User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools
 
Joe Nelson - Blogs

Bio Page
HOT MLB STARTS: AL PRETENDER OR CONTENDER?

By Joe Nelson
Posted 04/12/2013 at 05:18 PM

Baltimore Orioles: While in the 2012 MLB season the Orioles claimed a wild card with only a +7 run differential, the Orioles are +9 so far this year with just a 5-4 record. Baltimore was almost universally projected for a decline this season and the season win total was even posted a few games below .500 despite this team winning 93 games last season. There have been a lot of positive signs for this team however in the first two weeks and the Orioles may have another strong season ahead in the wide-open AL East. Baltimore made a living winning one-run games last season but the Orioles have lost three of those games already this season even with the bullpen still featuring strong numbers. This team has shaken off a few tough losses and the starting pitching may be better than expected. Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez may not be household names but they have been effective so far in this rotation and if Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman can at least make passable turns this could be a solid starting group that is made to look even better by the great bullpen. Baltimore has been one of the most productive offensive teams in the league so the pitching does not need to be perfect. Adam Jones and Chris Davis have been the early MVP candidates and if Matt Wieters and Manny Machado live up to their billing this is a potent lineup. The return from injuries for Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold makes this offense deeper than last season even without making any big free agent signings. With Toronto struggling out of the gate and Boston and New York battling injuries, the Orioles look like they can compete well again this season. Tampa Bay may have stronger pitching but the Orioles can outscore most teams. Diagnosis: Contender
 
Boston Red Sox: Boston clobbered the Yankees in the first two games of the season and then put up 24 runs in three games against the Blue Jays to lead to a lot of optimism in New England despite the sellout streak ending at Fenway Park. The Yankees and Blue Jays have been having all sorts of problems with their pitching staffs however and the Red Sox may have simply benefited from the circumstances. Back at home Boston had a very disappointing showing in the first home series and the injury to John Lackey changes the plan for the rotation. Boston has received great pitching through two weeks with one of the best team ERAs in the AL but relying on Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront for full seasons in the rotation could be problematic as neither has proven to be able to handle that type of load yet. Jon Lester has looked sharp so far but given his struggles last season that is a pace that may be hard to keep up and Ryan Dempster has simply not looked like the same pitcher since his move to the AL. Joel Hanrahan could be a candidate to lose his job as closer at some point as he has allowed six runs in five appearances this season and the bullpen depth is certainly a question mark for this team. Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury are off to solid starts but all have battled injuries in recent years and the Jackie Bradley experiment is not playing out as Red Sox nation has hoped. Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks also won’t likely be able to sustain the early season numbers as well. Overall Boston certainly looks to be on the right track and this will certainly be a better team than last season but not necessarily a squad that is ready for a playoff run. Diagnosis: Pretender
 
Kansas City Royals: After a slow first series the Royals are on a roll winning back-to-back series including a sweep over Minnesota in the first home series. Kansas City is really starting to hit with one of the top team batting averages in the league even with a few regulars off to slow starts. The Royals were a great batting average team last season however but run production was a different story. A very tough late April schedule could also throw this team back to earth after a promising first two weeks. The Royals have a great lineup with young talent that is ready to produce but this team has just four home runs through the first nine games and driving in runs will be a problem on a team with a lot of singles hitters. The Royals made aggressive moves adding James Shields, Wade Davis, and Ervin Santana to the rotation but Shields may never repeat his great 2011 season and Santana and Davis are not likely better than league average pitchers at their best. Jeremy Guthrie has had the best numbers of his career since moving to Kansas City but that run certainly has sustainability questions and while this team has plenty of past starters on the roster to take the fifth spot, none have been proven overly reliable and this is bullpen with limited late innings experience. Beating up on Minnesota Twins pitching does not make a playoff contender and while the Royals should be a fun team to follow this is a squad that is not likely to be able to stay in the postseason picture all season. The Royals could take another step forward but a modest step is much more likely than a leap to the playoffs. Diagnosis: Pretender
 
