MLB Power Ratings
WagerTalk handicapper Tony Finn offers his MLB state of the union following this week’s All-Star Break. Which teams have over-achieved through the first three months of the season? Which teams are primed to make a playoff push? Tony offers his thoughts on how the second half of the season will play out.
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MLB State of the Union
The first half of the 2021 Major League Baseball season is in the rearview mirror. After three months and more of drama, injuries, a record number of no-hitters, and in totality, a collection of teams that have to this point of the 2021 campaign set a record for offensive ineptitude in the history game.
The Opening Day betting chalk to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers, don’t have the best win/loss record through the first half of 2021 campaign, but as of tonight, the Mid-Season Classic, as they were on Opening Day, they remain the favorites to win their second straight title.
What is different from the March MLB futures is what lay behind Skipper Dave Roberts and his Dodgers. What MLB pundits forecast to transpire in the first three months of this season has been closer to Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” than that of the mainstream media.
The 2021 Major League Baseball season has been nothing short of Unexpected Everything. The league has been the poster child for the “best-laid schemes o’ Man an’ Mouse,” which of course go “awry,” as Robert Burns wrote in his poem.
The proud and the shamed, be it a professional baseball pitcher and his drug of choice (foreign substance) or men in situations where they are forced to depart family either out of melancholy or in search of pandemic work, are perilously unattached. Regardless of one’s heavenly or hellish status, the now-world feels lonely. It is filled with desperate men in a time that is best suited for isolated misfits.
The Dodgers, the defending World Series champions, can found in front of manager Dave Roberts who has more than once been overheard talking to himself and addressing the media as “me and my shadow.” Roberts and his posse opened the season at the top of the MLB World Series futures charts anywhere from +350 at BetMGM or as +500 co-favorites with the New York Yankees in late October at DraftKings to repeat their Fall Classic statement and defend their 2020 championship.
At the All-Star break, the +500 odds that DraftKings published for the Dodgers has been whittled down to +375 despite having everything but an easy path to the postseason in a highly competitive National League West.
July 14 MLB Power Ratings
1. Houston Astros – Record: 55-36 (Previous ranking: 1)
The Astros were money in June. Houston recorded a .679 winning percentage in June, winning 19 games against nine losses. The team won their first six games in July before entering the All-Star break with a 7-3 record to begin the month. Since June 1, no team has a better mark than the Stohs, and they start the second stanza of 2021 at 55-36.
In June and July, the Houston pitching staff was the best of the American League, with an ERA south of 3.50. The Astros are Top-5 on the Junior Circuit in hits and runs allowed. They have surrendered the least home runs of any American League staff and top the league in opposition batting average against.
According to Brian McTaggart and MLB.com, “The Astros are likely to be without starting shortstop Carlos Correa and left-handed reliever Brooks Raley,” this when the team begins the 2nd Half of the 2021 season on Friday due to health and safety protocols. McTaggart reported that Dusty Baker said this to him before Sunday’s first-half finale. Raley was placed on the injured list Thursday and Correa on Friday.
In April, the Astros had five players miss time due to COVID-related issues. Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Robel García, Martín Maldonado and Jose Altuve were all out for four games because of health and safety reasons. Alex Bregman has been absent from the Astros lineup since June 16. However, Bregman ran on the field and took batting practice this past Saturday and said the next step is a Minor League rehab assignment.
“I got those two running sessions in the last two days, and everything feels good,” he said. Bregman told the Houston media that the coaching staff discussed eyeing a rehab stint for Triple-A Sugar Land when the Skeeters are in Albuquerque, N.M. — his hometown — July 15-20.
Lance McCullers Jr is expected to take the ball on Friday night in Chicago versus the White Sox in the first game of the second half for both franchises.
DraftKings opened Houston’s futures odds to win the 2021 World Series at +1800 in late October. The Astros current odds at DraftKings is +600. Houston has dropped as low as +450 to claim the 2021 Fall Classic title at Fanduel.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – Record: 56-35 (Previous ranking: 2)
The Dodgers have several questions marks heading into Friday night’s 2nd-Half opener against the Rockies at Coors Field. Arguably, the one position that the Dodgers were not worried about when the season opened was the pitching staff’s depth. In particular, the eight arms to fill the five-man rotation. In late March, the talk was about which of the eight quality arms would be moved to the bullpen or sent back to the farm.
That depth has disappeared due to injuries. No. #5 starter Dustin May is out for the year. Tony Gonsolin missed the first two months of the season with an injury. The coaching staff has been stretching Gonsolin out in the starting role. Gonsolin gave up one run and four hits in four innings on 83 pitches after the Dodgers had hoped he’d reach 90. The right-hander struck out six and walked one in his sixth start since making his delayed season debut on June 9 due to right shoulder inflammation.
MLB’s first eleven game-winner this season, Julio Urías, has never thrown a total of 80 innings in a primary league season. Urias is scheduled to take the Coors mound on Friday and oppose Colorado’s Antonio Senzatela in LA’s second-half opener.
Major League Baseball placed Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer on paid administrative leave and extended that leave to a date to be determined. It wouldn’t, or shouldn’t be, a surprise if Bauer doesn’t return to active duty this season.
The number of injured in combination with the Bauer situation has quickly moved the Dodgers to a dynamic buyer between now and the July 30 deadline. Los Angeles is reportedly shopping for a starting pitcher and a bench bat. Don’t be surprised if it is the Dodgers that make the biggest splash before July 30.
3. San Francisco Giants – Record: 57-32 (Previous ranking: 5)
The Giants finished April in the first place. San Francisco stood a half-game ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West with a 16-10 record on the morning of May 1. If consistency matters to you as it does to me, then note that the last time this Giants franchise entered May in the first place was in 2014. Yes, the World Series-winning club.
