MLB Total Win Odds: American League Edition

Hello!

My name is Mike and for my very first article on Koho Sports Picks, I will be doing segment one of a two part series in which I look at and evaluate each team’s total wins odds for the upcoming 2021 MLB season. I will include both the team’s 2020 and 2019 season records, along with a brief blurb on my feelings towards the team’s possible success in the upcoming season, and what odds I feel are the best value to take, based a lot on personal opinion and the division they play. A lot of the odds are at -112, but not all of them, which will play into some picks, and also are subject to change between now and Opening Day. Let’s begin first with the American League, going division by division.

(Note: All odds were found through both covers.com and the DraftKings Sportsbook. My own book, Bovada, did not have these MLB team totals bets available at the point of writing this article.)

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

O/U: 64.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 54-106

2020: 25-35

The Orioles continue their rebuild the smart way, relying on stopgap  players and playing their younger prospects in some capacity in the big leagues. That being said, they still look to be a bottom-10 team in the league, even with a surprising shortened 2020 season. With the expanded schedule, the 60-65 range for wins with this team seems appropriate. Not much really to say on the O’s because expectations aren’t really in place quite yet for this team.

My pick: Under 64.5 at -112 

Boston Red Sox

O/U: 80.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 84-78

2020: 24-36

There is a very real chance that the Red Sox are the 4th worst team in the AL East and a bottom-10 team in the league despite what the 80.5 win total would lead you to believe. The 2019 team which went 84-78 had Mookie Betts, a still serviceable Chris Sale, and Manager Alex Cora (albeit Cora has returned to manage the Sox in 2021). Besides Rafael Devers and seeing more growth from Alex Verdugo, there isn’t much to look forward to this upcoming season if you’re a BoSox fan. 

My pick: Under 80.5 at -112

New York Yankees

O/U: 95.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 103-59

2020: 33-27

The Yankees enter 2021 as on-paper favorites to very easily win the AL East, and compete for the World Series out of the American League. Can they get past the dreaded ALCS though, remains the biggest question for this team. Despite some big boom-or-bust potential from the starting rotation from anyone not named Gerrit Cole, the Yankees should find a way to squeeze out a very good season, even if injuries and inconsistency ( cough cough, Gary Sanchez) inevitably have some effect on the Bombers.

My pick: Over 95.5 at -112

Tampa Bay Rays

O/U: 85.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 96-66

2020: 40-20

Let’s face it: The Rays are the best ran team in baseball, and it isn’t really close. Despite appearing in the 2020 World Series, the Rays enter 2021 with lower expectations due in large part to trading ace of the staff Blake Snell to the Padres. The Rays are a team, in my eyes and in many others, as a team that will compete for the top wild card spot and be the Yankees top competition for the AL East title. The 85.5 win mark seems like a very low number for a team that we all know is capable of bringing the most out of whoever they have on any given day, regardless of on-paper skill and name recognition.

My Pick: Over 85.5 at -112

Toronto Blue Jays

O/U: 86.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112 (U)

2019: 86-76

2020: 32-28

There are many theoreticals for the Blue Jays in 2021 that I think the rather high win total here is a best-case scenario for the team. The Jays straddle the line of having a bright future and having a win-now team, with a combination of solid veterans and young dynamos, specifically Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leading the youth movement. That being said, being in the same division as the Yankees and Rays will not leave much room for error, and I think the expectations for this team Vegas has need to be tempered for just a short while.

My Pick: Under 86.5 at -112

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

O/U: 91.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 72-88

2020: 35-25

It’s amazing what cheap ownership can do to inadvertently take a team to the top of the division. Not to discredit the White Sox and what they’ve done, though. Their combination of explosive young bats, wily veterans, and solid pitching puts them ahead of every team in what is arguably the weakest division in the MLB, save for maybe their National League counterpart. Could the White Sox win the division with 85 wins this year? Yes, but expectations after the shortened 2020 season and seeing just how bad the rest of the division is should cushion the White Sox with a few more wins.

My pick: Over 91.5 at -112

Cleveland Indians

O/U: 81.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112 (U)

2019: 93-69

2020: 35-25

Yikes . . . Exhibit A on what the aforementioned cheap ownership can do to completely kill a team’s hopes and dreams. Five years ago, the Indians were one game away from their first World Series in who knows how many years. In present time, the ownership group sold off one of the five best players in baseball in Francisco Lindor to the Mets, with Jose Ramirez and others looking to be not too far behind in walking out the door. 2020 Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber stands as the singular player holding the Indians together from becoming a total dumpster fire, and it’s not hard to imagine sub-.500 regression for them.

