Monday, July 21, 2014

Which MLB team is a good bet to surprise in second half?

At this point in the Major League Baseball season, it is safe to say that there are no shortage of World Series contenders. In fact, of the 30 teams in the league, all but a handful of them remain within striking distance of a playoff spot. Of course, this is largely thanks to the newly added second Wild Card spot.

With that being said, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played in the 2014 regular season. And this means that countless scenarios can potentially take place. So don't put too much stock into those midseason MLB odds just yet.

For example, which team will finally pull away in the four-team race for the National League Central Division title? Can the Moneyball-minded Oakland Athletics hold off the hard-charging and deep-pocketed Los Angeles Angels? And who will prevail in the heated two-team battle between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West?

These are just a few questions yet to be answered in the last 10 weeks or so of the season. In the meantime, let us have a stab at identifying which team(s) is primed to breakout in the second half and make a deep run toward the World Series. But before we do that, we must first know the odds that are being assigned to each team. After a review of the complete MLB odds for the World Series, I've identified one team in particular who is currently being undervalued.

This team is the fourth-place Cincinnati Reds. At the time of this writing, a $100 bet on the historic Redlegs would yield a lucky bettor $3,000 in winnings if the club could somehow manage to capture its first World Series crown since 1990. Although the odds are against them, it's important to note that despite being in fourth place, the Reds boast a winning record of 51-47 and are just 2.5 games back of first place.

Additionally, the Reds have stayed afloat this season despite injuries to several of their key players, including former MVP Joey Votto and All-Star second basemen Brandon Phillips. While their offense has proven to be sluggish at time, their starting rotation has become one of the best in the league, led by Cy Young Award candidate Johnny Cueto at the top and All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman in the backend.

The Reds may not have enough firepower to stay in the race until Votto and Phillips return from the disabled list in mid-August. But they will definitely have the ability to stay close in games based on their pitching and defense alone. If first-year manager Bryan Price can keep the team above .500 until Cincinnati's stars return, the Reds may be poised for a deep run once the roster gets to full health.

Which MLB team do you see as a darkhorse in the second half?

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