We’ve reached the All-Star break, so now is a good time to reflect on the first half of the season and look at futures for the remainder of the 2019 campaign.
The New York Yankees and Houston Astros have overcome injuries to remain at the top of the American League power rankings. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are all still in contention. Who is the best bet going forward? Let’s take a look at the MLB contenders and the betting odds for them to win the AL Pennant:
The fact that New York (+175) has 57 wins through 108 games is a testament to the outstanding talent and depth throughout its roster. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius among others have all missed significant time but the Yankees are tied for the best record in the AL. The addition of Edwin Encarnacion makes this team even more dangerous, but the question is do they have the starting pitching to take them the distance?
Meanwhile, Houston (+200) has also dealt with its share of injuries this season with George Springer and Carlos Correa among those that have missed significant time. Also like the Yankees, the Astros have thrived thanks to their talent and depth with Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick leading the way on offence. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been dominant on the mound despite a rough month. The Yankees may have the edge with the bats but the Astros clearly have the better starting pitching. That could end up being the difference.
The Longer Shots
Almost everything has gone right for Minnesota (+400) throughout the first half of the season with the highest scoring offence in the majors leading the way. As is always the case with the young teams that emerge: are they ready for the primetime this year or will they fade in the second half of the season?
Two other teams that remain in contention are the Boston Red Sox (+700) and the Tampa Bay Rays (+1100).
The Red Sox were one of the preseason favourites but they find themselves nine games back of the Yankees at the break. The pitching hasn’t been there as Chris Sale has a 4.04 ERA over the first half while the team is 17th in the Majors in ERA (4.59).
As for the Rays, they are an interesting case since they currently lead the AL Wild Card race despite some obvious signs of regression. Tampa Bay relies on its bullpen more than any other team in the majors. They hit the break with the best ERA in the Majors at 3.32.
While relying on pitching has worked so far, the bats have really faded. They scored 5.2 runs per game in April, then 4.6 in May and 4.3 in June. They were 35-19 at one point in the season but have gone just 17-20 over their last 37 contests. They’re heading in the wrong direction but still hold the top Wild Card spot for now.