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Betting on the AL East Division in 2021 – Odds, Predictions, and Team Evaluations
The days of this division revolving around the Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry are gone. Boston finished in the cellar of the 2020 AL East standings while the Rays wound up with the best record in all of the American League.
Toronto refurbished their roster and looks to be a sincere contender to the Pinstripers, and the Rays will remain in the mix. As for the Orioles, well, let’s just call them a work in progress.
There’s a lot to unpack from the offseason before you lock in any bets on the AL East Division.
AL East Odds in 2021
Atop the AL East odds by quite a substantial margin, the Yanks are also the favorites to emerge with the AL Pennant in hand. The Bronx Bombers have the most talent in this division and arguably the best lineup in all of baseball.
Worth noting is that when the best MLB betting sites originally installed odds for the AL East Division, the Rays were the ones positioned as the biggest threat to the Yanks. However, Toronto and Tampa have essentially flip-flopped in the wake of the Blue Jays aggressive spending spree.
Let’s assess each team individually before arriving at AL East predictions.
New York Yankees in 2021
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton continually get extolled as two of the best power-hitters in the game, and yet Yankees 1B Luke Voigt led the Majors in home runs in 2020.
Any concerns about not retaining DJ LeMahieu were to bed when New York inked LeMahieu to a $90 million extension in mid-January.
Gleyber Torres and Aaron Hicks are all-systems-go, and Clint Frazier finally gets a chance to get everyday at-bats. Frazier’s got lots of pop in his bat having accumulated 20 homers and 64 RBI with New York’s Big League club since the start of 2019 (108 games).
The one hang-up with the Yankees being a lock to come out on top in their division is the lack of depth behind Gerrit Cole in the starting rotation.
Acquiring Jameson Taillon is a move that should pan out, but what Corey Kluber has left in the tank remains to be seen. Aaron Boone relies on Jordan Montgomery for big innings, and Domingo German’s career ERA (4.52) is nothing to write home about. German’s a big wild card after missing all of 2020.
Toronto Blue Jays in 2021
As for NYY’s main competitors, the Blue Jays have the best opportunity to challenge the Yankees throne. Their batting order is loaded with star power, and I mean that wholeheartedly.
Bringing George Springer and Marcus Semien on board means the top of Toronto’s batting order looks like this:
- George Springer
- Marcus Semien
- Bo Bichette
With Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel, and Cavan Biggio waiting in the wings! Most teams would be thrilled to start Randall Grichuk in their outfield (31 HR in 2019, 12 HR in 2020), and yet he’s been relegated to a platoon role with the Jays.
Southpaw Steven Matz gets a clean slate and will begin the year in the starting rotation, and the bullpen promises to be much-improved thanks to Ross Atkins continue to tear through his checkbook.
Tyler Chatwood and David Phelps provide durable arms in middle relief while luring in Kirby Yates to close games was one of the best under-the-radar MLB signings this winter.
AL East betting in 2021 just got a heck of a lot more interesting.
Tampa Bay Rays in 2021
Tampa Bay did everything right last season and deserved to play in the World Series. Unfortunately for Kevin Cash and his bunch, signs are pointing directly toward regression in 2021.
Blake Snell and Charlie Morton both bolted in free agency, and it’s unlikely Randy Arozarena continues his torrid pace from the playoffs.
The Rays lineup is intact from last season with no changes whatsoever, but is that really a good thing?
|Tampa Bay Rays Batting in 2020|
|Batting Average||Runs||Home Runs||Strikeouts|
To help put those numbers in perspective, the Rays sported the worst batting average in the AL East and ranked 4th out of the five teams in runs and homers. Their 608 strikeouts were more than any other team in baseball.
Tyler Glasnow is a flamethrower and the organization did a nice job in the winter filling out the rotation (signed Chris Archer, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha), but I can’t help but notice.
This roster is severely undermanned when compared to the rosters in New York and Toronto.
Boston Red Sox in 2021
I see a wide range of outcomes for Alex Cora’s group.
On one hand, this team wasn’t good at all in 2020 and there are no guarantees that Chris Sale returns and pitches like an ace. Hopes are high for Garrett Richards, but durability is a major concern.
As dependable as the top three teams in this division are, the Red Sox are going to have their hands full trying to keep pace.
Having said that, a +2200 price tag is awfully appealing when you consider betting on the AL East.
Boston’s front office didn’t make the splash that Toronto’s did, but adding Enrique Hernandez (two-year/$14 million) and Hunter Renfroe make this lineup much more dynamic.
Marwin Gonzalez is another versatile newcomer who gives Cora all sorts of flexibility when setting his lineup card.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are big-time contributors who can be counted on to deliver, but don’t be surprised if Alex Verdugo ends the year as the best hitter on the BoSox.
Baltimore Orioles in 2021
Talk about a Major League Baseball team with holes up and down their roster, there’s just not a whole lot to get excited about if you’re a fan of the Orioles.
Trey Mancini’s return is noteworthy and Ryan Mountcastle is a breakout candidate, Beyond that, it turns bleak rather quickly.
Even giving Baltimore the benefit of the doubt and projecting that the hitters can hold their own, Brandon Hyde’s starting five resembles a unit from the minors. They’ve resorted to inviting Matt Harvey to camp – the same Matt Harvey whose ERA since the start of 2017 is a cumulative 6.09.
Have you ever heard of John Means and Dean Kremer? How about Keegan Akin or Jorge Lopez?
Well, along with Harvey, those are the five individuals being relied on to keep the opposition off from crossing home plate.
Booking the under on Baltimore is one of the best MLB win totals to bet on in 2021.
AL East Predictions for 2021
After hashing through the rosters and looking at what’s ahead, I’ve arrived at my predictions for the AL East standings.
|Projected AL East Standings in 2021|
|1. New York Yankees||97-65|
|2. Toronto Blue Jays||92-70|
|3. Tampa Bay Rays||86-76|
|4. Boston Red Sox||81-81|
|5. Baltimore Orioles||60-102|
Despite the question marks surrounding their staff, the Yanks will find a way to get it done. Toronto and Tampa Bay should be in line to challenge for a Wild Card spot, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the Red Sox to make any noise.
There’s no more Mookie Betts in Beantown and the starting rotation isn’t stable. The Red Sox thought they could depend on J.D. Martinez, but his disastrous 2020 campaign leaves us guessing about what’s in store.