The American League Central Division was won by somebody other than the Cleveland Indians for the first time since 2015. The Minnesota Twins put it all together, won 101 games, and outlasted the Indians, who limped to the finish line with five straight losses to end the season. The eight-win gap between the two teams really wasn’t that big, as Cleveland and Minnesota were actually tied for the top spot as late in the season as August 11. The Twins led by as many as 11.5 games on June 2.
When all was said and done, Minnesota had 101 wins and Cleveland had 93 and that was that. The Indians were the team with the most wins ever to miss the Wild Card Game in its current format dating back to 2012 and the Twins went on to lose to the Yankees.
Perception matters a lot in the betting markets for the AL Central. The Twins got better by adding Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, and several others. The Chicago White Sox got better by signing Yasmani Grandal, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, and by welcoming Luis Robert and eventually guys like Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech to the fold. The Indians? Well, they signed Cesar Hernandez and Domingo Santana.
To further hurt the Indians in the court of public opinion, Mike Clevinger tore his meniscus and Carlos Carrasco found himself on crutches before the first Spring Training game.
The Twins are the clear favorite to repeat as the AL Central champs. The question is whether or not somebody else has a good enough chance to place a bet.
Here are the odds to win the AL Central per 5Dimes Sportsbook as of February 20, 2020:
This will come as a shock to some, but we can effectively cross out the Royals and Tigers.
That leaves us with three contenders. The favored Twins in search of a repeat, the 2016-18 champion Indians, and a team that hasn’t made the playoffs or won the division since 2008. Decisions, decisions.
A line of -147 implies a little less than a 60% chance that the Twins win this division. Quite frankly, that looks low to me. The Indians could very well have the four best players in the division in Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber, but the supporting cast is lacking. Lindor, Ramirez, Clevinger, and Bieber could all end up in the top-20 in fWAR among position players and pitchers and yet the Indians are still +335. Isn’t that telling enough?
The White Sox have the makings of what could be a stellar offense with Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez and Grandal and Robert, but they don’t have the pitching for a playoff push. The White Sox may make a big leap after last season’s 72-90 showing, but they are not ready to make a push at the division yet.
That leaves bettors with one question – Are the Indians good enough? Even as an Indians fan, I must reluctantly say no. The Twins are the play to win the Central Division here, though it is extremely tough to justify a -147 price tag for a seven-month hold on your money. There isn’t a ton of value here in this division with the odds-on favorite, but an implied probability of 59.5% does look a little bit low for those that just want to play on the value rather than focus on the hold of your money.