1: Pittsburgh Pirates (82-61, +$2,143) (LW: 1): By golly, they’ve done it! The Jolly Roger is flying in the Steel City once more, and with the way that the Steelers opened up the season, there’s a good chance that October is going to become a legitimate baseball month in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have broken their stretch of two decades of futility by clinching a winning season, and there’s a chance that a playoff bid is about a week and a half away. The Pirates didn’t have a winning week, but no one is going to care after the joy and jubilation of Monday’s crucial win #82.
2: Boston Red Sox (87-58, +$1,679) (LW: 3): The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 15 games, and in that stretch, they have taken what was once a one-game deficit and turned it into a 6.5-game lead in the AL East. The season isn’t over with yet, and the playoff spot isn’t punched yet, but the team looks good going into this week’s series with the Rays. Win at least one of the games in this one though, and there is no reason to fall apart with at least a five-game lead in the loss column with just 16 games left in the campaign.
3: Cleveland Indians (77-66, +$1,404) (LW: 5): The Indians have won five of their last six games, and believe it or not, they are still within striking distance in the AL Central of the Tigers. The bottom line is that Cleveland has to catch someone, and with a game and a half still to make up on the Rays, this is going to be a war the rest of the way. That said, Manager Terry Francona is getting the most out of his pitchers, namely LHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a sub-2.00 ERA in the second half of the season to help keep his team in contention.
4: Oakland Athletics (83-60, +$1,299) (LW: 6): Winning 11 out of 14 has been great for the A’s, and it probably guarantees that they are going to at least get a home playoff game out of this season. They’ve got two games on the Rangers in the AL West though, and that’s the important thing at the moment. Even having the best record in all of baseball isn’t out of the question at this point for a team that is averaging a stunningly high 4.50 runs per game, the fifth best mark in the entire game.
5: Los Angeles Dodgers (84-59, +$1,286) (LW: 4): The Dodgers were swept in a three-game series for the first time since June when they were beaten in all three at the Great American Ballpark over the weekend. That was also their first four-game losing streak since that point as well. LA is back on point now, and it has a great chance to go on a run for the rest of the year, as there really isn’t another difficult team left on the docket to face. We have to think that Los Angeles has the best chance of finishing up with the best record in baseball when push comes to shove, and it is the deserving favorite on the odds to win the World Series.
6: Atlanta Braves (86-57, +$1,264) (LW: 2): Atlanta was expected to just continue rolling through the rest of the season, but the team hit a real snag against the Phillies over the weekend, losing all three games. No harm, no foul though, as the team has built up such a big lead in the NL East that it just doesn’t matter any longer. The club is back on track after beating the Marlins on Monday night, and there are enough easy games the rest of the way that should have this team beaming with confidence come October.
7: St. Louis Cardinals (83-60, +$539) (LW: 8): After having lost two out of three in Pittsburgh and three out of four in Cincinnati, the Cardinals really could have put themselves in a lot of trouble when they came home to host the Pirates this weekend. Instead, their bats woke up, they plated 26 runs in three days against one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and they are back in control of the NL Central by a game. The rest of the way is very easy, as Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Milwaukee again, Washington, and Chicago are all that’s left, and we would be shocked if Manager Mike Matheny and the crew didn’t capture the NL Central crown with that docket remaining.
8: Baltimore Orioles (77-66, +$494) (LW: 9): The Orioles have a crucial series this week with the Yankees to stay in the AL Wild Card chase, and you just get the feeling that time is starting to run out. There are still six games with Boston, three with New York, and four with Tampa Bay, so the opportunities are going to be there to make up ground. However, this is a team with a 35-37 road record this year, and those 10 games on the road starting on Friday might prove to be the death of the club when push comes to shove. Anything less than 5-5 on that trip, and the campaign is likely over with.
9: New York Yankees (76-68, +$473) (LW: 7): Speaking of time running out, it is clearly doing just that for the Bronx Bombers as well. The Royals and the Yanks are basically in the same boat right now, as they are both in a trailing position with gobs of teams to pass to get back into the AL East race. Losing three to Boston was probably death over the weekend. The bottom line for the boys in pinstripes is that they just haven’t been able to figure out how to compete with the big boys in the AL East this year, and that’s why they’re going to end up winning right around 85 games and probably missing out on the second season as a result.
10: Kansas City Royals (75-69, +$279) (LW: 11): You’ve got to think that the Royals have got to get to at least 90 wins, which means they need to go no worse than 15-3 over the course of the rest of the season if they want to get into the playoffs, and even that might not get the job done. Plus, when you consider the fact that these next eight games are all against either the Tigers or the Indians, that makes matters even worse. Posting a 3.53 team ERA was a great start to rebuilding in KC, but this isn’t meant to be the year that the team gets into the second season.
