Cards and O's Playing Better Than Expected
THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS AND BALTIMORE ORIOLES ARE PLAYING EVEN BETTER THAN YOU REALIZED
There are two teams in Major League Baseball right now who are off to very good starts...but are actually even BETTER positioned than the media and the markets have realized. Because the NBA Playoffs are taking a day off, this seemed like the perfect time to clue you in to a pair of teams who are offering line value now...and could continue to do so if the market refuses to catch up.
Heading into Thursday action...
- The ST. LOUIS CARDINALS lead the NL Central, having won the race for "first to reach 20 victories" in the whole National League. That's good enough on its own. But, the Cards have played at a high level despite playing 21 of their first 33 games on the ROAD! They have a strong record, but have 12 extra home games coming up!
It's far too early to call the Cardinals a lock for the playoffs. Plenty of time for injuries to occur, or bad luck to hit. But, out of the gate, St. Louis is playing better than was even expected of early NL favorites Washington and Cincinnati. We can't emphasize this enough...St. Louis has the best record in the National League while playing the unfriendliest schedule in the National League!
- The BALTIMORE ORIOLES don't lead their division outright the way St. Louis does, because the AL East is a tough division with a few good teams. But, their won-lost record is very similar to the Cardinals, and the enter Thursday Night's game with Kansas City having played 20 of their first 34 games on the road. They still have 6 extra home games coming up to help pad their record.
Baltimore caught the nation by surprise last year (though some handicappers caught on to what they were doing early enough to make big money). The same thing is happening this year.
Check out these two teams in the markets. Using totals through Wednesday because of publication deadlines:
Baltimore is up about 7.5 betting units for the season (best in the majors)
St. Louis is up about 6.5 betting units for the season
Now, some of you may be thinking that luck is playing a role in those records even with the unfriendly home/road splits. The sabermetric universe was obsessed last year with Baltimore's great record in one-run games. Beginning in July, they kept insisting there was no way the O's could keep winning. (And, in fairness, we probably expressed some skepticism about that ourselves here in the NOTEBOOK at one point). Well, the O's did keep winning. And, THIS year, they're NOT the beneficiaries of a great one-run record. Nor is St. Louis.
ONE-RUN RECORDS (heading into Wednesday)
St. Louis 5-5
Both teams are winning the one-sided games, with the coin flip finishes almost exactly posting a coin flip record. In fact, "winning" teams should be a bit better than 50/50 in tight finishes. You could argue that some breaks may be waiting ahead for both teams in nailbiters.
We have to agree that Baltimore's starting rotation isn't particularly scary...and that St. Louis doesn't strike you as a murderer's row top to bottom. But,
- Both made the playoffs last year
- Both are led by smart managers
- Both have a nice mix of offense and defense
- Both continue to be overlooked by the media
- Both continue to be underpriced by oddsmakers and sharps
- Both appear to be playing with chips on their shoulder because of a lack of respect
If you're a baseball handicapper, you need to keep an eye on both the Cards and O's going forward. Those quirky home/road splits have helped to hide what's been going on for both teams.
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