For Michigan baseball fans 2014 must feel like a lifetime ago.
That was the last time that the Detroit Tigers found themselves in the MLB playoffs. It’s been over five years since the Tigers battled, in a losing effort, against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Divisional Series. That was just two years removed from a trip to the 2012 World Series, in which they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.
Then, just last year, the storied franchise seemingly hit rock bottom. Having only won 47 games, the squad finished the season an incredible 53.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, as fans suffered through an MLB worst 114 losses. It was their third consecutive losing season, and fans have to wonder just how long will it take for the rebuild to come together and bring the Tigers their fifth World Series title.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Tigers though, as emerging prospects and some key free agent signings could give fans, and those that bet with or against the team, something to root for in the newly legalized sports betting market of Michigan.
Michigan is expected to see its first retail sportsbooks open this spring, ahead of or around the time the MLB season kicks off. The state’s first online/mobile sportsbooks aren’t expected to launch until 2021.
FanDuel, one of the largest online sportsbooks in the United States and one that is expected to be a power player in the Wolverine State, has set the over/under for total Tigers wins at 56.5 games. Bettors are given a slightly better price on the under at -106, while those more optimistic will pay just a little extra at -116 for the over. If the sportsbooks are correct and the win/loss is somewhere around this number, the team will still be nowhere in contention for the division or a playoff spot, but an extra 10 wins is a tiny step in the right direction.
Longshots with longer odds
It would take a lot for the Tigers to rise from the ashes and take the AL Central in 2020. The Minnesota Twins are the odds-on favorites to repeat as the team to emerge from the division, earning them a -180 price point winning the AL Central. The Cleveland Indians, who ended just eight games out of first and won 93 games in 2019, have some value at +330. It’s looking like an improved Chicago White Sox team, with a rock-solid rotation and a powerful offense that includes newly signed All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal. Their chances of a playoff run are listed at +360.
For the Detroit Tigers though, only the most optimistic could see them coming out of the division. If so, the +10000 odds being given to them (and the Kansas City Royals) is about as good as it gets.
It’s the same odds the Tigers are seeing for winning the American League outright. The fact is the Tigers have to deal with powerhouses like the New York Yankees (+160 to win the AL), the much-maligned Houston Astros (+300) and, of course, the Twins. While the Twins are expected to handily win their division, they are +900 to win the American League.
The Tigers, Royals, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, and the San Francisco Giants are all in the same boat — the longest of shots to walk away with the 2020 World Series title. FanDuel is essentially daring you to bet on them, giving all +10000.
The Yankees top the list of World Series favorites, giving bettors +375 for the Bronx Bombers to take home their 28th title. There may be a little value in the Los Angeles Dodgers at +430. Having just pulled off a blockbuster trade for All-Star Mookie Betts, the Dodgers will be looking to right the wrongs they felt were done to them in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, including losing the 2017 World Series. Speaking of which, despite all of the distractions and the controversy, FanDuel oddsmakers still rate the Astros as the third most likely team on the 2020 World Series board, giving them +650 to go all the way.
Just a bit outside of the MVP race
Despite a few pickups in the off-season, including second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron, none of the current players projected to be on the opening day roster of the Tigers is on the board as a potential AL Most Valuable Player.
For fans looking to bet on who could emerge as the AL MVP, perennial superstar Mike Trout is, again, the favorite. The Los Angeles Angels center fielder is currently sitting at +150 to pick up his fourth AL MVP trophy. That’s considerably ahead of Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who can be picked up at +1200 in the pre-season, as can Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
On the other hand, Tigers fans hoping for an AL Cy Young award-winning season from the top-of-the-rotation arm of Matt Boyd can get him at +6000, a long shot for sure. Especially behind the names at the top of the list including Gerrit Cole (+280), Chris Sale (+800), and Justin Verlander (+800).