by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
So far, a sign-stealing scandal has had little sway over the Houston Astros’ price in American League division champion betting futures.
With spring training just underway in Arizona and Florida, the Astros are the -250 favorite to win the AL West at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Minnesota Twins (-150) have the top odds in the AL Central at online sports betting sites and the New York Yankees (-800) are heavily into minus money in the AL East.
Last season was the first time since 2016 that two of the three AL divisions changed hands. The last time that all three divisions had a new winner was in 2015.
The fallout from cheating has lingered around the Astros, whose main challengers in the AL West include the Oakland Athletics (+350), Los Angeles Angels (+600) and Texas Rangers (+1500). But Houston has had three 100-win seasons in a row and retains most of its core talent, apart from ace pitcher Gerrit Cole, who is now a Yankee. Starting pitching depth might limit the Athletics and Angels from making a run, but the Rangers, who have added ace Corey Kluber, could mount a challenge.
The Twins have added middle-of-the-order hitter Josh Donaldson to their lineup after hitting a league-record 307 home runs in 2019. But if the new ball MLB began using during last fall’s playoffs puts a drag on offense, Minnesota could be vulnerable. Their closest AL Central competition, the Cleveland Indians (+240) and Chicago White Sox (+300), are trending in opposite directions. Cleveland is cost-cutting, but the White Sox could surprise if their pitching improves to match a lineup that includes talents such as shortstop Tim Anderson, third baseman Yoan Moncada and centerfielder Luis Robert.
The AL East may be all but conceded to the Yankees. The small-market Tampa Bay Rays (+600) have health risks with two of their top pitchers, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, while the Boston Red Sox (+1100) are in a holding pattern after trading recent league MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Toronto Blue Jays trail at +3300.
The previous three instances where all three of the previous season’s AL division winners repeated were in 1999, 2003 and 2018. It also happened in the National League in 2017.