The American League Central has long been known for its parity, as it’s seemed like the division has been up for grabs at the start of every season over the years. With the emergence of the Cleveland Indians, those days appear to be over.
Want some proof? The Tribe are heavy -400 chalk to win the Central at Bovada, while the Detroit Tigers (+550), Kansas City Royals (+675), Chicago White Sox (+2500) and Minnesota Twins (+2800) are also available to wager on.
Cleveland will be looking to build off an extremely strong 2016 campaign with a heartbreaking finish, as the Indians were one inning away from winning the World Series. As everyone knows by now, the Indians held a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic before collapsing and letting the Chicago Cubs rattle off three consecutive wins en route to their first championship since 1908.
Don’t expect this team to dwell on the past, though. The front office added the most sought-after hitter on the market in free agency by signing ex-Toronto Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion, while reliever Boone Logan, outfielder Austin Jackson, first baseman Chris Colabello, outfielder Wily Mo Pena and reliever Carlos Frias have also joined the squad. If the Indians don’t claim the Central this season, it will be a major surprise.
According to the shop, the Tigers and Royals are the only other clubs with a realistic shot of catching Cleveland. Kansas City suffered a major World Series hangover in 2016, finishing on the outside of the postseason with an 81-81 record. The Royals’ contending window hasn’t closed yet, but they’ll need to put forth a much better effort this season if they want to convince the rest of the league they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
The Tigers seem to be consistently in the mix, but they haven’t reached the playoffs since 2014 and are no longer the top dogs in the division. If the Indians fail to copy last year’s success, look for the Motor City Kitties to be near the top of the standings once again.
|Kansas City Royals||+675|
|Chicago White Sox||+2500|
Odds as of February 28 at Bovada
After their 14-game winning streak, the Cleveland Indians have become the overwhelming -500 favorites to win the AL Central as they currently sit 6.5 games up on the Detroit Tigers for first place in their division.
The Tribe have everything going right now and have been the beneficiary of one of the best collective pitching staffs in the entire league. They entered the all-star break on a mini skid but expect them to extend their lead in the AL Central after the break when they welcome back all-star outfielder Michael Brantley.
The White Sox have fallen off significantly since their blistering start and now sit in third place in the division two games above .500. They are still getting excellent pitching from the likes of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana but their offense has fallen off a cliff.
Kansas City is falling out of the race to defend their World Series title as they just cannot win on the road this year. They too are a couple games above the .500 mark but have an absolutely dismal 16-30 record away from Kauffman Stadium. Their +800 odds seem like a massive long shot at this point.
Detroit is pretty much where experts predicted they would be at this point. They sit 6.5 games back of the Indians in the AL Central but have not gotten the starting pitching to allow them to win on a consistent basis. Look for the Tigers to be in the trade market for a serviceable starting pitcher to bolster their playoff hopes.
|Kansas City Royals||+800|
|Chicago White Sox||+900|
Odds as of July 11 at Bovada
The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a rocky start to the 2016 MLB campaign, the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals are once again the favorites to win the American League Central.
At Bovada, the Royals are +175 faves to win the division. Cleveland (+190), Chicago (+240) and Detroit (+550) are behind them in odds lists. The lowly Minnesota Twins, who were sitting with an ugly 15-37 record as of June 2, were not available to bet on at the shop.
Perhaps you could call it a championship hangover, but K.C. simply wasn’t looking like itself to open the season. Thanks to strong performances across the board, however, they have since leapfrogged the White Sox.
Speaking of the ChiSox, it’s been a tale of two months in the Windy City. Chicago got off to a red-hot 23-10 start but proceeded to lose 15 of their next 19 games.
The Indians haven’t blown people away but are right in the mix at 27-24 as of early June. The Tribe are looking like the squad that is most likely to challenge the Royals, which means sports bettors would be wise to back them sooner rather than later if they can surpass Kansas City.
|Kansas City Royals||+175|
|Chicago White Sox||+240|
Odds as of June 2 at Bovada
The most exciting division in Major League Baseball through the first month of the season has easily been the American League Central. Four teams remain in the hunt for the crown, which means odds are wide open at sportsbooks.
The Chicago White Sox were the odds-on favorites as of May 3 at +175, while the Kansas City Royals (+200), Detroit Tigers (+300) and Cleveland Indians (+400) are close behind them. The Minnesota Twins are well back at +5000.
The ChiSox owned the top record in the American League as of May 3 at 18-8 — a start that many pundits did not see coming. Chicago made headlines in Spring Training due to a wave of clubhouse-related drama, however, they’ve clearly put that in the past already.
What do you think — will the White Sox keep it up, or will another squad come out on top? Let us know in the comment section.
|Chicago White Sox||+175|
|Kansas City Royals||+200|
Odds as of May 3 at Bovada
The Kansas City Royals won the American League Central Division by 12 games last season, but it won’t be a walk in the park for the reigning World Series champions to complete the task again this year. The Central is the deepest it’s been in quite some time, and bettors looking for value would be wise to consider the division in MLB futures markets.
At Bovada, the Royals have a +120 shot to win the Central. Fresh off its second-straight appearance in the Fall Classic, K.C. got the job done in the form of a 4-1 series victory over the New York Mets. The Royals lack pitching depth in the starting rotation, but their bullpen remains the best in baseball and they’ve proven time and time again they can get by just fine without having a litany of dominant starters at their disposal.
Chemistry is something that isn’t measured on paper, and this team scores an A+ in that department. Some may expect the Royals to regress, but they haven’t given us any reason to count them out so far.
The Cleveland Indians finished a game above .500 last year (81-80) in a campaign where many projected them to be a dark horse World Series contender. Led by one of the best pitching staffs in the league, the Tribe figured to be in the mix in the jumbled AL Central and have the second best odds at Bovada (+250) to claim the division title.
Seeing Detroit at +400 may raise some eyebrows for casual baseball fans, but the truth is the Tigers had been declining even before bottoming out last year at 74-87. Signing ex-Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a decent five-year contract helps, however, an aging roster mixed with a perennially unreliable bullpen could spell an up-and-down season in the Motor City.
The Chicago White Sox (+600) are a much different looking squad from last year and it’s hard to prognosticate how the newly assembled group will perform. They’ve still got one of the best pitchers in the league in Chris Sale, and a revamped infield that features Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie will provide a spark on offense. The South Siders could be great or flame out again after a forgettable 2015 season, which means sports bettors should approach this team with caution.
Just who are the Minnesota Twins? The Twinkies made a surprising playoff push in 2015 that saw them finish three games out of a Wild Card spot, but they were in the hunt until the final weekend before ending the season with a 83-79 record. It appears oddsmakers aren’t expecting much from the Twins this year, as they’re currently +800 long shots to win the Central at the shop. The roster doesn’t feature many spectacular names, but if the lineup’s many young players can take the next step and the pitching depth holds up, this team could easily surprise again.
Who are you picking to win the division? Let us know in the comment section below.
|Kansas City Royals||+120|
|Chicago White Sox||+600|
Odds as of March 28 at Bovada
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