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American League Power Rankings, by O/U


With spring training in full swing, who are the favorites in the A.L.?15. Baltimore Orioles

 

BetOnline O/U - 63.5 wins

 

The Orioles are brutal and play in a deeper division than the Tigers, but I’m a bit surprised they’re dead last. Switch-hitter Anthony Santander has a 111 OPS+ and 31 home runs over his last 130 games. Left-hander John Means owns a 3.81 ERA since 2019. They at least have a couple nice pieces… I think?

 

14. Detroit Tigers

 

BetOnline O/U - 67.5 wins

 

The Tigers are somewhat thinking about getting better, hiring A.J. Hinch to manage a pretty thin roster. The big three pitching prospects, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning, will themselves determine how quickly Detroit emerges from the armpit of the division. Mize struggled mightily in his debut while Skubal posted a 5.63 ERA.

 

2020 first overall pick Spencer Torkelson is an awesome college bat, projected to mash in the middle of Detroit’s lineup for years to come. After him, It’s anyone’s guess who else is part of the core. Outfielder Riley Greene, MLB Pipeline’s No. 25 prospect, is certainly a candidate.

 

13. Texas Rangers

 

BetOnline O/U - 67.5 wins

 

The Rangers have made clear mistakes over the last calendar year. First off, Lance Lynn should’ve been dealt at the 2020 deadline (maybe even the 2019 deadline). Mike Minor, after an excellent first half in 2019, would’ve been a wise move in a seller’s market. They instead stood pat and received far less for both starters in the long run.

 

They’ll at least be able to provide Joey Gallo with a right-handed counterpart in Khris Davis this year, whom they received for Elvis Andrus. The return for Lynn, right-hander Dane Dunning, may be the opening day starter after a brutal 2020 from Kyle Gibson (5.35 ERA).

 

12. Seattle Mariners

 

BetOnline O/U - 71.5

 

Kyle Lewis dazzled on his way to 2020 Rookie of the Year, cementing himself into the Mariners’ future plans. Jarred Kelenic, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 prospect, is knocking on the door in the outfield as well. Left-hander Marco Gonzales is highly effective and could be a valuable trade piece to further build the farm system.

 

The Mariners are still a ways away from moving into the single-digits in the A.L. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel and they may be more fun to watch than a handful of teams that project to win more games this year.

 

 

11. Kansas City Royals

 

BetOnline O/U - 72.5 wins

 

The Royals added Carlos Santana and Mike Minor on two-year deals early in the offseason. One could argue they should’ve waited to spend their available payroll. There were better options than Minor available on one-year deals. Santana is a solid player and should help them, but first base is an easy place to add. I don’t think the winter for Kansas City was as “underrated” as most say.

 

At the same time, there’s something to like here. Hunter Dozier is quietly a good hitter while Whit Merrifield is clearly a really good player. Brad Keller has a 3.50 ERA in since 2018 and headlines the rotation with young right-hander Brady Singer. They have some other pitchers, like 2020 first round pick Asa Lacy, who could factor in soon. Josh Staumont is also a beast in the bullpen (when he throws strikes).

 

10. Boston Red Sox

 

BetOnline O/U - 80.5 wins

 

2020 was beyond ugly for the Red Sox. They couldn’t pitch. They couldn’t really hit. They finished dead last in the A.L. East. No one expects them to be that bad in 2021 but there are still considerable weaknesses on the team. Eduardo Rodríguez is returning after a brutal bout with COVID-19 and should help the rotation. After him, though, Nathan Eovaldi (4.44 ERA since 2018) and former Twin Martín Pérez are the best options with Chris Sale on the Tommy John shelf.

 

J.D. Martinez was one of many star hitters to struggle through the truncated season. There’s a nice little L-R-L-R formulation with Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Martinez in the heart of the order. The offense will be better. The pitching staff is a glaring problem.

 

9. Cleveland

 

BetOnline O/U - 81.5

 

It’s hard to trade Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber within 18 months and still be considered a threat. Cleveland is, though, because of their special ability to develop productive, and sometimes ace-caliber starters.

 

Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are a nice 1-2 with Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie threatening a similar status. The bullpen lost Brad Hand but retained James Karinchak and will introduce Emmanuel Clase, a triple-digits flamethrower who came over in the Kluber trade.

 

The offense will need to be carried by the excellent José Ramírez and former buddy Eddie Rosario. There’s some upside with Franmil Reyes, too. I don’t hate what they have here and certainly don’t believe the Royals are better.

