Updated AL Pennant Futures are always fun to watch as the season goes along. Betting markets are very reactionary and we’ve had a lot of data points so far this season. All of the top teams in the AL have struggled at one time or another, but status quo seems to be coming around in the Junior Circuit as most of the preseason favorites are listed at the shortest prices.
The only major disappointment is the Minnesota Twins. The Twins were supposed to be the main challenger to the Chicago White Sox, but they don’t even look like a challenger for the Wild Card at this point.
The odds are what they are, but we can talk more about betting strategy at this point in time because we’ve gotten an idea of what things look like in the American League and it doesn’t seem like any major changes are in store, even though we’ve yet to reach the All-Star Break.
Checking in on these numbers for potential value is always a good idea, especially if you have some pre-existing futures from before the season. You don’t have to wait until the playoffs start to make a hedge bet. You can do that as the season is going along.
For example, if you took the Tampa Bay Rays before the season at a better price than they are now, perhaps it is a good time to take the New York Yankees at a better price now than what we saw before the season, especially if you don’t believe in the Boston Red Sox or Toronto Blue Jays.
2021 AL Pennant Futures
AL Pennant Pick & Prediction
With the current prices that are on the board, there is one that stands out and another that looks pretty good. It is probably in your best interest to stay away from the AL East. The Yankees still have the shortest odds of any team in that division, but the offense has not yet come around. If it does, they’ll be in good shape, but we haven’t really seen any indication that it will.
The Rays were expected to be a pretty strong team in the division from the jump and they could get some bullpen help as the season goes along to aid the cause. They’ve continued to hit well on the road and win low-scoring games at home. They’ll be in it for the long haul.
The Red Sox pitching staff has been one of the biggest surprises of the season to this point. That is a group likely to regress, not because of anything that the pitchers have done wrong, but simply because the talent level isn’t high enough to sustain this over a full season.
The Blue Jays are still a highly dangerous team as well.
Who are the picks to make at this point?
Chicago White Sox (+275)
Yes, the Chicago White Sox are the favorites. Yes, the White Sox were available at a better price in March. However, we now know that the Minnesota Twins are an afterthought in the division and we have plenty of data points and confirmation that the Cleveland Indians are a horrendous offensive team.
The Indians are performing on really thin margins right now and all of the alternate standings metrics suggest that the team is much worse than what we’ve seen from a wins and losses standpoint.
The reality is that the White Sox have no challengers in the division. If one pops up, they’ll be a Wild Card team. At this point, the White Sox are not guaranteed to make the playoffs, but FanGraphs and some other sites have their chances around 85% to get a spot and 80% to win the division and avoid that Wild Card play-in game.
Houston Astros (+750)
Hopefully you took this one when it was suggested at +900. The Astros still look like the class of the AL West. They’ve played very well in the head-to-head meetings against the Oakland Athletics and Houston has one of the best offenses in baseball.
This is a two-horse race, so, in theory, you could take either one of these teams, depending on the one that you prefer. None of the other teams in this division have a shot at winning it. Unfortunately, there will probably only be one playoff berth up for grabs between the two teams because the AL East could very well end up with both Wild Card teams.
Either way, the Astros or the A’s still make sense, but Houston probably has the higher ceiling come playoff time.
Tracking the Odds to Win the American League Pennant
As mentioned, status quo is coming around in the American League after a little bit of a quirky start to the season. The only one of the potential playoff teams that has fallen far off of the pace is the Minnesota Twins, who are now sitting at 40/1. They simply have too much ground to make up and have not won a playoff series since the W Administration, so they weren’t that popular of a bet anyway.
The White Sox have moved up the board because they are good, but also because they have no legitimate challengers in the division. Avoiding the one-game Wild Card Playoff should be the goal of a Pennant futures bet if possible because anything can happen in that game. A -300 favorite can lose on any given night and a big favorite could lose in that game, too.
As a result, you want to look to pick a division winner. Because the White Sox are so likely to win the division, they are correctly priced as the favorite.
It is a bit interesting that Oakland’s price has virtually stayed the same when Houston’s has slightly gone down and the other teams in the division have proven to be bad. The winner of that division has a free pass to the ALDS, so that is a nice perk.
Boston is the only team whose futures price has significantly dropped. They’ve gone from +2200 down to +900 in the crowded AL East. Toronto’s has fallen a bit, but that number was too high to begin with. It felt like Boston was priced accurately as the fourth choice in the East to win the Pennant, but the Red Sox have been much better than expected to this point.