Oakland Athletics: While the Orioles seemed to make the playoffs with smoke and mirrors last season the Athletics had the numbers to back it up, finishing +99 in run differential on the season and holding opponents to the second fewest runs in the AL with a great young pitching staff. Through 10 games Oakland is on top of the leader board in almost every category, both on offense and in pitching. Oakland has played a light early schedule, turning a 0-2 start into an eight-game winning streak while beating up on the Astros and an Angel team that is off to a slow start once again. This is a team that is rolling on offense even with the most talented player on the team off to a slow start with Yoenis Cespedes batting only .211. With a pitching friendly home ballpark the Athletics are not likely to lead the league in scoring and slugging percentage as they currently do but Oakland can remain very competitive and the forgotten team in the now weaker AL West with the addition of the Astros can return to the playoffs. While the offense has dominated so far the pitching staff has the makings of a great one with Brett Anderson looking very sharp in his return to the mound and Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin picking up where they left off last season. Jarrod Parker has struggled early this season but he should be able to deliver a solid season and Bartolo Colon is somehow still getting the job done. The Athletics have not been in many save situations this season but the bullpen certainly looks capable and Oakland does not appear to be going anywhere. Diagnosis: Contender

BLOG ARCHIVES
08/20/2014 at 06:16 PM
NCAA Playoff Prediction

08/05/2014 at 07:20 PM
Between the Lines - Aug. 5

06/25/2014 at 01:19 PM
MLB Second Half Contenders

04/13/2014 at 12:18 PM
Early Look at the B1G in 2014-15

04/07/2014 at 12:21 PM
NCAA Championship Keys

04/04/2014 at 04:49 PM
NIT Provides Springboard to NCAA Success

03/24/2014 at 05:18 PM
MLB 2014 Win Totals Bets

01/13/2014 at 05:35 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 13

01/06/2014 at 03:16 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 6

12/30/2013 at 05:48 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 30

12/23/2013 at 06:33 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 23

12/09/2013 at 05:33 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 9

12/02/2013 at 06:26 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 2

11/25/2013 at 05:49 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 25

11/20/2013 at 10:21 AM
Between the Lines - Nov. 18

11/11/2013 at 06:08 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 11

11/04/2013 at 06:33 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 4

10/28/2013 at 06:28 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 28

10/21/2013 at 05:16 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 21

10/15/2013 at 05:00 PM
Between the Lines: Oct. 14

10/10/2013 at 03:54 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 7

10/01/2013 at 06:26 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 30

09/23/2013 at 04:10 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 23

09/10/2013 at 02:33 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 9

09/03/2013 at 11:24 AM
Between the Lines - Sep. 2

08/30/2013 at 04:44 PM
Between the Lines - Aug. 26

08/15/2013 at 01:52 PM
Pretender or Contender: Arizona Diamondbacks

08/06/2013 at 05:46 PM
Pretender or Contender: Kansas City Royals

07/26/2013 at 09:29 AM
Pretender of Contender: Baltimore Orioles

07/23/2013 at 03:30 PM
Pretender or Contender: Philadelphia Phillies

07/19/2013 at 11:38 PM
Pretender or Contender: Cleveland Indians

04/12/2013 at 05:18 PM
Hot MLB Starts: AL Pretender or Contender?

03/27/2013 at 01:28 PM
2013 MLB Season Win Total Best Bets

03/14/2013 at 12:11 PM
Big Ten Tournament Snapshot

03/07/2013 at 02:02 PM
NCAA Tournament Long Shots

01/21/2013 at 06:35 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 21

01/17/2013 at 12:24 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 14

01/07/2013 at 06:31 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 7

12/18/2012 at 02:16 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 17

12/10/2012 at 06:08 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 10

12/03/2012 at 06:41 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 3

11/26/2012 at 06:11 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 26

11/20/2012 at 01:06 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 19

11/12/2012 at 06:32 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 12

11/06/2012 at 12:17 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 5

10/30/2012 at 04:31 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 29

10/23/2012 at 12:41 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 22

10/17/2012 at 04:45 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 15

10/09/2012 at 01:51 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 8

10/01/2012 at 05:15 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 1

09/25/2012 at 03:28 PM
Packers/Seahawks

09/24/2012 at 05:42 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 24

09/19/2012 at 05:52 PM
Between the Lins - Sep. 17

09/10/2012 at 07:10 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 10

09/03/2012 at 04:12 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 3

08/28/2012 at 02:28 PM
Between the Lines Aug. 27

08/21/2012 at 04:10 PM
Between the Lines - Aug. 20

08/16/2012 at 04:58 PM
Late Season MLB Sleepers

07/17/2012 at 04:46 PM
Four to Fade: American League

07/15/2012 at 09:04 PM
Four to Fade: National League

07/09/2012 at 05:08 PM
First Half MLB Awards

06/26/2012 at 01:09 PM
Hidden MLB Contenders

06/12/2012 at 04:44 PM
Big XII Football Early Look

05/26/2012 at 12:34 PM
Lucroy All Star Hurdles

05/24/2012 at 10:56 AM
Early Reaction on NFL Win Totals: 'UNDERS'

