Shane Lambert looks at the American League Central in Baseball and with the Chicago Cubs not looking quite as invincible, the value looks to be the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Chicago Cubs, with their start in the NL Central this season, basically stifled me for betting recommendations in that divisional market. I was flabbergasted to see them get off to the kind of start that they enjoyed and felt that it was difficult to find good odds on a worthwhile underdog. However the Cubs have hit some troubled times and they are currently regressing back to the NL-Central pack a bit.
Entering Wednesday Chicago are still 30-14 (.682) on the season and they have a comfortable five-game lead in the division. Their main challenger at this point is Pittsburgh, the Pirates currently sitting in second place with a solid .586 winning percentage. The Cubs have only won 4 of their last 10, while Pitt have won 7 over the same stretch. It looks like there could in fact be a pennant race emerging in the NL Central, even if it didn't look that way at the 30-game mark.
The great thing about teams that race out to huge leads in their division is that they often regress over the course of the entire season. Yet they take in a lot of bets early and that creates longer odds on their opposition, odds that often stay put perhaps even a little bit longer than they actually should.
The Cubs are priced SHORT to win the NL Central at 1/10 with Skybet, for example. As a contrast, San Francisco have a 4.5-game lead in the NL West and are priced at EVEN odds. It's funny how betting trends can work: Chicago with a 5-game lead is a better than 90% favourite in their division (based on implied odds) while the Giants, with only a half-game-less lead, are considered to be in a coin toss against their competitors.
The correct move in this market is to go with the second-placed team at the moment, the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are priced well long at 13/1 with 10Bet or 12/1 with bet365. I wouldn't call either St. Louis or Milwaukee out of things at the moment, but it's Pitt that has been charging lately. The importance of that is that it's their odds that are in imminent danger of shortening while fans of the Cards or Brew Crew can probably wait a bit and still get long odds. In the big picture, all teams in the division except for Cincy have gained some ground on Chicago lately.
1 point win Pittsburgh Pirates to win the NL Central at 13/1 with 10bet