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We’re still a ways away from anything definite, but the chatter is that MLB is pushing to get back to playing sooner rather than later. Reports have said they may quarantine teams for around a month of training before playing games in isolated spring training stadiums, without fans of course. Another plan calls for division realignments to keep teams playing in their empty home parks. Regardless, getting any baseball back and on our televisions is a step in the right direction for sports.
With a seasoned almost certain to be shortened, win total bets could go completely out the window. However, that doesn’t mean we are left with nothing. Instead of betting on how many games a team will win, we can wager on the club’s winning percentage to end the short season. Let’s take a look at the three best win percentage bets in the American League:
Los Angeles Angels
My first pick is a bullish one on the Los Angeles Angels. They have been unable to find any success despite having the best player in baseball for almost a decade, but there is hope. With the start of the season pushed back, pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani should be healthy for a majority of the 2020 campaign. Los Angeles also picked up All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, completing a three-headed monster in the Angels lineup. Mike Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon should carry the load on offense and give opportunities for others to produce. If Tommy La Stella and David Fletcher build on their 2019 campaigns, this could be a sneaky-good lineup.
The Angels’ pitching staff didn’t have much success last year, but it will get an upgrade with former All-Star Julio Tehran and Dylan Bundy joining the staff. It rounds out their depth a bit, but the shrewd mind of manager Joe Maddon should especially help this team overachieve. He’s talked up this team’s pitching, which is hard to believe, but if that view is realistic rather than optimistic, this could be a fringe playoff contender. That means they’d finish above .500, so hitting .450 is doable.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas Royals ended the 2019 campaign a dismal 59-103, giving them a wretched .364 winning percentage. Kansas City is, for some reason, returning a majority of its roster from last season. This includes only one everyday hitter who broke a .280 average (Whit Merrifield) and only one starting pitcher (Brad Keller) with an ERA lower than a 4.30. Besides Merrifield having another strong season and slugger Jorge Soler smashing 48 home runs, there wasn’t much to write home about last season. Is it possible that a young roster improves? Maybe. But with them not getting any better and a shortened season making every game more important, they probably aren’t winning four out of every 10 contests.
Keep in mind that the AL Central might be tricky this year, as the Chicago White Sox will probably join the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians at or above .500. That means the only easy games the Royals will see will come against the Detroit Tigers.
Speaking of bad teams, few were worse than the Orioles last year. Baltimore ended the year 54-108, giving them a .333 winning percentage, and the club could potentially be worse this year. The Orioles traded away their best player in Jonathan Villar and shipped out innings-eater Bundy, so who knows what team they will sport in 2020? They’re also still stuck in a division with the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays. With no room to drop any freebies to Baltimore, all of the other teams will take those matchups seriously. That makes it easy to bet under .350.