Last Updated: 2019-03-05
The American League Central Division is supposed to be more competitive this season than it was last season. At least that’s what the media wants you to believe. Oddsmakers see it differently, as the Cleveland Indians are the overwhelming odds-on favorite to hang another Central Division banner and move on to the playoffs in hopes of avenging first-round exits from the last two years.
The Minnesota Twins have gotten a lot better with their offseason transactions. They also upgraded in the dugout and continue to get stronger in the front office. The Chicago White Sox garnered a lot of buzz early in the winter when they appeared to be preparing for Manny Machado by signing his friends and family, but that was not meant to be. The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are in various states of a rebuild.
As a result, it is Cleveland’s division to lose yet again.
Here are the odds from BetOnline Sportsbook as of March 5, 2019:
Cleveland Indians -400
Minnesota Twins +400
Chicago White Sox +1600
Detroit Tigers +4000
Kansas City Royals +4000
The Indians won the division by 13 games last season. They won the division by 21 games per Pythagorean Win-Loss, a standings metric based on run differential. They won the division by 20 games per BaseRuns, another standings metric based on projected run differential in a context-neutral environment. They won the division by 23 games per 3rd Order Win Percentage, a standings metric using Adjusted Equivalent Runs and strength of schedule.
The Twins got a lot better. They added Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Blake Parker, and Michael Pineda. They’re also moving in the right direction with Rocco Baldelli instead of Paul Molitor. Baldelli embraces analytics to a much higher degree and that will mesh well with the numbers-savvy front office.
I hate to ruin the suspense for you, but only the Indians or Twins can win this division. It will likely be the Indians. The -400 line implies about an 80 percent probability that the Indians take care of business here.
The Indians were -500 last season and the Twins were +650, so the books have correctly accounted for the improved Twins and many believe that the Indians are worse.
Laying -400 on an investment across seven months is not ideal. A Francisco Lindor or a Jose Ramirez long-term injury vaults the Twins a lot closer to the Indians. The only potential futures value in this division is to bet on Minnesota, but there are better futures bets across the other divisions to spend your money on.
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