Baseball BettingWhen the Boston Red Sox failed to reach the postseason a year ago, the sports betting media around the league was quick to point out that they were a team that was only a couple of offensive pieces and a healthy roster away from being a legitimate World Series contender. General Manager Theo Epstein went out and signed Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to mega deals, and a ton of Red Sox stars took the winter to rest and rehab from a variety of injuries that had compromised their 2010 season. Boston was labeled as the consensus favorite to win the AL after they completed those moves, and despite a slow start they rallied over the past couple of months to clinch the best record in the American League at the All Star break.

The Red Sox are one of the few teams in the league that can win games both ways, whether it’s an explosive performance by their offense or an outstanding start from one of the deeper pitching staffs in the MLB standings. Led by All Star starters Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortix, Boston finished the first half of the season with the league’s top-ranked offense, scoring 482 runs through their first 90 games, and registered the best team batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They also sent two of their starting pitchers to the Midsummer Classic with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett both getting the nod, and if they could find some consistency with John Lackey and Clay Buchholz they could have one of the best staffs in the AL. That depth will be one of the keys to the Red Sox closing out the year with a pennant and clinching home field advantage for the postseason, but they are still a ways away from doing that.

The New York Yankees are right behind Boston in the AL East, riding the league’s best run differential to first place in the division for most of the season. The resurgence of AJ Burnett, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia behind CC Sabathia has been one of the biggest MLB betting surprises of the year, and how well those guys are able to hold up the remainder of the way will go a long way to determining their fate. This is still a team that gets by with its power-hitting, which is illustrated by the Yankees’ dominance with the long ball as Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson are right behind home run leader Jose Bautista. The loss of Alex Rodriguez for a couple of weeks could hurt, but New York should still be able to lock up a Wild Card spot.

The Central and West divisions remain wide open as well, although it would take a major collapse for the defending AL champion Texas Rangers to lose out to a Los Angeles Angels’ team that hasn’t been able to pass them despite an outstanding first-half finish. The Cleveland Indians have been one of the surprise MLB contenders this season, and their playoff hopes will come down to whether or not they are able to stay consistent over the second half and hold off the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have long been considered a talented team that just couldn’t make it over the hump, and this could finally be the year that they get the job done in the AL Central.

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