2012 American League MLB Predictions and Odds to Win Division
by Badger of Predictem.com
We put the cart in front of the horse a little by already discussing our 2012 World Series predictions, which you can see here. So now lets go backwards a little and discuss how we see the American League and National League races finishing in regards to their futures odds.
Well start by taking a look at the American League.
All of the 2012 Major League Baseball future odds and can be found at the best baseball betting site on the Web with the lowest juice and best reduced odds 5Dimes.
AMERICAN LEAGUE FUTURES
ODDS TO WIN AL EAST
NEW YORK YANKEES -145
BOSTON RED SOX +275
TAMPA BAY RAYS +600
TORONTO BLUE JAYS +1050
BALTIMORE ORIOLES +10000
The NEW YORK YANKEES are once again the favorite in the AL East division, one year removed from winning the 2011 AL East pennant by six games with a 97-65 record. But unlike Yankee teams of the past, this year the front office didnt hoard talent as big spenders on the free agent market. Instead they traded for a young pitcher in Michael Pineda (Seattle Mariners) and added wily veteran Hiroki Kuroda (LA Dodgers) to complete their starting rotation after C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova. With A.J. Barnett and his huge contract sent to Pittsburgh, the Yankees will really need Phil Hughes to rebound from a terrible 2011, or retread Freddy Garcia to continue to defy his age in order to hold down the No. 5 role and stay atop a division that is once again loaded with contenders.
Starting with Curtis Granderson at the top, the Yankees lineup is once again loaded from top to bottom and will have much of the same look it had when 2011 ended in the playoffs. The Yankees added Raul Ibanez to fill the DH role, so to some degree the lineup could be even harder to get through unscathed with no real weakness 1 through 9 in the order.
Of course, the BOSTON RED SOX will do their best to chase
the Yankees and take away the title of best in the AL East, but times are
a changing in Fenway Park. Gone are manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein,
and in their place is a new front office staff and old Mets manager Bobby
Valentine to run the clubhouse. The Red Sox lineup is still very formidable,
providing that leftfielder Carl Crawfords bad wrist doesnt linger too
long into the season. With Adrian Gonzales, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia
and David Ortiz still in Beantown the Sox shouldnt have a hard time scoring
Bostons hopes of overtaking the Yankees in the division will live or die on their pitching. Former As closer Andrew Bailey was brought in to close games now that Jonathan Pappelbon has moved on to Philly, but Bobby Jenks is already on the 60-day disabled list so the Red Sox could have major issues at the back end of their bullpen. The other huge question for Boston is their starting rotation. The bullpen is also weaker because the Red Sox are tinkering with moving set-up man Daniel Bard and possibly reliever Alfredo Aceves into the starting rotation to make up for a lack of arms behind Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.
The TAMPA BAY RAYS finished with 91 wins last season, and yet this year they are still taking a back seat to the Red Sox and Yankees in the divisional title race. The funny thing is that they Rays quietly got better in the offseason, making their off the radar run at title even more valuable at 6-to-1.
It may be hard to fathom, but the Rays rotation will be even better in 2012 now that theyve finally brought lefty Matt Moore to the big leagues (he tossed the 2-hitter in playoffs last year). Moore will fit in nicely behind James Shields, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson to form the best rotation in the division. Wade Davis is likely to be bumped to the bullpen with Moore up in the show now, and Davis, Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth should form a decent trio to nail games down at the back of the bullpen.
The Rays offense isnt as strong as others in the AL East, but they did bring Carlos Pena back at first and also added Luke Scott (Baltimore) to be the DH and help protect Evan Longoria in the lineup. But theres no denying the fact that the Rays Achilles heel could prove to be a lack of run production from the youngsters like Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings.
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If the TORONTO BLUE JAYS were in any other division other than the AL East Id be all over them as a sleeper. The problem is they are not quite up to the level of the big three in front of them in the AL East, either offensively or defensively, despite getting better in the winter. With former Cardinal Colby Rasmus in centerfield and rookie of the year candidate Brett Lawrie at third, the Blue Jays are starting to get deeper in the lineup ahead of and behind Jose Bautista.
Toronto also has a nice contingent of arms in the rotation with Ricky Romero, Brandon Marrow and Brett Cecil at the top. The Blue Jays main problem last season, the bullpen, was addressed by adding Francisco Cordero, Darren Oliver and Sergio Santos this winter to become perhaps the deepest in the division. In the end I think the Blue Jays are better than Boston, but I dont think they get past the Rays or the Yankees yet.
Finally, we come to the BALTIMORE ORIOLES. With young talent like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis surrounded by solid veterans J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds the Orioles have a potent offensive attack. If Brian Roberts can rebound to anything close to his former All-Star form, the Orioles offense will be plenty good enough.
Oh, but the pitching. Baltimore is hoping youngster Jake Arrieta is ready to jump from No. 4 starter last year to staff ace this season, a big leap. Behind him they brought in decent veteran arms in Tommy Hunter (Texas) and Jason Hammel (Colorado), but you and I are fooling ourselves if thats good enough to keep up with the Yankees, Rays and even the Blue Jays rotations in the division. The addition of Matt Lindstrom (Rockies) will help Kevin Gregg and Jim Johnson at the back of the bullpen, but with the divisions weakest rotation the question becomes how many times will they be handed a lead to hold?
