2020 MLB Betting: AL East Division Futures Odds and Preview

OSGA MLB analyst Ross Benjamin provides us with an in depth AL East Division futures betting preview. Go inside to read this read this intuitive article to make yourself a more informed baseball bettor in 2020.

Opening Day Delayed

The 2020 MLB season’s start was originally pushed back from late March until mid-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the severity of this global health issue was initially underestimated and it's looking more as if early June is a realistic projected commencement date. In any event, I'm going to be discussing AL East Division futures odds in this article.

AL East Division Futures Odds

Below are the current (3/19) odds to win the American League East Division courtesy of BetOnline.

1. New York Yankees    (-300)
2. Tampa Bay Rays      (+350)
3. Boston Red Sox       (+900)
4. Toronto Blue Jays    (+3300)
5. Baltimore Orioles    (+8000)

New York Yankees (-300)

The Yankees are unequivocally the AL East prohibitive favorite and rightfully so. Their roster remains virtually intact from a year ago when they went 103-59 and won the division by 7.0 games.

New York was able to put together a terrific 2019 season despite being ravaged by injuries. After totally revamping their strength and conditioning staff during the offseason, management hoped to avoid an inconsistency of player availability that they encountered a year ago. However, the injury bug has once again come up to bite them early in spring training.

NY Yankees AL East previewDepending on when the 2020 season eventually begins, the Bronx Bombers may start the season without power hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Judge is presently recovering from a stress fracture to his rib cage and Stanton is sidelined with a strained calf muscle. Both players saw limited action in 2019 due to injury issues. The Yankees brass is hoping each can return to the form they displayed in 2017. During that season, Stanton smashed 59 home runs and had 132 RBIs as a member of the Miami Marlins. While Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs and knocked in 114 runs for the Yankees. New York may also be without centerfielder Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) in additions to starting pitcher James Paxton (spinal surgery).

On a more positive note, the Yankees acquired star right-hander Gerrit Cole via free agency during this past offseason. Last year saw Cole go 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA while striking out an enormous 326 batters in 212 1/3 innings pitched for Houston.

Elite Bullpen and Closer

New York will once again possess one of the best bullpens in baseball. They'll be led by flame throwing left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman who converted on 37 of 42 (88.1%) save opportunities last season.

Projected Batting Order

1) DJ LeMahieu, 2B
2) Brett Gardner, CF
3) Gleyber Torres, SS
4) Gary Sánchez, C
5) Luke Voit, 1B
6) Miguel Andújar, DH
7) Mike Tauchman, LF
8) Gio Urshela, 3B
9) Clint Frazier, RF

Note: Aaron Judge (LF), Giancarlo Stanton (RF), and Aaron Hicks (CF) are all expected to be regular starters once healthy.

Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

1) Gerrit Cole
2) Masahiro Tanaka
3) J.A. Happ
4) Jordan Montgomery
5) Michael King?

Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Note: James Paxton is expected to join the starting rotation in late May or early June.

Tampa Bay Rays (+350)

The Rays are coming off a successful 2019 campaign which saw them go 96-66 and secure an American League wildcard berth. There's no reason to believe that Tampa Bay won't contend for a postseason spot this season as well. Their lineup won't wow you like the defending division champion Yankees does. Nevertheless, it's still a solid and formidable one.

There's one player I'm especially intrigued by that Tampa Bay obtained during the offseason, and that's 29-year-old Japanese export Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Throughout his previous 4 years in Japan's top league, Tsutsugo averaged 34.8 home runs and 94 RBIs per season. If Tsutsugo can produce anything close to that for Tampa Bay, he’ll be a huge difference maker in the middle of the Rays batting order.

Tampa Bay Rays 2020 MLB previewSpeaking of a middle of the line run producer, the Rays have also brought in former San Diego Padre Hunter Renfroe. Throughout the last three seasons with San Diego, Renfro hit 85 homers and drove in 190 runs. Renfro figures to improve on those numbers while playing at hitter-welcoming Tropicana Field as opposed to the pitcher-friendly confines Petco Park in San Diego.

