The Ball Four-cast is our look at the 2012 MLB Season where we provide a bet for every single baseball team. Opening day is April 4th so use these resources to enjoy your summer, knowing full well you’ll have a return on your investment come October.
The AL Central is the Detroit Tigers division to take, and they’ll do it with the force of Liam Neeson after somebody kidnaps his daughter. The odds for Detroit to win the division are a spectacular -500 so that nulls and voids all title bets for the season. In true fashion, we’ll find something to bet on for each of the AL Central teams.
When Albert Pujols decided to take his talents to the left coast, Prince Fielder became the top free agent target and he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and play for the Tigers. In the last 3 years, Fielder hit 42,38, and 36 home runs in the #2 home run index park Miller Field. It’ll remain to be seen if Prince can duplicate his power numbers in the AL & his totals for this season are over/under 33.5 HR. I like that over with the protection of Miguel Cabrera but it’s not the easiest bet of the year for Detroit. In the last 3 years, P Justin Verlander has posted win totals of 19, 18, and 24. While Verlander pitched over 240 innings in 2 of the last 3 years might suggest a down year, the tomato can division of the AL Central points to 20 wins being doable.
Season Bet Justin Verlander over 17.5 wins
Kansas City Royals
The Royals were 71-91 last year, beating out the Twins for bottom feeders of the division. This year’s squad is littered with a combination of career journeymen and up-and-coming prospects. On the top of the prospect list is 1B Eric Hosmer, who looks to build on his 19HR, .293 rookie campaign. Former #2 overall pick 3B Mike Moustakas and #1 overall Luke Hochevar need to start living up to potential for the Royals to be contenders. Unfortunately, a staff anchored by Bruce Chen doesn’t intimidate. The Royals will lose a lot of 7-6 games this year.
Season Pick Royals under 80.5 wins
Cleveland hovered around .500 all of last year and has acquired some inning eaters in the offseason (Derek Lowe, Jon Garland, Kevin Slowey). Injuries are always a concern and these Indians need to garner the strength of former C Jake Taylor to get through this season. Shin-Soo Choo played only 85 games last year and Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner treat the DL like it’s a Sandals Resort. The pitching staff will be solid but I see everything going wrong for Cleveland this year, unlike Ricky Vaughn they’ll not be “winning.”
Season Bet Cleveland under 79 wins
Last year was an aberration for Ron Gardenhire’s Twins as they finished in the AL Central gutter at 63-99. I really like Vegas’ odds of under 72.5 wins for the Twins this year but with picking KC and Cleveland already to go under, the wins have to be somewhere. If that’s the case, maybe this is the season that Francisco Liriano returns to ace form and Carl Pavano teeters on 17 or 18 wins. Justin Morneau returns to full strength and maybe new outfielder Josh Willingham replaces the offensive losses of Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer? I’ll put my trust in Ron Gardenhire’s managerial prowess and go against better judgement.
Season Bet Twins over 72.5 Wins
Chicago White Sox
In Chicago’s managerial hunt, they went against the grain and looked to the Elgin Suburbs beer softball league to select former 3B Robin Ventura as their new skipper. On paper, the Sox are too talented to repeat last year’s 79-83 record. Maybe former manager Ozzie Guillen had lost the team and, although raw, I look for Ventura to have success in season 1.0. Vegas has the win total at 75 wins which I like the over. I also think Adam Dunn will have a bounce back season (40-1 odds to win the HR title). With Dunn protecting the plate, the biggest winner will be Paul Konerko, who will see more fastballs and an overall better pitch selection.
Season Bet Paul Konerko over 25.5 home runs