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AL Central Futures: Loaded Indians Once Again Paving the Way

The 2018 MLB season is almost here, and both oddsmakers and baseball bettors are rejoicing as a result. When it comes to futures betting, one of the most popular wagers year in and year out comes from the divisions.

Bovada has released odds on each team’s chances of winning its division, and the Cleveland Indians are the heavy -650 favorite to claim the AL Central banner for the third season in a row. The Minnesota Twins (+350), Chicago White Sox (+3300), Kansas City Royals (+5000) and Detroit Tigers (+5000) are all available in plus-money.

Here’s a betting breakdown of each AL Central team:

Cleveland Indians -650

The Indians had the best record in the American League a year ago but once again came up short in the playoffs by blowing a 2-0 lead to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. The pitching staff, led by AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, was arguably the best in baseball and should continue to be a force in 2018.

Manager Terry Francona has said his team will “return with a vengeance” this season, and offseason additions like set-up reliever Nick Goody and first baseman Yonder Alonso will provide reinforcements to accomplish the feat. But on the heels of back-to-back playoff collapses, baseball fans in Northeast Ohio continue to be left wanting more.

Minnesota Twins +350

The Twins surprised everybody a year ago by becoming the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the previous season. Minnesota eventually lost to the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game, but a new-found ray of hope returned to the Twin Cities after six straight down years.

The Twins are the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the previous year

Minny’s youth movement kicked into overdrive in 2017, and rather than make some major free-agent splashes, the Twinkies opted to stay the course and give their young studs room to grow in the offseason. There are rumblings regarding the organization acquiring a veteran starting pitcher via either a trade or free agency to bolster the staff, but as of this writing Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson ranked atop the rotation. I don’t think 2017 was a fluke; this team could give Cleveland a serious push for the AL Central this year.

Chicago White Sox +3300

Coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign, the White Sox are once again the forgotten team in the Windy City. With a record of 67-95, the Pale Hose have now missed the postseason for 10 straight years. Don’t expect that trend to change in 2018.

Chicago has missed the postseason for 10 straight years

Chicago is clearly in rebuild mode right now, so it’s very likely to see established players like Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia hit the trade market in favor of adding more young talent to a roster that’s already one of the youngest in the league. A surprising Twins-esque run to the postseason is not likely in the cards for the downtrodden franchise.

Kansas City Royals +5000

The Royals’ 2015 World Series championship turned the tide for a franchise that had been irrelevant for decades, but since then they’ve gone 81-81 and 80-82 while missing the postseason altogether. As evidenced by their +1000 price, KC is a long shot to garner its ninth division title this season.

Kansas City is at a crossroads right now, as the farm system is relatively barren and the future is murky with their star players. Despite the team offering him a seven-year, $147-million contract, first baseman Eric Hosmer remains a free agent. There are more question marks than answers for the team, so backing them in any sort of futures bet comes with a significant risk.

Detroit Tigers +5000

Detroit tied San Francisco for the worst record in baseball a year ago at 64-98, and manager Brad Ausmus was promptly shown the door as a result. Ron Gardenhire occupies that job now and he’ll inherit a roster with a significant number of holes moving forward.

A long-term rebuild is in the works in the Motor City, so acquiring prospects and giving the young guys who are currently on the big-league roster as much playing time as possible is the best course of action for the Tigers. That’s not a recipe for a good futures bet, however, so don’t even think about going near the +2500 price if you know what’s good for you.

Odds to win the 2018 American League Central
Cleveland Indians-650
Minnesota Twins+350
Chicago White Sox+3300
Kansas City Royals+5000
Detroit Tigers+5000

Odds as of March 1 at Bovada