11: Minnesota Twins (62-80, +$214) (LW: 10): Trading 1B Justin Morneau two weeks ago sort of put a bit of a damper over Target Field, knowing that he and C Joe Mauer were essentially institutions, sort of like how F Kevin Garnett was before he was traded to the Boston Celtics. Alas, there really is nothing going well right now for the Twinkies, but at least they have the chance to play the role of spoiler. In these last three weeks, they have the A’s seven times, the Rays three times, the Tigers three times, and the Indians three times.
12: Cincinnati Reds (82-63, +$127) (LW: 15): The Reds knew that the potential was there to be in a heck of a lot of trouble over the weekend when they faced off with the Dodgers, but they won all three games, including beating LHP Clayton Kershaw on Sunday Night Baseball. Now, the NL Central title remains within reach at this point, and there really is zero chance whatsoever that the team ends up blowing its playoff spot. Manager Dusty Baker should be proud of his boys and the way that they hung in there against LA over the weekend, and that might change the course of the whole rest of the season.
13: San Diego Padres (65-77, -$242) (LW: 17): The Padres are going to fight hard to get back to the breakeven point this year for bettors, and they took some big strides in that direction this week when they swept the Rockies and took two out of three from the Giants. This probably isn’t the worst team in the NL West this season, and the fact of the matter is that second place in the division is still definitively reachable if the Diamondbacks decide that they are going to pack it in for the rest of the year.
14: Tampa Bay Rays (78-64, -$304) (LW: 13): It was a really bad time to hit the skids for sure. The Rays are going to be thrilled that they are no longer on the West Coast and are done with huge travel arrangements. The last two times they were out there, they went a combined 3-12, and that isn’t going to get the job done by any stretch of the imagination. At least Tampa Bay has one last chance to get back into the thick of the fight in the AL East, though you’d like to think that only a sweep this week against Boston is going to cut it.
15: Texas Rangers (81-62, -$305) (LW: 12): There are just far too many instances this year where the Rangers lost games as -250 or higher favorites, and the team just keeps losing these big time games this year. Just in the last two weeks, the Pirates beat the Rangers, who were -164, and Texas was beaten as a -200 and -330 favorites against the Twins. That’s why the team is two back in the AL West now, and it is starting to look grim just to get into the postseason as anything more than perhaps the top Wild Card right now.
16: Arizona Diamondbacks (72-71, -$353) (LW: 14): Arizona isn’t going to get into the playoffs, and if we had to guess, it isn’t going to finish .500 either. The reason that the team sort of fell apart at the end of the year was that there were too many lost opportunities. Losing series against the Jays and Giants at home isn’t going to cut it, especially with series losses to the Giants and Phillies on the road in the mix just since the end of last month as well. The offense has plated just five runs over the course of its last four games combined, and there haven’t been more than four runs scored in a game since August 27th.
17: New York Mets (64-78, -$718) (LW: 16): The New York offense remains stagnant at best, as the team put up just seven runs in the last four games, three of which have been losses. The schedule the rest of the way is certainly manageable, but the hits just keep on coming. There are too many pitchers that are getting hurt, and the latest casualty is RHP Bobby Parnell, who needs surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. That’s another man that is going to be out for the rest of the season, and we’re getting to the point that Mr. Met might be coming out of the bullpen at some point for this brutalized squad.
18: Toronto Blue Jays (67-76, -$748) (LW: 22): The schedule hasn’t exactly been tough for the Jays over the course of the last few weeks, but wins are wins any way that they can get them. Toronto has taken 10 out of 13, and even though all but two of those wins (which came against the Yankees), the rest of those victories came against teams that just out and out stink, there is no doubt that this is at least some positive momentum going forward. Building for 2014 is the key, as that’s the year now that this team is really going to take a big run at the World Series in the rough and tumble AL East.
19: Chicago Cubs (61-82, -$917) (LW: 19): At least the Cubbies aren’t going to lose 100 games this season. That’s about all that we can say positive about the whole campaign. Chicago though, is 32-36 on the road with a +$948 mark, and in the end, there is a real chance that they are going to end up with the best money record in baseball on the road on the campaign. That’s pretty good for a team that is absolutely one of the worst home teams in the game at -$1,865 and just 29-46 at the Friendly Confines.
20: Washington Nationals (74-69, -$1,007) (LW: 23): The time is still there for Washington to make one last surge, but it might take some ridiculous mark to be able to get into the playoffs. We have to think that the Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals are all going to win at least 88 games this season, if not more, and if that’s the case, getting 14 wins over the course of the last two and a half weeks of the year is the goal. It sounds insane, but remember that the team has the Mets, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks left. If Washington can get to the point that that St. Louis series means something on September 23rd, the team will be impressed and so will we.
