When the 2019 MLB season got underway, the AL Central division was expected to be Cleveland’s to lose. For the last three seasons, they had won the division with ease. Despite trimming the roster a bit in the offseason to lower the payroll, they were expected to win it again this year.
But then things didn’t go as planned. The Indians struggled out of the gate while the Minnesota Twins thrived. It took a few weeks, but eventually, the odds to win the division got longer for the Indians and shorter for the Twins.
Around mid-May, the Twins became the division favorite while the Indians odds were just second best (the rest of the division was struggling). On June 26, the Twins essentially owned the division at -5000 with the Indians trailing far back at +900.
With how both teams were playing, it appeared to be foolhardy to even think about betting on the Indians. At the end of May, they were 28-29. Their odds to win the AL were up to +1800. Their World Series odds were over +3000. It did not look pretty.
At their highest, the Indians division odds got up to +1000 (as of June 14), their AL pennant odds +1900 (June 13), and their World Series odds got up to +3800 (July 3). But their odds now appear to be trending in the other direction.
As of July 20, the Indians odds (at Bovada.lv) to win the World Series were +1800, +800 to win the AL pennant, and +200 to win the AL Central.
Shorter odds, of course, mean the team has been playing better, and they have. On June 14, with a win over the Tigers, they improved to 35-33. At the All-Star break, they were riding a six-game winning streak that saw their record improve to 50-38.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the Royals, they were riding another six-game winning streak and had a record of 56-40.
So—time to jump on the Cleveland Indians bandwagon?
The competition is still going to be pretty tough for them to win the AL or the World Series. While they are playing better baseball, it remains to be seen if they are good enough to beat the Astros or Yankees in the AL or the Dodgers in the World Series.
Their bullpen is looking great (3.28 ERA; lowest in baseball). But they could use some better work from their starters (4.20 ERA). But while their offense has been on fire in July (87 runs scored and a .310 BA through July 19), it has not been good throughout the whole season (20th in runs scored with 444; 20th in batting average as well at .248).
About that bandwagon?
Don’t put too much stock in them winning the AL or World Series. They are looking better, but without some consistency from the offense and better games by their starting pitchers, they are not going to make it past Houston or New York.
They could, however, make it past the Twins and win the AL Central.
Minnesota has been the breakout team of the year, but they have also been slowing down the last couple of months. Through May they were 38-18 but since then have gone 21-19. They are still hitting well, and their pitching has been good; just not as good as it was while much of the competition has been getting better.
So, while the AL Central is far from won (they are still three games back as of July 19), it is looking good for the Indians in the division.