Mar. 12, 2021
AL Central Betting Odds & Forecast
AL Central Betting Odds & Forecast
2021 AL Central Division Odds
No 60-game schedule this year means that the random luck aspect of any play on the Royals or Tigers to win the division is completely gone as well, making the AL Central a three-team race tops.
Cleveland selling off some of their best players in the offseason might have many seeing this division as just a two-team race between Chicago and Minnesota, and that does make a lot of sense.
It will be the AL division where pitching and defense will be more influential on a nightly basis then in other divisions, and Cleveland's still a team that's comfortable winning 5-3 type games.
Not sure they'll have enough to get past both Minnesota and Chicago to win the Central, which does leave the door open on the debate between Chicago and Minnesota.
All three of those teams finished within a game of one another in the AL Central standings last year, and it is interesting to see Chicago being the organization expected to sustain it. It was Minnesota who went 101-61 in the 2019 season, and it was the Twins who finished ahead of the other two last year in the shortened campaign.
The three teams also played to near exactly dead even luck last year with the Twins 0, White Sox -1, and Indians 0 in their Pythagorean wins from that 60-game season. 2019 saw Cleveland be a dead even 0 in the luck department again, with Chicago finishing at +3 (off a 72-89 SU record) and Minnesota finishing at +4 (off a 101-61 SU record).
An extra “lucky” win in 2019 for the Twins when they were already nearly 30 games better than Chicago suggests to me that the two-time defending division champs probably should be priced as the favorite.
Grabbing the plus-money with Minnesota is the direction it'd be near impossible to talk me out of for this futures prop.
2021 American League Pennant Odds
Chicago's really getting plenty of respect in these futures as you'll see with the list of names for the individual awards, as well as other things like win totals and playoff yes/no props that can be rather suggestive in painting a perspective.
The White Sox may have the reigning MVP in Abreu, and six of the top seven AL MVP odds for players from this division this year are White Sox players, but I can't agree with Chicago being the 2nd favorite behind the Yankees in the American League by this wide of a margin. New York's at +230, Chicago's +380, and the next team is Minnesota at +750.
I'm not sure I agree with the Twins being priced as the 3rd favorite either, but that only furthers the argument that neither Chicago nor Minnesota are really on the radar for AL Pennant prices right now.
Kansas City and Detroit would need a season for the ages to get all the way to the World Series, and Detroit's best angle this year is the stated goal to get Miguel Cabrera to 500 HR's and 3,000 hits might make them an 'over' bettor's dream.
Which leaves Cleveland as probably the best value play from this division to represent the American League in the 2021 World Series, although that's still a rather big ask. Cleveland would need a dominant season from their pitching staff the entire way, with timely hitting and health carrying the offensive needs.
The price is right to entertain some Cleveland thoughts, but even with a great year ending in a division title, Cleveland's pitching staff will still have to go through likely AL East and AL West powerhouses who are built to win with the bats. Asking the staff to hold up for multiple series like that and winning 4-3 games is going to be tough.
AL MVP Jose Abreu (R) and the White Sox look for a division title after a playoff appearance in 2020. (AP)
2021 World Series Odds
This is where putting White Sox and/or Twins futures in your pocket probably makes the most sense if you want to call it that. Chicago and Minnesota are still priced as the 2nd and 3rd best team in the American League in this market, but that's where they were in the AL Pennant odds as well.
Asking them to win just one more series (albeit against the best from the National League this year) for better than double the price on both of them to just win the pennant, the payoff is there to take on added risk.
Theoretically, the teams that come into a season that are expected to be 2nd and 3rd best in the American League have to be considered as strong contenders to make the World Series to begin with.
If one of these two teams ends up getting there and playing up to that market expectation, with bettors who agree with this market perspective at a bare minimum, (likely believing the Twins or White Sox are still undervalued/rated) will be sitting awfully pretty if a preseason World Series future ticket at those prices gets there in the fall.
2021 AL Central Win Totals Odds
Like the other divisions in the American League, the best way to get involved with any of the projected bottom feeders is with the over/under option on season wins. The respective win percentages fro the Royals (.433) and Tigers (.397) last year extrapolate out to about 70 and 65 wins respectively, putting KC and Detroit still under their numbers.
That strategy would have you running into some issues with the other three teams though, as they all were so close with their win percentage numbers (Minnesota .600, Cleveland and Chicago at .583) that the easy answer would be to play the 'overs' in all three cases.
Could it turn out that way in the AL Central? Sure, the White Sox, Royals, and Indians could all beat up on the other two squads and trade games with one another relative to their projections and Chicago, Minnesota, and Cleveland could all cash win total 'overs.'
But banking on it happening before the season begins is something too tough to significantly get behind.
Meaning the opinion a bettor has on the 2021 Cleveland Indians is likely going to color how they tend to see the rest of the division. Should a decline be swift and steep for Cleveland this year, the two teams above them are likely cashing 'over' tickets as is one team below the Indians.
