It took an eight-game deficit in the American League East standings, but the New York Yankees are finally starting to plummet in the divisional betting markets.
New York was the odds-on favorite (-130) to race to another AL East crown before the season, but its offense continues to struggle to bring guys across home plate. The Yanks are middle-of-the-pack in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage, but they rank 26th in the majors with 258 runs scored.
The Orioles, Twins, Rangers, Marlins and Diamondbacks have all scored more runs than the Bronx Bombers. Those five clubs also happen to sit in last place in their respective divisions.
“The best numbers guys in the world couldn’t explain the Yankee struggles,” one professional bettor told NESN. “How does an offense with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez not drive in runs? It doesn’t really make sense, but they stink at the plate and are even worse with ducks on the pond.”
DraftKings Sportsbook’s AL East pecking order has the Tampa Bay Rays (+115) as the betting favorite, then the Boston Red Sox (+230), followed by the Yankees (+330) and Toronto Blue Jays (+750). The lowly Baltimore Orioles check in at 1,000-to-1.
Tampa Bay will remain atop the betting boards until further notice mostly because of all the liability that built up as the Rays ripped off a 17-3 run. They were 5 or 6-to-1 to win the AL East before they got hot and it doesn’t take too many bets at those prices to make bookmakers a little nervous.
For entertainment purposes, let’s say a sportsbook wrote 20 $500 bets on the Rays (+500).
$500 x 5-to-1 = $2,500
$2,500 x 20 bets = $50,000
That’s at least $50,000 of liability on a first-place baseball team that holds a two-game lead on June 16. You might have doubts about Tampa Bay being able to sustain success, but the books aren’t trying to write more Rays bets to win the AL East at this point in time. That’s why they’re a consensus +115 favorite around the country — to limit more liability.
It’s also worth reminding you that sportsbooks usually differentiate their divisional odds based on what the needs are behind the counter. If a book has taken several big bets on the Blue Jays, the odds won’t be as juicy on Toronto at that specific shop compared to others.
Here is what the AL East betting boards look at four different American sportsbooks (best available odds in bold text):
Red Sox +250
Blue Jays +475
Red Sox +350
Blue Jays +450
Red Sox +300
Blue Jays +400
Red Sox +260
Blue Jays +600
The Rays are clearly favored at every shop, but notice the aforementioned differentiation on a team like the Red Sox. They’re +250, +260, +300 and +350 at those four sportsbooks. So a $100 bet on Boston to win the AL East would win you $250 at DraftKings and $350 at FanDuel. You could make yourself an extra $100 just by shopping for the best price.
If you’re a believer in the Blue Jays, why the hell would you bet +400 when there’s a +600 available? A $100 Jays bet makes you $400 at BetMGM, but $600 at Bet365.
Always be shopping.
My AL East betting stance hasn’t changed since May 21, when we discussed betting the Red Sox at +450. That price is no longer available anywhere in the world, but there are plenty of numbers in the +300 range or higher.
The Yankees definitely look like pretenders and the Rays just lost ace Tyler Glasnow to an elbow injury, so time could very well be ticking on both clubs. If you believe the Sox offense (and Chris Sale’s eventual return) can keep Boston in the hunt through September, you may not want to wait much longer.