Whether you are a bookie, a weekend slots players, or addicted gambler – everybody loves talking about odds.
Yes, the time old tradition of odds-making even finds its way into Major League Baseball, as every season Las Vegas casinos release their win total projections for each MLB team.
While they change on a weekly basis to reflect the betting standard, the highest payout always remains with those that take the first line.
For those of you wondering, the St. Louis Cardinals win total was first projected on February 10th at 87.5 wins.
Yes, both with a small group of friends and in Vegas, I took the under – citing a lack of power within the line up, a fragile bullpen, and rotation that had injury/age/maturity questions.
Certainly those three concerns reared their head at some point throughout this season, but much to my surprise, there were also some things that happened that I didn’t (couldn’t) of accounted for which have the Cardinals now sitting at 76 wins, with 16 games left.
With all of that said, here’s why the Cardinals are finding themselves in a position to beat Vegas and their 87.5 win projection.
The St. Louis Cardinals went into 2017 thinking they had identified who their new “core” players were – guys like Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz, etc.
While each of those players hasn’t had the year they’d hoped for, save a few spurts from each individual listed above, the Birds have gotten production from guys that were thought to be bench/role players at best.
Players like Tommy Pham, Jedd Gyorko (for a portion this season), Jose Martinez, and yes, the aging Yadier Molina, carried the torch at points when the team most needed a shoulder to cry on.
Aside from Molina, if you told me before the season started that all three of those players would find sustained success at the major league level, I would’ve called you a liar.
But here we stand today, and the new faces of the franchise were guys thought to be not even relevant in March/April.
It is not only the guys with experience making a name for themselves, the kids from Memphis haven’t been too bad either.
It seems like 90% of the Cardinals roster these days either A) spent time down in Memphis this year B) got called up from AAA for the first time, and are having phenomenal success at the major league level.
It all starts with the (now) everyday short stop, Paul DeJong.
What DeJong has showcased this season is a bat that either crushes the ball or misses mightily. And although at times he has been exposed, DeJong has slashed an overall impressive .289/.322/.541 line.
He needs to work on his strikeouts (108 in 376 plate appearances), but overall, Pauly D has given the Cardinals what they needed at short stop this season.
Other Baby Birds that have found success this season on the major league roster are Mags Sierra, Luke Voit, Harrison Bader, and the “veteran” young guy, Luke Weaver.
Without their contributions – this St. Louis team doesn’t even sniff 75+ wins.
A mix of surprise performers and young guys contributing has left the Cardinals in a nice place, but the question still remains – can they beat Vegas?
Bet against this team because of their remaining schedule?
As mentioned before, St. Louis has 17 games left in the 2017 regular season.
All 16 of those contests are against National League Central opponents, including seven (!!) against the Chicago Cubs, who currently lead the division.
They also end the season with three games against the Milwaukee Brewers, who are also ahead of them in the standings.
So for those of you keeping a tally, 10 of the 12 games the Cardinals would need to win to eclipse the 87.5 mark are against opponents that are ahead of them in the standings.
Say what you want about what direction the Cubs and Brewers are both trending right now, a different brand of baseball is played when the post season is on the line.
During these last two weeks of the season, it won’t matter who the Cardinals have on the roster, as they will be getting everybody’s best on a nightly basis from teams looking to play postseason spoiler, or teams with an actual shot to get in.
Whether it be the unsung heroes, or kids from Memphis – a lot will have to happen for the Cardinals to beat the Vegas odds and get into the post season.