AL Central MLB odds: Why Twins could be best value to win division while White Sox deal with key injuries

To this point in the still-fledgling 2022 season, the American League Central is probably the worst of the six divisions. There is only one team above .500, and that team is only two games over .500 and it was 4-8 just over a week ago. The favorite to win the division just lost eight games in a row and a team tied for second place is getting embarrassed outside the Midwest.

In all, it’s just not very good. That does not, however, mean it’s less exciting than other divisions. In fact, an argument could be made that a close race that results in one division winner and four teams missing out on wild cards would be one of the most fun.

And when it comes to wagering with the good people at Caesars Sportsbook, there’s always money to be won.

Let’s take a look at the current odds to win the AL Central and break down how each team looks. Records are as of Thursday, April 28.

Odds to win AL Central

Chicago White Sox: -160
Minnesota Twins: +290
Cleveland Guardians: +800
Detroit Tigers: +1200
Kansas City Royals: +2800

White Sox (7-10; -160)

After a 6-2 start, the White Sox dropped eight in a row. What’s worse is that streak included three losses each to the Twins and Guardians. They have already started the season without Yoán Moncada and Lance Lynn. They’ve lost Eloy Jimenez for six-to-eight weeks. The bullpen has been banged up.

And yet, the Sox are relatively huge favorites here.

I agree with the odds that the White Sox are still the favorites in the division. They’ll get healthier and they probably just got their worst losing streak of the season out of the way early. Bad stretches happen, they are simply amplified in our minds when the season is still so young.

Are there concerns? Absolutely. Rotation depth until Lynn is back is worrisome, as Dallas Keuchel might be cooked, Vince Velasquez just does not cut it and the workload Michael Kopech is able to handle for a full season is a question mark.

Overall, though, they should be fine. I just wish the odds moved more as a result of the losing streak.

Verdict: This is still the favorite, but the value is terrible.

Twins (10-8; +290)

After a 4-8 start, the Twins are surging with a six-game winning streak. It looks like opening with a four-game series against the Mariners was a tough task and that was followed by two against the Dodgers. Carlos Correa hasn’t hit and he will. Jorge Polanco is likely due to start putting up numbers as well. Oh, and as long as Byron Buxton is on the field, he’s possibly the best player in baseball. There’s certainly plenty of downside and Buxton’s injury history is enough to scare people away.

Meanwhile, they seem to have something going on with that pitching staff. Through four starts, Joe Ryan would be a Cy Young contender (3-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP). Dylan Bundy and Chris Paddack already seem very comfortable and they’ll get Sonny Gray back at some point soon.

There’s a lot to like here, even if the offense feels like a house of cards when Buxton isn’t in the lineup.

Verdict: This is the best value right now.

Guardians (7-11; +800)

José Ramírez remains one of the best players in baseball while also managing to be totally underrated. Some of his supporting cast, notably early strike-zone darling Steven Kwan and Owen Miller, have provided reason for optimism.

We know the pitching staff, led by Shane Bieber, can carry the team in spots but there’s been inconsistency so far for the group as a whole.

The Guardians so far against Central (both AL and NL) teams are 7-2 with a plus-37 run differential. Against teams outside the Centrals, they are 0-9 with a minus-34 run differential. I already mentioned the AL Central is likely the worst division in baseball, but if we ranked them 1-6, the NL Central possibly checks in at number five.

I say all this to ask: Trend or coincidence?

Are the Guardians only able to hold their own against bad teams? And will it even matter, given how many games against Central teams everyone here has this season?

It’s too small a sample to have a definitive answer at this juncture, but it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on. The most likely place for the Guardians is third, but they could win it or finish fourth – or even last. Lots of variance here.

Verdict: If you do not like the White Sox or Twins, the value could be justified here.

Tigers (6-11; +1200)

It’s a flawed team, for sure, and the most likely finish is fourth place.

There’s upside, though. A player as talented as Spencer Torkelson could improve continuously as the season progresses. Players like Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario and Akil Baddoo are almost certainly going to hit a lot better than they have. Javier Báez and Austin Meadows give them a quality backbone to the offense. The bullpen looks good.

Some of the upside is mitigated in the rotation injuries to Casey Mize and Matt Manning, of course, and several of the hitters mentioned above are notoriously streaky. There will be some really bad stretches – they’ve lost seven of their last nine right now.

I also can not help but remember how AJ Hinch got everything out of last year group after May 7, going 68-61 to close things out. This team has a pretty decent amount more ability and upside than the 2021 iteration. It’s been a rough April, but they are still only 3 1/2 games out.

Verdict: I’m not seeing it, but if you really believe, why not?

Royals (6-10; +2800)

Not a very good team on paper anyway, the Royals’ resume is unimpressive to this point. They are 5-5 at home, but that’s after winning the first two. They are 1-5 on the road and they’ve only played three games outside the Centrals.

The offense is not very good and outside Whit Merrifield, you can truly count on anyone with a hot streak on deck. Maybe Bobby Witt Jr., but then Andrew Benintendi isn’t going to keep up his pace on the positive side. The rotation is not going to hold up all season, either. I do like the bullpen, at least.

This is very likely your last place team and even if they somehow avoid that fate, their 90th percentile achievement this season still probably does not come close to taking the division. They’d need to hit maybe their best possible number in the win column while the four teams above fold.

And, sure, someone might think, “hey, it’s only $ 10 and I could win $ 280 if they somehow pull it off.” But they won’t pull it off. And it’s more than $ 10, as it takes time and effort. On top of that, you have to look yourself in the mirror and admit you did this. There’s a thing called opportunity cost, after all.

Verdict: Don’t bother.

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