The junior circuit seems as wide open as ever entering the 2015 MLB baseball season as there don’t seem to be any clear-cut favorites like we have seen in past seasons. It’s been an interesting offseason to say the least as the arrival of spring training has taught us that there is plenty that can change from year to year in Major League Baseball. One thing that doesn’t change in baseball or any other sport for that matter is the fact that the roster as you see it on paper means just about nothing and there are 162 games that are needed to decide who has earned the right to participate in the postseason and eventually, the World Series.
In this piece I will be taking a look at some teams who I believe can take a real shot at reaching this year’s fall classic. To narrow it down, I will be featuring teams who have the best value relative to their odds of winning the American League Pennant. As I mentioned, it is a wide-open battle this season as I do not see any clear-cut favorites to win their respective divisions not to mention winning the AL Pennant and representing their league in the World Series. With all that said let’s take a look at some teams who I believe have a real shot at winning the American League.
*All odds obtained from 5dimes.eu
**Odds listed are for betting on each team to win the American League
Chicago White Sox – +1225 ($100 pays $1,225 at 5Dimes)
There is finally a team in the AL Central Division that can give the Detroit Tigers a serious run for their money. The White Sox made serious noise out of the American League this offseason as they acquired a co-ace to help anchor their rotation in the form of Jeff Samardzija who will no doubt add stability to a rotation that has not had such a feature in recent seasons. Samardzija was a coveted player across all of the Major League Baseball and could very well be a one-year player for the Chi Sox as he enters free agency after the 2015 season, however his acquisition was just one of many that will help this team now and in the future. Melky Cabrera was another highly touted free agent before Rick Hahn grabbed him off the wire to man Left Field and Adam Laroche was scooped up out of free agency as well to help handle first base with Jose Abreu while likely taking most of his cuts at designated hitter. The Sox have all the talent they could ask for in their outfield with Avisail Garcia ready to handle every day duty as a Major League outfielder for the first time in his career manning Right Field, the aforementioned Melky Cabrera and his All-Star abilities will be in left, while Adam Eaton and his scary good contact abilities and on-base capacity in the leadoff role along with his speed will certainly be welcomed after what he displayed he can do last season. The White Sox do come with their issues of course. Can Connor Gillespie play third base regularly? Who is their second baseman? And outside of Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija can the rest of the rotation hold up enough to come away with a division crown? The answer is every single team in the MLB has their question marks and after the White Sox front office made a strong effort to contend after several losing seasons, they have as good a chance as any team to walk away with the American League pennant in 2015.
New York Yankees – +1400 ($100 pays $1,400 at 5Dimes)
It is awkward to see the Yankees as such underdogs entering the regular season but that is exactly what they are this year. The Yanks went out and spend a ton of money last offseason on players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, moves that did not pay immediate dividends for the Bronx Bombers. But the reason I like to Yankees to surprisingly compete this season is that nickname alone: The Bronx Bombers. Due to the short porch in right field players like Ellsbury, McCann, Mark Texeira, Beltran, and Brett Gardiner all boast the ability to put the ball in to the chairs behind the right field wall. Although I do expect bounce back years from players like McCann (and not to mention Alex Rodriguez), keep in mind these Yanks were robbed of their top two pitchers last season. Yes, C.C. Sabathia is not getting any younger but he is still a top-tier MLB pitcher while Masahiro Tanaka’s rookie season in Major League Baseball was cut short due to the dreaded Tommy John surgery. With these two horses back in the rotation there is no telling how good the Yankees pitching can be. They also have the highly touted yet embattled Michael Pineda to go along with newcomer Nate Eovaldi and Chris Capuano to round out a very solid rotation. New York got younger and more athletic at shortstop with the acquisition of Did Gregorius to replace the seasoned and no-so-mobile Derek Jeter, they re-signed the reliable veteran Chase Headley to a new contract and Headley played very well after being traded to the Yankees during last year’s regular season. They have two extremely talented relievers to handle 8th/9th inning duties in Andrew Miller and the young fireballer Dellin Betances. Many are not even considering the Yankees in the AL East not to mention the American League Pennant, but please do not sleep on this team as they will make plenty of people miss with their pre-season predictions this year.
Boston Red Sox – +750 ($100 pays $750 at 5Dimes)
The Red Sox at +750 to win the American League Pennant does not exactly seem like a value bet, however they are still underdogs behind the Angels and Tigers entering the season. Boston made the boldest moves of any team in the AL in the offseason as they welcomed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to town despite having plenty of roster spots spoken for and therefore there should still be some moves on the horizon for the deepest offensive team in the AL. Pablo is at third, Hanley will actually shift out to Left Field with the task of guarding the Green Monster, the highly toured Xander Bogaerts gets his opportunity at shortstop, while veteran Dustin Pedroia will handle second base healthier than he was a year ago. Mike Napoli takes his spot at first base after offseason surgery to correct sleep apnea which he admitted bothered him for the entire season last year and needless to say, a well-rested Napoli can do serious damage like we have seen in past seasons. Shane Victorino will likely handle Right Field barring a trade, but keep in mind Allen Craig is also a factor for this team offensively and it proves just how lucky this team is to be as deep as they are. Who plays Center Field you ask? Well it can be superstar prospect Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley who is considered a future gold-glover or Rusney Castillo who projects to be a perennial All-Star in the American League. Do you get the point yet? This team is so deep offensively it is nearly impossible to pencil them in anywhere but the postseason. Of course the rotation becomes the only question but with proven veteran arms such as Clay Bucholz, the newly acquirees in Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly, it’s easy to see the front office spent some time on acquiring pitching on top of the mass amount of offense they were able to obtain. Bottom line here is this is likely the most talented group the AL has to offer, and that is why they have significant value entering the regular season.
MY PICK – RED SOX (+750) Click here to bet it
I simply don’t feel this needs any further explanation. This team is going to score oodles of runs this season no matter who plays well enough to earn starting roster spots and if a player faulters for one reason or another, be certain there is an all-star calibre player waiting in the wings to take over that position. That is how deep this offense is. You actually can outscore teams enough in the regular season to win plenty of games and eventually earn a postseason spot, and once you are there it’s been easy to tell that it is anybody’s game at that point. The pitching will hold up enough to allow this team to become the AL Pennant Champions and represent the junior circuit in the World Series.