At the risk of me writing and reading repetitive configurations, it will come as no surprise that San Fran entered July with a 50-29 mark on the season. The Dodgers were 49-31 and the Padres 49-33. This meant that the G-Men headed into July just as they had in May and June, sitting atop the NL West standings.
The Giants’ underlying peripherals suggest and scream a pair of essential variables. First, San Francisco has received positive production and results from their starting pitching. Secondly, catcher Buster Posey has experienced a rebirth of sorts and is everything you need to know about how the team is still in the first place. Posey hasn’t registered ten home runs or more in a single season since hitting 12 in 2017.
San Francisco opened their 2021 MLB World Series futures with odds of +7000 to win the MLB Championship. The Giants enter the second half of this season with DraftKings now positioning San Fran at +1600 to win the October baseball tournament.
4. Tampa Bay Rays – Record: 53-37 (Previous ranking: 6)
Starting pitching, middle relief, and the backend of the Rays’ pitching staff is the reason that Tampa Bay is ready to threaten the American League with a second straight AL East title. Three Tampa Bay relievers combined on five scoreless innings, Ji-Man Choi drove in three runs, and the Rays won their fifth consecutive game; this past Friday night, prepping for the three-day extravaganza is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. Five Rays relievers went seven hitless innings during a bullpen day in a 4-0 win over Cleveland in Game 2 of a doubleheader a week ago today.
Tampa Bay’s bullpen has an AL-best ERA of 2.80 since April 22. Despite being apparent sellers this offseason, the Rays are right back in the postseason mix. Tampa opened the DraftKing World Series futures at +1200, the same odds as the Atlanta Braves and +400 lower than the Finn Factor No. #1 in his MLB Power Poll, the Houston Astros +1800 the late stages of October 2020.
5. San Diego Padres – Record: 53-40 (Previous ranking: 4)
The return of Drew Pomeranz from the injury list to active status took forever. A capable bullpen makes any team that is still in touch with the leader in the division a September mover and shaker. The Padres are on pace to have a 92 win season. San Diego has been as bi-polar as any in the 2021 campaign. The Padres started April with an 8-3 record. In May, the group executed a 12-1 run followed by a 10-1 rampage to close June. Despite the apparent successes in the first three months, the Giants find themselves six games behind Giants.
The Padres pitching staff has had their share of injuries. Nevertheless, San Diego still rates as the third-best staff in all of baseball in ERA (earned run average). But, again, the problem with the team’s third-place standing in the pitching category is that the first and second-best staffs are in their division, the Dodgers and Giants, respectively.
The Padres checked in at +1100 to win the World Series at DraftKings Nation last October. Coming out of the All-Star break and into the 2nd Half, the fire finds San Diego sitting at +750 at DraftKings.
6. Oakland Athletics – Record: 52-40 (Previous ranking: 3)
7. New York Mets – Record: 47-40 (Previous ranking: 10)
8. Milwaukee Brewers – Record: 53-39 (Previous ranking: 9)
9. Chicago White Sox – Record: 54-35 (Previous ranking: 8)
10. Boston Red Sox – Record: 51-31 (Previous ranking: 7)
11. Toronto Blue Jays – Record: 45-42 (Previous ranking: 11)
12. Cincinnati Reds – Record: 48-42 (Previous ranking: 15)
13. Atlanta Braves – Record: 44-45 (Previous ranking: 17)
14. Philadelphia Phillies – Record: 44-44 (Previous ranking: 18)
15. Cleveland Indians – Record: 45-42 (Previous ranking: 13)
16. New York Yankees – Record: 46-43 (Previous ranking: 16)
17. Los Angeles Angels – Record: 39-41 (Previous ranking: 19)
18. Seattle Mariners – Record: 48-43 (Previous ranking: 20)
19. Washington Nationals – Record: 42-47 (Previous ranking: 14)
20. Miami Marlins – Record: 39-50 (Previous ranking: 23)
21. Chicago Cubs – Record: 44-46 (Previous ranking: 12)
22. St. Louis Cardinals – Record: 44-46 (Previous ranking: 21)
23. Minnesota Twins – Record: 39-50 (Previous ranking: 22)
24. Detroit Tigers – Record: 40-51 (Previous ranking: 25)
25. Kansas City Royals – Record: 36-53 (Previous ranking: 24)
26. Texas Rangers – Record: 35-55 (Previous ranking: 26)
27. Baltimore Orioles – Record: 28-61 (Previous ranking: 29)
28. Colorado Rockies – Record: 40-51 (Previous ranking: 27)
29. Pittsburgh Pirates – Record: 34-56 (Previous ranking: 28)
30. Arizona Diamondbacks – Record: 26-66 (Previous ranking: 30)
MLB First Pitch
Now that the dust has settled from last year’s abbreviated baseball schedule with limited travel, how will teams handle the grind of the 2021 MLB season? Get MLB picks, predictions, and odds every Monday-Friday on WagerTalk TV during First Pitch, hosted by Drew Martin.
The First Pitch Betting Guide
Each day during the MLB regular season, WagerTalk handicapper Ralph Michaels releases his First Pitch betting guide. The PDF download contains home-road splits, righty-lefty splits and a plethora of other useful betting information for that day’s starting pitcher matchup. To access the First Pitch guide, go to Ralph’s page (http://wt.buzz/rm) and find the link on the right side under Downloads. If you are already a WagerTalk user, sign into your account. If you’re not a WagerTalk subscriber, create a free account with just your email address. After you add the item to your cart, it will be available in your downloads.
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