1: Pittsburgh Pirates (79-57, +$2,250) (LW: 1): It was only a 3-3 week for the Pirates, but they won the two games that they badly had to have against the Cardinals to keep in a position to make a run at the NL Central title. Had that series been lost, especially had it ended in a sweep, things would have been brutally bad. The Bucs need just three wins this week to become the first edition of the team to finish with an above .500 record in over two decades, and that’s not an accomplishment that should be forgotten. Oh, and if you didn’t think that Pittsburgh was really going for it this year, the team traded for OF Marlon Byrd and 1B Justin Morneau prior to the August 31st deadline to have players on the roster for the postseason.
2: Atlanta Braves (83-53, +$1,481) (LW: 4): The Braves had won six in a row to continue their assault on the best record in baseball before getting beaten by the Marlins as big time -215 favorites on Sunday. That said, this is still a team that is playing well and pitching phenomenally well at the moment, as five consecutive foes from last Sunday through Friday had scored two runs or fewer. If the pitching keeps up, Atlanta is going to be the team to beat in the National League this year in the postseason.
3: Boston Red Sox (82-56, +$1,424) (LW: 5): It was a massive week for the Red Sox, who swept away the White Sox and nearly did the same to the Orioles at home. The team now has 45 wins this year at Fenway Park, and that demolishes what the club was able to accomplish last year. More important is the fact that Tampa Bay really struggled this past week. The opportunity is there to put the foot on the gas pedal one more time this week, and if that happens, the Sox will take what was just a one-game lead two weeks ago and perhaps turn it into a six or a seven game cushion that won’t be dissolved.
4: Los Angeles Dodgers (81-55, +$1,413) (LW: 3): The Dodgers are officially streaking again. They have four wins in a row and have opened up an insurmountable 11.5-game lead in the NL West. They’re now 26-games above .500 as well. This team has had no problems on the road of late, and there isn’t expected to be any issue this week either when the club goes away from Dodger Stadium and takes on the Rockies and the Reds on one of these rather odd road trips that travels halfway across the country. Insane stat of the day for the Dodgers: SS Hanley Ramirez has a 1.011 OPS this season, which is just absurd for a middle infielder.
5: Cleveland Indians (72-64, +$1,262) (LW: 2): About the only thing that we’ll say about Cleveland’s bad week is that most of the rest of the teams that were in the Wild Card chase didn’t win a lot of games either. That said, the Tribe missed out on a very important chance to close the gap by losing series to both the Braves and the Tigers, but at least the team survived to get back to Progressive Field, where the Orioles are waiting for what should be one of the most important series of the year for the hosts.
6: Oakland Athletics (78-58, +$1,187) (LW: 8): It was a great week to be back at home for the A’s, and they turned the Wild Card chase on its head when they swept three games with authority from the Rays. They also took down Detroit on the road in three out of four, and they have a chance to run down the Rangers atop the AL West this week when these two meet at the O.co Coliseum. It’s going to take winning two out of three to force a tie and a sweep to take the lead, but Oakland and its 42-25 record at home will surely be up to the task at hand.
7: New York Yankees (72-64, +$479) (LW: 9): The Bronx Bombers took a slight step in the wrong direction this week, but taking two out of three against Baltimore was imperative for the health of their season. New York is still four back of the Rays in the loss column for that last Wild Card slot in the AL, but at least the season is still plugging along. SS Derek Jeter is back in the fold, and save for 1B Mark Teixeira, the rest of this infield is healthy and looks the way that it was designed by GM Brian Cashman over the course of the last few years.
8: St. Louis Cardinals (79-57, +$434) (LW: 10): The Cardinals are just 5-12 in their last 17 games played against teams that are in the thick of the fight for the playoffs, and that’s a bad stat for a team that is supposed to be contending for a World Series title this year. St. Louis would be in the playoffs right now as either a Wild Card or a division champ, but all of these losses to the Pirates are really adding up. Now comes a trip to Cincinnati, and this is the only team with a winning record that St. Louis has beaten in a series on the road over the course of the last three months.
9: Baltimore Orioles (72-63, +$409) (LW: 7): Opportunity was knocking this week for the Orioles to get back in the thick of the Wild Card fight, but they weren’t able to get the job done against a very tough slate of teams. Now, it’s off to Cleveland for more Wild Card fun, and it is coming to be a time when one of these series has to be won if the O’s are going to ultimately really have a shot of getting back into the second season for the second straight year. Taking just one out of three against both Boston and New York last week certainly didn’t cut it.
10: Minnesota Twins (59-76, +$278) (LW: 12): Nothing like going 2-4 and earning $80 this week. Alas, the Twinkies were able to take a huge bite out of the Rangers, winning games both as +183 underdogs on Sunday and whopping +297 underdogs on Friday. However, it must be stated that Minnesota has averaged just 1.75 runs per game over the course of its last eight games, and it truly is a miracle that the club has managed to win even two of those. Now come the easier games, and these are the ones that could really cost the Twins if they aren’t careful. Three at Houston could be problematic for profits.