AL EAST PREDICTION
Tampa Bay Rays (+600) I gave the Blue Jays a second look as a long shot, but in the end Im taking the Rays to win the AL East at 6-to-1. The overall best combination of pitching, hitting, defense and managerial moves reside in Tampa in my opinion. Plus, they are the best value in a division that I go out of my way to avoid anything Yankee or Red Sox.
ODDS TO WIN AL CENTRAL
DETROIT TIGERS -450
KANSAS CITY ROYALS +1000
CLEVELAND INDIANS +1100
MINNESOTA VIKINGS +1200
CHICAGO WHITE SOX +1800
After winning 95 games and taking the AL Central crown last season, the
DETROIT TIGERS shot up the odds board to at or near the
top following the signing of Prince Fielder in free agency. At -450 odds
though, taking them as a future pick to win it this season would be silly.
Plus, in my opinion the team still has some warts and could be in for a
tough summer despite the increased offensive firepower.
Its got to be almost statistically impossible for ace Justin Verlander to have a better season this year when compared to last years record-breaking campaign, and I also think well see more of the Seattle-Mariner-like Doug Fister (3-12, 3.33) and less of the Detroit-Tigers-like Fister after the trade last year (8-1, 1.79), so the rotation is bound to regress a little. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello will eat innings, but Im not sold on them making huge improvements over last year. Im also curious as to how many ground balls Miguel Cabrera and Fielder on the corners will kick (especially since Porcello is a heavy groundball pitcher) before it starts affecting the pitching and defense in bad ways. The good news is the Tigers bullpen is still stacked, so in reality their games are almost shortened to seven innings with Octavio Dotel joining Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde at the back end.
Im not sure if the folks at 5Dimes really think the KANSAS CITY
ROYALS are the next best team behind the Tigers in the AL Central,
or if a testament to how weak the division has become in recent years. Either
way, the Royals did some nice things in the offseason and will be much better,
Im just not so sure its enough to win it.
Luke Hochevar reclaims the role of ace in Kansas City rotation this year, and management did go out and get Jonathan Sanchez to slip behind him for a solid one-two. But Bruce Chen, Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy are just not the rest of the pieces to a championship rotation, despite the fact the Royals improved the bullpen too with the addition of former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. With a young and exciting offense led by corner infielders Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer and finally-producing outfielder Alex Gordon, the Royals are bound to struggle scoring runs at times and their pitching is just not good enough to weather that storm.
The wildcard in the AL Central this season in my opinion will be the CLEVELAND
INDIANS. Offensively they should get better after acquiring Casey
Kotchman to play first and the return to health of right fielder Shin-Soo
Choo, but the loss of Grady Sizemore (again!) due to back surgery is certainly
enough to set off a few alarms for me. Youngsters Jack Hannahan and Michael
Brantley simply have to get better in their second-year in order for the
Indians offense to have enough to stay in the hunt until September.
The Indians should hang around long enough too, because they arguably have the best starting rotation in the division. A full season of Ubaldo Jimenez and offseason pickup Derek Lowe will take all sorts of pressure off of young Indians starters Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and David Huff. Plus, who knows when former ace Fausto Carmona (er, Roberto Hernandez) will be cleared to return to the rotation, it could be just in time for a post-All Star game playoff push. The Indians bullpen isnt great either, so getting to closer Chris Perez could prove to be a huge problem all season.
No team has fallen further in the past calendar year than the MINNESOTA
TWINS, but if you take the two best players out of any lineup,
like the Twins did last year without Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, any team
would fall to the bottom of the division like a rock. If (a big if) Morneau
and Mauer are healthy, then the additions of Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit
to the middle along with the speed of Ben Revere and Denard Span at the
top give the Twins a solid everyday lineup.
Just like the lineup, the Twins pitching staff wont knock your socks off, but its a solid major league unit one through five in the rotation. Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano may be a little overmatched at times against other teams top two starters, but the combo of Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing will matchup as well as anyone in the division on the bottom half of the rotation. Matt Capps blew nine saves last year, something that cannot happen if the Twins hope to compete.
Just about everyone associated with the CHICAGO WHITE SOX fully admits they are in rebuilding mode, so this may be a tough season on the South Side. The big names that are still around, like Paul Kornerko, Adam Dunn, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios, are all on the downside of their careers. Their biggest offseason pickup, former Cub Kosuke Fukudome, hardly made a ripple this winter and doesnt do much to bolster the lineup much at all.
The White Sox pitching seems to be in transition too, with John Danks and Gavin Floyd moving up to the top of the rotation to make room for onetime closer candidate, Chris Sale moving into the starting corps. Jake Peavy did come back for 18 starts last year, but hes become nothing but an average pitcher following surgeries and just like the old names in the lineup, just doesnt strike fear in opponents that much anymore. Chicago doesnt have a proven closer to nail down games in the bullpen either, and with Matt Thornton (3 of 7 in saves in 2011) as the leading candidate for the role it could get dicey past the seventh inning.
