AL Central Futures Betting Update
In last year’s shortened season where we saw only saw 60 games in the MLB, the AL Central race was the closest. The Minnesota Twins came out on top, one game ahead of both the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.
Coming into the season, the White Sox were chosen by many sportsbooks as the favorite to win their first division title since the 2008 season. They were listed as -146 favorites prior to Opening Day of the 2021 season, and have since proven why they are the favorites in this division.
After nearly 3 months of play, the White Sox find themselves with a 2.5 game lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians, and one of the best records in baseball at 46-32.
With a record of 42-33, the Cleveland Indians are the only team giving the White Sox any competition for AL Central crown. Remove the Indians and the White Sox hold a 12.5 game lead over the next team.
Let’s take an updated look at each team’s odds and chances. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Chicago White Sox (-670)
Spearheaded by one of the better starting rotations in baseball, the Chicago White Sox have lived up to their preseason expectations as the favorites in the AL Central as the best team in the division so far.
No pitching rotation besides the New York Mets has allowed fewer runs than this White Sox rotation. Both Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn are putting together stellar seasons, and Lucas Giolitio and Dylan Cease have been great and consistent contributors.
They also round off the rotation with a veteran member in Dallas Kuechel who has done his part and role effectively.
While the pitching has been the key, the White Sox can hit the ball well too.
They hold the league’s 5th best team batting average, 4th best on-base percentage, and are top 10 in OPS and runs scored.
Led by consistent players such as Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson, their bats provide just the right amount of support for this stellar pitching staff.
What could be worrying to betters is the White Sox have not been successful in extendeding their division lead in the past month.
Cleveland Indians (+400)
The Indians are the only team that has a real shot at catching the White Sox for this division lead.
They sit only 2.5 games back, and with their most current odds hovering around +300 – 400 as they change daily, they may be the best team to back with your money.
The Indians have seen some key pieces leave their organization recently, but they still hold reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
While he has not produced at the same level as last year, he has been admirable, ranking top 40 in WHIP (1.245) and nearing the top 20 in ERA (3.28).
Bieber, along with the recent great performances from right-handed pitcher Aaron Civale and third baseman Jose Ramirez (5th in AL MVP odds) will keep the Indians in this race for the time being.
Kansas City Royals (+3300)
We are only on the third team in this division, and we have already reached the longshot bets for the division title.
A jump in odds from second place to the nearly tied for third-place teams of +400, all the way to +3300 is amazing, but that’s how little faith oddsmakers at DraftKings have in the Kansas City Royals.
And that lack of faith makes sense. They sit 13 games back of the leading White Sox and have not shown much of a reason on why they can come back.
Their team batting average does fall within the top 10 in the MLB, but they have failed to score runs, finding themselves with the 8th fewest runs scored in the leagues.
And with a pitching staff that surrenders the 7th most runs in the league, you don’t have a winning formula.
Salvador Perez, Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana, and Whit Merrifield have all contributed well from the plate so far this season, but the lack of consistent pitching from their rotation and bullpen has held them back.
Minnesota Twins (+4000)
Sitting 12.5 games back of the White Sox, the Twins actually find themselves ahead of the Kansas City Royals and tied with the Detroit Tigers for 3rd in the division race.
After winning the AL Central in back-to-back years, Minnesota has been an absolute disappointment to the MLB through the first 3 months.
The Twins opened up the season at +145 in AL Central odds and have found no traction this season, and find themselves sitting tied with the Tigers.
Pitchers J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker, both of whom were added in free agency this year, have not done their part in pushing this Twins team to the top of the division.
Their pitching staff has allowed the 4th most runs in the MLB through June 29th, and the second-most home runs of any team in the Majors.
The Twins’ outlook on this season and the future do not look great as Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Nelson Cruz are all reaching the end of their careers.
Detroit Tigers (+15000)
Miraculously, the Detroit Tigers find themselves sitting tied for third in this division because of the terrible play of both the Royals and Twins.
Yet, oddsmakers have their odds as the worst in the division and that should come as no surprise.
They lack the consistent talent to keep up with any team in this division. Young pitchers Casey Mize and Matthew Boyd have been strong atop their rotation, and Matt Manning has reached the MLB.
Manning, the 18th rated prospect according to the MLB pipeline, has not been strong in his first 3 appearances, but a future of Manning, Mize, Boyd, and a surging Tarik Skubal could be a great rotation in the works for the Tigers in the near future.