 

8. Los Angeles Angels

 

BetOnline O/U - 82.5 wins

 

New year, same story for the Angels. They clearly didn’t do enough to supplement the A.L.’s second worst rotation from 2020. They didn’t sign Trevor Bauer or James Paxton. Or Taijuan Walker. They traded for Alex Cobb, who owns a 5.10 ERA since 2018. They also signed José Quintana, another backend starter.

 

There’s some hope for the Angels in a weaker A.L. West, however. No other team in baseball can brag the duo of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Shohei Ohtani is back throwing 100 mph and they have a special top prospect in outfielder Jo Adell. They also grabbed Raisel Iglesias to shore up the bullpen. I want to believe. I really do. They should trade for Luis Castillo.

 

7. Tampa Bay Rays

BetOnline O/U - 85.5 wins

 

The defending American League champs are given the seventh highest win total heading into 2021. They lost Charlie Morton to free agency and dealt Blake Snell to San Diego, casting major doubt in the rotation beyond Tyler Glasnow, who’s never thrown more than 112 innings in a season. Tampa signed Chris Archer and Rich Hill to supplement and should rarely be questioned, often turning no-namers into Cy Young winners. The bullpen’s clock-of-death will dice up plenty.

 

Randy Arozarena, in Rays fashion, emerged from nowhere to put together a truly miraculous postseason. He’ll man the middle of the order with Brandon Lowe. That’s a solid right-left punch with baseball’s top prospect Wander Franco close to contributing. I could see either the Rays or Jays pushing New York and am very curious to see which club performs better over 162 games.

 

6. Oakland Athletics

 

BetOnline O/U - 86.5 wins

 

The A’s lost more talent than any team this offseason. Liam Hendriks departed for the South Side, Marcus Semien signed with Toronto, and Tommy La Stella went to the neighboring Giants. It’s all part of the often-dizzying process for Oakland.

 

Matt Olson is a prolific left-handed power bat and a perfect compliment to defensive-whiz Matt Chapman. In center, Ramón Laureano holds a career .818 OPS. They shored up the bullpen by re-signing Yusmeiro Petit and bringing in old friend Sergio Romo. They’ll relieve for hard-throwing lefty Jesús Luzardo and 2020 standout Chris Bassitt.

 

The A’s will still be strong, always finding a way to win. The question is whether they can lose all of those pieces and still take the division from a healthier and better Astros lineup.

 

 

5. Houston Astros

 

BetOnline O/U - 87.5 wins

 

The Astros were dealt a blow this week when promising left-hander Framber Valdéz was told he may need surgery on his fractured finger, which could end his 2021 season. Without Justin Verlander, the Astros were already facing rotation uncertainty.

 

José Altuve followed up an abysmal regular season with a great postseason stretch.

Alex Bregman might be the best third baseman in baseball. Carlos Correa is eyeing a contract year. Plus, 2019 A.L. Rookie of the Year Yordan Álvarez is returning from a knee injury. This lineup is stacked and will win them a lot of games in a weaker division.

 

4. Toronto Blue Jays

 

BetOnline O/U - 87.5 wins

 

The Blue Jays signed George Springer and swooped in for Marcus Semien in an impressively aggressive winter. That lineup will bang. Former phenom prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. looks great and now has 183 MLB games under his belt. Bo Bichette is an electric factory and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is quietly a really good hitter.

Hyun-Jin Ryu finished third behind Bieber and Kenta Maeda for A.L. Cy Young award last year and sports a 2.30 ERA since 2018. After that, plenty of questions reside in the rotation.

 

Nate Pearson struggled with command in his 2020 debut. Tanner Roark is coming off a 6.80 ERA and Robbie Ray still can’t throw strikes. This team could use Jake Odorizzi.

 

 

3. Minnesota Twins

 

BetOnline O/U - 88.5 wins

 

The Twins aren’t as sexy as the two teams above them. They are a veteran, well-oiled group with enviable depth in both (socially-distanced) Fort Myers clubhouses. PECOTA is very confident that the Twins will both win the division and boast a lot of wins. Maeda is a large reason for that.

 

The Twins also have a higher floor than most with six or seven reliable starters and a career .331/.390/.429 hitter (Luis Arraez) on the bench as the 10th man. The problems for Minnesota are at the top half, with their two best position players (Josh Donaldson & Byron Buxton) carrying riddled injury histories into 2021.

If the White Sox hit their stride, the Twins will need to stay healthy and/or get better-than-expected performances from above average players like Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco.

 

The ceiling is a bit concerning, but a few bounce-backs and better health will easily cement the Twins into the playoff picture.

