A third of the 2011 MLB regular season is in the books and we now have a good idea of which teams are legitimate contenders for this season’s American League Pennant. This is not to say that a team like Minnesota, which is currently 17-35 and after starting the season as one of the favorites, cannot turn things around, but right now the odds are stacked against it.
The trick at this juncture is to try and sniff out the value in the future odds for the teams that do have the ability to keep things going over the next four months and straight into the postseason. Bodog.com still has Boston as the odds-on-favorite at 9/4 to win the AL Pennant. After a very shaky start, the Red Sox have returned to form and are currently 30-24 and right in the thick of the AL East race. The problem with sticking with Boston as the frontrunner as been the level of play throughout the rest of its division. Baltimore is in last place and just five games out of first at 24-28. All five teams will not stay in the race through the long, hot summer but this is easily the most competitive division in baseball which works against the Red Sox chances.
The second favorite to win the AL Pennant is New York at 13/4. This is pretty much the same scenario as Boston as these two teams along with Tampa Bay will most likely have to battle each other to the bitter end to come away with not only the AL East title, but the Wildcard spot as well. The Yankees are 29-23 and while they have shown their age at times this season, still have enough firepower and pitching arms to make a deep run. The main thing you have to worry about this team is its ability to stay healthy enough to compete at a high level over the course of the next 100+ games.
Texas is once again on top of the AL West with a record of 29-25, but by just a game ahead of Los Angeles with Seattle and Oakland lurking in the shadows. The Rangers are the third favorite at 7/1 to win the AL and one of the few that have enough talent to repeat as champions. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are back in the lineup and the Rangers’ team ERA of 3.68 is sixth-best in the league. They also face some stiff competition within the division and lose a bit of value in their current odds given that the Wildcard will most likely come out of the East.
Speaking of wildcards, it is hard to know what to make out of the upstart Cleveland Indians who started the season at 100/1 to win the American League. They currently have the best record in the AL at 31-20 and are ranked eighth in the league in pitching with a team ERA of 3.80, fifth in hitting with a .259 team batting average, and sixth in runs scored with 243. Cleveland has the largest division lead in baseball with a five-game spread between Detroit and itself. The problem with this team is its odds are down to just 8/1 to win the pennant, which means you have to have some serious faith it can keep things going all season long to extract any value out of its odds.
If you are looking for a few teams to take a flyer on there is still some solid value with the Tigers and Angels at 14/1 as these two appear poised to make a move if the teams ahead of them start to fade. In the case of the Twins, who started the season as the third favorite at 8/1 to win the AL, they currently have the longest odds along with the Orioles at 60/1.