05/23/2012 at 03:03 PM
Early Reaction on NFL Win Totals: 'OVERS'

05/22/2012 at 03:14 PM
SEC West Football Early Look

05/17/2012 at 04:48 PM
SEC East Football: Early Look

02/28/2012 at 06:05 PM
NCAA Tournament Bid Thieves - Feb. 23

01/28/2012 at 12:56 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 30

01/16/2012 at 04:19 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 16

01/10/2012 at 04:42 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 10

01/03/2012 at 05:28 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 3

12/27/2011 at 04:13 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 26

12/14/2011 at 02:42 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 12

12/06/2011 at 04:55 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 5

11/14/2011 at 06:14 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 14

11/10/2011 at 11:11 AM
Between the Lines - Nov. 7

11/02/2011 at 02:38 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 31

10/10/2011 at 06:58 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 10

10/04/2011 at 06:17 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 3

09/27/2011 at 11:21 AM
Between the Lines - Sep. 26

09/19/2011 at 07:11 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 19

09/12/2011 at 06:31 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 12

09/05/2011 at 03:29 PM
Cincinnati Bengals Over 5.5

09/05/2011 at 03:29 PM
Cleveland Browns Over 6.5

09/04/2011 at 12:02 PM
Kansas City Chiefs Under 7.5

09/04/2011 at 11:57 AM
Washington Redskins Over 6.5

09/01/2011 at 05:13 PM
Thursday NCAA Trends

09/01/2011 at 01:05 PM
St. Louis Rames Under 7.5

09/01/2011 at 12:59 PM
New York Giants Under 9.5

08/23/2011 at 04:24 PM
Thome's Final Destination?

08/18/2011 at 11:40 AM
Thursday Preseason QB Rotations

08/09/2011 at 02:21 PM
Yankees/Red Sox Race

08/08/2011 at 06:13 PM
White Sox Opportunity

08/04/2011 at 01:14 PM
TIgers Pull Away in AL Central

08/03/2011 at 03:03 PM
Raising Arizona: D-Backs into 1st place

07/29/2011 at 09:28 AM
NFL Free Agent WR Options

07/25/2011 at 04:18 PM
NFC West Schedule Outlook

07/18/2011 at 05:09 PM
NFC East Schedule Outlook

07/13/2011 at 03:37 PM
2011 MLB Free Agent Steals

07/08/2011 at 03:17 PM
Conference USA West Schedule Outlook

07/05/2011 at 04:27 PM
2011 NL All Star Snubs

07/03/2011 at 02:00 PM
2011 AL All Star Snubs

07/01/2011 at 02:30 PM
Early NL MVP Candidates

06/29/2011 at 03:52 PM
Conference USA East Schedule Outlook

06/28/2011 at 05:15 PM
Mountain West Schedule Outlook

06/22/2011 at 03:53 PM
Big East Schedule Outlook

06/21/2011 at 02:55 PM
NL Cy Young Favorites

03/20/2011 at 08:49 PM
Charmed Life for Arizona

03/11/2011 at 02:03 PM
Conference Tournament Reaction

01/17/2011 at 05:33 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 17

01/13/2011 at 03:46 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 10

01/06/2011 at 01:29 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 3

12/27/2010 at 05:04 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 27

12/21/2010 at 03:26 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 20

12/14/2010 at 01:07 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 13

12/06/2010 at 11:03 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 6

11/30/2010 at 12:52 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 29

11/23/2010 at 02:47 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 22

11/16/2010 at 02:23 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 15

11/08/2010 at 10:47 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 8

11/02/2010 at 03:13 PM
Between the Lines - Nov. 1

10/26/2010 at 01:24 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 25

10/19/2010 at 06:40 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 18

10/12/2010 at 11:04 AM
Between the Lines - Oct. 11

10/05/2010 at 12:42 PM
Between the Lines - Oct. 4

09/28/2010 at 11:57 AM
Between the Lines - Sep. 27

09/20/2010 at 07:15 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 20

09/14/2010 at 11:43 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 12

09/07/2010 at 06:29 PM
Between the Lines - Sep. 6

06/10/2010 at 01:17 PM
Upon Further Review...