Starting Pitching

Tampa Bay's top to starters in the rotation should be Charlie Morton and 2018 American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell. During his first year with the Rays organization, Morton went a terrific 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA while striking out 240 hitters in 194 2/3 innings of work. Blake Snell made only 23 starts in 2019 due to injury and went a disappointing 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA. Nonetheless, when totally healthy in 2018, Snell was 21-5 with an excellent 1.89 ERA.

First Time Closer

Reliever Nick Anderson will be entering his second Major League season. He had an impressive rookie year while pitching for Miami and then Tampa Bay. Anderson appeared in a combined 68 games for those two clubs and struck out 110 in just 65.0 innings. On a negative note, Anderson failed on 4 of his 5 save opportunities. However, the Rays are comfortable with Anderson being their closer especially when considering his inspiring ratio of 16.5 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched last year.

Projected Batting Order

1) Austin Meadows, RF
2) Yandy Díaz, 3B
3) Ji-Man Choi, 1B
4) Hunter Renfroe, LF
5) Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, DH
6) Brandon Lowe, 2B
7) Mike Zunino, C
8) Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9) Willy Adames, SS

Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

1) Charlie Morton
2) Blake Snell
3) Tyler Glasnow
4) Ryan Yarbrough
5) Yonny Chirinos

Closer: Nick Anderson

Boston Red Sox (+900)

By their standards, the Red Sox were an unsatisfactory 84-78 last season and finished 12.0 games out of a playoff spot. As a result, Boston's front office made an offseason trade predicated on a salary dump with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That players swap involved popular outfielder Mookie Betts and veteran left-handed pitcher David Price going from Boston to Los Angles in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo.

Adding insult to injury for Red Sox fans, Verdugo will begin the season unable to perform while he recovers from a stress fracture in his back. There's presently no timetable set for Verdugo's return. Verdugo played in 106 games for the Dodgers last season. Although amassing just 343 at bats, Verdugo manufactured 14 home runs and 49 RBI’s.

Boston Red Sox MLB 202 season previewVeteran Kevin Pillar is slated to replace Verdugo in the interim. The Red Sox can do a lot worse than Pillar filling in. Pillar hit 21 home runs while knocking in 89 runs for Toronto and San Francisco last season. The 31-year-old Pillar is also an excellent defensive outfielder with above average speed.

The Red Sox will still be able to score plenty of runs with a more than capable batting order. The expected 2, 3, and 4 hitters in their lineup (Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez) combined to produce 101 home runs and 337 runs batted in last season. Furthermore, all three players had a batting average of .304 or better while doing so.

The main concern and apparent weakness for Boston will be their pitching. Last year's ace Chris Sale will miss the 2020 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez is coming off a career year which saw him go 19-6 and is expected to fill Sale's shoes. Beyond Rodriguez, the Red Sox rotation is average at best.

Solid Closer

Boston's closer will be Brandon Workman who converted on 16 of 22 save opportunities last year. Workman made a total of 73 relief appearances in 2019 and posted a sparkling 1.88 ERA. The 31-year-old right-hander also compiled an imposing 104 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings of work.

Projected Batting Order

1) Andrew Benintendi, LF
2) Xander Bogaerts, SS
3) Rafael Devers, 3B
4) J.D. Martinez, DH
5) Mitch Moreland, 1B
6) Christian Vázquez, C
7) Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
8) Kevin Pillar, RF
9) José Peraza, 2B

Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

1) Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
2) Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
3) Martín Pérez, LHP
4) Ryan Weber, RHP
5) Undecided

Closer: Brandon Workman

Toronto Blue Jays (+3300)

Toronto was an awful 65-97 last season. I do look for the Blue Jays to make a sizable improvement in 2020. Yet, it would undoubtedly be a huge stretch for one forecasting them as a serious contender in the AL East.
If pedigree and bloodlines were MLB handicapping factors for predicting a division winner, then Toronto would be a strong candidate for supremacy. After all, three key players (Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggo, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) in their starting lineup are sons of former accomplished Major League players. Each are coming off very good although abbreviated rookie years that saw them play in just a combined 242 games. The trio produced a cumulative 42 home runs and 138 RBIs. The future looks bright in Toronto as those 3 youngsters are an average age of only 22-years-old.