 

2. Chicago White Sox

 

BetOnline O/U - 90.5 wins

 

The White Sox are the betting favorite to win the A.L. Central. Sporting a group that has finally grown into its own, the Sox would love to steal the division from the Twins. Many impartial fans and analysts are cheering for the Sox as America’s team in the A.L.

 

There’s plenty of star potential in the lineup with Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez and Tim Anderson, who said the Sox are “way more athletic” than their rival Twins and that the Sox are the best team in the American League.

 

Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel are an impressive trio among others at the top of the roster. The questions lie in the backhalf. Dylan Cease, projected as the fourth starter, owns a career 5.00 ERA with a walk rate at 12%. Carlos Rodón (5.74 ERA since 2019) and Reynaldo López (5.52 ERA since 2019) will hold down the 5th spot in tandem.

 

Liam Hendriks, Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet and Codi Heuer will all be pumping upper-90s out of what should be a strong bullpen.

 

1. New York Yankees

 

BetOnline O/U - 95.5 wins

 

GM Brian Cashman struck gold in 2019 when he signed DJ LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million deal. LeMahieu has finished fourth and third for A.L. MVP while hitting .336/.386/.536 in 195 games. It was quite inevitable and a no-brainer to re-sign him this offseason. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres make up the best right-handed quartet in baseball.

 

 

The rotation is headlined by $324 million dollar man Gerrit Cole and a handful of high upside righties coming off injuries. If Corey Kluber returns to form while Jameson Taillon contributes, they’ll be a top unit. The bullpen is led by the great Zack Britton, who owns a 1.90 ERA over the last two seasons. Aroldis Chapman is still elite and Chad Green can be un-hittable.

 

Health is always a problem with the prodigious sluggers Judge and Stanton, who reportedly participated in more yoga this offseason than hardcore pumping.

 

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Can't understand how Sox are pegged ahead of Twins assuming equal health.

 

Giolito probably has more ace potential than Maeda, but Berrios and Pineda are a better bet than Keuchel and Lynn, both of whom are getting up in age.  As for the $4 & #5 spots, as Nash mentions, Cease, Lopez and Rodon are crap shoots.  Now if Kopech returns as a starter, watch out!  But again, I have to like Happ and Shoemaker over the Sox twosome.

 

Again, Sox have the best stopper in Hendriks, but the next 3 arms, while promising, are relatively unproven, especially in critical games.  Overall, our top four should be more reliable than Sox top four, although I am mighty worried about Roger's ability to bounce back.  The back end of our bullpen looks better on paper, especially with Dobnak in long relief.

 

Its the offense that gives me more pause in assessing the two teams.  No doubt, the Sox have more higher ceiling guys than the Twins, but because of their youth, there is more uncertainty over continued progress.  Our all-or-nothing offense last year is cause for concern.  No one, except Cruz and Arraez, played up to their potential - and we lost a key RBI guy in Rosie.  So maybe give the Sox a slight edge in run production, but look out AL if a couple of our hitters like Garver and Kepler rebound - and most importantly, if Buxton and Donaldson are healthy.

 

With an improved defense and more solid bench, the Twins should be at or near the top of AL in win %, but so much depends on health!!  Won't even predict if this team can break thru in the playoffs, but make them, they will.

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Betting lines are not reliable indicators of the strength of teams. Betting lines are set based on how the entity setting the lines evaluates the bets placed on a team and the lines change with the ongoing placement of bets. The entity will set an O/U for internal use but that's not the same as the public betting line. If bets on a given team start to come in strongly on one side or the other this internal O/U the public betting line will shift because the entity will decide they are more likely to make more money if they move the line. For example, if a team is assigned an internal O/U of 80.5 but the entity can get a lot of people to bet on the over at 85.5 that's where the public betting line will be set.

 

In the case of the White Sox, they have been one of the most active teams in trades and free agent signings. That has made their fan base more optimistic, and in such a situation the optimism is usually stronger than is realistic. That in turn makes it more likely that their fan base will place bets for them to have a higher level of success than is truly indicated. That in turn causes the O/U betting line to shift upward. So the high number on the White Sox O/U is based in large part on how likely it is for White Sox fans to make intelligent, realistic analyses of their team's chances.

 

I won't comment on whether this is related:

 

https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/coronavirus/white-sox-fans-drink-the-most-of-any-mlb-fan-base-study-shows/2453770/#:~:text=Chicago%20White%20Sox%20fans%20were,%22Booziest%20Baseball%20Fans%22%20list.

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