We are nearing the 20% mark of the MLB season, and we can start to bet on teams that stumbled out of the gate but have started to find their form.
The Chicago White Sox are a team that screams as one to get ahead of in the betting market, especially with their short odds to win the AL Central.
Despite it being a tight race right now, the South Siders are better than their record shows and have favorable odds at BetMGM as of this writing to win their first division title since 2008.
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The White Sox are tied atop the division with the Kansas City Royals. KC has been a nice story to date, but this team is still far from contending for the division crown.
The team is below the league average in both offensive and starting pitching wins above replacement, but what’s most concerning is their shaky bullpen metrics. Kansas City has the fifth lowest relief pitcher WAR in the league.
The team has gotten by with a low strikeout rate and improved hitting, but expect that to regress to the mean over the course of an 162 game season with elite hitters few and far between on the roster.
Elsewhere, many took the Cleveland Indians off of their contender list after they traded Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets this offseason. The club traded one of their two most important position players a year after moving on from elite arms Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger. However, the Tribe stand one game back of the two division leaders as of this writing.
Cleveland has treaded water with a pitching staff that is top 10 in ERA, mitigating the fact that their offense has the fourth lowest on-base percentage in baseball. If we dig deeper though, there should be concern for the Indians’ arms. The team is bottom 10 in fielding independent pitching (FIP), hinting that the team has gotten a bit lucky thus far.
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The Minnesota Twins have had some bad luck this season, losing all six extra inning games this season, for example, but already find themselves five off the division lead. Expect the big hitting Twins to get back into the mix despite a slow start, but spotting the White Sox five games already may be tough to overcome.
Lastly, bless the Detroit Tigers, who are already nine back of the AL Central lead and post a record of 8-22 heading into Wednesday’s games.
The White Sox are 16-12 with a +37 run differential. With one of the best lineups in baseball, and a complete pitching staff, CWS is a sleeping giant in the American League primed for a big run.
Yes, Luis Robert is set to be out 12-16 weeks with a torn hip flexor, but that is one piece to a vaunted lineup. The White Sox are second in league wide OBP this season, but this team isn’t even cooking yet.
Jose Abreu has not been his 2020 MVP self to date, hitting just .214 through 28 games, but still able to hit six home runs. Expect him to continue to round into form in the coming weeks.
CWS is loaded with hitters and does a great job of putting runners on base and driving them home. The club is sixth in the MLB in walk rate and are tied for the league lead in weight runs created +, which quantifies run creation opportunities and normalizes it by ballpark factors.
The race may appear tight, but at -155 this price is too short on CWS.
Anchored by AL Cy Young contender Lucas Giolito and flanked by Lance Lynn and Dallas Keuchel, the White Sox have a flush pitching staff that can consistently go deep into games. It's worth mentioning Dylan Cease may be turning a corner. After some struggles, the young right hander has a 2.37 ERA over six starts, including six innings of one hit ball against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
The -150 translates to an implied probability of 60%. However, with the team’s biggest threat to the AL Central crown, Minnesota, spotting them five games already. Chicago should run away with this division. Get on this train early before it leaves the station as the White Sox are primed to go on a run.
I’d play this up to -180 and enjoy a sizable mid-summer lead in the Central.