AL Central MLB odds: Why the Twins could be the best value to win the division while the White Sox deal with key injuries
At this point in the still-nascent 2022 season, American League Central is probably the worst of the six divisions. There’s only one team over .500, and that team only has two games over .500 and they were 4-8 just over a week ago. The favorite to win the division is coming off eight straight and a team tied for second place is hampered outside the Midwest.
In short, it’s not very good. That doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting than the other divisions, though. In fact, it could be argued that a close race that results in a division winner and four teams missing wildcards would be one of the most fun.
And when it comes to betting with the good folks at Caesars Sportsbook, there’s always money to be had.
Let’s take a look at the current odds for winning the AL Central and break down what each team looks like. Records are as of Thursday, April 28.
Odds of Winning AL Central
Chicago White Sox: -160
Minnesota Twins: +290
Cleveland Guardians: +800
Detroit Tigers: +1200
Kansas City Royals: +2800
White Sox (7-10; -160)
After a 6-2 start, the White Sox have lost eight straight. Worst of all, that streak included three losses to the Twins and Guardians. They have already started the season without Yoán Moncada and Lance Lynn. They lost Eloy Jiménez for six to eight weeks. The bullpen was smashed.
And yet, the Sox are relatively big favorites here.
I agree with the odds that the White Sox are still the division favorites. They’ll be healthier and they probably had their worst losing streak of the season early on. The bad streaks happen, they just get magnified in our minds while the season is still so young.
Are there any concerns? Absolutely. The depth of rotation until Lynn’s return is worrying as Dallas Keuchel could be cooked, Vince Velasquez just isn’t cutting it and the workload Michael Kopech is able to handle for a full season is a question mark. .
Overall, however, they should be fine. I just wish the odds changed more following the losing streak.
Verdict: It’s still the favorite, but the price-performance ratio is terrible.
Twins (10-8; +290)
After a 4-8 start, the Twins are on the rise with a six-game winning streak. It looks like opening with a four-game series against the Mariners was a tough one and that was followed by two against the Dodgers. Carlos Correa did not knock and he will. Jorge Polanco is also expected to start posting numbers. Oh, and as long as Byron Buxton is on the field, he’s probably the best player in baseball. There are certainly plenty of downsides and Buxton’s injury history is enough to scare people away.
Meanwhile, they seem to have something with that pitching staff. After four starts, Joe Ryan would be a contender for Cy Young (3-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP). Dylan Bundy and Chris Paddack already seem very comfortable and they will soon get Sonny Gray back.
There’s a lot to like here, although the attack feels like a house of cards when Buxton is out of lineup.
Verdict: It’s the best value right now.
Guardians (7-11; +800)
José Ramírez remains one of baseball’s best players while still managing to be totally underrated. Some of his supporting cast, including early strike zone darlings Steven Kwan and Owen Miller, gave cause for optimism.
We know the pitching team, led by Shane Bieber, can carry the team in spots, but there have been some inconsistencies for the group as a whole so far.
So far, the Guardians against the central teams (AL and NL) are 7-2 with a plus-37 point differential. Against teams outside the Centrals, they are 0-9 with a minus-34 point differential. I’ve mentioned before that the AL Central is probably the worst division in baseball, but if we rank them 1-6, the NL Central may rank fifth.
I say all this to ask: Trend or coincidence?
Are Guardians only able to stand up to bad teams? And will that even matter, given how many games against central teams everyone has here this season?
It’s too small a sample to have a definitive answer at this point, but it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on. The likeliest spot for the Guardians is third, but they could win it or finish fourth – or even last. Lots of variance here.
Verdict: If you don’t like the White Sox or the Twins, the value might be justified here.
Tigers (6-11; +1,200)
They’re a flawed team, that’s for sure, and the most likely end is fourth place.
There are benefits, however. A player as talented as Spencer Torkelson could continuously improve as the season progresses. Players like Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario and Akil Baddoo are almost certainly going to hit a lot better than them. Javier Báez and Austin Meadows give them a quality backbone on offense. The enclosure looks good.
Some of the advantages are mitigated by rotational injuries to Casey Mize and Matt Manning, of course, and several of the aforementioned hitters are notoriously ridged. There will be some really bad spells – they’ve lost seven of their last nine at the moment.
I also can’t help but remember how AJ Hinch pulled everything out of last year’s squad after May 7, going 68-61 to close things out. This team has a pretty decent amount of more ability and upside than the 2021 iteration. It’s been a tough April, but they’re still only 3 ½ games away.
Verdict: I don’t see it, but if you really believe it, why not?
Royals (6-10; +2,800)
Not a great team on paper anyway, the Royals’ resume isn’t impressive at this point. They are 5-5 at home, but that’s after winning the first two. They are 1-5 on the road and have only played three games away from the Centrals.
The attack is not very good and apart from Whit Merrifield you can’t really count on anyone with a good streak on the bridge. Maybe Bobby Witt Jr., but Andrew Benintendi isn’t going to keep up with him on the positive side. The rotation will not last all season either. I like the bullpen, at least.
This is most likely your last team and even if they somehow avoid that fate, their 90th percentile achievement this season probably isn’t close to taking the division. They would need to hit maybe their best possible number in the win column while the four teams above fold.
And, of course, someone might think, “hey, it’s only $10 and I could make $280 if they somehow pull it off.” But they won’t make it. And it’s more than $10, because it takes time and effort. On top of that, you need to look in the mirror and admit that you did it. There is a thing called opportunity cost, after all.
Verdict: Do not bother.