
The Baltimore Orioles enter 2015 with visions of a repeat in the American League East. After a terrific 2014 season that saw Buck Showalter and the Orioles run away with the division over the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
Now that will be a difficult task with how the other teams added a few key pieces this off-season while the Orioles lost a few key pieces. Those losses include the American League Home Run champ Nelson Cruz, shutdown bullpen arm Andrew Miller and everyday right fielder Nick Markakis. All of those losses have led to the early Vegas odds that the team could finish as far down as last place.
Luckily for the Orioles they have three key players returning that they didn’t have for a bulk of the 2014 season including their stretch run to the American League Championship series. Those three include All-star catcher Matt Wieters, All-star third baseman Manny Machado and All-star first baseman Chris Davis.
Wieters was off his best offensive start of his career before needing tommy john surgery on his throwing shoulder. In 26 games last season Wieters hit .308 with five home runs, 13 runs scored and 18 runs batted in. This season will be a big one for the Orioles catcher as he is set to hit free agency after the 2015.
Along with these three key players returning to the lineup, the team also landed Travis Snider in a trade and signed free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. Snider a former first round pick has the talent to be the clubs every day right fielder. Cabrera on the other hand has had a rough couple seasons but when healthy and on he is a proven base stealer that adds a new look to this club.
This should be another great season in Baltimore for the Orioles and their fans!
The Washington Nationals will enter 2015 with the games top rotation. This comes after a 2014 season the team led all of Major League Baseball with a 3.03 earned run average. That staff featured Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman and Tanner Roark.
While it is hard to imagine that staff getting any better in 2015 but that will be reality once the season begins. The Nationals made what many people consider the top off-season acquisition in signing free agent starter Max Scherzer. Scherzer who was the top free agent this off-season sat on the open market for a while field offers before signing with the Nationals.
The former Detroit Tigers ace now will look to build on a solid career in a pitcher friendly National League. Scherzer who was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks has led the American League in wins in each of the past two seasons including 21 in 2013.
Over these last two seasons Scherzer has dominated the American League pitching to a 39-8 record to go with an earned run average just over three. In his career Scherzer has had some success against the National League in 20 career starts with the Tigers. In those 20 starts, Scherzer posted a 10-7 record with a 3.08 earned run average and 155 strikeouts in 119.2 innings.
The biggest question for the team this spring is which of the previous five starters will find themselves outside of the rotation. That could come down to either Jordan Zimmerman or Tanner Roark. Roark would be the first option but that could change if the team could find a trade partner for Zimmerman.
Nonetheless entering 2015, the Washington Nationals starting rotation will be difficult any team that has to face them night in and night out.
The Chicago Cubs enter spring training with a new look after a very busy winter. After a somewhat disappointing but promising 2014 season not many people around the game as well as fans expected to see the Cubs work like they did this off-season.
The first key addition the club added this off-season was manager Joe Maddonn, who had spent the past eight seasons with the Tampa Bays became available after he elected to opt out of his contract. This opened up the door for Theo Epstein to land the talented manager that led the Rays to a 754-705 record and a trip to the World Series.
Following the addition of Maddon the team also landed one of the top starters on the market in Jon Lester. The move gives the team a true number one starter and someone who has had a ton of postseason success. Last season, Lester finished the regular season with a 2.46 earned run average to go with a 16-11 record in 32 starts.
Along with the Lester signing, the team also brought back right hander Jason Hammel to anchor one of the five starting rotation spots. Last season Hammel was 8-5 with a 2.98 earned run average in 17 starts before being traded to the Oakland A’s.
The team didn’t stop their this off-season as they also traded for catcher Miguel Montero and outfielder Dexter Fowler to give the team some additional experience to go with the teams young talent. The last move many expect to be made for opening day is the addition of third baseman Kris Bryant to the teams 25 man roster.
Bryant is the top prospect in the minors and could be a key to this team’s success in 2015.
Mike Trout will look to continue his early success in 2015. Trout who is entering fourth full season in the majors is coming off his first American League MVP award. Now his eyes are set on a bigger piece of hardware after the Los Angeles Angels found themselves knocked out of the playoffs in the divisional round last season.
Since his debut with the Angels back in 2011, Trout has been a superstar on the rise with his big bat, excellent speed and outstanding glove. His bat showed up for good in 2012 as he finished his first full season with a .326 batting average, 30 home runs, 86 runs batted in and 129 runs.
All of these numbers led to Trout being named the American League Rookie of the Year. If it wasn’t for the amazing season Miguel Cabrera put up, Trout would have walked away with the American League MVP award. The Angels outfielder would pick up six of the 28 first place votes and finish second behind only Cabrera.
The success would continue a year later as Trout continued to demonstrate how good of a ball player he actually was. Trout would go on to play in 157 of the teams 162 games posting .323 batting average with 27 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases. In the end the same result as the year before finishing second to Miguel Cabera in the MVP award after he finished the season with a triple crown.
Finally his third full season would be the one as Trout walked away with his first American League MVP award. Now Trout will look to get that bad taste out of his mouth from October and look to lead his Angels to a World Series title in 2015.