11: Kansas City Royals (70-66, +$131) (LW: 15): Once again, perhaps we wrote off the Royals just a little bit too early. Of course, we didn’t know that Tampa Bay was going to totally go into the tank like it did, and that has helped bring teams like KC and New York back into the thick of the fight. There are still six games to make up in the loss column, and that probably isn’t happening when push comes to shove, but if the Royals keep putting up 4-2 weeks like they did last week, maybe they are going to ultimately have a shot in the end. There’s a ton of work to do in September to make this work, though.
12: Texas Rangers (79-57, +$99) (LW: 11): The two losses this week to the Twins were devastating for profits, but in the end, Texas still had a winning week due to the fact that those were the only two games that were lost. This season has been a constant back and forth between Oakland and Texas, and when push comes to shove, it’s the games like these over the start of the Labor Day week that are going to make all the difference in the world. The Rangers badly need to go on the road and make a statement, and if they can do just that, there’s a chance that they can put the AL West title to rest.
13: Tampa Bay Rays (75-60, -$34) (LW: 6): No team had a worse week this week in the playoff chase than Tampa Bay. The Rays dropped six out of seven, and they are still on the West Coast as we speak to take on the Angels. Losing that series could see them fall out of Wild Card safety, and that would be devastating for a club that really thought it had a chance to challenge for the best record in baseball. Manager Joe Maddon and company could turn this around, but time is running short if the team is going to catch the Red Sox atop the AL East once again.
14: Arizona Diamondbacks (69-66, -$55) (LW: 13): These 3-3 weeks just aren’t good enough for the Diamondbacks at this point, especially against relatively inferior teams at home. Last week against the Padres and Giants had to be at least 4-2, if not at least 5-1 if the D’Backs are going to run down the Reds for the last Wild Card spot. This is another week with a golden opportunity, knowing that Arizona has three against the Blue Jays over Labor Day and then it hits the road to take on the same Giants team that it just lost two out of three to inexplicably at home.
15: Cincinnati Reds (76-61, -$202) (LW: 14): Cincinnati is doing its best to try to keep the rest of the teams in the Wild Card race like Arizona and Washington. The Reds dropped two out of three to the Reds, which wasn’t all that much of a shock, but losing two out of three to the Rockies was a different story. That’s now three straight series losses for the Reds, who have to take on the Cardinals for four games and the Dodgers for three games this week. This is the week that the Wild Card can be put away or thrown completely into flux.
16: New York Mets (62-73, -$575) (LW: 19): The Mets have won three of their last four games, and they dealt a huge blow to the Nationals in their quest for the Wild Card. Now, the team has to go on the road for games against the Braves and the Indians, and that probably isn’t going to end well for a team that already has two starting pitchers on the shelf for the rest of the season. There is a lot of pressure on C Travis d’Arnaud now to take over as the team’s regular catcher now that C John Buck has been traded to the Pirates.
17: San Diego Padres (60-76, -$671) (LW: 16): We preached about offensive woes last week for the Padres, and it’s much of the same this time around. The club only scored four runs in three games on the road against the Dodgers, and that clearly wasn’t good enough to get the job done against one of the hottest teams in the bigs. There is a lot of hope that a lot of the young guns that were just brought up from the minors might ultimately be able to do something for San Diego in the future, but we’ll have to see how September pans out for the club.
18: Detroit Tigers (80-57, -$695) (LW: 17): The Tigers had another one of these weeks that make bettors cringe. The team went 3-4, which shouldn’t be the end of the world, but when you look back at those four losses, they came at -160, -160, -162, and -159. That’s how this is turning into being one of the worst money teams in the game in spite of the fact that it is clearly a team that is going to be in the playoffs as the AL Central champs when push comes to shove. If there’s a snag though, it’s that 3B Miguel Cabrera has an abdominal problem that is going to cause him to miss a couple games this week.
19: Chicago Cubs (58-78, -$763) (LW: 20): The Cubs are showing some signs of promise against some of the iffy teams in the game, but in the end, taking two out of three against the Phillies isn’t going to excite the faithful in the Windy City on the North Side. That was the team’s first series win since August 9th-11th against the Cardinals, and it was also the first time that the big red C flew through the sky in Chicago for a winning series since June 21st-23rd against the Astros.
20: Seattle Mariners (62-74, -$939) (LW: 18): Offense. The Mariners still need plenty of it. Take out the seven runs that were scored on Friday against the Astros, and what’s left are just 18 total runs in the team’s last nine games. No matter how good your pitching is, that isn’t going to cut it. Just ask RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 12-6 with a 2.92 ERA but has gotten a total of 12 runs of support in his last six starts combined. It’s such a sin that this team can’t find a few bats to help out the lineup with pitching that is just so good at the top.
