We are a more than a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball regular season, and there are a couple surprise teams playing good ball as well as perennial contenders like the Red Sox and Yankees fighting over the AL East in what is sure to be a well-publicized chase to win the division.
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros are in second place behind the Mariners. This has shocked a lot of people, but upon closer examination of statistics and a Major League-leading +122 runs in only 61 games, Houston has been dominant. That is +2 runs/game! No other team in the Majors has more than a +92 run differential, and I won’t even get started yet on their pitching, wow!
The Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins have been able to keep pace with the Tribe of Cleveland thus far as they are only 3 and 3.5 games back, respectively. Cleveland may have a hard time pulling away from both teams down the stretch if neither the Tigers’ or the Twins’ performances drop off as we move into August and September.
BetOnline has odds on a winner for all 6 divisions in Major League Baseball. Today, let’s look at which AL team’s odds will give you the most value if you choose to make a bet. Yes, October is a long ways away, injuries happen, and teams fall apart.
Future bets are a lot of fun because they last a while and in this case, your wager can last you months. This will give you some teams to pull for and against other than your favorite squad and of course the team you only wish to fail.
Let’s take a look at the odds, note the best value, and make some picks.
Odds to Win the American League West
Texas Rangers: (+25000)
With the longest odds to win their division of any team in the Majors, it doesn’t make sense to spend much of our time talking about the Rangers. They have a better record than most of the other last place teams, so why are the odds so high?
One reason is the other four teams in the AL West are all above .500 at the moment.
Sorry Texans, but the Rangers aren’t going to get it done this year. Looks like fans will have to jump on the Houston Astros bandwagon, at least until next season.
Oakland Athletics: (+5000)
Currently, only 6.5 games out of first place, the A’s are not hitting the ball well at all with a team batting average of .240. They are, however, keeping the score low on the other side of the ball as well as they are 5th in the AL with a team ERA of 3.87 and 7th in WHIP at 1.238.
The A’s are playing much better than last season, but I don’t see them contending with Houston down the stretch and there are a couple other good teams playing better. You could argue that +5000 is good value for a team over .500 and less than 7 games out of 1st place. It’s a tough argument to win, though.
So drop a couple bucks on the A’s if you please. There’s nothing wrong with a lottery ticket from time to time.
Los Angeles Angels: (+1000)
Hitting the ball slightly better than Oakland at .248, the Angels of SoCal are 6 games better on the road this season than at home in Orange County. The pitching statistics mirror those of the A’s as well as the hitting, so I don’t see any more value here than with the A’s.
The Angels have been mediocre and could definitely improve their play and/or possibly make a big trade, but they aren’t worth your money here in my opinion.
Seattle Mariners: (+450)
Probably the biggest surprise of the 2018 season in the American League, the Mariners are playing as well as anybody right now.
Winners of 8 out of their last 10 games and 15 games over .500 with comparable home and away records, the Mariners are looking like a possible playoff team more and more by the day.
A closer look at the team statistics between them and the 2nd place Astros illustrates a much more significant difference between the two teams other than the 1 game that separates 1st and 2nd place.
Even though the Seattle Mariners are ranked 5th in the AL with a team ERA of 3.82, they are a full run behind the Houston Astros who lead the Major Leagues by far at 2.82.
Can the Mariners make up that 1 run difference with their hitting? It isn’t likely as their batting averages are virtually the same, while the Astros score a half a run more per game.
Houston Astros: (-450)
Well, I already mentioned the defending champs several times. I’m sure you can guess they are my pick to win the AL West. Statistically, they have been the best team in baseball in 2018.
They are winning big and losing small. I don’t think this trend will continue as we know these guys are clutch after winning one of the most exciting back and forth World Series in recent memory.
The playoffs should be very interesting as I see the Astros battling either the Yankees, Red Sox or both as they all vie for the pennant.
Pick to Win AL West: Houston Astros (-450)
Odds to Win the American League East
Toronto Blue Jays: (+10000)
I wonder if there are many actual blue jays in Toronto. The name was chosen by a contest with 4,000 suggestions. I would love to see the other 3,999 they were able to come up with.
Blue Jays are very dominant birds, though, always ruffling the feathers of other little flying creatures. It’s too bad the baseball team isn’t as dominant as their namesake.
Before their last postseason appearance in 2015, the Jays were in a 21-year playoff drought.
It was one of the most exciting moments in baseball history in 1993 when Joe Carter walked off the World Series with a home run to left off of the now infamous Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams.
