Finding Betting Value in MLB's AL Central

Doug Upstone

Thursday, July 31, 2014 2:28 PM GMT

Thursday, Jul. 31, 2014 2:28 PM GMT

As has been the case most of the season, the American League Central has the least separation from first to last by records in the majors. This makes it a difficult division for MLB picks.

Baseball handicappers are left with clubs hovering around .500 or other teams which are overachieving or underachieving (more on that in a minute). Let’s breakdown each squad and identify what to look at for in MLB betting picks.

 

Detroit Tigers
By brand name and reputation, Detroit should be running away with this division. But these Tigers have become known for their peaks and valleys, which often have been extreme. Here is what I mean.

On May 18, Detroit was 27-12 and well ahead in the AL Central. On June 19, the Tigers had fallen to second place after a frightful 12-20 mark over 31 days. From that point to the All-Star break, manager Brad Ausmus club went a sterling 17-6 to take a commanding lead in the division.

For those working the betting odds, Detroit finally looked like they had the horsepower to take off and instead they are 5-8 since the break, only playing disinterested.

The starting staff by name and reputation alone should be better than fifth in ERA in the AL and everyone knows how the bullpen has performed. The first five spots in the batting order can be as good as any in baseball, but the last four on the lineup card seldom produce. Just watch how the Tigers are trending and wager accordingly.

 

Kansas City Royals
Kansas City might only be a couple games out for the last wild card slot, but they give every indication they are merely a .500 team. Granted, the Royals have had their share of bad luck, because a team with a 75 percent save percentage should not be 13-21 in one run games. Here you can blame the offense, which is averaging less than four runs an outing.

When K.C. scores even a little, they turn the negative numbers around with a 20-9 mark when the final score of their contests is decided by two or three runs.

Because the Royals are last in home runs in baseball, they seldom can deliver the knockout blow and give away games they should be winning. Hard team to bet for or against.

 

Cleveland Indians
When studying the MLB betting odds, Cleveland is similar to Kansas City, with more easily detectable strengths and weaknesses.

The Indians are sixth overall in runs scored (4.4 per game) and 23rd in runs allowed (4.4). The Tribe are listed in the Top 5 in home win percentage with a 30-20 record (+5.2 units) and are among the best team to bet against on the road at 23-34 (-9.9), as noted at Sports Book Review standings page.

What do you do with an ordinary team which has all the markings of a .500 outfit? Bet their patterns home and away unless something changes.

 

Chicago White Sox
It would be hard to describe the White Sox as a strength, since they are 12th in ERA in the senior circuit. However, they rise to sixth in OPS, which helps paint a different picture of them collectively.

Everyone knows how special Chris Sale is and John Danks is +2.5 units when he starts. Jose Quintana might only have a 6-7 record, but he’s lowered his ERA to a fine 3.15 and he’s not surrendered more than three runs in his past eight starts.

Chicago’s offense has shown more life after the break, averaging 4.6 RPG which is nearly a half a run improvement on the season average. The Pale Hose might not knock your sox off, nevertheless, you have to consider them against the sportsbooks these days, being in positive numbers as both a favorite (+3) and an underdog (+5.4).

 

Minnesota Twins
Might not be a harder team to figure in the big leagues. Minnesota after a quick start has been teetering on collapse for months. This team has hideous starting pitching (next to last in the AL in ERA, OBP, and OPS) and is middle of the road offensively at 4.1 RPG.

Just when you think “Here they go” after the Twins have lost five in row or six of eight, they bounce right back up and win five of seven. Because Minnesota has only been favored 18 times all season, being 24-29 in road games has yielded a profit of +6.4 units.  Play these overachievers at your own risk.

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