Although the abbreviated 2020 MLB season is barely a month old, it is also remarkably at about the halfway point. Of course, this season will go down in the history books as the most unusual ever. For that reason, it’s time to flush some of the betting perceptions you might have formed about certain players and teams and get more in sync with what we are actually seeing.
Unlike the marathon-type seasons we usually have, the 2020 campaign is an all-out sprint. Teams and players have so little time to snap out of slumps, while hot streaks and stellar performances may define the seasons of others. Conclusions probably will be derived quickly. It should also be a fundamental factor in the way bettors look at handicapping the action.
So it’s a good time to accentuate some of the major performance changes we have witnessed in the first half. In a shortened season it behooves bettors to flush out their misperceptions as quickly as possible and turn the page to the here and now. Hopefully you did this to a team like the Boston Red Sox weeks ago, or on the opposite side, a team like the San Diego Padres.
To try to quantify the drastic changes best, I turned to the variable on which I rely deeply when setting game prices and handicapping the lines: my Effective Strength Ratings. I have detailed the biggest changes in my ratings from opening day til now for lineups, starting pitchers and bullpens.
On Thursday, we looked at the five teams that have been the biggest offensive surprises. Today, we’ll tackle the five biggest disappointments.
Note: Numbers as of Tuesday.
BOY Effective Runs: 4.62. Current: 4.22
Change: -0.4 RPG
To see Cleveland at the top of the most disappointing offenses list, you’d figure the team was struggling. Clearly that isn’t the case, as the Indians are vying for the AL Central lead. Still, the Indians are winning with pitching, averaging only 4.0 runs per game through Sunday. Big bats like Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor have drastically underperformed and will have to pick it up in September for Cleveland to become a real threat in the AL.
St. Louis Cardinals
BOY Effective Runs: 4.48. Current: 4.1
Change: -0.38 RPG
In a word, the Cardinals’ season can best be described as disjointed, so it’s not alarming to see their offense underperforming. Runs have been hard to come by for St. Louis, as the offense has topped the five-run mark just four times. The Cards had reached double-digit hits just three times. Losing OF Marcell Ozuna to the Braves in the offseason hurt, and they’ve been without Paul DeJong most of the way due to COVID-19.
BOY Effective Runs: 4.5. Current: 4.14
Change: -0.36 RPG
Most of the pieces are the same in the Rangers’ lineup, but something is different in 2020. Could it be the impact of the new stadium in Arlington? Are the diminished hitting conditions causing some mental issues with Rangers hitters? In terms of production, OF Joey Gallo is having a decent season, but elsewhere it’s scarce. Heading into Monday’s game, Texas was scoring just 3.7 RPG, accompanied by a team batting average of a minuscule .210.
BOY Effective Runs: 5.02. Current: 4.68
Change: -0.34 RPG
The Twins set some extremely high offensive standards in 2019, setting a major-league record with 307 home runs. The production has dropped significantly this season, but the team has adjusted. Heading into a key series versus Cleveland, Minnesota was still leading the AL Central. With 42 homers in 29 games, the Twins were still hitting plenty of deep balls, but it’s the smaller ball they are struggling with, as the team’s batting average is down 25 points and the OBP 13 points. Again, though, not much need to panic as the lineup is loaded top to bottom.
BOY Effective Runs: 4.55. Current: 4.24
Change: -0.31 RPG
Last offseason, the Brewers said goodbye to the big bats of Yasmani Grandal, Eric Thames, Mike Moustakas, Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar. Since Opening Day, they’ve also lost Lorenzo Cain, who opted out of the season. The replacements haven’t come close to matching the departed production, and with Christian Yelich way off his usual pace, the results have been dismal. As of Monday, Milwaukee was scoring just 4.0 RPG and hitting .214. The Brewers were also dreadful at scoring runs early in games, often having to play from behind, a bad sign for a team whose biggest strength is keeping opponents down with its bullpen.