MLB Diamond Notes – April 11
The 2011 Major League Baseball season is less than two weeks old and a few high-profile teams have already dug themselves into a hole in their division race, while a few dark horses have sprinted out to an early lead.
The biggest shocker is Boston’s 2-7 start after most sportsbooks had it as the odds-on-favorite to walk away with the AL East this season. Granted there is a long way to go, but this is not what Red Sox fans had in mind after an offseason overhaul gave this team one of the strongest rosters on paper. The early problems have been across the board as Boston is currently last in the AL in pitching with a team ERA of 6.24 and even more discouraging is a ramped-up lineup that is hitting .231 and scoring an average of just 3.67 runs a game.
The biggest surprise of the season so far is Cleveland’s impressive 7-2 start. The Indians started the year by losing two out of three to the Chicago White Sox but have strung together back-to-back three game sweeps of the Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners. Cleveland’s pitching has been adequate with a 4.00 team ERA, but its bats have been on fire with the third-best team batting average in the AL at .285 and 52 runs scored for an average of 5.78 a game.
Baltimore is also turning some heads with a 6-3 start, but two straight losses to Texas by the combined score of 16-1 provided a sobering dose of reality. The Rangers are off to a hot start with eight wins in their first nine games and they already have a three game lead over Los Angeles in the AL West.
The defending World Series Champions have overcome a 1-4 start to climb near .500 with three wins in its past four games. San Francisco lost three of its first four games to the Dodgers but have a chance to even the score when the two kick off a three game set on Monday night. Both teams are chasing Colorado, which has jumped out to an early lead in the NL West with a 6-2 start.
Cincinnati has a 1 ½-game lead over Milwaukee and surprising Pittsburgh in the NL Central at 6-3, but has lost three of its last four games heading into a three game set with San Diego starting on Monday. The Reds are still hitting the ball all over the place with a .315 team batting average and a NL-best 61 runs, but their 4.90 team ERA is ranked 14th in the league.
Philadelphia made an early statement in the NL East by taking two out of three games from Atlanta over the weekend. The Phillies are 7-2 and have a two-game lead over Florida in the division. While everyone knows about a starting rotation that reads like an All-Star Game roster, it has been their hitting that has got the job done so far. Philadelphia leads the NL with a .334 team batting average and is averaging 6.56 runs per game.
From a betting standpoint, the favorites are 50-85 against the spread which means the underdogs have covered close to 63 percent of the time. Favorites are 61-73 straight-up which is just 45.5 percent of the time. The road team also has a slight edge with a 54.1 winning percentage in the first 135 games played and the total has gone ‘over’ in 53.9 percent of the games.
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