If Cleveland's demise is greatly exaggerated for some, then an Indians 'over' bet has to be fired on , as 82 wins is basically a .500 season. It means shifting to the 'under' on one of the White Sox/Twins in all likelihood, and seeing one of those two basement dwellers cash an 'under' ticket as well.
Overall, it does make the win total props in this division tough to break down, because it's always going to be colored by individual perspectives on multiple teams. And most of those perspectives (good and bad) have plenty of value points behind them.
2021 AL Central Playoff Props
Because I do believe there is such a wide range of outcomes for all three of the teams expected to be at the top in this division (and from the two expected to be at the bottom as well), there are only two of these playoff props that would be somewhat appealing: Cleveland on the Yes at +230 and Chicago on the No at +210.
It's understandable that it's hard to figure a team with the reigning MVP like Chicago could lay an egg for the entire season, but making the playoffs with a reigning AL MVP on your team has only happened once the past few years.
All of Trout's recent MVP wins haven't translated into playoff berths the following year for LA, and a year after Mookie Betts won the 2018 award in Boston was packing up for winter after Game 162 and hatched ideas of moving on from Betts entirely.
The White Sox have done everything right on paper which is probably why the idea of their 36-24 season last year not being considered “fluky” never really comes up.
They are built on both sides of the diamond to dominate this division, but who knows how dark the timeline gets for Chicago in 2021, and if something like injuries start a derail of their season. It's not like it would be the first time an expected World Series contender comes nowhere close to that expectation in the end.
Cleveland on the Yes would be forcing my hand into siding with the idea that the Indians demise may not arrive just yet. Hell, the organization said they'd get rid of the nickname for obvious reasons, but then get to keep it for another year.
Maybe that's how the play goes on the field for the 2021 Indians, as their pitching staff continues to mow down everyone, the timely hits with runners in scoring position continues as it did when Lindor was in town and often the catalyst for those types of rallies, and the demise of the Indians in the AL Central standings is like their nickname and still at least a year from being fully realized.
Not suggesting that happens, but to fully get behind a 'Yes' wager on Cleveland to make the playoffs, there should probably be some belief that Cleveland will being playing that type of baseball for the majority of the days each week.
2020 AL Central MVP Contenders
Any 'Yes' on Cleveland's playoff prop should probably have some correlation with adding a Jose Ramirez MVP futures play to the portfolio as well.
There are a lot of ways Cleveland can sneak into the playoffs without a MVP performance from Ramirez, but the high end of the Indians range in 2021 ends with a division title, likely threatening 100 wins, and either a MVP or Cy Young award winner in their locker room.
Ramirez doesn't get listed with much better odds than two thirds of Chicago's lineup that follows without having a legitimate path there. A great season from Cleveland likely leaves little options for who is their MVP.
The favored White Sox could have any one of a number of guys be their best player for the season in their high end ranges for results, and it makes picking a name from their list hard as well.
With all the offensive firepower teams in other divisions in the American League have, any offensive player from the AL Central might always be a little bit overlooked. Abreu wasn't last year, but that came after six straight years of the AL MVP coming from a different American League division.
A pitcher from the AL Central listed way down the board is always a way to go for AL Central selections, but the key to success for any of the three teams expected to be at the top of this division is going to be overall balance. Balance doesn't help in the MVP voting process.
2021 AL Central Cy Young Contenders
No American League Cy Young winner has won the award in consecutive years since Pedro Martinez did it in 1999 and 2000. That doesn't bode well for Shane Bieber at the top of this list, but again, any highly positive outlook on Cleveland has to include Bieber having a big part in that success.
The price is probably what should keep bettors away from backing a guy trying to be the first to repeat in 20 years, and it's going to be harder to give him credit if his team finishes 3rd again in a full 162-game slate. The cases for others around him on better teams will always be there.
There are also only nine names for the entire American League priced at +2000 or lower right now, and to have five of them come from this division does give choice to the bettor.
You do probably have to have a guy from the division winner in this division to have the best shot at connecting with the selection, and that leads us back to all the previous questions that have been asked on the differing perspectives of where many can see Cleveland, Minnesota, and Chicago finishing this year.
But for the same reason it makes sense to avoid AL Central hitters for the MVP with all the sluggers elsewhere, it makes sense to hone in on pitchers from the AL Central for the Cy Young award if overall hitting/scoring is going to be relatively lower in this division compared to the others.
2021 American League Central Predictions
Best Bet/Value on AL Central Division Winner
Best Bet: Minnesota (+150)
Best Bet/Value on American League Pennant Winner
Best Value: Cleveland (+2000)
Best Bet/Value for World Series Winner
Best Value: Minnesota (+2000)
Best Bets/Value for AL Central Win Totals
Best Over: Minnesota (88.5)
Best Under: Kansas City (72.5)
Best Bet/Value for Yes/No in the 2021 MLB Playoffs
Best Bet: Cleveland - Yes (+230)
Best Bets/Value for Individual Awards
Best Bet MVP: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland (+1200)
Best Value Cy Young: Kenta Maeda, Minnesota (+2000)
American League Central Betting History
Year - Winner (Last 10)
Odds Subject to Change - per BetMGM