Two months into the MLB season and so far the form book looks to be pretty much on track, with two of the six pre-season divisional favourites already leading the way and the rest in touch. Of the four chasers, the Cleveland Indians are only one win away from the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, with the Red Sox being in exactly the same position in the AL East, behind the Yankees. The LA Dodgers – hot pre-season favourites to win the NL West – are currently joint-second (with the Arizona Diamondbacks) and just two wins shy of the table-topping Colorado Rockies. And the Cubs sit in second in the NL Central courtesy of two back-to-back wins this week for the Millwaukee Brewers.
But it’s a notoriously long, gruelling season and there’s still scope for some twists and turns that will offer excitement and thrills for fans and value betting for punters.
We’ll look at it on a division-by-division basis:
AL East Division (current standings)
- New York Yankees
- Boston Red Sox
- Baltimore Orioles
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Toronto Blue Jays
The Yankees have surprised many, not least the bookies, with their young team putting in a positive opening third of the season. They lead the fancied Red Sox by a GB of 2.5 and at this stage look a reasonable bet for at least a wild card shot at the play-offs. The Orioles – who like the Yankees were well out of the picture in the pre-season betting – have also performed better than anticipated. They are pushing the Red Sox hard and are currently eighth in the overall rankings. The Blue Jays have plenty of work to do if they’re going to get beyond the regular season this time around and are currently six wins adrift of the Yankees.
AL Central Division (current standings)
- Minnesota Twins
- Cleveland Indians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Chicago White Sox
The Indians began the season as clear favourites to wrap up this division but it’s the Twins – written off as also-rans before the season started – who narrowly lead the way, albeit with a relatively modest .527 record. The Indians and Tigers lie in wait for them to suffer a downturn in form but this modest quality division offers the Twins an outside chance of a place in the play-offs. The White Sox were predicted to struggle and they haven’t disappointed and for the Royals the 2015 World Series now seems a long time ago.
AL West Division (current standings)
- Houston Astros
- Seattle Mariners
- Los Angeles Angels
- Texas Rangers
- Oakland Athletics
The Astros were the bookies’ favourites to win this division but no-one expected them to run away with it in the way they have. Their roster of burgeoning young stars have delivered in a way few expected and only a third of the way in they lead the Mariners by a GB of 12.0; astonishing for the first week in June. A mid-division place for the Angels is as good as it’s likely to get but offers them hope going forward, while Athletics expected little and have delivered precisely that. If they can deliver a .500 record at the end of the regular season then it will be a reasonable return.
NL East Division (current standings)
- Washington Nationals
- Atlanta Braves
- New York Mets
- Miami Marlins
- Philadelphia Phillies
The Nationals were expected to deliver and they have done exactly that. Described by one commentator as “one of the most well-rounded rosters in baseball”, they have found a consistency that has eluded all but the Astros, and sit second in the overall rankings with an impressive .638 record. The Mets were predicted to run them close but are currently over 12 wins shy of Washington’s finest and a .439 represents a disappointing opening couple of months. The Braves meanwhile, while having an identical record to the Mets, have over-performed based on their pre-season odds but still remain a work in progress. So too the Marlins, who are only 0.5 GB behind the Mets and Braves, but for the Phillies it’s already looking like season over.
NL Central Division (current standings)
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati Reds
- St Louis Cardinals
- Pittsburgh Pirates
Few expected the Brewers to be leading the pack at this stage, least of all the Brewers themselves, but three wins in their last four games have propelled them to the top of the division, ahead of the highly-fancied Cubs – current World Series champions. But until their surprise defeat by the Marlins, the Cubs were starting to roll and it’s still odds on that they’ll end up as divisional winners, even though they currently sit at a lowly eleventh in the overall rankings. For their part, the Reds too still have the Brewers in their sights but are currently three wins adrift, while the Cardinals and Pirates both have losing records that quickly need to be turned around if their seasons are not to fizzle out.
NL West Division (current standings)
- Colorado Rockies
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Francisco Giants
- San Diego Padres
In a division of the highest quality the top three are all in the top five of the overall rankings; the Rockies with a .623 record and the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers not far behind, both on .590. For the Diamondbacks this represents a major over-achievement given their lowly position in the pre-season odds; the Rockies too bucking their opening odds in impressive style. As things stand it looks likely that this division will provide two of the four wild-cards but not before a battle royal for the top, automatic spot. Unfortunately for the Giants and the Padres it’s already very much a question of damage limitation.
FANCY A BET?
If you’re looking for a decent value MLB Future bet then the Yankees at +125 with Topbet to win the AL East Division looks worth a shout with their current .589 record while, with Bovado, the Nationals at +700 to win the 2017 World Series looks a sound bet based on their current good form.
The same bookmaker is offering what looks a very generous +2000 for the Twins to win the World Series, and also a tempting +750 to win the American League.