Handicapping MLB 2014 Division Odds – American League Central
The 2014 MLB season is just about here Spring Training action is going on right now, which means Opening Day is right around the corner. We’re taking a division-by-division look at betting odds and team by team season win totals.
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Let’s take a look at the AL Central.
It wasn’t easy, but the Detroit Tigers won the AL Central once again last season. Cleveland’s red hot September brought them to within a game of Detroit in 2013. The Tigers are the clear favorites in the AL Central once again this year. Can anyone dethrone Detroit in the AL Central? Odds listed are from BetOnline.
MLB 2014 Previews & Predictions- AL Central
AL Central Odds to Win: Detroit Tigers -225
Season Win Total: 90
The Detroit Tigers won the division last year, but they didn’t just rest on their laurels in the offseason. Detroit got busy and made some big moves. Ian Kinsler is the team’s new starting second baseman.
Kinsler’s offense will be nice, but it will likely be the huge upgrade defensively at second base that helps the Tigers the most. Joe Nathan is the team’s new closer, and that is an area that has been an issue for the team for quite a while. Nathan locks down this role, and he has been one of the most consistent closers in the game for many years.
Detroit’s starting rotation is amazing in every way. Justin Verlander is the team’s best pitcher, but the team’s number two (Max Scherzer) won the AL Cy Young award last year. Anibal Sanchez is as good of a number three pitcher as you’ll find as well. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly will round out the rotation. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball when healthy, and if he stays healthy he’ll tee off on opposing pitching all season long.
AL Central Odds to Win: Kansas City Royals +400
Season Win Total: 82.5
Kansas City took a significant step forward last year by winning 86 games. The Royals haven’t made the playoffs since Ronald Reagan was in office. They are on the right track, but they have a tough road ahead of them as well. This division is getting better, and the Royals are going to have to get a little better starting pitching and timely hitting to get back to the postseason.
Ervin Santana was the team’s biggest loss in the offseason, and the signings of Omar Infante and Jason Vargas were the biggest pickups. Kansas City looks very similar to last year’s team, but I’m not sure the team’s bullpen can be top five in the majors once again. This bullpen outperformed in a big way last season.
AL Central Odds to Win: Cleveland Indians +700
Season Win Total: 80.5
The oddsmakers certainly think the Indians success last year was a blip, because they posted the team’s season win total at more than 10 games lower than their final win tally from 2013. While I don’t see this team as a serious threat to beat the Tigers in the division, I do believe the Indians are much better than this win total would suggest. Terry Francona has proven himself to be one of the best managers in the business, and he has lots of talent to work with here.
The losses of Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez do hurt, but not as much as some people seem to believe. The pitching staff has no clear cut number one starter, but there’s lots of depth Asdrubal Cabrera had a horrible season last year, and it’s safe to assume he’ll be better in 2014. Yan Gomes helps the team in a big way, especially on the defensive side where he is much better than Carlos Santana. The Indians have no major weaknesses, and I think this team goes over this win total.
AL Central Odds to Win: Chicago White Sox +800
Season Win Total: 76.5
Last year was a total trainwreck for the Chicago White Sox. The team went 63-99. The White Sox made some big moves in the offseason by signing Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton. Abreu is the guy the team is really counting on. Can he be another Yasiel Puig? That’s what Chicago needs from him. The offense is aging and full of guys who strike out far too much.
The pitching staff has a terrific ace in Chris Sale, but the rest of the staff isn’t good at all. It doesn’t help that the defense behind them is among the worst in baseball. In addition, the bullpen is very weak. I don’t like this team in 2014, and I like the under 76.5 a lot here.
AL Central Odds to Win: Minnesota Twins +3,000
Season Win Total: 70.5
The Minnesota Twins have fallen hard and fast. This used to be the team to beat in the AL Central. Many were surprised to see Ron Gardenhire return for another season as the team’s manager. Ricky Nolasco is the team’s new number one starter. He is a pretty good pitcher, but I don’t think he’s a number one. Phil Hughes was signed in the offseason, and I think he has a chance to resurrect his career in Minnesota. The strength of this team is their bullpen.
Offensively, the Twins have a bunch of question marks. Joe Mauer is clearly a star and Josh Willingham is consistently good. The rest of the lineup looks weak. It’s hard to imagine this team finishing any better than fourth in this division.
AL Central Prediction: Detroit Tigers (-225)
Detroit is the most complete team in the division, and arguably the most complete team in the American League. Cleveland may be worth a shot if you are a value player, but I like the Indians season win total over and the White Sox win total under as the best plays from this division.