MLB Picks for AL Central Division: Off-Season Events Causing Futures Odds to Shift

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 8:18 PM GMT

There has been significant line movement in MLB odds during the off-season, and the American League Central teams are no exception. Join this handicapper as he deciphers the line movement & shares valuable picks.

MLB Team

2014

Season Record

Opening Odds*

Post-2014 Season

Current Odds*

2015 Total Wins

Current Odds*

 2015 World Series Futures

Detroit Tigers

90-72

+850

84.5

+1200

Kansas City Royals

89-73

+1400

80.5

+1800

Cleveland Indians

85-77

+2200

83.5

+2200

Chicago White Sox

73-89

+5000

81.5

+2500

Minnesota Twins 

70-92

+12500

70.5

+12500

*MLB Odds Courtesy of Bet365 

 

Detroit Tigers (90-72) 

MLB Odds Total Wins in 2015: 84.5, Both Options at -115
Has Detroit's championship window closed? During that four-year run of division titles, the Tigers made just one World Series and they were swept in the 2012 Fall Classic as a betting favorite against the San Francisco Giants. In 2014, the Tigers were swept in three games in the ALDS by Baltimore despite the Tigers starting a former Cy Young winner in each game. Detroit lost one of the best pitchers in baseball, 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, to free agency. The Tigers also traded their second-best starter last year in Rick Porcello, but he brought back power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Red Sox. The team also acquired pitchers Shane Greene from the Yankees and Alfredo Simon from the Reds. Remember, too, that Detroit will have a full season of David Price after getting him from the Rays at last July's trade deadline. Perhaps the biggest offseason move was re-signing DH Victor Martinez, but he's already hurt and could miss all of spring training. Martinez can hit when healthy but is 36. Miguel Cabrera also can still rake but has been breaking down a bit. Justin Verlander isn't the same guy.

MLB Picks: Detroit is +225 to win the division, but I believe that run ends. Still go 'over' that wins total but not by much.

 

Kansas City Royals (89-73) 

MLB Odds Total Wins in 2015: 80.5, with both at -115
The Royals ended the longest active playoff drought in MLB last year, playing extra baseball for the first time since 1985. Behind the majors' best bullpen, a great defense and an old school lineup that didn't hit for much power but got on base, the Royals were the AL's top wild-card team. They beat Oakland in a thrilling Wild-Card Game, swept the favored Angels in the ALDS and then the Orioles in the ALCS. Alas, Kansas City ran into unhittable Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner and lost the World Series in seven games. Three key players off that Royals team are gone: ace pitcher James Shields, DH Billy Butler and outfielder Nori Aoki. Their replacements, respectively, are Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios. All would appear to be downgrades. The defense and bullpen will again be great and they will need to be for the Royals to have a chance at returning to the postseason.

MLB Picks: 'Under.' Just about everything went right down the stretch for K.C. in 2014. That rarely repeats itself over a full season.

 

Cleveland Indians (85-77) 

MLB Odds Total Wins in 2015: 83.5, with 'Over' a -125 Favorite
A lot of people are very high on the Tribe this year, but I'm not quite in that boat. The Indians were very quiet this offseason, losing no one of note really and adding outfielder/DH/first baseman Brandon Moss. Cleveland is clearly counting on bounce-back seasons from guys like second baseman Jason Kipnis, outfielder Michael Bourn and DH/outfielder Nick Swisher. The team has a bona-fide star in outfielder Michael Brantley (.327, 20 HRs, 97 RBIs, 23 steals) and one of the majors' best catchers in Yan Gomes (.278, 21 HRs, 74 RBIs). Perhaps the biggest breakout pitching star in baseball last year was ace Corey Kluber, who was your surprise AL Cy Young winner. In his second full season as a starter, Kluber was 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. He had a 1.73 ERA after the All-Star break. Was Kluber a one-year wonder?

MLB Picks: 'Over.' As  noted, I'm not a huge believer of this team, but Manager Terry Francona should be able to squeeze at least 85 wins out of it again.

 

Chicago White Sox (73-89)

MLB Odds Total Wins in 2015: 81.5, with 'Over' a -125 MLB Betting Favorite
Perhaps no AL team looks more improved on paper than the White Sox. They got a near-Cy Young season from ace pitcher Chris Sale last year and an AL Rookie of the Year campaign from Jose Abreu, who had one of the best first seasons of any hitter in big-league history. Other than that? Nothing great. The bullpen, especially, was a disaster. So GM Rick Hahn was aggressive this offseason to patch most of the holes. He signed Nationals free-agent first baseman/DH Adam LaRoche to provide left-handed power and outfielder Melky Cabrera to take over in left field. Cabrera has hit at least .301 in three of the past four seasons and doesn't strike out much. A perfect No. 2 hitter. To solidify the rotation behind Sale, Hahn traded for Oakland's Jeff Samardzija. And for the bullpen, the GM signed Yankees free agent closer David Robertson. It's still not a perfect team, with potential issues at second, third, catcher and the back end of the rotation, but it's much better.

MLB Picks: If Abreu wasn't a fluke, and no one seems to think he was, this team can win the division. Go 'over' for your MLB pick here.

 

Minnesota Twins (70-92)

MLB Odds Total Wins in 2015: 70.5, with 'Over' a -125 Favorite
Minnesota has lost at least 92 games in each of the past four seasons and I expect that to continue, although this franchise will be competitive pretty soon with one of the best farm systems in the majors. The Twins made one of the best value free-agent signings last offseason in pitcher Phil Hughes, who turned into an ace. However, Minnesota also made one of the worst free-agent signings in fellow pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who was one of the worst in the American League. Minnesota didn't lose much off last year's team other than Manager Ron Gardenhire, who has been replaced by former Twin and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor. The two main player additions were starting pitcher Ervin Santana and outfielder Torii Hunter, who spent his first 10 years with the Twins but is well past his prime.

MLB Picks: 'Under.' The pitching staff has had one of the worst ERAs in MLB the past four seasons and probably will again even if Hughes is for real and Santana is his normal self.

Current Odds to Win American League Central

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