Baseball bettors are told to take April with a grain of salt. The MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint, and teams are still rounding into form in the first month of the schedule.
There are, however, some starts that can’t be ignored, and the MLB futures market has reflected that. We talk to sportsbooks across Nevada and get the scoop on which clubs are drawing early action and forcing oddsmakers to adjust their prices.
Oakland Athletics (7-2, +5.02 units)
The A’s caught everyone off guard with their late-season push last summer, winning the American League West. Oddsmakers expected Oakland to drop off in 2013 but the Athletics keep on winning, jumping out to a hot start that has forced books to trim their futures.
William Hill Sportsbooks in Nevada opened Oakland at +550 to win the AL West but are now dealing the A’s at +400 to repeat as division champs. In Reno, which has a rabid fan base for Bay Area baseball, the Athletics’ World Series odds have dropped from +1,600 to +700 after Opening Week.
“Our guests always bet the A’s down,” Steve Mikkelson, sportsbook manager at Atlantis Casino in Reno, told Covers. “I had to lower them because they’re playing so well right now. I thought that pitching staff would take a step back but they haven’t. And Oakland is hitting the ball too.”
Atlanta Braves (8-1, +6.78 units)
The Braves look like the best team in baseball out of the gates, suffering only one loss in their first nine games. Atlanta can make a huge statement against the Washington Nationals – the National League favorites – this week.
The Braves’ World Series odds have remained steady but their divisional price has been trimmed from +200 to +160 heading into Friday’s series opener with the Nationals, who are -110 favorites to win the NL East.
“We’ve taken more money on Atlanta to win the division than to win the World Series, right now,” veteran oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of William Hill Nevada told Covers.
Los Angeles Angels (2-6, -4.60 units)
The Halos’ slow start has already dug quite a pit for L.A. bettors. The Angels were hoping their home opener could spark the club, but Oakland proved it was still the team to beat in the AL West. Perhaps an upcoming three-game set with the Astros can cure what ails the Angels?
Books have adjusted Los Angeles’ World Series futures price from +400 to +700 since Opening Day, a big part of that coming after ace Jered Weaver suffered a broken elbow in his non-throwing arm which will sideline him for up to six weeks.
“Weaver going down is a huge hit and they have some issues with that pitching staff right now,” says Mikkelson.
Kansas City Royals (6-3, +3.40 units)
The Royals were as high as 60-1 this winter but have been bet down to 25-1 at most markets. Kansas City took two of three from Philadelphia and swept AL Central rival Minnesota heading into a three-game home set with Toronto Friday.
This could be the year Kansas City competes in the division, with Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago all chasing Detroit. According to Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook manager at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, the Royals have been a popular early-season bet in recent years.
“We’ve taken quite a bit of action on them in past years,” Stoneback told Covers. “People always think they’re going to be good this year and it doesn’t pan out.”