Will the AL East yield the World Series winner?

The AL East has emerged as the most competitive division in baseball at the halfway stage of the 2022 MLB season. All five teams in the division have records at or above .500, which is a very rare feat. The Baltimore Orioles were previously the outliers, but they surprised everyone by embarking on a 10-game winning streak. It begs the question: will this exciting division produce the World Series winner this season?

MLB Futures Betting Odds

BetMGM is offering odds on which division will yield the World Series winner at the end of the season. The AL East is now the +220 favorite, ahead of the NL West (+300), the NL East (+300) and the AL West (+475). The NL Central and AL Central are outsiders, priced at +1200 and +1600 respectively.

A bet on the AL East looks tempting. That covers the Yankees – the World Series favorites –the Rays, the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and the Orioles. The Yankees are best priced at +400 with DraftKings and Caesars to win the World Series this year. The Blue Jays are +2500 with FanDuel, but most other sportsbooks have them at just +1500, which leaves them fifth in the betting. Many sites also have the Red Sox and the Rays in the top 10 in their World Series futures.

The NL West covers the Dodgers and the Padres, but the other teams in the division are huge outsiders. The NL East factors in the Mets and the Braves, so that could be an interesting bet, but no other division features the depth of quality found within the AL East.

The AL Beast

If the regular season were to end today, the AL East would have four representatives in the playoffs. The Yankees would obviously be the division winners, while Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto would take three of the four AL wild card berths. That means more than half of the AL teams in the playoffs would be divisional rivals. That makes a bet on the AL East to produce the winner of the World Series look very attractive.

No wonder they call it the AL Beast. “It’s a beast,” said manager Aaron Boone after watching his team battling to a tense victory at Fenway Park last week. “Boston, obviously we’ve had battles with them forever. They’re always a thorn and they’re always tough.  It’s a heavyweight division, what more can you say? But I think our guys relish playing in these kind of games against the best opponents, where a lot of eyeballs are on it, which you know are going to be here.”

Red Sox general manager Brian Cashman warned the Yankees are not guaranteed success this fall. He added that any of their AL East rivals could vanquish them in the playoffs. “That’s the nature of the beast,” he said. “I knew our division was exceptionally good and the best division in baseball, but I don’t really think about any of that. I just know that we’re good, and our players believe in each other and we believe in the team we’ve got.” 

Can the Yankees Beat Their Divisional Rivals?

You might be inclined to ignore odds of +220 on the AL East and just go for the Yankees to win the World Series at +400 instead. After all, they have dominated the division this year. They have the best record in the majors by a comfortable margin, they are a historical juggernaut and they have a 28-15 record against divisional rivals.  That compares very favorably with the Rays’ 22-16 record against AL East teams, the Blue Jays’ 16-18 record, the Red Sox’s 12-24 and Baltimore’s 15-20 record.

However, anything can happen in the postseason. The Yankees would have the weight of expectation on their shoulders, whereas their rivals would be totally free of pressure. How confident would you feel backing the Yankees against the Red Sox if Boston is surging with momentum after clinching a best-of-three wild card series victory? Remember that the Red Sox have eliminated the Yankees twice in the past four years. Chris Sale is back, and they should continue to improve as the season wears on.

The Rays are also very dangerous. They recently won five of six games, notching series victories over Boston and Toronto. Their showing against Cincinnati left a lot to be desired, but you cannot write off their chances of postseason success. The Blue Jays have not exactly been firing on all cylinders, but the decision to wield the ax on Charlie Montoyo could galvanize the team. Toronto had genuine World Series ambitions heading into the season, and if they enjoy a new lease of life under interim manager John Schneider, they could make things interesting.

Could the Orioles Defy the Odds?

Nobody expected Baltimore to become the hottest team in baseball this summer. The Orioles were enduring another difficult season when they exploded into life with a 3-1 win against the Twins at the start of July. They rattled off 10 consecutive wins, driven by the strength of the bullpen. The last time the Orioles went on such a long winning streak, Sammy Sosa was in the team. The run came to an end with a narrow 5-4 defeat to the Rays, but it suggested the Orioles could yet muscle their way into wild card contention.

They are currently three wins behind the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, but there is still a long way to go this season. DraftKings is offering +30000 (300/1) on Baltimore winning the World Series. It would be one of the greatest underdog triumphs in history, but – as the old adage goes – stranger things have happened. A sense of excitement pervades Camden Yards once again. Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini have been superb, and fans still hope to see top prospect Adley Rutschman hit his stride in the big leagues. It is certainly a long shot, but a couple of bucks on Baltimore could be fun.