Toronto Blue Jays AL East betting tipsThe Blue Jays were able to acquire first basemen Travis Shaw during this past offseason. The former Milwaukee Brewer played in 86 games in 2019. However, in 2017 and 2018 Shaw hit 63 homers and drove in 187 runs.

Right-fielder Randal Grichuk will look to improve upon his best Major League year which saw him hit 31 homers and account for 81 RBI’s for Toronto. It marked a fourth straight year that Grichuk had 22 home runs or more and all were with the Blue Jays organization.

Starting Pitching

Former Dodger Hyun-Jin Ryu will be donning a Toronto Blue Jays uniform in 2020. The 32-year-old southpaw was 14-5 with a shiny 2.32 ERA in 29 starts last season. Since arriving from South Korea in 2013, Ryu has a record of 54-33 in 125 career starts while posting a stellar 2.98 ERA and all occurred as a Los Angeles Dodger.

Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and Matt Shoemaker round out the top four in Toronto's rotation. Each of those right-handed hurlers have enjoyed some degree of success at the Major League level.

Underrated Closer

Ken Giles is coming off a terrific 2019 season for Toronto that saw him make good on 23 of 24 save opportunities while collecting an outstanding 1.87 ERA. As a matter of fact, over the previous 4 seasons while pitching for Houston and Toronto, Giles converted on a remarkable 75 of 76 (98.7%) of his save opportunities.

Projected Batting Order

1) Bo Bichette, SS
2) Cavan Biggio, 2B
3) Lourdes Gurriel Jr., LF
4) Teoscar Hernández, CF
5) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
6) Randal Grichuk, RF
7) Travis Shaw, 1B
8) Rowdy Tellez, DH
9) Danny Jansen, C

Projected Starting Pitching Rotation

1) Hyun-Jin Ryu
2) Tanner Roark
3) Chase Anderson
4) Matt Shoemaker
5) Shun Yamaguchi
Closer: Ken Giles

Baltimore Orioles (+8000)

Things can't get much worse than they've been for Baltimore during the last two seasons, or could they? During that stretch, the Orioles were a dismal 101-223 (.312) and were outscored by a total of 522 runs.

The Orioles batting order is filled with youngsters that most MLB fans would find unrecognizable. Of course, there's old faithful first basemen Chris Davis who is always a strikeout waiting to happen. Davis has hit an abysmal .168 and .179 during the previous two seasons while striking out in 331 of 777 at bats (42.6%). Between 2012 and 2017, Davis hit 222 home runs and drove in 557 runs for Baltimore. Since 2018, he's produced just 28 home runs and 85 RBIs. Those numbers from your highest paid player go hand in hand with Baltimore's atrocious 2-year win/loss record.

Starting Pitcher

John Means has developed into a reliable starting pitcher who was a respectable 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts last season.

Former Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb will assume the #2 spot in the rotation. During his first two years with Baltimore, Cobb is a dismal 5-17 in 31 starts while posting a lofty 5.36 ERA.

Terrible Closer

Mychal Givens will be the Orioles closer and quite frankly he's not been very good in that role. Since being called up to Baltimore in 2015, Givens has blown 19 of 39 (48.7%) of his chances to record a save.

Baltimore Orioles AL East predictionProjected Batting Order

1) Austin Hays, CF
2) Anthony Santander, RF
3) Chris Davis, 1B
4) Renato Núñez, DH
5) Rio Ruiz, 3B
6) Pedro Severino, C
7) Hanser Alberto, 2B
8) Dwight Smith Jr, LF
9) José Iglesias, SS

Projecting Starting Pitcher Rotation

1) John Means
2) Alex Cobb
3) Asher Wojciechowski
4) Wade LeBlanc
5) Kohl Stewart

Closer: Mychal Givens

Ross Benjamin Free Pick

Ross Benjamin is a top sports analyst and one of the sports industry's most respected handicappers. Follow him on Twitter: @RossBenjamin1 or visit his website at RBWins.com

Sign-up for the OSGA Newsletter!

Every week get news and updates, exclusive offers and betting tips delivered right to you email inbox.