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Cubs, Dodgers lead way on MLB win total props for 2017 season

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Not surprisingly, three of the last four teams standing in late October have the three highest season win totals in Major League Baseball preseason betting.

The reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs are projected for 95.5 wins according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, marking the second season in a row that the Northsiders have had the highest total.

After the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers (93.5), Cleveland Indians (92.5) and Boston Red Sox (92.5) fill out the top four. The Washington Nationals (90.5) are the other team in the ’90 club.’

There’s a distinct chance the Cubs, with a fully healthy Kyle Schwarber joining 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant and SS Addison Russell, could beat their projection. The Cubs also seem unlikely to face a major push from their NL Central opponents, who form nearly half their schedule.

The St. Louis Cardinals (84.5) are retooling and the Pittsburgh Pirates (82.5) could end up dealing CF Andrew McCutchen, a one-time NL MVP, before the July 31 trade deadline.

Of the two American League powerhouses, Boston and Cleveland, the Red Sox are projected to have the more potent offense. That tends to win out in the long run across 162 games, before pitching takes over in the postseason due to chillier weather and more off-days. The Indians could have some regression.

The Nationals always seem to have good regular seasons. It’s important to remember that their NL East rivals, the New York Mets (89.5), were still strong last season in spite of a plethora of injuries.

The team which oddsmakers see taking the biggest drop is the Texas Rangers (84.5), who had 95 wins in 2016 but had a likely unsustainable record in one-run games. Their cross-state rival, the Houston Astros (89.5), have the highest total of anyone in the AL West. As a young team on the rise, the Astros might be a little under the radar.

The Minnesota Twins (74.5) are pegged for the biggest jump after having just 59 wins last season. The Twins haven’t done a lot to upgrade their pitching, though, and could move 42-home run man Brian Dozier before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Speaking of the deadline, other big names such as McCutchen, Oakland Athletics RHP Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox LHP Jose Quintana may all be on the move to contenders. In that event, the Athletics (73.5) and White Sox (69.5) could end up on the under side.

The San Diego Padres (66.5) are pegged for the worst record in baseball, but with 1B Wil Myers and RF Hunter Renfroe, they’ll at least be an interesting bad team. Some breakout from their youngsters could help the Padres beat their projection. The White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers (also 69.5) are the other teams with a prop of fewer than 70 wins.

MLB Home Run Derby odds boil down to Stanton, Judge

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The combination of a home ballpark and being the only returning power hitter in the field has put Giancarlo Stanton atop the MLB Home Run Derby futures board – albeit barely.

Defending champion Stanton, of the hometown Miami Marlins, is listed as a +165 betting favorite to capture MLB’s annual contest of clout at Marlins Park on Monday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge, who has an MLB-best 30 home runs and is threatening to take down Mark McGwire’s rookie record, is listed right behind at +175. By virtue of having had more home runs on June 15, Stanton is the No. 1 seed, whereas Judge is No. 2.

Eight players will be participating in a bracket-style timed event, where each player has four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. Hitters get another 30 seconds if they hit two home runs measured at more than 440 feet.

Stanton, who bashed 61 big flies during the 2016 contest at San Diego’s Petco Park, will try to become just the third repeat champion and third player to win in his home park. Judge will try to be the first rookie to win since 1986.

Either player is a worthy play, but there’s far, far greater value in picking one of the darkhorses. For the quarter-finals, Staton faces that other Yankees rookie, Gary Sanchez (+1400 to win). Sanchez has the longest average home-run distance in the field (422 feet to Judge’s 415 and Stanton’s 410) and could be an early bracket-buster. Upsetting Stanton would throw the field wide-open.

The Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano (+1000) and Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (+1400) meet in the other quarter-final in the “Stanton region” of the bracket. Sano (average home run distance of 414 feet) should also be considered a darkhorse.

Judge faces the other Marlins representative, Justin Bour (+1400), in his quarter-final. Bour has an average home-run distance of 398 feet – tied with Moustakas for lowest in the field – and might be a bit of a sacrificial lamb up against Judge.

Meantime, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger (+900 on the 2017 Home Run Derby odds) and the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon (+2000) meet in an all-NL West quarter-final. Bellinger has enlisted his father Clay Bellinger as his pitcher and will be the fourth competitor to have his dad serving up meatballs. One of the other three (Robinson Cano in 2011) won and another (Bryce Harper in 2015) was runner-up.

Blackmon, meantime, faces a potential Bellinger-Judge tag team just to make the final, so his high price is probably a red herring.

New York Yankees underdogs at Boston Red Sox in opener of series between rivals

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The relative health of each AL East rival’s lineup could lead to some betting trends being reversed when the New York Yankees pay their first visit of the season to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are the -127 betting favorite against the +107 underdog Yankees with an 8-run total in the matchup for the series opener on Tuesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Boston is 8-2 straight-up over its last 10 home games in April and 9-4 over its last 13 home games against division opponents, according to the OddsShark MLB Database. The Yankees are also just 2-8 in their last 10 road games against Boston as the underdog.

That being said, Boston might have some injury-related MIAs with 2B Dustin Pedroia (ankle/knee) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (knee) both considered questionable. Super-utility player Brock Holt (vertigo) is also sidelined. It’s doubtful the Yankees are going to have any sympathy as they labor on without SS Didi Gregorius (shoulder) and C-DH Gary Sanchez (biceps).

Tuesday’s pitching matchup includes two righty power arms, with the Yankees’ Luis Severino facing the Red Sox’s Rick Porcello. Severino is coming off back-to-back double-digit strikeout efforts and will be seeking his first career win at Fenway Park.

The total has gone under in all three of Severino’s career starts against Boston. The total has gone under in seven of Porcello’s last 10 starts against the Yankees.

Righty Masahiro Tanaka is the Yankees’ scheduled starter on Wednesday, while Chris Sale will face New York for the first time since his off-season trade from Chicago.

In his most recent start, Tanaka had excellent command of his signature split-finger fastball. Although the total has gone over in seven of Tanaka’s last 10 starts against Boston, head-to-head he’s done well against Red Sox hitters such as Xander Bogaerts (.222 lifetime), Mookie Betts (.167), Hanley Ramirez (.154), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.118).

Sale has had 10 or more strikeouts in three consecutive starts and the total has yet to be higher than five in any of his outings.

An all-lefty matchup is on tap for Thursday, with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia opposite Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. Sabathia has a poor career record at Fenway Park (5.25 ERA in 16 starts), but the total has gone under in eight of the lefthander’s last 10 starts against Boston.

Pomeranz has had trouble being efficient and going deep into games this season. The total has gone under in three of Pomeranz’s four career starts against the Yankees at online sports betting sites.