MLB Betting Preview: AL Central Division Outright Odds, Division Odds, Season Win Totals

Of the nine teams with the longest odds to win the 2024 World Series, three come from the American League Central. Like its land-locked cousin in the NL, this division is largely viewed as the steady supplier of teams to be chewed up by the coastal super teams once the playoffs begin.

But while the Central teams might not have the financial wherewithal to hang with the likes of the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers or other mega-market spenders in free agency, this division does have plenty of endemic talent, a scrappy Minnesota Twins club that finally exorcised its post-season demons, and some teams with burgeoning farm systems on the way back.

Let’s take a look at the AL Central through the lens of bet365 futures odds as Opening Day looms this week:

Minnesota Twins

World Series odds: +3000
League odds: +1200
Division odds: -120
Season win total: 85.5 (-140 over, +110 under)
To make playoffs: Yes (-180), No (+145)
Record last season: 87-75 (Lost division series to Houston Astros)

Key departures: RHP Sonny Gray, OF Michael Taylor, OF/1B Joey Gallo, RHP Kenta Maeda, INF Donovan Solano, LHP Dallas Keuchel.

Key additions: 1B/DH Carlos Santana, RHP Jay Jackson.

Season outlook: The Twins finally snapped their 18-game post-season losing streak with a decisive two-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, but their strength in that series and all season – starting pitching – will be tested by an off-season in which they lost their ace, Gray, as well as Maeda, a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter. Still, with Royce Lewis emerging as a young superstar and a rotation led by Pablo Lopez and some good young starters, this team stands out as perhaps the most clear-cut division favourite in the league. That, of course, is reflected by their short odds to win the division. It is, perhaps, a reflection of how the Twins view this division – as theirs to lose – that they slashed their payroll in the off-season by more than $20 million without worrying much about everyone catching up. The sad truth is they may be right, particularly if they get bounce-back seasons from stalwart veterans Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton. Until proven otherwise, the Twins clearly are the class of the AL Central.

Best bet: Even with those departures, this figures to be a top-5 pitching staff and, if Correa and Buxton can play to their capabilities, the offence could be better than last year. They already got over their playoff curse, which was the longest in North American major pro sports, so it feels like they could be in a position to make more noise in the postseason. Those +1200 odds to represent the AL in the World Series seem tempting for a talented roster in a bad division.

Minnesota Twins to win the American League


Cleveland Guardians

World Series odds: +6600
League odds: +3000
Division odds: +300
Season win total: 77.5 (-145 over, +115 under)
To make playoffs: Yes, (+250), No (-340)
Record last season: 76-86 (Missed playoffs)

Key departures: RHP Lucas Giolito, OF Kole Calhoun, RHP Reynaldo Lopez.

Key additions: RHP Ben Lively, RHP Tyler Beede, RHP Scott Barlow, OF Estevan Florial.

Season outlook: It has been a rough spring for the Guardians, who already have lost key reliever Trevor Stephan to Tommy John surgery, announced that starter Gavin Williams will begin the season on the injured list and that hard-throwing Daniel Espino had his second shoulder surgery in the last four years. Luckily, the Guardians had plenty of pitching depth. What they don’t have is power, meaning they’ll continue playing a 1980s style in the 2020s, stealing bases, advancing runners and playing for a run at a time. They field their positions as well as any team in MLB. The pitching remains intimidating, particularly the bullpen, but it would help if ace Shane Bieber could get his fastball back after seeing a serious dip in velocity in ’23. It feels like a transition year in Cleveland with the departure of veteran manager Terry Francona for rookie manager Stephen Vogt. The ownership group remains as stingy as ever, meaning Cleveland will have to do it, as usual, with homegrown talent, something that’s not out of the question in this division.

Best bet: Given Bieber’s lost oomph, that win total looks a bit lofty given the Twins’ continued toughness, the Tigers’ improvement and the departure of Francona. The Guardians haven’t been able to develop power and they’re certainly not going to pay for it. Baseball is a power game and that doesn’t figure to change any time soon. As pitching gets tougher, it’s harder and harder to string together several hits to score runs. From here, the Guardians seem like a rebuilding team, so consider taking under 77.5 wins.

Detroit Tigers

World Series odds: +6000
League odds: +5000
Division odds: +300
Season win total: 79.5 (-135 over, +105 under)
To make playoffs: Yes (+180), No (-340)
Record last season: 78-84 (Missed playoffs)

Key departures: RHP Spencer Turnbull, RHP Eduardo Rodriguez, OF/DH Miguel Cabrera.

Key additions: OF, Mark Canha, RHP Kenta Maeda, RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Shelby Miller and LHP Andrew Chafin.

