Division futures pricing is always so interesting to me, especially when you compare with the season win total odds. The Chicago White Sox are a minus price as the favorite to win the American League Central Division. When you look at the global openers from WynnBET, the White Sox were lined at 91.5 wins and the Minnesota Twins were lined at 90 wins.
For the more widely-publicized openers from Superbook Sports, the White Sox came out at 89.5 and the Twins at 88.5. A difference of one win, yet we see the Twins priced upwards of +175 and the White Sox priced as the chalk favorite. It is entirely possible that the 19 head-to-head meetings between the two teams decide the fate of the AL Central. The Cleveland Indians may very well have the best starting rotation in the American League, but getting into the 90s with a subpar offense is not an easy task.
The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals won’t factor into the equation at all. It is interesting to see both teams lined at the same price, even though Kansas City’s win total is a few games higher, but you’re not going to find much exposure for the books on these bottom-feeder teams and they’d love to encourage any and all action possible on dead money tickets.
Odds To Win The AL Central
|Chicago White Sox||-143||-143|
|Kansas City Royals||+4000||+4000|
As mentioned, the White Sox are the favorite to win the AL Central. They did not do it in the 60-game season, but the Central Division did produce 50% of the playoff teams in the AL thanks to the expanded postseason. MLB will go back to five playoff teams in each league once again. It seems likely that the team that comes up short in this league will find its way into one of the Wild Card spots, but that doesn’t matter much for this futures wager.
Public perception plays such an enormous role in these futures markets. The White Sox made a big trade to acquire Lance Lynn, signed top free agent reliever Liam Hendriks, and also have the hot, up-and-coming lineup with guys like Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez. The Twins, meanwhile, did not do much of anything this winter. They signed Andrelton Simmons and added J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker to the back of the rotation. They signed Alex Colome to close.
The Indians? Well, they traded the face of their franchise in star shortstop Francisco Lindor and fan favorite and quality starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco also went to the New York Mets in that trade.
Here’s the thing. The Twins saw a massive drop-off on offense from 2019 to 2020. While it would be reasonably safe to assume that the White Sox would have overtaken the Twins over 162 games, they weren’t able to do it in the 60-game sprint and even finished tied with the Indians, who had a bottom-five offense with the best pitching staff in baseball.
Are the White Sox the best team in this division? Sure, I’d say so. However, the Twins and Indians are two of the absolute smartest organizations in baseball these days. The Twins weathered a storm of regression on offense to tie for the second-best record in the AL. They won the division in 2019. They are not some ruined team. Far from it.
The Indians still have the reigning Cy Young Award winner in Shane Bieber. Zach Plesac took a big leap last season and the expectation is that Aaron Civale or somebody else on the team will be the next to make that jump. The Indians went 35-25 with one of the worst offenses in baseball and Lindor was simply a league average offensive player within that group. The Indians offense could be better this season with a pitching staff that is similarly good.
In other words, there is no way I would lay the White Sox as a minus price. The Twins and Indians are two legitimate teams. While the Indians have a lower floor than the Twins, which is very much indicated in the price, a path to Cleveland winning the division is hardly unthinkable.
Maybe the White Sox do win it here. I’d rather put my money on the Twins or Indians. Chicago went 18-2 against Detroit and Kansas City. The Indians won eight of 10 against the White Sox with their pitching and the White Sox and Twins split 10 meetings, but the Twins were +12 in run differential. Those head-to-head games are likely to decide the outcome in this division.
If there was a two-way market of White Sox vs. The Field, I’d take the Field, so that means the Twins and Indians here. At +175, the Twins would be a bigger bet than the Indians at +650, but taking a small piece of each is not a bad idea.