MLB American League Central Predictions 2021, Odds and Expert Picks: It's the White Sox's year
It’s a busy time of the year for sports fans, with NFL free agency in full swing and March Madness dominating the airwaves. But it’s not all about college hoops right now, the start of the MLB season is also right around the corner. Baseball will be back in just over a week, and time really flew by since the Dodgers were crowned World Series champs. This year the AL Central should be intriguing, as three teams finished within a game of first place last year.
It’s going to be a very interesting season in baseball overall, as the league is coming off an unprecedented year where they played only 60 games due to COVID-19. Nobody knows how that shortened season will effect the 2021 campaign, but we’re about to find out. Before the season starts you’ll need to get your futures bets in, so let’s break it all down.
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White Sox -121
As I alluded to above, there was a three-way pile-up in the division last season. The Twins won the title, but the White Sox and Indians both finished only a game behind and each made the playoffs. This time around, it’s Chicago favored to win the AL Central, with Minnesota trailing closely behind.
Cleveland is clearly expected to take a bit of a step back, and after trading away Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lidor, that might be a fair assumption. Still, they’ve got to feel disrespected to be +700 after coming so close last year. The Royals and Tigers, just like they have been for a few seasons now, are once again expected to be afterthoughts in 2021.
Will we see a two-way race between the White Sox and Twins or will someone surprise us? Chicago has been a trendy pick for a while now, and they have the fourth-best odds to win the World Series at DraftKings. What’s interesting is that DK has Chicago at +850 to win it all and Minnesota at +2000, yet their odds to win the division are pretty close.
Now to the fun part. Let’s dive into a couple of best bets:
Best AL Central division winner bet
It might be the boring pick, but I’ve got to go with the White Sox at -121 here. They were a year ahead of schedule last season, and should be able to carry over their momentum in 2021. Sure the news of the injury to Eloy Jimenez is a big blow, but it’s not like this offense is going to be too devastated without him. They’ve still got the reigning MVP in Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and plenty of other capable bats.
Jimenez also should be back for the second half of the season. What will really set this team apart though is their rotation. They’ve got one of the best young pitchers in the league in Lucas Giolito, and Dallas Keuchel was a revelation last year with a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts. Then they went out and added Lance Lynn in a trade with the Rangers, giving them an elite third-starter option. This is a complete team, and all they’ve got to do is beat out a Minnesota squad that over-achieved last season.
Dallas Keuchel is a bad, bad man. pic.twitter.com/Wao9CelTsB
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 22, 2020
Best AL Central win total bet
I’m fading the Indians, as their win total of 81.5 is still too high even though it’s already an expected dip. Take the under on this one. The team pretty much acknowledged they’re not going to compete for a championship this season with their offseason moves, and I don’t see any reason to believe they’ll finish above .500. Their rotation is going to be very young, so the variance will be high with them and the floor is low.
Cleveland was close to Minnesota and Chicago in last year’s abbreviated campaign, but their run differential was by far the worst of the three. That shows they were pretty lucky to be up there, and likely would’ve faded if it was a full season. They already scored the sixth-fewest runs in the league last season, and were only able to compete because of elite pitching. If that pitching staff regresses even a little bit, this team is going to be really bad.
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