My pick: Under 81.5 at -112

Detroit Tigers

O/U: 68.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 47-115

2020: 23-37

Like the Orioles, the Tigers are in the middle of their full-fledged rebuild with plenty of young players and fill-in veterans. 69 wins would put them with 93 loses, which seems fairly realistic given that they no longer are facing the best of each AL Central team, besides the White Sox. This is the closest call in the American League so far, but I would imagine that for now the Tigers are still going to be easy pickings for teams in the Central and the rest of the American League, though I don’t expect quite the disaster of the 2019 season to be replicated.

My pick: Under 68.5 at -112

Kansas City Royals

O/U: 72.5 Wins: -125(O) / +101(U)

2019: 59-103

2020: 26-34

Finally, differing odds! The Royals improve a quietly productive and under the radar lineup with the addition of Andrew Benintendi. Pitching will always be the killer with a lot of these small-market teams, which is no exception for the Royals. I think the Royals will be better than what their 2019 season indicated, although 68-70 wins seems realistic for a team not quite ready yet to be challenging for a wild card spot. There will be more value found in betting the under here than betting the over and banking on the many variables that lie within the AL Central, especially when the Twins and White Sox look to be the favorites to compete for the division title.

My pick: Under 72.5 at +101

Minnesota Twins

O/U 88.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 101-61

2020: 36-24

Hitting isn’t the question with the Twins, at least not yet. Assuming Nelson Cruz continues to defy age and slugs 30+ home runs and around 100 RBIs, the Twins will have no trouble putting runs on the board. Pitching, however, will ultimately be what makes or breaks this team. Given the weak division they are in, I think the Twins will compete for a wild card spot, and even maybe the division if they can get off to a hot start and sustain success. Will they win a postseason game though, is always the question with the team from the Twin Cities.

My pick: Over 88.5 at -112

AL West

Houston Astros

O/U 86.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 107-55

2020: 29-31

Everyone’s least favorite team. Let’s face it, unless you are a diehard Astros fan, you will be rooting hard for the under to hit on their wins. That being said, even with a questionable rotation, the lineup shouldn’t succumb to the below-average hitting that plagued the team in the 2020 season. Do I think they’re the cream of the crop in the American League anymore? No. Do I think they are still a playoff team? Yes. I can see this team pushing 90, maybe more, wins over a 162-game schedule, but the road will be much tougher than it was before.

My pick: Over 86.5 at -112

Los Angeles Angels

O/U 83.5 Wins: -121(O) / -112(U)

2019: 72-90

2020: 26-34

Is this the year Mike Trout finally gets a capable team that can get him to the postseason since his only appearance in the 2014 ALDS against the Royals? That remains to be seen. In a much more wide-open AL West than we’ve seen in quite some time, the Angels theoretically should be able to push for that second Wild Card spot and go toe-to-toe with the rest of their division. Yet, when looking at teams like the Rays, Blue Jays, Athletics,and Twins, I see teams that have less question marks in their starting rotation (yes, even the Twins) and more balance across their lineups. Even if the odds were lower, I can’t see over 83.5 wins at -121 being great value for a team like the Angels.

My pick: Under 83.5 at -112

Oakland Athletics

O/U 87.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 97-65

2020: 36-24

Even after losing slugger Marcus Semien to the Blue Jays, the Athletics still boast a lineup of established players with the likes of Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Stephen Piscotty, with a solid albeit unspectacular starting rotation. While the numbers don’t pop out, the Athletics seem to find wins with under the radar players and smart managing by Bob Melvin. I think this team with their scrappy play could win anywhere from 85 to 95 wins. It’s sort of a coin toss and personal preference at this point with the Athletics, so pick your poison.

My pick: Over 87.5 at -112

Seattle Mariners

O/U 72.5 Wins: -112(O) / -112(U)

2019: 68-94

2020: 27-33

The Mariners, after going full-on with the youth movement in the middle of the 2019 season, might be the under-the-radar team of the American League. Will they compete for a Wild Card spot? Probably not, but playing young guys over stopgap veterans is always fun to watch. Not much to say regarding expectations, this smells of a Mariners season playing out week by week and a lot of ups and downs, so this could be a 75-win Mariner team with lots of youth invigoration, or a 65-win team with growing pains.

My pick: Under 72.5 at -112

Texas Rangers

O/U 66.5 Wins: -112 (O) / -112 (U)

2019: 78-84

2020: 22-38

This is a lot of wishful thinking, maybe, but are the Rangers really almost a 100 loss team? I don’t think so. Maybe this is the year things really bottom-out for the Rangers and they accept the dreaded full-throttle rebuild. That being said, this team has enough hitting to probably hover around the 70-win mark as is. Pitching is where (surprisingly) this team falls short. The rotation is a gigantic question mark and the bullpen leaves a lot to be desired. Joey Gallo and David Dahl in the same outfield should be fun for a season though.

My pick: Over 66.5 at -112

That’s it for the American League. Keep an eye out later for the over/under totals for the National League in a few days. Thanks for reading!

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