While the Boston Red Sox (83-35) own the best record in baseball, they only have a slight edge on the defending champion Houston Astros (73-44). According to Vegas Insider, the Red Sox have 9/5 odds to reach the World Series, while the Astros are just barely behind at 2/1.
Alex Cora’s squad has been excelling at just about every category this season. The Red Sox are well ahead of the competition in runs (644) and have the No. 3 earned-run average (3.54). Boston is even ninth in errors (57).
However, the Astros lead the Majors in ERA at 3.06 and boast an elite starting rotation that consists of Justin Verlander (2.50), Gerrit Cole (2.75), Charlie Morton (2.81), Dallas Keuchel (3.53) and Lance McCullers (3.93). Only needing four starters in the postseason, manager A.J. Hinch has the luxury of moving one starter to long relief, which could be crucial against the rest of the league.
While the Red Sox and Astros may be in for a duel in October, the other postseason contenders also have a decent shot in what has been a year of parity in the AL.
The New York Yankees (73-43), who currently look like longshots to win the East, have 4/1 odds despite being just a half-game back of the Astros. New York has relied on their power-hitting bats, trailing only Boston in runs with 596.
The Cleveland Indians (64-51) have distanced themselves from the rest of the Central division and appear to be a lock to win another division crown after winning 102 games in 2017 and reaching the World Series in 2016. Oddsmakers give the Indians 5/1 odds of taking the pennant.
The Yankees are the clear favorites to take one of the wild-card berths, but the other is hotly contested. Oddsmakers like the Oakland Athletics’ (68-48) chances of reaching the wild-card playoff over the Seattle Mariners (67-50) in what should be an interesting final stretch of the season.
Oakland has 15/1 odds to reach the World Series, while Seattle has 30/1 odds. The two clubs will have 10 head-to-head meetings to end the season.
The remaining teams still in contention are major longshots.
American League Pennant Betting Odds (Vegas Insider)
Boston Red Sox, 9/5
Houston Astros, 2/1
New York Yankees, 4/1
Cleveland Indians, 5/1
Oakland Athletics, 15/1
Seattle Mariners, 30/1
Los Angeles Angels 150/1
Tampa Bay Rays, 150/1
Minnesota Twins, 200/1