by OddsShark (@OddsShark@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
One consequence of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is a significant separation at the top of the board on the odds to win the American League Pennant.
The New York Yankees have dropped to a +150 favorite in AL champion futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The tarnished Astros are now at +300, followed by the Minnesota Twins (+700), Tampa Bay Rays (+900), Chicago White Sox (+1200), Cleveland Indians (+1200), Boston Red Sox (+1400), Los Angeles Angels (+1400) and Oakland Athletics (+1400). The Toronto Blue Jays are back at +3500.
Five months ago, the Astros opened as a narrow +225 favorite at online betting sites with the Yankees close behind at +250 after the two powerhouses had their second close ALCS matchup in three seasons. Bettors and oddsmakers apparently believe the controversy that took down manager A.J. Hinch and general manager will derail Houston in 2020, but it might also mean there is good value with a team which still has a lineup full of hitters in their peak years such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.
The Yankees have a relatively low top prop, so it might be best to perhaps wait to see if any slight stumble causes their price to fluctuate. New York is stacked both on the mound with a Gerrit Cole-led pitching staff and at bat, especially if it can get a healthy season out of both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. They play 12 of their first 18 games in April away from Yankee Stadium, so there is a chance of a slow start.
Getting swept in the playoffs by the Yankees last October means the Twins face a healthy skepticism in spite of a 101-win regular season. Minnesota has made both starting pitching and bullpen upgrades, while adding one-time league MVP Josh Donaldson to the middle of their order, so the Twins rate as a credible higher-risk, higher-reward play.
After a year when a wild card team, the Washington Nationals, won their league pennant and captured the World Series, it might be worth looking at the Rays as a darkhorse. Tampa Bay might not be able to outpace the Yankees over the 162-game regular season to win the AL East, but their deep pitching staff and versatile roster could make them a tough out in a playoff series.
Farther down the board, the White Sox might be a year away from pennant contention, while the Red Sox and Indians are both in a retooling phase.
The league’s last six pennant winners all finished above .500 the previous season. The 2013 Boston Red Sox are the most recent team to go from a losing season to winning the pennant.