Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
We are now nearly two months into the 2019 season, meaning we have a pretty good grasp on what teams really are. And it appears that the surprising AL Central leaders, the Minnesota Twins, are for real.
As of this writing, the Twins are just a half-game back of the Houston Astros for the best record in baseball and also trail only Houston for the largest run differential in baseball. Run differential, not a club’s record, generally is the best indicator of a how good/bad a team really is on the season.
Last year, the Twins finished 78-84, which got Manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor fired. They hit just 166 home runs, 23rd in the majors. This year? Minnesota is second with 88 dingers under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli. Eight guys have at least seven homers.
Nelson Cruz has been a huge free-agent addition as the every-day designated hitter (he’s on the injured list now but is expected back this week). Mitch Garver has come out of nowhere to be the best offensive catcher in baseball this season, although he was recently lost for 2-3 weeks to a high ankle sprain. That was actually good news because it looked much worse when the injury happened.
In the rotation, Martin Perez and Jake Odorizzi are pitching out of their minds. Odorizzi always has had the talent to be elite, but Perez was one of the worst pitchers in the majors last year with Texas.
Despite all this, oddsmakers still aren’t fully on board with the Twins as American League contenders as they are +650 to win the pennant, the fifth-shortest odds in the league.
The Astros continue to lead the way with pennant odds of +150. Houston appears to have no flaws – although the Twins won the season series between the two 4-3. As if that stacked lineup needed another superstar, former World Series MVP George Springer has emerged into one, leading the AL in home runs and RBI. Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley are both among the AL leaders in average. The Astros’ .279 team average leads MLB by a wide margin and they are also first in slugging (.506) and OPS (.858). And that’s with former AL MVP Jose Altuve injured and not hitting yet.
No team has been hit harder by injuries than the New York Yankees (+300), but they have still taken over first in the AL East and are starting to get guys back. Giancarlo Stanton, for example, hasn’t played in the majors since April 1 but could return this weekend. Alas, third baseman/DH Miguel Andujar, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, has been lost for the season.