The MLB All-Star break has arrived and after crossing the 90-game threshold, the Boston Red Sox own the best record in baseball and are the betting favorites to own the American League East Division in 2018.
Online sportsbook Bovada has the Red Sox listed as -130 faves followed by the New York Yankees at -115 with the odds increased dramatically for the Tampa Bay Rays at +60000 and the Toronto Blue Jays at +90000.
It’s clear this is a two-dog race between these hated rivals for the divisional crown so let’s break down each team’s first half and project how they’ll fare in the stretch run of the season before October baseball.
Boston Has Been “Straight Cash Homie”
With the best record in MLB at the halfway point of the season, bettors have been cashing in when the Red Sox take the field. Boston is 68-30 SU in 98 games and if you bet $100 on each game for the BoSox, you’d be up to $1633 which makes them the most profitable team in the majors. To put that in perspective, the next closest division leader is Philadelphia at $792.
One of the reasons for Boston’s profit margin is owning the best road record in MLB at 34-17 SU in 51 games as it went into the break surging at 17-3 SU in its last 20 games overall. Another factor that is paying dividends is they’re a very reliable runline bet as a favorite with records of 30-17 ATS in 47 games at Fenway Park and 29-22 ATS in 51 games on the road. Their next 10 games coming out of the break are against teams with records below .500 so look for this trend to continue until they host the Yankees again at beginning of August.
Yankees Can’t Be Dismissed with Trade Deadline Looming
Although the Yankees have the best bullpen ERA in MLB (2.69) that number jumps to 4.01 for their starters. Outside of ace Luis Severino, pitchers CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German and Sonny Gray all own ERAs over 3.50 with Gray owning the worst at an ugly 5.46 in 18 starts. Gray has been a disaster since being acquired from the A’s last season and was supposed to be a boost for a rotation that hasn’t had a significant signing since nabbing Tanaka in 2014.
This is why the upcoming trade deadline at the end of the month could see the Yanks as buyers to improve their starting five. JA Happ, Jacob DeGrom, and Andrew Heaney are just some of the hurlers the Yanks have been linked to and if they’re able to nab one or two pitchers, they cannot be overlooked to surge past an already dominant Red Sox squad.
Which Team Should You Wager on to Win AL East?
It’s kind of a coin flip at this stage because these teams are so evenly matched and still have 10 games left against each other. With the Sox having a 4.5-game lead, they clearly have the current edge in the standings but their strength of schedule could lead to some late-season struggles.
Boston has 33 games left against teams with winning records including series against the Indians, Phillies, Astros, and Braves whereas New York only has 22 games left. If I had to put my money down, it would be for the Red Sox but I wouldn’t feel great about it when you factor in the upcoming trade deadline and that New York may not be done tinkering with an already loaded roster.
|Boston Red Sox||-130|
|New York Yankees||-115|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+60000|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+90000|
Odds as of July 17 at Bovada
At about the 60-game mark of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, a unique development is unfolding in the always ultra-competitive AL East, as the Yankees and Red Sox will enter the week as the best two teams in baseball. Despite trailing the Red Sox by a game in the standings, the Yankees are a -140 favorite to take the division with the Red Sox at -120.
Unlike other pro sports leagues, the penalty for getting into the playoffs as a non-division winner in MLB is severe as one of these teams will likely be forced into playing a one-game wild-card playoff game while the division winner will gain an automatic berth into the divisional round.
With the division likely to be settled by the slimmest of margins, here’s some things to consider before placing your AL East futures bet:
The case for the Yankees:
It’s close, but the Yankees have an easier schedule than the Red Sox do for the rest of the regular season as their remaining opponents have a combined win percentage of .477 while Boston’s remaining opponents are at .484. Could a difference of .007 really be enough to settle the division? When playoff spots are often determined by a game or two, you’re damn right it could.
The Yankees have the best offense in baseball as they lead the league in runs per game, home runs and OPS. As a result, it’s rare that they’re out of a game, which makes them hard to finish off even if they’re let down by their pitching.
Speaking of that pitching, in particular their not-so-reliable starting rotation, the Yankees are reportedly all-in on adding a big-time starting pitcher to their rotation prior to the trade deadline. That worked out pretty well for the Astros last season, didn’t it?
The case for the Red Sox:
It might not seem like much, but the Red Sox have played three fewer home games than the Yankees so far this season. Considering how well they’ve played at home — 20-8 with a league-best 6.21 runs per game — having a few extra home games could be massive.
