Last Updated on July 6, 2020

The MLB is set to return on July 23rd, when the Yankees and Nationals open up the season at 7 p.m. ET. While a schedule has not officially been released, the consensus is that teams will primarily play in their division and region, meaning the American League and National League East would play together. With this in mind, we’ll take a look at two value teams that could come out of their division in the American League.

 

Chicago White Sox (+285) American League Central

This is going to be a three-horse race in the Central, as we can easily cross off the Royals and Tigers from being competitive. The White Sox had a very good offseason that included some additions to their rotation as well as power to the middle of the lineup. When you mix that in with a very solid group of young and up and coming players, the White Sox are about to run out one of their best overall rosters in quite some time.

The heart of the lineup will now include Yasmani Grandal, who slashed .246/.380/468 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI through 153 games with the Brewers last season. He’s also regarded as one of the best pitch framers in the game, which could really push someone like Lucas Giolito to the next level if he’s able to start generating more strike calls. The White Sox also added Edwin Encarnacion, who missed time due to injury last season but still managed .244/.344/.541 with 34 home runs and 86 RBI through 109 games with the Indians and Yankees. Having these bats to surround players like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada is really going to be a game-changer.

The rotation also added some depth with Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez. While they aren’t the flashiest names you could add, they do both throw from the left side and limit the long ball. When healthy, which has been an issue as of late, these guys will also eat innings. Keuchel averaged just under six innings a start while Gonzalez averaged over five last season.

While it’ll be tough to leapfrog over the Twins, who are currently -130 favorites on the DraftKings Sportsbook, they lack in pitching, which could be their downfall. The Twins are essentially planning on going out and scoring seven runs per game to overcompensate for their depth in the rotation. In such a short season where slumps will be magnified more than ever, the White Sox could capitalize on such a scenario and overtake the AL Central.

 

 

Los Angeles Angels (+550) American League West

The Angels made some really good moves during the offseason to help bolster their lineup and rotation ahead of the season. In one of the more underrated moves this past year, the Angels acquired SP Dylan Bundy from the Orioles. Bundy was regarded as one of the top prospects for the Orioles as he went through their system but it hasn’t necessarily translated in the majors. A change of scenery, especially to a much bigger home ballpark, should be a big change for him. The American League West is a weaker division whereas the American League East was full of firepower from teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. A fresh start for Bundy could be exactly what he needs while helping a rotation that also now includes Julio Teheran.

The biggest splash from the Angels was signing Anthony Rendon. The former Nationals third baseman is coming off career-highs in nearly every offensive category, including home runs, RBI and runs scored. While his power will take a hit playing the American League West, he no doubt joins a prolific middle of the order for the Angels. Assuming Mike Trout does indeed play, the Angels are looking at a Trout, Rendon and Shohei Ohtani tandem batting second through fourth. It brings some added protection for Trout, who hasn’t had a player of his caliber to do so.

While the Astros are heavy favorites at -167 to win the division, the Angels look to be in the best position to challenge them. With the additions they made this offseason, they have a legitimate chance to not only be competitive but make some noise in this division. Many people continue to be high on the Athletics but with a lack of moves in some overachievement in 2019, I view them as a regression candidate ahead of the beginning of 2020. With that in mind, the Angels odds are simply too long and you’re getting some tremendous value on a much-improved team.

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Steve Buchanan hails from the Boston area and attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Steve has a huge passion for fantasy baseball and football and will talk about it to almost anyone, even if they don't care. Steve's career highlights include playing in a media hockey game at Fenway Park, where he was crushed into the boards by former New England Patriot Tight End, Jermaine Wiggins.
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