06/03/2010 at 12:08 PM
Replay Time

04/15/2010 at 03:38 PM
NBA Series Wagers Round 1

03/20/2010 at 11:14 AM
Conference Strength Questions

03/18/2010 at 05:32 PM
Great Start to the NCAA Tournament

01/20/2010 at 03:44 PM
Football Final Four

01/11/2010 at 04:35 PM
Kicking Woes

12/08/2009 at 01:46 PM
BCS Match-Ups

12/02/2009 at 04:20 PM
AFC Playoff Chase

11/27/2009 at 12:20 PM
Between the Lines

11/20/2009 at 05:11 PM
4th and 2, up 6

11/11/2009 at 04:13 PM
Time to Score

10/21/2009 at 05:41 PM
BCS Reaction

10/15/2009 at 01:02 PM
Bronco Boom

09/25/2009 at 01:16 PM
Between the Lines

09/14/2009 at 05:50 PM
Big XII Bust

09/14/2009 at 05:49 PM
Big Ten Disaster?

08/19/2009 at 06:12 PM
Favre Scores for Minnesota

07/30/2009 at 03:28 PM
Time for Replay in Baseball

06/16/2009 at 03:20 PM
Championship Losers

06/10/2009 at 03:33 PM
Home Teams Shine

05/27/2009 at 03:01 PM
All-Star Manny

05/21/2009 at 03:52 PM
NBA Lotto

05/12/2009 at 04:22 PM
Early Big Ten Thoughts

05/07/2009 at 03:54 PM
Another Legend Falls

04/28/2009 at 02:58 PM
18-game NFL Schedule?

04/23/2009 at 02:54 PM
Early Season MLB Surprises

04/14/2009 at 01:44 PM
Early Season AL Thoughts

04/07/2009 at 12:55 PM
What was Izzo thinking?

04/01/2009 at 04:15 PM
West vs. East in the NBA

03/31/2009 at 04:48 PM
End of Madness

03/21/2009 at 11:58 AM
Familiar Upsets

03/12/2009 at 05:10 PM
Early Postseason Surprises

03/11/2009 at 05:31 PM
Impact of Conference Tourney Upsets

03/03/2009 at 12:21 PM
Celebrate Hockey

02/27/2009 at 04:41 PM
Spring Training

02/16/2009 at 03:06 PM
ACC Letdown in March

02/06/2009 at 02:09 PM
Dream Week at the Garden

02/02/2009 at 11:23 AM
Super Joke?

01/27/2009 at 03:43 PM
Best NBA team in '09?

01/23/2009 at 04:50 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 23

01/19/2009 at 03:36 PM
Super Bowl Long Shot?

01/12/2009 at 05:10 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 12

01/09/2009 at 06:24 PM
BCS Championship Thoughts

01/07/2009 at 12:35 PM
Between the Lines - Jan. 5

12/30/2008 at 06:51 PM
Between the Lines - Dec. 30

12/21/2008 at 04:11 PM
Between the Lines 12/19

12/15/2008 at 04:07 PM
Between the Lines 12/15

12/08/2008 at 06:06 PM
Between the Lines 12/8

12/03/2008 at 05:14 PM
Feeling Minnesota

12/01/2008 at 06:13 PM
Between the Lines 12/1

11/25/2008 at 01:23 PM
Between the Lines 11/24

11/19/2008 at 12:39 PM
Between the Lines 11/17

11/12/2008 at 03:22 PM
Between the Lines 11/10

11/03/2008 at 06:28 PM
Between the Lines 11/3

10/27/2008 at 06:52 PM
Between the Lines 10/27

10/20/2008 at 06:09 PM
Between the Lines 10/20

10/15/2008 at 01:09 PM
Between the Lines 10/13

10/09/2008 at 04:13 PM
Errors Dominate Dvision Series Games

10/06/2008 at 05:30 PM
Between the Lines 10/6

09/29/2008 at 05:06 PM
Between the Lines 9/29

09/24/2008 at 05:31 PM
Between the Lines 9/22

09/18/2008 at 11:27 PM
Huge Win for the Twins

09/17/2008 at 12:14 PM
Between the Lines

09/13/2008 at 09:57 AM
Big East Victory?

