If you believe the preseason projections from the experts, the American League is expected to be a hotly contested race in 2019. FanGraphs projections suggest that the top four teams in terms of wins will all come from the American League as the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians are all expected to have 94 or more wins.
Let’s take a closer look at each division to handicap the races while also adding in one regular season win total prediction:
American League East
The New York Yankees are coming off a disappointing season in which they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. With a healthy roster, along with the additions of ace James Paxton and reliever Adam Ottavino to an already-strong pitching staff, the Yankees feel like this is their year to win a ring.
New York is currently the favorite to win the AL East at +100, followed closely by Boston at +125 odds. The reigning World Series champions should be just as good as they were a year ago, although there is some mild concern about a bullpen that lost closer Craig Kimbrel and reliever Joe Kelly. In general, though, their roster returns in tact but as is the case with all World Series champs, some regression is expected the following year.
After the Yankees and Red Sox there isn’t much else left in the East. The Tampa Bay Rays are listed at +800 to win the division, followed by the Toronto Blue Jays at +2500 and the Baltimore Orioles at +10000 odds. The Rays could be a sleeper for a playoff spot but it’s hard to see them finishing about both the Yankees and the Red Sox. Neither the Jays or O’s will be challenging for a playoff spot this season.
American League Central
The Cleveland Indians won’t have to worry about a team as good as the Yankees or Red Sox competing with them in the AL Central. That’s the biggest reason why the Indians are expected to cruise to a division title. The Minnesota Twins aren’t ready to compete with the Indians while the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers are rebuilding. That’s evident by the prices as the White Sox are listed at +1400 odds, while the Tigers and Royals are +3300 odds. Minnesota is listed at +400 to win the Central, which isn’t terrible value. However, FanGraphs projections have them around the .500 range, which won’t be good enough to top the Indians.
American League West
While Cleveland seems like a lock to win its division at -350, the Houston Astros are even bigger favorites in their division at -500. Houston followed up its 2017 World Series title by registering 103 wins last year and making it to the ALCS. The Astros might be the most complete team in all of baseball as FanGraphs projections have them finishing with the 96 wins – the second-most in the majors.
Taking a look at the rest of the division, Mike Trout always gives the Los Angeles Angels a chance to contend for a Wild Card spot but this team is a few bricks short of a load. They are far off in the distance at +800 odds. The Oakland Athletics won 97 games last season but are also priced +800 as the assumption is that they’ll suffer through some regression. The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers are both considered afterthoughts to win their division at +2800 and +3300 odds respectively.
Win Total Pick: Toronto Blue Jays – Under 75.5 Wins
The Toronto Blue Jays are facing one of the shorter numbers on the board but this is a team that figures to have a very ugly season. They’re in full-on rebuilding mode, which is supposed to be highlighted by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. but he’s already out with an injury. Vlad Jr. is expected to miss parts of April – if not all of it.
This roster is slightly better than some other rebuilds we’ve seen but they could be stripped down to the barebones come July. Guys like Clay Buchholz, Marco Estrada and Matt Shoemaker could be shipped off to bolster contenders.
This team won 73 games last season and its hard to see how they’re any better this time around.
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