The New York Yankees are synonymous with excellence when it comes to baseball. But prior to last season’s division title, they had gone six seasons since their last division title (2012). Now that they are back on top and looking to win the World Series, every other team’s goal in their division will be the same.
Knock the Yankees off their pedestal.
But can anyone in the AL East do it? The oddsmakers at WilliamHill.com do not seem to think it will happen:
2020 American League East Odds:
- New York Yankees -300
- Tampa Bay Rays +340
- Boston Red Sox +1000
- Toronto Blue Jays +2500
- Baltimore Orioles +5000
Oddsmakers are not always right, though. Will that be the case this season?
First of all, just how good are the Yankees? They are currently tied with the Dodgers for the best odds to win the World Series (+400) and have the shortest odds to win the American League at +175. By adding Gerrit Cole to the rotation, one of baseball’s best rotations may have become the best.
As for their offense, they will not come close to last season’s home run total (306). But they will likely be one of the best power-hitting teams in the league once again.
But who can beat them?
It is safe to say that it will not be the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were one of the worst teams in baseball last season, and there is no reason to think they will be any better this season. Toronto is starting to gather a nice collection of young talent. But the Blue Jays are still a season or two away from being competitive.
That leaves the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
Expectations will be lower for Boston this year after the team decided to trade away Mookie Betts and David Price. Yes, the team still has some excellent hitters and solid pitching but appears to be counting on someone to step up and replace Betts’ production.
In the rotation, they will need to do more than just replace David Price with Chris Sale out for the season following Tommy John surgery. Doing so will certainly be easier said than done.
Tampa Bay does not have many (if any) household names on the roster. But they do have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, starters, and relievers—and they know how to get the most out of them. However, a team that was not strong offensively will not be any more potent this year after getting rid of one of their best hitters (Tommy Phan).
So—is it worth betting on anyone other than the Yankees to win the AL East?
The safe bet is, of course, on the Yankees. The lineup is too dangerous, and the rotation too good to ignore. It is hard to imagine anyone taking them down this season unless the injury bug bites them hard. However, if you are open to some risk, give the Rays some serious consideration.
Despite their offensive issues, they still had a +113 run differential last season and won 96 games, just six less than the Yankees. If they can find a little more pop from their bats, they could pull off the upset. But shop around and see if anyone is offering longer odds on them.
If you are going to take the risk, you might as well go after as much reward as you can.