09/07/2008 at 01:04 PM
Puzzling Box Scores

09/02/2008 at 04:56 PM
Redemption for UCLA

08/25/2008 at 06:25 PM
K-Rod to 50

08/19/2008 at 03:23 PM
Opportunity in the AFC?

08/13/2008 at 01:38 PM
Great Playoff Chase Ahead

08/10/2008 at 09:23 PM
No Woods, No Problem

08/04/2008 at 02:51 PM
Manny Mania in LA

07/30/2008 at 03:21 PM
Twins & Cards Keep Fighting

07/18/2008 at 12:02 PM
Royal Birkdale Miracle

07/12/2008 at 11:44 AM
Trouble in Titletown

07/10/2008 at 12:15 PM
NL Central Arms Race

06/25/2008 at 02:09 PM
AL Continues to Shine

06/20/2008 at 05:01 PM
American League Wins Again...

06/10/2008 at 12:26 PM
Huge NBA Finals Spread

06/03/2008 at 01:34 PM
Joba to the Rescue?

05/23/2008 at 02:07 PM
Draft Lottery or League Mockery?

05/15/2008 at 02:36 PM
1st Quarter MLB Outlook

05/12/2008 at 01:17 PM
Pass the Mayo

04/30/2008 at 12:57 PM
NBA Playoff Surprises

04/24/2008 at 01:46 PM
Cheer for the D-League

04/15/2008 at 02:24 PM
4-Way tie in the West?

04/09/2008 at 12:31 PM
Fantastic NCAA Final, MLB Surprises

03/31/2008 at 11:31 AM
Whirlwind Weekend

03/28/2008 at 02:27 PM
Sweet 16

03/24/2008 at 06:29 PM
Weekend Recap

03/20/2008 at 07:18 PM
Thursday Day Games

03/17/2008 at 03:32 PM
Concerns About UCLA

03/12/2008 at 03:21 PM
Bubble Picture

03/10/2008 at 07:18 PM
The Legend Finally Ends

03/03/2008 at 04:39 PM
Early Conference Tournament Edge

02/27/2008 at 02:50 PM
State of Basketball

02/25/2008 at 05:03 PM
#1 Upset Coming, Again?

02/18/2008 at 12:18 PM
Kidd Deal Finally Done?

02/13/2008 at 06:45 PM
Overtime Nightmare

02/07/2008 at 04:30 PM
Devils and Badgers Earn Big Road Wins

02/04/2008 at 01:25 PM
Super Bowl for the Ages

01/31/2008 at 02:28 PM
#2 Falls + NBA Trade Rumors

01/30/2008 at 12:46 PM
Stealing an Ace

01/29/2008 at 02:25 PM
UConn on a Roll, Hornets Keep Winning

01/28/2008 at 01:43 PM
Big East Displays Dominance

01/24/2008 at 02:13 PM
The Diminishing Weight of Retiring Numbers

01/21/2008 at 12:00 PM
Championship Recap

01/16/2008 at 02:41 PM
The Beginning of the End for Dallas?

01/14/2008 at 05:09 PM
Peyton Back to Normal?

01/04/2008 at 02:23 PM
Big Ten vs. the SEC

01/03/2008 at 10:28 AM
The Decline of the Sooners

01/02/2008 at 10:41 AM
New Year's Day - just not what it used to be.

12/21/2007 at 08:00 PM
Between the Lines 12/21...

12/17/2007 at 03:40 PM
Between the Lines 12/17

12/03/2007 at 05:37 PM
Between the Lines 12/3

11/29/2007 at 06:56 PM
Between the Lines...11/26

11/12/2007 at 06:12 PM
Between the Lines... 11/12

11/03/2007 at 11:30 AM
Between the Lines 10/29

10/26/2007 at 01:30 PM
Between the Lines 10/22

10/19/2007 at 12:07 PM
Between the Lines 10/15...

10/12/2007 at 01:38 PM
Between the Lines 10/8...

10/05/2007 at 06:49 PM
Between the Lines 10/1

09/26/2007 at 02:28 PM
Between the Lines 9/24

09/21/2007 at 01:15 PM
Between the Lines 9/17

09/13/2007 at 11:50 AM
Between the Lines 9/10

09/05/2007 at 03:13 PM
9/3 Between the Lines...

08/23/2007 at 05:05 PM
Draft Day for the rest of us.

08/15/2007 at 04:24 PM
NL Central Heats Up?

08/08/2007 at 06:00 PM
756, finally.