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Hot & Not - 1st Half Recap

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The first half of the 2012 MLB betting campaign is now complete with all 30 teams set to go on break for this week's All-Star festivities. Here's a look at how the five best and worst teams stack up from a bottom line standpoint heading into the second half of the regular season.

Money-Makers

Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37, $1887): The Buccos were here a year ago; well within the NL Central race at the midway point and buyers at the trade deadline. Unfortunately, a sickening extra innings marathon loss in Atlanta late in July took all the wind out of Manager Clint Hurdle's squad's sails. Because of it, the Pirates were relegated to a fourth place finish within the division. Now in first place heading into the ASB for the first time since 1997, the talk in Pittsburgh is that it's interested in acquiring some established outfielders with big sticks - Justin Upton and Carlos Quentin - to play alongside potential NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen. This money train is expected to continue rolling throughout the second half, especially with Pittsburgh's remaining opponents owning a .459 winning percentage and 42 of its remaining 81 games to be played within the comfy confines of PNC Park where the Buccos have won 29 of 43 games to date ($1503).

Baltimore Orioles (45-39, $1337): Raise your hand if you pegged the O's to be in second place within the AL East at this point in the second year of the Buck Showalter experiment. If it's up, you're a bold faced liar! Regardless, the Orioles have parlayed an offense that can hit the long ball with a pitching staff that has some nice pieces in the rotation and is anchored by the best bullpen the AL has to offer. Line-up sparkplug Nick Markakis is set to return after the All-Star break which is great news for Adam Jones who was at his best with him hitting in front of him the first two months of the season. Unfortunately, Baltimore possesses one of the toughest second half slates, so the franchise's 15-year playoff drought could possibly remain intact.

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Washington Nationals (49-34, $1066):
The Nats hit the ground running in April and haven't looked back, as Manager Davey Johnson's squad has the look and feel of a major player with the first half coming to a close. While the offense leaves a bit to be desired, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse look to be coming into their own, but the Nationals have buttered their bread with a pitching staff that possesses some of the best throwing talent in both the starting rotation and bullpen. The team's 3.21 ERA and 1.20 WHIP are the best overall marks in the league, while the combined efforts of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, and Jordan Zimmerman have been good for 54 quality starts through 67 overall starts - SICK! The Nats have already tallied victories in five of their seven July games with more MLB betting wins certainly on the horizon down the road.

New York Mets (46-40, $1005): Though the Mets closed out the first half of their 2012 campaign dropping yet another series to the Chicago Cubs, Metropolitan fans have to be tickled pink with their club just 4.5-games in back of the Nats heading into the Midsummer Classic. For a team that finished up 2011eight-games under the breakeven point and only ahead of the Marlins in the NL East standings, things look to be headed in the right direction in Flushing. That said, David Wright and his teammates have a long uphill climb to battle in the second half with their scheduled opponents possessing a .498 winning percentage; the highest such mark for any NL playoff contender.

Chicago White Sox (47-38, $778): A tip of the cap must go out to Robin Ventura and his coaching staff for turning what was an underachieving ball club in 2011 into a bona fide World Series contender the following season. Though Adam Dunn is still striking out at an embarrassing frequency, he looks to be on track for another monster home run and RBI season, and the changing of sox from red to white has seemed to revitalize Kevin Youkilis's playing career. Two factors will have MLB bettors clamoring to continue backing Chicago in the second half: The first is their tremendous road record that's seen them win 23 of 39 games for a whopping $1104 return on investment, while the second is that their second half opponents carry a .497 winning percentage into the second half; that mark equates to the worst such mark in the American League.

Money-Burners

Philadelphia Phillies (37-50, -$2462): The Phillies were up against it even before the regular season started with both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley figured to be on the DL for at the very least the first two months of the campaign. Though both of those former All-Stars have recently returned to the everyday line-up, what transpired over the course until they arrived is what has Manager Charlie Manuel's squad in a deep hole. With the defending NL East champs in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, it's of the belief that Philadelphia will be sellers come the trade deadline with a number of players that helped lead it to success these last handful of years on the block.

Colorado Rockies (33-52, -$1560): In picking apart the Rockies from a statistical point of view, you can't help but fall in love with what you see; offensively that is! Manager Jim Tracy's outfit has mashed the ball all season long even though stud SS Troy Tulowitzki has missed a bulk of playing time with a myriad of injuries. Carlos Gonzalez is one of three Rockies sluggers that have amassed double-digit home run tallies, but when you give runs up at a faster pace than you score them, a W/L total reminiscent of what the Rox bring to the table is what you get. It got so bad for this pitching staff that it was shrunk to a four-man rotation, but that's hardly helped with Colorado still possessing the league's absolute worst ERA (5.26) and WHIP (1.58).

Milwaukee Brewers (40-45, -$1297): Wins have been too far and few between for the Brew Crew in the post Prince Fielder era with injuries to the key cogs picked up by upper management to fill the void left by his absence making it that much harder to stockpile wins. As it is, Milwaukee sits in fourth place within the NL Central a hefty eight-games off the pace, and though it sits a game over .500 at home, it's still cost its betting backers nearly $500 as a host. The story hasn't been much better on the road either with Ryan Braun and company coming out victorious in just 18 of their 42 overall games played (-$817).

Houston Astros (33-53, -$1147): You can't help but feel for this Astros franchise that's won a total of just 89 games dating back to the beginning of 2011, and with a switch in leagues scheduled for next season, it's going to get a whole heck of a lot worse for this young squad before it gets better. Having said that, Houston already possesses some nice pieces to the puzzle in Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez, and it also has a number of viable trade bait to help this club get better in the long run. Still, it's going to continue being a struggle for this squad throughout the remainder of this season as long as it continues ranking out in the bottom third of the league in both the pitching and hitting categories.

Chicago Cubs (33-52, -$1145): The Cubs might check in as one of the worst first half bets in the league, but the "Loveable Losers" have started playing with a chip on their shoulder ever since stud 1B Anthony Rizzo was called up from Triple-AAA. Manager Dale Sveum's squad will enter the All-Star break having alternated wins in each of their seven games, and have captured series wins in three of their L/4. Playing away from Wrigley Field is what's really killed this club in 2012 with Starlin Castro and his mates having captured just 14 wins in 46 overall tries ultimately costing MLB bettors upwards of $1090 which equates to 95 percent of their overall money lost! They did however rattle off road wins in four of their L/7, so if Chicago can continue excelling in the visitors role, it should continue eating off more of its overall MLB betting deficit throughout the second half of the season.

  
HEADLINES
Iskoe: Daily Pitchers Report
Dodgers complete sweep of Giants, 4-3
Rangers struggle again in 9-3 loss to A's
Ortiz's 3-run homer helps BoSox end skid
Jays win first series in Bronx in two years
Fister, Nats handcuffs slumping Reds, 4-2
Duda, deGrom deliver, Mets blank Brewers
Wainwright, Holliday leads Cards past Cubs
Freese homers late, Angels top Tigers
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