MAJOR LEAGE BASEBALL ODDS TO WIN EACH DIVISION: DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE
Note: Read PART 1, the National League here.
With all due respect to the NL West, the American League East is the most fascinating division race in baseball. Four teams could conceivably contend for post-season play, each possibly with a winning record by season end. The stacked AL East is topped with the team with (currently) the best record in the majors. Tampa Bay Rays is 41-24 through 65 games. But ever more impressive – they're 26-16 versus teams with winning records. Tampa Bay also boasts a blistering 23-10 record on the road, easily the best win percentage in the majors. The Rays will be looking over their shoulder the rest of the season and the competition is certainly stiff. But Tampa Bay doesn't rely on any superstars and lacks a dominant pitcher. This club wins as a team, and they're looking pretty good at the moment. Some power rankings have the Rays in the top spot out of all 30 teams, which might be a bit optimistic. Nonetheless, Tampa Bay priced at +155 to win the division is definitely worth consideration. The odds on the New York Yankees are ridiculous. Perpetually overrated, constantly a disappointment. The floundering Yankees are just 2 games over .500, are in 4th place, and they're 8 games back. So, why would they be +250 other than an avalanche of idiot money? Other than Aaron Judge, this team's offense sucks. Fade the Yankees on any props you can find. Boston Red Sox are the natural alternative, if Tampa Bay falters. The Bosox are +250 right now. Boston swept the Yankees in New York last week and their hitting is as good as any team in the league. Toronto Blue Jays are an interesting darkhorse. They'd get far more respect than +600, but they play in such a tough division. The Jays rank second in the majors in hitting and may have the AL MVP in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Finally, the Baltimore Orioles are out of the race, 19 games back and will compete with the Arizona for the worst record in the majors.
Best Bets: Purely for value, bet the Boston Red Sox at +250. And bet against the New York Yankees on any prop on them winning the division, or even making the playoffs.
This AL Central is the only division race that appears to be wrapped up, unless something crazy happens. The Chicago White Sox are -500 to finish first, and we're not even into mid-June yet. Chicago started the season slowly, and suffered a few injuries. But during the past 6 weeks, the ChiSox have performed just as they were expected as overwhelming consensus favourites to win a mediocre division. The White Sox +103 run differential now leads the majors. The south-siders are going to rack up lots of wins and pad the stats playing division competition including the awful Tigers and Twins. Oh, and Chicago leads the AL in team pitching. The Cleveland Indians are +425 which is worth a look if there's some anticipation of the White Sox collapsing (they won't). But it's hard to have much faith in the second-place Indians who have given up more runs than they've scored this season. The Kansas City Royals at +1500 are playing better than expected. But they're not going to overcome a 10-game deficit and look like a .500 team, at best. It doesn't help that the Royals' best player Adalberto Mondesi can't stay off the injured list. If the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins were in a horse race, they would be coupled as 4a and 5a. The only suspense is – which of these garbage teams will finish in last place. The Twins are +3500. The Tigers are +100,000, and even that price might be too optimistic.
Best Bets: It's hard to see how any team overcomes the White Sox at this point. If you like bridgejumper bets and can fade three months of money tied up in a futures bets, Chicago looks like the easiest money on the board.
Here's a two-team race, both with compelling justications for confidence and a wager. Baseball's bad boys, the Houston Astros are the odds-on pick to win the West. This Astros now lead the majors in hitting and should hold that spot the rest of the season (their .270 average is 10 points higher than any team in baseball). They're two games behind the A's right now, but should battle for the top spot all the way through late September. Given how the Oakland A's are playing, it's hard say the Astros deserve to be such big favourites, at -140, to finish first. The Athletics are +140 which strikes some forecasters as a much better value with so many intangibles. In a coin flip, bet the side with plus money. The Los Angeles Angels were left for dead a month ago. They were horrible, but have since turned their season completely around and reached .500 for the first time on Friday night. At 32-32, the Angels are suddenly one of baseball's hottest teams, just 6 games back with still a long way to go. Priced at +1100, the Angels are worth a serious look. If the great Mike Trout can get back into the lineup, the Angels are a great bet at this number. The Seattle Mariners are 31-35, which doesn't seem so bad, but they're also dead last in hitting in the majors. The M's got hot early in the season, but have faded. The hideous Texas Rangers could end up losing 100 games this season. They're already 14 games out of first and priced at +80000. If you want to bet on the Rangers, find a toilet instead and flush your money there. At least there's some entertainment value in that.
Best Bets: Los Angeles Angels at +1100 if you like longshots, or Oakland A's at -140 if you want a safer and smarter bet.