21: Detroit Tigers (82-62, -$1,027) (LW: 18): And now we see where the flaw lies with the Tigers. Yes, they have had some games like the 16-2 explosion against Kansas City where the offense really busts out, but in the end, they have been terrible, especially with 3B Miguel Cabrera clearly hurting. Cabrera is only batting 2-for-14 since August 30th, and that’s not going to cut it for a team that is relying on his bat to be one of the best in the game. Aside from RHP Max Scherzer, there isn’t a lot to be happy about right now.
22: Seattle Mariners (65-79, -$1,112) (LW: 20): If you thought that the M’s had it bad right now, just take a look at what’s left for the rest of the season. They have these two games left with Houston, and then there are three at St. Louis, four at Detroit, three in LA, three against Kansas City, and three against Oakland. Translation: The Mariners might legitimately not ultimately get to 70 wins even though they would only need to go 5-13 the rest of the way to get to that point.
23: Milwaukee Brewers (62-80, -$1,319) (LW: 24): All of a sudden, RHP Yovani Gallardo is starting to pitch like an ace again. The righty has thrown seven innings in three straight games, and he has allowed just a total of 14 hits and three runs in those three games. The righty has conceded three runs or fewer in all but one of his last nine starts, and the team has gone 5-1 in his last six. For a team that is going to struggle to avoid 90 losses this year, that’s a remarkable accomplishment, especially when you consider just how badly Gallardo started off this season.
24: Houston Astros (48-96, -$1,480) (LW: 26): The Astros only need two more wins to hit 50, and though there was so doubt as to whether they would avoid the 110-loss barrier, we think that they’ll make it at this point. It’s amazing to think that there were only three winning streaks of at least three games all season long for the ‘Stros, and the most recent one was back in the middle of June.
25: Miami Marlins (53-89, -$1,495) (LW: 25): The Marlins are continuing with their epically bad offense this year, as they still rank dead last in baseball in scoring average (3.26 runs per game), team batting average (.231), team OPS (.627), and total team home runs (84). That being said, the Fish have put up an average of 4.9 runs per game in their last nine games, and relatively speaking, that’s an offensive explosion that might legitimately be the sign of the Apocalypse.
26: Colorado Rockies (66-79, -$1,499) (LW: 21): We warned last week when the Rockies had won five out of seven games that they were about set to run into a buzz saw, and they ended up doing just that. They were beaten in two out of three by the Dodgers, and that really wrecked them for the rest of the week, as they went on the road and were swept by the Padres and have now dropped four straight with just a total of eight runs being scored. Outside of Coors Field, this team really is a disaster.
27: Philadelphia Phillies (66-77, -$1,511) (LW: 27): At least the Phillies can take some consolation knowing that they were able to sweep the Braves at the end of the year. What? You don’t think that a team that was picked to win at least 85 games this season that is struggling to be even 10 games under .500 is going to care all that much about sweeping a team that was more than a dozen games up in the division and had virtually nothing to play for at the time? Yeah, we don’t really think so either. The funny moment of the week is when OF Justin Upton punked the Philly Phantic and tripped him old school style over one of his teammates.
28: Chicago White Sox (58-85, -$2,384) (LW: 28): The White Sox are only 25-51 away from US Cellular Field this year, and that’s why they are so far under .500 on the season. They just wrapped up a brutal AL East trip with losses in nine out of 10 games, and it was only the last one against Baltimore that finally produced the elusive ‘W’. Look on the bright side. 1B Adam Dunn is batting just .222, but hey, he has 31 homers and 82 RBIs at least.
29: Los Angeles Angels (67-76, -$2,433) (LW: 30): If we had told you at the start of the season that OF Mike Trout would bat .338 with 23 homers and 84 RBIs and 1B Mark Trumbo would have 31 home runs, you probably would have thought that things would have been great for the Halos. Alas, we still believe that 1B Albert Pujols batting .258 and OF Josh Hamilton hitting .239 were the biggest flaws that LA had all season long, and that’s why the team is going to ultimately be finishing with one of the worst few money records in the game this year.
30: San Francisco Giants (65-79, -$2,530) (LW: 29): When you look back at the last 10 games for the Giants, you’re going to see that the team averaged 4.0 runs per game and think that matters aren’t all that bad. And yes, the truth of the matter is that that isn’t all that bad. However, when you score 21 of those 40 runs in two of the 10 games, that sort of skews everything a bit. In the rest of the eight games, the G-Men have been held down to three runs or fewer, and that’s just not cutting it, even in the offensively-challenged NL West.
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.