The only Canadian team in the League will not get such an opportunity again this year as they are in the same division as Boston and New York, two teams that are playing out of their respective minds.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (+1000)
Okay, I know for a fact that there are rays down in Tampa. I was stationed down there once upon a time and was lucky enough to swim with the sting-rays as well as watch their human counterparts play baseball a few times.
They are 28-30 so far this year, and not really a threat to the big two from the northeast. The Rays, who play their games in neighboring St. Pete, aren’t a terrible team this year. They could possibly be a contender in another division, but as they say in the northeast “Fuggetaboutit”.
Boston Red Sox: (+110)
Now we’re getting down to business. The Red Sox are playing great. They should be 5-10 games ahead in first place, but unfortunately for them, they are not. They are 2 games back of the Yankees in the loss column but hold a 1 game lead in the division.
The two teams are ranked 1 and 2 in nearly every offensive category in the American League.
The Sox hit a little bit better for average and the Yankees have a hair more power in their bats.
Their fielding stats mirror those of the Yankees as well.
So, where can we find a difference in the two teams?
Boston has slightly better ERA than New York, 3.62 compared to 3.80.
The Sox might be a bit more complete team this far into the season, maybe.
New York Yankees: (-150)
The Yanks are the youngest team in the American League. Maybe that is the difference we are looking for between them and the Sox.
It’s not much of a difference, though, at only about an average of 4 months.
Picking between these two teams is nearly impossible as almost every last statistic is virtually the same.
Whenever this happens, you have to go with the team that is plus money.
In that case, it’s Boston.
Pick to Win the American League East: Boston Red Sox (+110)
Odds to Win the American League Central
Chicago White Sox: (+15000)
The boys from the south side of the windy city are struggling this year, and once again in the shadow of the cross-town Cubbies. 11 games out of first and 20 games under .500 doesn’t paint the prettiest picture for the rest of the White Sox’s 2018 season.
Even with the 1st place Indians only 2 games above .500, the Sox don’t have much of a chance to catch them. They are in the bottom three in the AL in ERA and WHIP while hitting only .245 as a team.
Kansas City Royals: (+10000)
With good BBQ and a surprisingly hilly landscape, Kansas City is a really cool town. The Royals just don’t have nearly the same kind of cash to pay their players as a team like Boston or New York.
I don’t think the KC is going to catch the Twins or Tigers, much less the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
With an AL-low 53 home runs, the firepower just isn’t there.
I’m not even going to get into the details of their pitching woes.
Just know that they have a league-high ERA of 5.42!
Detroit Tigers: (+2000)
The Tigers aren’t too bad this year. Their hitting and pitching statistics reflect a better record than they have now. Maybe as the season progresses, their balanced play will lend itself to more victories.
They are 3rd in the AL in batting just .001 behind the Yankees but giving up 4.28 earned runs per game. While that latter number is high, the 3rd place Twins are also at 4.28 and the Tribe has a team ERA of 4.34.
Minnesota Twins: (+500)
It’s a little confusing to see this team with 4 times lower odds than the aforementioned Detroit Tigers as Detroit has a slightly better record, very similar WHIP and ERA, and a much better batting average.
While Minnesota is a good team that can win the division, they have significantly less value than Detroit.
Cleveland Indians: (-600)
The Indians are massive favorites to win the AL Central but are only 2 games over .500 with a losing record on the road. Yes, they are likely going to finish the season atop the division but I don’t see much value here as -600 is kind of ridiculous considering how the season has gone thus far.
They are in a tough division with the Tigers and Twins nipping on their heels, and the Indians are going to have to impress me quite a bit more so if they want my money.
Pick to Win the American League Central: Detroit Tigers (+2000)
The three best teams in the Majors are probably in the American League this year.
The Yankees are Red Sox are poised for a season-long battle for first place in the East with the Red Sox.
Almost every single stat of either team mirrored the other. Batting average was close where the Red Sox (.266) own a slight advantage over the Yanks (.259) this year. For that reason and the fact that the Sox have slightly more experience, I had to take Boston.
It’s razor close, though, so don’t empty the piggy bank on either team.
While the Seattle Mariners are super hot and have a better record than the Houston Astros, statistically they are not very comparable.
It’s the pitching of Houston that seems to be the most dominant force in all of baseball right now. I have to take the defending champs in the West.
The Central Division seems to be the most unpredictable in 2018. Cleveland has large odds to win, but they have yet to back that up with their play. Detroit, on the other hand, has backed up their odds plus some.
I love them as the best value and my pick to win the AL Central.
Get those bets in guys. The earlier you do, the longer your wager will last!