Season outlook: This team might be the biggest threat to the Twins, but a lot of things have to go right for them to make it a race. They’re banking on Flaherty returning to form he hasn’t shown in several years as well as continued production from Maeda at age 35 and hoping Casey Mize will be a factor by mid-season. They also are hoping a late-season uptick in power from former No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson continues and that Riley Greene breaks out this season into the ranks of superstardom. But underpinning all that is the best farm system in the division, which should steadily feed talent to the big league team. And, if the Tigers are close, their management team figures to make meaningful moves at the trade deadline given this team’s long playoff drought, which stretches back to 2014.

Best bet: There’s really only one reason the Tigers used the top pick on Torkelson out of Arizona State four years ago: he was billed as a slugger who could step right into a major league lineup. It didn’t work out that way, as Torkelson’s rookie season saw him go up and down from Triple-A and hit just eight balls out of the stadium. But last season he learned to pull the ball in the air more consistently and the result was 31 home runs. Given some of those underlying metrics, Torkelson seems like a good bet to eclipse his set total of 29.5 home runs (at +110).

Spencer Torkelson (DET) over 29.5 Home Runs


Kansas City Royals

World Series odds: +10000
League odds: +6000
Division odds: +900
Season win total: 73.5 (-135 over, +105 under)
To make playoffs: Yes (+400), No (-600)
Record last season:  56-107 (Missed playoffs)

Key departures: RHP Josh Staumont, LHP Austin Cox.

Key additions: RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Seth Lugo, OF Hunter Renfroe, INF Adam Frazier, LHP Will Smith, RHP John Schreiber, RHP Chris Stratton.

Season outlook: Rumors of the Royals’ improvement have been greatly exaggerated in recent seasons. They were supposed to take a step forward last season but instead posted their lowest win total (56) since 2005. Once again, the Royals have been applauded for their off-season moves, but at some point, they have to prove it on the field. Kansas City went the mid-tier route in free agency to add some heft to the starting rotation and traded some prospect capital for veteran players who should help. They don’t look like a division contender, but they certainly should stand a good chance of avoiding another 100-loss season and might be considerably better than that. The pitching rotation could be among the best in the division headed by lefty Cole Ragans and fortified by Wacha and Lugo. The bullpen was completely remade via free agency with the additions of Smith, Stratton and Schreiber. Given the volatility in the reliever market, few teams have had success building bullpens on the open market, but the Royals had no choice given their dearth of internal options.

Best bet: If Ragans pitches as well as he did last season, but stretches it over a full season and the other additions prove as good as advertised, this could be the most-improved team in the AL. If you’re a believer in what they’ve done, you’re better off taking the +900 on them to win the division and hope the Twins regress given the relatively short +400 odds on them to reach the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox

World Series odds: +12500
League odds: +6000
Division odds: +3000
Season win total: 63.5 (-110 over, -110 under)
To make playoffs: Yes (+2200), No (-25000)

Record last season: 61-101 (Missed playoffs)

Key departures: RHP Dylan Cease, RHP Mike Clevinger, C Carlos Perez, LHP Aaron Bummer, SS Tim Anderson, RHP Liam Hendricks, RHP Jose Urena, C Yasmani Grandal.

Key additions: RHP Chris Flexen, RHP Erick Fedde, C Max Stassi, IF Nicky Lopez, RHP Riley Gowens, RHP Mike Soroka.

Season outlook: After their 100-loss season, the White Sox fired the entire front office and promoted new general manager Chris Getz to get them out of this mess. Getz seems to have landed on a strategy of trying to fix the lacking fundamentals by bringing in veterans who are adept at the little things. He has his work cut out for him trying to improve the 29th-best offence in MLB, a lineup that also finished 29th in offensive WAR. He, at least, has a young superstar to build around in Luis Robert Jr. The pitching isn’t much better, having ranked 23rd in starters’ ERA last season – and that was before they traded ace Dylan Cease, one of the top power arms in the game. Oh, and two of the other leading starters, Mike Clevinger and Lucas Giolito, aren’t around anymore either. Neither is Lance Lynn, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing given the number of long balls he surrendered. As for the bullpen, yeah, you guessed it… pretty lacklustre. The Sox ‘pen finished 27th in the majors in relief FIP. This is a team that might give the Oakland A’s a run for their money in trying to secure the inside track to the No. 1 overall pick.

Best bet: May as well go big and take the +400 on the Sox to have the worst record in MLB. Perhaps things will go surprisingly well for Oakland and Colorado or, perhaps, things will go even worse on the South Side, which isn’t giving off many signs of contention these days.