21: Colorado Rockies (65-73, -$991) (LW: 22): The Rockies have won five of their last seven games, but they are about set to run into the buzz saw known as the LA Dodgers. The team is starting to get its offense revved up again, as it scored 33 runs over the course of six games against the Reds and the Giants, two teams that have pretty respectable pitching staffs. The problem remains with this Colorado rotation and bullpen. Take RHP Jhoulys Chacin and LHP Jorge De La Rosa away from this team, and what’s left is a club that is 37-60 with an ERA of around 5.00.
22: Toronto Blue Jays (62-75, -$1,227) (LW: 26): The Jays showed at least a little bit of heart this week by winning four out of five games. The team though, is still playing without OF Melky Cabrera, OF Jose Bautista, OF Colby Rasmus, RHP Josh Johnson, and RHP Brandon Morrow, and that’s a heck of a lot of money that is sitting in the dugout on a nightly basis instead of playing in games. Toronto has been a wreck this year, but it hasn’t been all the fault of the players on the field. Injuries have really taken their toll as well.
23: Washington Nationals (69-67, -$1,280) (LW: 25): The Nats once again fought their way back into the discussion for the last Wild Card spot, but they ultimately choked it away against the Mets, losing two out of three to one of the worst teams on paper in the National League right now at home. Those are the types of series that have to end in sweeps this time of year when you’re trying to make up games against good teams, and Washington continues to look like it is going to come up just short with four weeks left in the campaign.
24: Milwaukee Brewers (59-77, -$1,377) (LW: 23): The Brew Crew still haven’t reached 60 wins this year, and they are going to take their fourth stab at it on Labor Day against the Pirates. Milwaukee was playing so much better baseball before taking on the Halos too, as it had taken two out of three on the road against both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and those are the types of results that the team has been hoping for all season long. Alas, the Brewers are still just the Brewers, and they are destined for a 90+ loss season.
25: Miami Marlins (50-85, -$1,443) (LW: 21): The Fish are now 2-10 in their last 12 games, and they are continuing to set records for futility. They hit their 50th win of the season finally on the first day of September, and to put that in comparison to the rest of the NL East, the Braves reached that mark two months ago. There’s just so little to see right now with this team, and what’s amazing is that the team might be getting worse now that rosters have expanded. The AAA Marlins have been playing in the big leagues all year long, and the AA Marlins are basically being called up at this point and will be a part of the big time for the rest of the campaign.
26: Houston Astros (45-91, -$1,469) (LW: 24): T-Minus two weeks and counting until the Astros become the first team in baseball to muster 100 losses on the season. The Houston offense has had some major problems over the course of the last week. The team has gone 1-5 in its last six games, and there have been a grand total of 10 runs scored in those games. It’s getting brutal out there for Astros fans, though at least there is a bit of some hope with some of these young kids getting a look in the bigs in the month of September.
27: Philadelphia Phillies (62-75, -$1,784) (LW: 27): Be proud, Phillies fans. Your team became the first team to a lose a series on the North Side of Chicago outside of the Cubs since the end of June, and your team is now also firmly behind the Mets for third place in the NL East. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. finally took the plunge and let 3B Michael Young go, trading him to the Dodgers for a song and a dance. Much, much more could have been had if Amaro wasn’t so stubborn about trying away his pieces at the trade deadline, and we continue to harp on him as a GM that badly needs to lose his job.
28: Chicago White Sox (56-79, -$2,094) (LW: 28): The Sox went on a bit of a roll two weeks ago, but they have since calmed back down after getting swept at Fenway Park. There’s really no shame in getting swept by Boston on the road the way that it is playing right now, but it feels like just another boot to the face of White Sox fans who have been watching this team get decimated all season long. September call ups at least give this team a chance to glimpse into the future just a bit for the last month of the campaign.
29: San Francisco Giants (61-75, -$2,453) (LW: 29): A winning week of around a unit of profit isn’t going to make Giants fans any happier than they were at the outset of the week, but at least there was a bit of a change in the norm from what we have gotten used to seeing. RHP Tim Lincecum continued his up and down season. On Friday, he threw six scoreless innings, allowing six hits in the victory. But of course, this is the man that had allowed 14 runs in his previous 16.1 innings of work… and of course, he allowed three runs in his 22 innings prior to that and eight runs in 3.2 innings prior to that, and then there was the no hitter in July… Sigh… We’re exhausted just typing out all of these bipolar stats for the man they call “The Freak.”
30: Los Angeles Angels (63-72, -$2,461) (LW: 30): Even a 5-1 week didn’t save the Angels from being in the last spot in the money rankings once again this week. The Halos are back to nine games below .500, making it at least plausible to try to get back to .500 on the season. This team hasn’t even been that bad on the road, knowing that it is just 32-35 as a guest. It’s that 31-37 and -$2,209 mark at home that is really killing the Angels this year, and that’s why this team is going to be dubbed as the biggest disappointment in the bigs.
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.