AL East On Historic Run, With Second-Place Rays Still The Favorite

All five teams remain over .500, with Orioles surging into first this month
baltimore orioles

In the Lake Wobegon setting of Prairie Home Companion, “all the children are above average.”

Well, that fanciful Garrison Keillor creation has nothing on the MLB’s real-life AL East of 2023, where 100 or more games into the season every team is at least six games above .500.

Dissect it all kinds of ways:

  • The last-in-division New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox would be tied for first in the AL Central.
  • The second-place Tampa Bay Rays would lead every other division but the NL East.
  • The third-place Toronto Blue Jays would be tied atop the NL Central.

And let’s not forget the division leader, the still seemingly underrated Baltimore Orioles, with the second-best record in baseball after overtaking Tampa this month. Caesars Sportsbook has the O’s, Rays, Blue Jays, and Yankees all among its eight top teams in odds to win the World Series.

While a lot can happen over the remaining two-plus months of the season, with what teams do at the trade deadline a big factor, the AL East could well become the first division ever to have all of its teams win more games than they lose.

That’s pretty intriguing in and of itself, but what’s most interesting from a betting standpoint is how differently the five teams are viewed by the major online sportsbooks in terms of their odds to win the division.

Sportsbooks agree to disagree, seemingly

We’re not here to tell you who’s going to win this uber-competitive division, but we can advise without hesitation about the best source for a bet as of Tuesday, depending on which team you favor.

The best sportsbook choice varies widely when comparing seven of the most commonly available operators nationally: FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, Barstool Sportsbook, BetRivers, and PointsBet.

Baltimore, at 62-38 after Monday night’s win in extra innings in Philadelphia, is now 2.5 games ahead of Tampa, yet an underdog against it to win the division, according to the sportsbooks’ consensus. The best return for a successful divisional bet on the Orioles would be at +130 with FanDuel.

Tampa, which started its season with 13 straight wins but has the American League’s worst record in July, is 61-42. Many of the sportsbooks still have it at a minus price to finish on top, but DraftKings is offering +150 for a Rays division title, with PointsBet close behind at +145.

Toronto is 56-45, 6.5 games back of Baltimore but playing well, including Monday’s 6-3 defeat of the Dodgers. The BetRivers price on the Blue Jays closing strong to win the division is the best of the seven at +1000.

While New York and Boston are tied at 53-47, now nine games back, the sportsbooks all have the Yankees as the stronger of the two. Still, a late-summer surge by the Bronx Bombers could fetch a payoff of 45/1 with BetRivers. For the BoSox, the biggest reward would be 60/1 from either Caesars or Barstool.

Odds changing every day

There are so many questions to consider in making a choice of the above.

Are the Rays in just a temporary swoon and a much stronger team than the Orioles, considering their respective run differentials of +144 and +49? With all the young talent stockpiled within a franchise that lost 110 games just two years ago, will Baltimore be willing to trade some of it by the deadline a week away to upgrade a questionable starting rotation? When will toe-injured slugger Aaron Judge return to the Yankees — they’re 18-22 since his last game June 3 — and will it be enough to put them back in the thick of contention?

The odds would have been very different if this had been written weeks ago, considering the Orioles have turned a 6.5-game deficit against the Rays into their 2.5-game lead. That included Baltimore just winning three of four on the road against Tampa.

Yet, when looking at World Series pricing, the Rays are clearly considered the cream of this five-team crop by oddsmakers. They’re priced behind only Atlanta and Los Angeles by pretty much everyone, with DraftKings’ +850 the most lucrative potential return for Tampa to win its first championship.

The faithful in other teams can get the Orioles at 17/1 at BetRivers, the Blue Jays at 20/1 at BetMGM, the Yankees at 30/1 at FanDuel, and the Red Sox at 80/1 at Caesars.

That’s all subject to change very soon. A lot of the divisional and World Series odds changed just between Monday and Tuesday.

What should remain stable, however, is the AL East’s status as one of the strongest divisions in the modern baseball era. In almost mythical fashion, there’s just nothing very average about it.

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


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