One MLB Team’s Division Title Odds Have Improved 17% During COVID-19 Delay; It’s Not Who You Think

Blake Snell pitching for the Rays
With a shortened season and a healthy Blake Snell, could the Rays threaten to steal the AL East from the Yankees? Photo by Keith Allison (flickr).
  • Despite MLB delaying the start of the season, the AL East odds were updated
  • The best case scenario for Opening Day is mid-May
  • With a shortened season, one AL East team is becoming an intriguing buy

Despite COVID-19 sidelining the MLB season, we’ve got an update on the AL East odds, and it benefits one team in particular.

The division is an interesting one. It’s got the power house Yankees, the rebuilding Jays and Orioles and … whatever the Red Sox are.

But the books seem to think the Tampa Bay Rays could strike in a shortened season. Are the Rays for real?

2020 AL East Division Odds

Team 2019 Record 2019 Games Back Odds
New York Yankees 103-59 -450
Tampa Bay Rays 96-66 7.0 +275
Boston Red Sox 84-78 19.0 +1000
Toronto Blue Jays 67-95 36.0 +3000
Baltimore Orioles 54-108 49.0 +50000

Odds taken Mar 18th.

Tampa Bay was at +600 on average back on February 14 in the 2020 AL East Odds. They jumped up to +426 by March, and improved by 19% over the last two weeks. They also saw a big leap in the 2020 AL Pennant Odds, moving from +1134 to +875.

A shortened season has helped tighten the gap odds-wise between the two teams, but it’s also aided the Rays’ biggest competitor.

Yankees Injuries Change AL East Picture

Despite being favorites in the AL when it came to the Pennant and the World Series, the Yanks were facing some serious injuries.

But the delay to the season is a big benefit to them. Namely because they can get healthy.

Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton all should be good to go for a mid-May start. Aaron Hicks won’t be far behind.

The likelihood we see Domingo German in 2020 shrinks by the day. The reinforcements they are getting though? It’s easy to see why the Yanks are AL East favorites.

Glasnow, Snell Need to Be Sharp in AL East race

The Rays have a few players of their own the extra rest could benefit.

Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow.

Snell underwent elbow surgery last year but returned to pitch in three games.

The elbow was bothering him a bit in the spring, but it looks to be behind him.

Blake Snell:  2018 vs 2019

Pelicans
VS
Warriors

31 Starts 23
21-5 Record 6-8
1.89 ERA 4.29
0.97 WHIP 1.27
221 Strikeouts 147
64 Walks 40

Snell’s K/9 were lower and his BB/9 were higher than his Cy Young season. The hope is that the surgery corrected that.

As for Glasnow, he underwent wrist surgery in November. All seemed good in camp though, as he tossed 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one.

Along with Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough, the Rays (as usual) have tons of pitching.

Rays’ Offense Must Be the Difference

Offensively, the Rays were a  middle-of-the-road team last year. Their team average, OBP, OPS and Slugging Percentage all ranked between 12th and 15th.

There should be improvement this year.

All of their offensive starters are under 30. Hunter Renfroe is coming off of three-straight 25+ homer seasons, and that was playing in San Diego.

He should enjoy hitting in the AL East.

Mike Zunino saw dips in all offensive categories after coming over from Seattle. Provided good health, he should at least regain his power stroke.

What about Yoshi Tsutsugo?

He comes to North America with seven-straight 20+ homer seasons in Japan, and brings some versatility to the lineup. A hot start for him would mean big things.

To Win Division, Rays Must Start Hot

Whenever the season starts, the Rays must hit the ground running.

If they get the 2018 version of Snell to go with 2019’s results, they’ll be hard to score on. And with moderate improvements offensively, it’ll be more than enough to get by.

With the Yankees offering no value, the Rays are an intriguing buy to win the AL East in a shortened season.

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