Remember when the American League was basically a toss-up between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees – with the Yankees usually coming out on top? Those days are well behind us now. But at least the Red Sox are still playing competitive baseball; at press time, Boston is +225 to win the AL pennant for the fourth time this millennium. New York is fifth on the MLB futures market at +1200.

The Red Sox (93-69, +2.46 betting units) aren’t messing around, either. They’ve gone all-in on the 2017 campaign, sending their brightest young prospects to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for five-time All-Star southpaw Chris Sale (3.46 FIP). It’s a risky move, and Boston’s batting order will suffer now that DH David Ortiz (1.021 OPS, tops in the majors) has called it quits after delivering one of his very best seasons at age 40. But there’s enough talent everywhere else on the roster for Sale to push the Red Sox over the top and into the World Series.

In My Tribe

Boston should have a relatively easy time in the AL East this year. The Toronto Blue Jays (89-73, –9.19 units) had their issues in 2016, and now they’re without DH Edwin Encarnacion (.886 OPS), who bolted the team in free agency. The Jays remain Boston’s top threat within the division, and they’re +1000 to win their first pennant since 1993. Then you have the Yankees, who are in a rebuilding phase after dumping ballast at last year’s trade deadline.

The true threat to Boston’s 2017 season comes from the AL Central. Cleveland (94-67, +8.92 units) swept the Red Sox in the 2016 ALDS, and after signing Encarnacion away from Toronto, the Tribe are +350 second-favorites to win back-to-back pennants. Cleveland is looking very good at every position on the diamond, but this team doesn’t have the same fanbase as the Red Sox, so their betting lines should carry more value than Boston’s.

The AL West has seen better times, but the Houston Astros (84-78, –9.35 units) are poised for a strong season after going through some health issues last year. This is one of the most Moneyball-friendly teams you’ll find anywhere, and a potential bargain at +650 to win the pennant. On the flip side, watch out for the Texas Rangers (95-67, +29.32 units), who won the division last season by nine games and easily led the majors in profits despite posting a run differential of plus-8. The Rangers are +1200 to win the pennant, but regression to the mean is in their future.


*Odds as of March 24, 2017