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AL Central Picks

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Can the Tigers stay on top of the AL Central?

Last year the Detroit Tigers almost choked away a big division lead down the stretch to the White Sox in the AL Central, but by all accounts, many don’t expect that to happen again this year. Detroit is the massive favorite (-350) to claim this division crown and it’s tough to dispute they won’t.

AL Central odds: Detroit (-350); Cleveland (+750); Chicago (+800); KC (+1000); Minnesota (+4000)
If Detroit is to be had this year it will be their lack of depth that will expose them. The struggled at times when one of the “Big 2” Cabrera or Fielder weren’t hitting and their pitching rotation is full of question marks behind Justin Verlander. These holes were exposed in the playoffs on multiple occasions as the Oakland A’s would have beaten Detroit in the first round if they didn’t lose to Verlander twice, and San Francisco got by the big ace in Game 1 and their confidence exploded from there.

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The fact that Detroit finished with the 7th best record in the AL last year tells you how weak this division was and how suspect Detroit’s success was. Although they could easily walk away with another division crown, the -350 price makes them non-bettable.

Minnesota at +4000 isn’t worth a consideration either as this team not only lacks depth, they simply don’t have the talent across the board to remain competitive. Twins fans might have undeniable support for their team, but winning the AL Central this year is nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.

Chicago (+800) and KC (+1000) are interesting teams, especially the Royals who made some key acquisitions this winter. They have been stock-piling young talent for years and will be a contender soon enough. Whether that is in 2013 remains to be seen, but I don’t think you can discount a flyer bet of 0.25 or 0.5 of a unit on KC at this price.

Chicago gave the Tigers a run for their money last year but I don’t think they will be able to repeat that in 2013. They live and die by the long ball and with their division rivals beefing up their pitching staffs (KC, Cleveland), Chicago won’t be able to win games solely with power. The loss of longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski will hurt this team in so many intangible ways as well that it will take the first half of the year for this team to understand who they are. By then the White Sox will be in too deep of a hole to get out of.

That leaves the Cleveland Indians (+750) who made numerous big splashes in the free agency market this winter and seemed primed to compete. This was a team that was in the hunt until the All-Star break and an absolutely horrific 2nd half killed their chances. They added veteran leadership across the board and it starts with manager Terry Francona. Francona is a proven winner in this sport and with a nice mixture of proven vets (Swisher, Bourn) and upcoming sluggers (Cabrera, Santanta) this team has the makeup of a true division contender.

At +750, there is too much value to pass up on the Indians here.

  
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