Last Updated: 2019-03-05
The American League pennant race is decidedly less exciting than the National League pennant race. Before a pitch is thrown for the 2019 season, we can use a Sharpie to write in three of the five playoff teams and it is probably safe to use a pen for another. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros have already clinched a champagne celebration in the clubhouse to signal a berth in the playoffs. The Cleveland Indians are an overwhelming favorite in the AL Central as well.
That means that we head into the 2019 season with really one playoff spot up for grabs. Long shot value is not really an option in the Junior Circuit this year, as October will likely be dominated by one of the three powerhouse teams. The goal of every futures bet is to be in a position to guarantee profit. You can do that by correctly picking the second Wild Card team, but you will pay a heavy price to hedge in the Wild Card Game and a similarly big price in the ALDS if that team was to advance.
It is a bit of a bummer to know that going into the season, but it is also fair to say that stranger things have happened in sports. Just don’t strain yourself looking for strange occurrences in the American League this season.
These AL pennant odds are as of March 5, 2019 from BetOnline Sportsbook.
|New York Yankees
|Boston Red Sox
|Tampa Bay Rays
|Chicago White Sox
|Los Angeles Angels
|Toronto Blue Jays
|Kansas City Royals
Here are some considerations for the AL pennant:
Cleveland Indians (+700) – The Indians don’t have the same walk in the park in the AL Central that they had last season, but this is still a team lined with an implied probability of anywhere from 75 to 80 percent to win the AL Central. That means an immediate path to the ALDS. Avoiding the Wild Card Game is a fantastic advantage for Cleveland and the other teams that are able to do so because they do not have to burn a starting pitcher and don’t have to play a winner-take-all game where anything can happen.
Even though the Indians would be a dog against the Red Sox, Yankees, or Astros in both the ALDS and the ALCS, they’re going to have a ticket to the dance. Whether or not they leave early is anybody’s guess at this point in time, but having a ticket to show up for the festivities is more than half the battle when it comes to MLB futures. The Indians will be an easy hedge in the ALDS and the 7/1 price tag allows for room to hedge in the ALCS as well.
Houston Astros (+300) – The Astros have a distinct advantage in this race as well. It is hard to hold a 3/1 ticket for more than seven months waiting for a grade, but the Astros have something that the Red Sox and Yankees do not – an easy path to the ALDS. The runner-up in the AL East will be forced into the Wild Card Game and immediately goes into the next round as a disadvantage, assuming disaster doesn’t strike in the one-game playoff.
Houston would be favored over Cleveland and could very well be favored over a Boston team or a New York team that has to burn Chris Sale or Luis Severino just to get to the ALDS.
Bonus Play: Minnesota Twins (+2500) – As far as long shots go, there really isn’t any value. The only reason the Twins are even considered here is that it is a joke that the White Sox are lined at +2000 and the Twins are +2500. The second Wild Card spot looks like a three-horse race between the Rays, A’s, and Twins. The A’s and Twins should have the luxury of weaker divisions, but I think the A’s just might be the best team of the bunch. They’re at +1400, though.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Twins go out and grab somebody like a Robbie Ray or a Cole Hamels type, if the Cubs are struggling, during the season in an effort to bolster the rotation and there will be a lot of bullpen arms available.
This isn’t a futures ticket I’d be thrilled to hold, but there is equity relative to the other Wild Card hopefuls and with the outlandish White Sox price.
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