Another edge the Red Sox have is in the pitching department — both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Their bullpen, especially, has been dominant with the third-fewest blown saves in the league (the Yankees have three more blown saves than Boston) and ranks second in save percentage (the Yankees rank 15th).
I’m taking the better value and betting on the Red Sox. It’s very close, but I think those extra home games for Boston could be the difference. The Yankees are expected to add a quality arm to their rotation before the trade deadline, but nothing is guaranteed. As a result, I think the Red Sox are more well-rounded.
The amazing thing for us fans and bettors is that we get to sit back and watch these teams play 13 more games against each other this season, including six games in mid- to late September. With seven of those games in Boston, that could be another tiny edge to help put the Red Sox over the top.
|New York Yankees||-140|
|Boston Red Sox||-120|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+6600|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+20000|
Odds as of June 4 at Bovada
The American League East is shaping up again to be the most competitive division in the AL. With two of baseball’s major markets competing for the top spot, it’s no wonder that teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will back up the Brinks truck and try to retool each offseason to own the AL East crown.
Online sportsbook Bovada has released AL East divisional odds for bettors to cash in on. Below is a team-by-team breakdown to see which club deserves your hard-earned dollars and which ones aren’t worth a pinch of pine tar.
New York Yankees -140
The Yankees finished two games back of Boston for the division lead with 91 wins last season.
After a few years of building up their farm system and developing within, the Yankees took a page out of the Evil Empire playbook and traded for reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Pairing Stanton with Aaron Judge has not only made New York the favorite to win the AL East but also one of the favorites to win the World Series.
The Yankees finished two games back of Boston for the division lead with 91 wins last season and made it all the way to the ALCS as a wild card.
New York didn’t really lose any of its key players and hired Aaron Boone to replace Joe Girardi as manager. On paper, this team is a juggernaut.
Boston Red Sox +130
Despite winning 93 games, the vibe of the 2017 Boston Red Sox was one of underachievement. Boston was searching to fill the David Ortiz-sized hole in its lineup but may have found the answer by signing power hitter J.D. Martinez to suit up at Fenway Park. Martinez clobbered 45 home runs last season and should stabilize the middle of the order for Boston.
The Red Sox may not be done tinkering with their roster and could add more firepower to the lineup if they’re to compete with the Yankees. The Sox also need to perform better vs their divisional rival if they plan to claim another division title as they finished 8-11 SU in 19 games vs New York last season. With plenty of youth in the batting order along with Chris Sale and David Price at the top of their rotation, the Red Sox won’t be a pushover.
Toronto Blue Jays +1000
The Jays were awful on the road last season at 34-47 SU.
The Blue Jays finished 76-86 last season after making the playoffs in back-to-back years. Toronto has had to play small ball with its acquisitions this offseason as the front office doesn’t have the green light to sign players to nine-figure contracts. The Jays were awful on the road last season at 34-47 SU and injuries to key players like Josh Donaldson and Aaron Sanchez along with the complete disappearing act of Jose Bautista left this team in a funk all year.
Toronto’s starting pitching will need to rebound if bettors want to invest in the +850 price tag. If the Jays can get off to a hot start and get a bounce-back effort from the starting rotation, ownership may deem the club a buyer in the trade market, which could push the Jays into further contention.
Tampa Bay Rays +4000
The Rays will be relying on up-and-coming prospects in 2018 and that may not be enough to get them to the top of the division. Tampa’s budget-minded ownership sold off most of the team’s offensive contributors last season and the Rays could be in line for their fifth consecutive losing season after finishing 80-82 in 2017.
Led by Chris Archer on the bump, the Rays should still be somewhat competitive as they try to outhustle the big-market teams with unheralded prospects on the mound and in the batter’s box. While that formula took them to a World Series in 2008, expecting that strategy to pay off immediately with the Yanks and Sox in their division would be a fool’s errand.
Baltimore Orioles +5000
The projected basement-dweller of the AL East is the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s finished at 75-87 last season and while there are some blue-chip players in their lineup (Machado, Jones, Schoop), that talent doesn’t seem to translate to the diamond.
The Orioles had a September to forget last season and finished 7-20 SU. Another reason for Baltimore’s downfall was its starting pitching, which ranked 14th among 15 AL teams in ERA, hits, runs and home runs allowed. Considering that ownership has kicked around the idea of dealing superstar Manny Machado, this team can’t be seriously considered as a contender in the AL East.
|New York Yankees||-140|
|Boston Red Sox||+130|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+1000|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+4000|
Odds as of March 28 at BetOnline