2016 AL East Outright Odds And Prediction
With only a handful of games remaining before the Major League Baseball All-Star break, the MLB AL East division title odds have become a clear three-team race between Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto. The other two teams include the New York Yankees – who still have an outside shot at making noise in the second half to claim the crown, but they'd need to go on quite a second half run to do so, and Tampa Bay Rays who is likely already making plans to sell off some assets and get next year's plan in motion.
MLB AL East Division Title Odds
Thus, the MLB AL East will be won by either the Baltimore Orioles (+145), Boston Red Sox (+200), or the defending champion Toronto Blue Jays (+200).
The Toronto Blue Jays have been in third place for most of the year as they haven't been able to piece together consistent results from their bullpen or offence. Those two things tend to be a problem in this division with the majority of the rivals mashing balls all around the yard on a nightly basis. Toronto used their explosive lineup last year to go on a second-half tear and claim the division, but there appears to be a few more issues to contend with this year.
Toronto still has the reigning MVP in 3B Josh Donaldson, and 1b/DH Edwin Encarnacion has been leading all of baseball in RBI's for a few weeks now. If this team starts to put up crooked numbers on opponents like they did in 2015, the 3-4 game deficit they are currently facing in the AL East standings can be made up quickly. However, Toronto still has trouble keeping their opponents off the scoreboard, especially with a bullpen that is arguably the worst in MLB among contenders.
That is a huge concern for this organization and it will likely end up being their downfall in late-September when the stakes are higher and you are going to see many more close games. At +200 or so, I just don't see much value in backing the Jays to repeat as AL East Champs; especially when we've only seen one team repeat in this division since the 2007 season (Yankees, 2011-12). That leaves the Orioles (+145) and Red Sox (+200) as the only two teams worth considering in this race.
MLB AL East Outright Prediction
BOSTON RED SOX TO WIN THE AL EAST @+200
Although the Baltimore Orioles has held the division lead for the majority of the first half of the season, I do not believe they will be able to continue their HR prowess post-All Star break. The Orioles own the lead in the AL East thanks to a league-high 128 HR's (as of July 4th) and a tremendous 31-13 SU record at home. It's tough for a team to keep up that kind of power over the course of the season and with the way the Orioles lineup is built – lots of HR power but also lots of strikeouts and pop-outs – seeing them slide out of top spot in the division by year's end shouldn't be too surprising.
The Boston Red Sox have some pitching concerns that have been growing more serious in recent weeks, but they've got the money and prospects to solve those concerns by the trade deadline. They also have much better indicators (+51 run differential) for wins than the Orioles do and there numbers actually suggest that the Red Sox have actually under-performed a bit in this 1st half. A lot of that disappointment can be attributed to their pitching woes, but this team can slug with the best of them and have a much more balanced lineup than any other AL East rival.
Boston is less dependent on the HR ball when comparing them to Baltimore, and that's how teams win games down the stretch. In fact, as of this writing (July 4th), Boston is miles ahead of any other team in all of baseball in hits (834) and doubles (197). Those kind of numbers over a large sample size are too hard to ignore, especially when the Orioles have 75 fewer hits and 38 fewer doubles over that same span.
Boston's got all the talent up and down their roster to claim the 2016 AL East, and once they figure out their pitching woes (which they will via trade or improved play from current guys), this team could end up running away with the division by mid-September.
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