Opening Day of the 2019 MLB season is only 15 days away, so for now at least, every team has a perfect record and the potential to go on a pennant run. Here’s a look at the 2019 AL pennant odds.
Of course, thanks to baseball’s modern-day movement towards monopolies on talent, it will only take a few weeks of action on the diamond to dash those hopes for all but a handful of MLB contenders.
With at least 20 teams openly tanking over the offseason – refusing to sign even marginal free agents to their market value and remaining content to slash payroll while pocketing profits – the MLB hierarchy has never been as top-heavy.
That much can be seen when sizing up the American League pennant race, where online sportsbook Bovada’s opening odds suggest only five or six ballclubs boast a legitimate chance of fighting their way to the Fall Classic.
In terms of overall odds to claim the 2019 World Series crown, three AL squads share identical (+600) odds – the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees, and the defending champion Boston Red Sox.
So naturally, that Holy Trinity of powerhouses finds itself perched atop the 2019 AL pennant odds board. Interestingly enough, however, the Astros and the Yankees hold the slightest of advantages at (+280), while the Sox sit just behind at (+290).
All three of these clubs played their way to the 100+ win plateau last season, with the Sox presaging their fourth World Series title of the 21st century by compiling an absurd 108-54 record. And as of today, Boston will bring back largely the same roster as last year, with reliever Joe Kelly (to the Dodgers) counting as the team’s most significant free agent loss.
That could change if lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel – one of many topline free agents around the league to remain unsigned – moves on from the Green Monster to greener pastures. But even if Kimbrel departs, the Red Sox and their dynamic offense – which led all of baseball with 876 runs scored in 2018 – should be just fine.
As for the Yanks and the ‘Stros, the situation remains quite similar, as both teams have harnessed their top-10 payrolls to keep impressive rosters intact.
New York resigned lefty J.J. Happ and former ace turned workhorse C.C. Sabathia, while luring slick-fielding second baseman D.J. LeMahieu over from the Colorado Rockies.
Houston has yet to re-sign co-ace Dallas Keuchel, but the team added outfielder Michael Brantley – and his .309 batting average / 3.6 wins above replacement – from the Cleveland Indians.
Speaking of the Indians – who won the pennant as recently as 2016 before falling to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series – Cleveland remains on the fringe of the AL arms race.
At (+750) odds, they’re the only other AL team offering better than 12 to 1 odds, but the Tribe still finds itself needing an upset to overturn the big bankroll triad.
Taking a look at the 2019 MLB payroll tracker, Cleveland resides in 19th position at $112 million – $15 million below baseball’s average and a clean $100 million below Boston.
That should be more than enough to take the AL Central against a woeful cast of tanking teams, but if last year’s 3-0 sweep at the hands of Houston in the ALDS is any indication, the Indians will need help to catch up.
They’ll be better off financially than the Oakland Athletics though, who turned baseball’s 25th-ranked payroll of $83 million into a surprise Wild Card berth last year. The 2019 version of the A’s offers (+1200) odds on a pennant, which could offer decent value on baseball’s thriftiest team.
The only other AL club priced at better than 25 to 1 is the Tampa Bay Rays, but while their (+1700) pennant odds might look attractive, this team is a longshot to even reach the postseason.
Tampa Bay turned the league’s lowest payroll of $51 million into a shocking 90-win season in 2018, but that left them a full seven games behind the Yankees for the final Wild Card spot.
|Team||2019 AL Pennant Odds on March 12|
|New York Yankees||+280|
|Boston Red Sox||+290|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1700|
|Los Angeles Angels||+2500|
|Chicago White Sox||+4000|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+5000|
|Kansas City Royals||+12500|