The American League East is a two-team race. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will jockey for position atop the division. There is a lot of incentive to win the division and avoid the one-game playoff. The Red Sox did that last season and wound up facing a Yankees team in the Division Series that was forced to burn Luis Severino against the Oakland A’s.
It also means the chance at home field advantage in the first round. The 162 games of the regular season really matter for the Red Sox and Yankees and the 19 head-to-head meetings could very well decide the division title.
The biggest bottom feeder in baseball resides in this division and only one of the remaining three teams has the chance to challenge the Red Sox and Yankees. The odds certainly reflect the structure of the AL East for the 2019 season and they don’t leave a lot of meat on the bone for futures bettors.
Here are the AL East Division odds as of March 5 at BetOnline Sportsbook:
New York Yankees -120
Boston Red Sox +140
Tampa Bay Rays +900
Toronto Blue Jays +2500
Baltimore Orioles +10000
Take your pick. Is it the Yankees or the Red Sox? The Red Sox went 108-54 in the regular season last year and then went 11-3 in the playoffs to secure another World Series title. The Yankees went 100-62. Using alternate standings metrics, the race was much closer than that. Boston was a 103-59 team using Pythagorean Win-Loss and the Yankees were 99-63.
Using BaseRuns, the Red Sox were 99-63 and the Yankees were 97-65. The gap was certainly smaller than the final records would indicate.
Is that enough for the Yankees to take down the division title this season? It is difficult to say. The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball. The Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball. They also have a top-five offense and their rotation appears to have more balance than Boston’s at the present.
Still, we’re really picking nits about these two teams to make a pick for the AL East Division title. The Yankees would be my pick, as they are my pick for the World Series right now, but taking -120 for a seven-month investment doesn’t seem to yield a whole lot of value.
It is worth mentioning that Tampa Bay was 96-66 per BaseRuns last season, so they were only three games off of the pace of the Red Sox in a context-neutral environment. I’d need more than +900 to take that leap of faith, but the Rays look plenty dangerous as a Wild Card contender.