At BangtheBook, we’ve already previewed every division one-by-one, but now it is time to take a look at five teams that may be overrated by the sportsbooks early in the year. Perception often isn’t reality early in the MLB season, and that is where you can make money betting on baseball in April and even May. Let’s take a look at five teams that are likely to disappoint in 2013.
Top Five Overrated MLB Teams at Start of 2013 (Season Win Totals listed from 5Dimes)
1. Arizona Diamondbacks - It’s hard to figure out how the Arizona Diamondbacks are expected to be better when they got rid of their most talented offensive players. Arizona got rid of Justin Upton and got Martin Prado in return. I like Prado’s versatility, but he definitely doesn’t have the upside of Justin Upton. Arizona only managed 81 wins a year ago, and now the oddsmakers put out a season win total of 82.5 games for the 2013 Diamondbacks. Jason Kubel is the team’s cleanup hitter this year, and there isn’t even much speed on this roster. The starting rotation is good, but the bullpen is mediocre at best. Asking this team to finish .500 is too much. Arizona under 82.5 wins for the year is a very good value.
2. Boston Red Sox - Boston’s 2012 disaster was hard to see coming. Sure, the team finished 2011 with a horrific month of September, but a team with a roster as loaded as the Red Sox were in 2012 should never finish the year 69-93. There’s little doubt that the Red Sox will be better than last year, but is the public expecting too much of a bounce back here? Joel Hanrahan will help the bullpen a lot, but I’m not sure John Lackey is going to be of much help in the rotation. Jon Lester should be better, but will it be good enough? David Ortiz is said to be struggling with his heel injury, and that is really bad news for the team. The heel injury was said to be minor last year, but here it is 6 or 8 months later and he is still far less than 100 percent. The public loves the Red Sox, and there should be some solid money in fading this team early.
3. Texas Rangers - Texas lost Josh Hamilton in the offseason and that leaves a massive hole in the middle of the Rangers lineup. Nelson Cruz had a down year in 2012, and the team definitely needs a bounce back year from him. The team signed Lance Berkman to a reasonable contract, but he certainly won’t replace Hamilton’s production. David Murphy is bound to regress a bit from his numbers in 2012. The starting rotation here is good, but the AL West is going to be a very tough division. 5Dimes lists the season win total for Texas at over/under 86. Playing teams like the Angels and the Athletics all year long will make it hard on this group to get to 86 wins.
4. Chicago Cubs - I realize that the Chicago Cubs aren’t expected to be good this year, but I still think they are overrated. The public wants the Cubs to be good, and that tends to inflate their lines a little bit, at least early on in the season. Taking a look down the Cubs roster, it’s hard to see where the team improved other than adding some starting pitchers who are injury prone. Starlin Castro has next to no help in the lineup. The Cubs went 61-101 last year. The Bookmakers are saying, “They can’t possibly be that bad this year.” I think they will be. The season win total of 72.5 games seems several games too high. Take the under on the Cubs season win total.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates - Pittsburgh has contended in the NL Central through the summer each of the last two seasons, and then the team has fallen apart at the end of the season. They finished with 79 wins last season. In the offseason, Pittsburgh lost Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox. Losing Hanrahan will hurt this team a lot. They have been able to win a lot of close games in the past couple years, but downgrading the bullpen will turn several of those wins into close losses. Andrew McCutchen is a star, but he can’t do it all by himself.