AL CENTRAL PREDICTION
Minnesota Twins (+1200) I thought about skipping this whole division due to the fact that the Tigers are such huge favorites along with a weak field of alternatives, but scared money doesnt win money. But Ill put a unit at 12-to-1 that both Mauer and Morneau rebound to close to MVP form to rescue the Twins offense, and the Twins rotation overachieves to get them past the Tigers for the AL Central crown.
ODDS TO WIN AL WEST
LOS ANGELES ANGELS -125
TEXAS RANGERS +110
OAKLAND ATHLETICS +3000
SEATTLE MARINERS +4000
The LOS ANGELES ANGELS finished 10 games behind the Texas Rangers last year and decided enough is enough, then went out and signed the top player and pitcher in free agency adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to an already good team. The big and bold moves made the Angels an instant favorite, not just in the L.A. market but in the AL West, the American League and World Series futures markets as well.
Wilson goes from staff ace to the No. 3 starter role with the Angels behind Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, a move that is certain to cause matchup problems against other No. 3s all season long. The addition of Pujols to the Angels lineup bumps Kendry Morales to DH and takes pressure off veterans Vernon Wells, Torri Hunter and youngster Mark Trumbo to produce runs.
Of course, the TEXAS RANGERS arent going to just hand the Angels the division without a fight. But as the two-time champs of the AL West, the odds of the Rangers repeating a third year straight also stacks up against them. Texas added import Yu Darvish to the rotation to replace Wilson, but like most Japanese pitchers coming to MLB theres no telling how hell handle the added workload. The Rangers are also taking a major risk in signing Joe Nathan to replace closer Neftali Feliz, and then moving Feliz into the rotation. If Nathans post-surgery arm cant handle the closer role early in the season, it will throw the entire staff into disarray to make up for the missing piece.
Offensively the Rangers are still the same as they were last season, with Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Mike Napoli providing the heart of a very formidable everyday lineup in a ballpark that is very friendly to hit in everyday.
No team was busier in the offseason trading away good young talent than the OAKLAND As, which makes one think theyve already conceded the division to the big boys. Two of their best pitchers (Gio Gonzales, Trevor Cahill) and the closer (Andrew Bailey) are off in different teams now, as the As continue to try and get younger and cheaper than most triple-A teams on the farm.
The As have already learned theyll be without 3B Scott Sizemore for the season with a torn ACL too, so their offense has already taken a hit it could barely afford to take in the first place. The Angels added Pujols, while the As added Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith hardly a fair comparison.
The SEATTLE MARINERS also face a huge uphill climb to get out of the cellar. After Felix Hernandez in the rotation the Mariners have … Jason Vargas? They may get a few innings out of Kevin Millwood, but really the Mariners have no one else name-wise in the rotation that would be recognizable by anyone outside of the Seattle front office staff.
An aging Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins lead the Mariners lineup, a projected everyday lineup that combined only hit 56 homeruns and drove in 257 runs as a whole unit last season. When catcher Miguel Olivo (19 HR, 62 RBI) is your best run producer and power hitter, you know you have a Mount-Everest-like mountain to climb to get past the Angels and Rangers in the division.
AL WEST PREDICTION
Los Angeles Angels (-125) I hate taking the favorite, and paying the extra juice, but when presented with the other three options I just cant throw away a unit for nothing. Ill take the Angels and pay a little extra since I think the Rangers run at the top is bound to stop after two years, and the other two teams have a snowballs chance in what will likely be a two-team race.
ODDS to WIN AMERICAN LEAGUE PENNANT
NEW YORK YANKEES +325
LOS ANGELES ANGELS +390
BOSTON RED SOX +500
DETROIT TIGERS +500
TEXAS RANGERS +550
TAMPA BAY RAYS +1000
TORONTO BLUE JAYS +1900
CHICAGO WHITE SOX +3000
CLEVELAND INDIANS +3300
MINNESOTA TWINS +3800
OAKLAND ATHLETICS +4000
KANSAS CITY ROYALS +5000
BALTIMORE ORIOLES +6500
SEATTLE MARINERS +7000
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS
Short Favorite Prediction: Los Angeles Angels (+390) I know its marathon and not a sprint, but its really hard not to like the way the Angels can matchup their three top pitchers in any divisional or ALCS series. Some dude named Pujols in the heart of the lineup too. Sorry Angels fans, but Im onboard.
Middle of the Road Pick: Tampa Bay Rays (+1000) This one is a little riskier because for the Rays to get this far they will have already gone through the gauntlet that is the AL East in the regular season. But again, the Rays pitching in a 5-game and 7-game playoff series will be tough to top and it could prove once again that in baseball, pitching wins championships.
Longshot Pick: Minnesota Twins (+3800) In true long shot form Im taking the Twins here simply because I think theyre the only long shot team (+1500 or larger) that can maybe win their division (provided the Tigers fall apart somehow). The Twins are not as bad as people think, and plus they had all of their injuries last year, so this year has to be different.