User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Bright Rays

Sand always was a possibility, but the best way to get buried last year was playing on the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays blew 15 games in the ninth inning or later. These memories are brought up in conjunction with sportsbooks beginning to release regular season baseball ‘over/under’ win totals.

Expect Tampa Bay’s win total to be in the range of 68-74 victories. Anything under 74 wins is a worthwhile investment.

Advertisement
Yes, I realize the Rays have finished last in the American League East nine of the past 10 years. I’m not saying they are even going to scare the Red Sox or Yankees.

But enough parts have been assembled where the Rays can do better than finish eight games below .500.

There’s a big bat at first, maybe the fastest outfield in baseball, a much upgraded bullpen and strong top of the rotation starters.

Tampa Bay has never had three starters the quality of Scott Kazmir, James Shields and newly acquired Matt Garza. We know how good Kazmir and Shields are. The Ray had a winning record in games started by Kazmir and Shields.

A key is Garza, the former No. 1 pitching prospect of the Minnesota Twins. He was 7-3 with a 3.13 ERA last year when not pitching in the hitting-friendly Metrodome.

The Rays may have had the worst bullpen in history last year. It can’t be worse this season. On the contrary, it looks much better. Troy Percival is the new closer after proving he was healthy last season while performing well for St. Louis.

Percival brings experience and credibility. He’s held opponents to a .186 career batting average. Al Reyes was miscast as a closer. He’s better as a setup man. Dan Wheeler, brought in from Houston, is a respectable setup man, too.

First baseman Carlos Pena finally lived up to his hype, slugging a team record 46 homers and driving in a Tampa-best 121 runs. He’ll have plenty of RBI opportunities with speedy Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura hitting in front of him.

You would be hard-pressed to find a faster outfield trio than Crawford, who has more steals during the past four years than anyone else in the American League, Upton and Rocco Baldelli. Crawford has improved his batting average during each of his first six seasons. Those three are going to track down a lot of fly balls in the outfield.

The farm system is good. Catcher Dioner Navarro, who had the third-best slugging percentage of any catcher following the All-Star break, and third baseman Evan Longoria are excellent young talents.

I’m not a fan of manager Joe Maddon. Too many bizarre and short-sighted moves on his part. However, the ownership that took over three years ago has proven solid. There’s talent in the farm system. It has already started to blossom and could really become ripe in two-three years.

In the meantime, the Rays have improved enough to make a serious run at .500. That’s enough to cash on this prop.

  
HEADLINES
News: 2017 SuperBook HR Odds
News: 2017 World Baseball Classic Odds
Cubs feted at White House for WS title
Royals ink Duffy to $65M deal
Phillies, Saunders agree to deal
Cards expect to add speed this season
Bautista, Jays working hard on return
Bonds, Clemens have HOF chance
All smiles for Cubs in wake of WS title
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 8851
Jim Feist + 4765
John Fisher + 3257
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2523
Kevin Rogers + 1791
Jim Feist + 1589
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 3455
John Fisher + 1505
Jim Feist + 1416
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jim Feist + 3403
Antony Dinero + 2618
Micah Roberts + 2249
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2873
Antony Dinero + 2798
Jim Feist + 1845
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2836
Mark Franco + 1570
Bill Marzano + 1455
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership