Major League Baseball Division Odds – AL Central

Major League Baseball Division Odds – AL Central

Major League Baseball Division Odds – AL Central
By: The Linemakers   
Sportingnews.com

Detroit Tigers

2012 record: 88-74, won AL Pennant

2013 odds to win World Series: 7/1

2013 odds to win AL Pennant: 13/4

2013 odds to win AL Central: 1/5

2013 OV-UN season win total: 90

The reigning AL Champs come into 2013 with the best starting rotation in the league, fronted by No. 1 starter Justin Verlander. They have depth, which should provide stability if injuries hit. The biggest question with the Tigers in 2013 is the back of their bullpen. Rookie Bruce Rondon, who comes in at 6'3", 275 pounds, is currently the favorite to close out games.

Alex Avila had a chance to catch Rondon for the first time on Wednesday and came away impressed.

"I saw what everybody has been telling me," Avila told The Detroit News. "With the kind of stuff he has, he's a dynamic player. He's a game-changer."

Manager Jim Leyland also has another hefty young pitcher in the bullpen with Melvin Mercedes who stands 6’3” and 250 pounds.

The Tigers will be trying to fill the void left from the still-unsigned Jose Valverde, who converted 110-of-118 save opportunities over the past three seasons. In addition to the two youngsters vying for roles on the team, the Tigers still have holdovers Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit to fill roles as needed.

Other than the bullpen, this club is as sound as any in baseball. The addition of Torii Hunter in right field could prove to be a great signing. Hunter is a great clubhouse guy to have around, and if he can hit, that’s even better. He played in 140 games last year for the Angels batting .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs.

The competition in the AL Central doesn’t look intimidating enough to keep the Tigers from winning the division, which is why they are the largest favorite (1/5) of any division in baseball.

Tigers 2013 projection: 89-73

Chicago White Sox

2012 record: 85-78, 3 games behind Detroit.

2013 odds to win World Series: 40/1

2013 odds to win AL Pennant: 20/1

2013 odds to win AL Central: 7/1

2013 OV-UN season win total: 80.5

Robin Ventura’s White Sox come in with basically the same team from last season, which may not necessarily be a good thing. Several of the top offensive performers from 2012 are back, but they’re also older and will have a tall order of trying to duplicate what they did last season.

Can Adam Dunn approach 41 home runs again, or will the Sox get 2011’s version of with 11 home runs and a .159 average? What about 36-year-old Paul Konerko, who played 144 games last season with 26 home runs while hitting .298? Alex Rios had 184 hits and a career best .304 average. Those numbers can’t be expected again, can they?

Closer Addison Reed picked up 29 saves in 33 attempts with a not-so-promising 4.75 ERA last season, but he’s the guy expected to run with the role, which could essentially be the key to their season if the hitting holds up. The starting rotation is solid enough to compete, but they can’t have their bullpen blow 20 saves like last season. Considering they only finished three games out of first place, it is easy to wonder how a tighter bullpen could have changed the complexion of the division.

The White Sox have the pieces in place to be a solid team in 2013, but there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. On paper, they’re probably the only team in the AL Central that could realistically give the Tigers a run for their money, but we don't think they will. We see the White Sox going backward in 2013.

White Sox 2013 projection: 80-82

Kansas City Royals

2012 record: 72-90, 16 games behind

2013 odds to win World Series: 40/1

2013 odds to win AL Pennant: 20/1

2013 odds to win AL Central: 7/1

2013 OV-UN season win total: 79

Ned Yost has a talented and young ballclub, but fans are still waiting for them to take the next step. We’ve been hearing about the riches of the Royals farm system for the last few years, and their best have finally surfaced to the majors over the last couple of seasons. It still may be too early to count on Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez to give the Royals their first postseason appearance since 1985, but this was the plan Royals management laid out five years ago. The future is here.

The biggest positive for the Royals this season is their hitting. They were seventh in baseball with a .265 batting average with Billy Butler (.313, 29 HR, 107 RBI) and Alex Gordon (.294, 189 hits, 51 2B) leading the charge. Lorenzo Cain looks to be on the verge of stardom. The biggest hope is that Perez (.301 in 76 games) stays healthy behind the plate. They should also expect improvements from Hosmer (.232) and Moustakas (.242, 20 HR), which could soon have them ranking as one of the best offenses in baseball.

The difference of making them a 72-win team again or being the improbable team America roots for in September, is the pitching, which has a real upside. Adding a workhorse like James Shields (15-10 with Rays in 2012) will make a huge difference, but it’s how the others in rotation fare that will be the big key.

Ervin Santana has great stuff, but fell into lapses with the Angels where his head didn’t seem to be in the game. The Royals won 10 of Jeremy Guthrie’s final 11 starts of 2012 in which he only gave up 18 runs in 74 innings, but can he recreate the magic after five months off? Wade Davis gets to join the rotation after one year of pitching in long relief for the Rays, and Bruce Chen has shown he can be a serviceable arm as a fifth starter.

Each of these starting pitchers is capable of logging 180 to 200 innings this season. However, their bullpen must improve. They tied the White Sox for eighth-most blown saves. Those 20 games they blew is what stopped them from their first winning season since 2003. Greg Holland will handle the closer duties and will need plenty of help from former top draft picks Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar to hold leads.

So, we have the lineup being very good and the starting pitching having potential to be a rock, which essentially makes their entire season resting on Holland’s right arm to close out games. We think the Royals will improve upon 2012, but we don’t see enough for a winning season. We think they'll land right in the middle, which at least isn't a losing season.

Royals 2013 projection: 81-81

Cleveland Indians

2012 record: 68-94, 20 games behind

2013 odds to win World Series: 80/1

2013 odds to win AL Pennant: 40/1

2013 odds to win AL Central: 20/1

2013 OV-UN season win total: 77.5

The Indians added $117 million in payroll during the offseason while also grabbing one of the best managers, Terry Francona, to handle the expensive new version of the team. Teams take the lead from their manager, especially young ones, and if they follow his lead, the Indians might be contending for the Central before long. Maybe not this season, but who knows? Last year’s version started out winning early, but the reality became clear quickly -- their pitching staff was very weak. Not much has changed on that front.

They added Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs, a player with plenty of upside. The best thing about those players, other than the possibilities their bats present, is that each played in the playoffs last year and know how a winning locker room should operate.

These new players add to a mix of Indians that had played well over the last few years. Second baseman Jason Kipnis looks like he could be one of rising stars in the league and will pair with SS Asdrubal Cabrera to form a strong duo up the middle.

Carlos Santana has a chance to be one of the special players in the league, and we should see his .247 career average improve. Lonnie Chisenhall will be given every opportunity to own third base, but he has to cut down on his strikeouts. In two seasons of limited action he’s had almost as many strikeouts (76) as hits (92). Mike Aviles will be right there to pick up the pace if it doesn’t work out for Chisenhall.

The major problem is pitching. The Indieans were 29th in ERA (4.78), 26th in opponent’s batting average (.268) and 28th in WHIP (1.42). Ubaldo Jimenez can’t recreate his Rockies magic, Justin Masterson struggles against lefthanders and Brett Myers moves back into the starting rotation after relieving games last season. Trevor Bauer was acquired in the trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati, and while he has a sky-high ceiling, he still has a long way to go before he reaches it. In the bullpen, there’s Chris Perez, who saved 39-of-43 opportunities, and Vinnie Pestano, who has a 2.50 ERA and 11.04 K/9 in 137 career innings. He’s the likely incumbent to the closer role if Perez is traded or ineffective.

Indians 2013 projection: 79-83

Minnesota Twins

2012 record: 66-96, 22 games behind

2013 odds to win World Series: 80/1

2013 odds to win AL Pennant: 40/1

2013 odds to win AL Central: 25/1

2013 OV-UN season win total: 64.5

We could dive right into why the Twins won’t win the AL Central by just saying the Twins don't have the pitching. They ranked in the bottom two of just about every major team pitching category, including ERA (4.77), quality starts (62) and batting average against (.274). Adding Vance Worley and Kevin Correia to the rotation isn’t going to change too much.

But if your expectations aren’t high, this still should be a fun team to watch this season thanks to the offensive potential. Justin Morneau is in a contract year and appears to be getting more comfortable at the plate. Josh Willingham came into his own last season with 35 home runs. Joe Mauer is as consistent as ever. Trevor Plouffe blasted 24 home runs in his first full season. And Ryan Doumit chipped in with 18 bombs and 75 RBI’s.

Even without Ben Revere and Denard Span, this is still a pretty good lineup.

The big question you have to ask yourself if looking to bet a side on their season win total (64.5) is whether they are worse than 2012’s record of 66-96. The answer looks to be no, they’re not worse. Closer Glen Perkins should be much better in the closer role after getting his first crack at it last season. He saved 16-of-20 opportunities and showed promise. Their rotation might even be better without Francisco Liriano’s 5.31 ERA lingering every fifth day. This isn't a team you want to rush to the sports books to get 80-to-1 to win the World Series, but betting them to get 65 wins or more looks to be the way to go.

Twins 2013 projection: 69-93

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