It's not even July yet, and two divisions in baseball are all but decided and another seems to be quickly heading that way. If things stay on the track they seem to be on now then this could be the least interesting stretch drive we have seen in a long time. We can hold out hope for some drama, but in the meantime let's take a look at the divisions that are at least somewhat in play - Washington and Houston are in no danger in my eyes - and see if there is any futures value to be had. ( Odds are from BetOnline )
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New York +140
The Red Sox are more strongly favored now than they were even earlier in the week. It makes sense. Boston and New York are now tied for the lead in the division. While Boston is only playing slightly better than average right now - 6-4 in the last 10 - the Yankees have fallen on very hard times. They have lost eight of their last nine, and while the offense has continued to be mostly solid the pitching has suddenly become the disaster we all knew it had the potential to be all along. Boston does have the edge on paper, and they are moving in the right direction, so they are certainly easier to trust, and they justify this price. I have long wanted to have faith in the Jays this year, and they still technically are in range - they are only five games back. There is a serious mental block affecting this squad, though. After their horrible start they have had nine chances to get to .500, and they are 0-9 in those games. You have to work hard to accomplish something like that. The division is far from the best it has been so far this year, but the team is still going to have to get beyond .500 to win the division. They have the talent to be better than they are, and health has been a real problem for them. However, with every passing day it gets tougher to have faith - even at a price this fat.
The Indians have opened up their lead lately by going 8-2 in their last 10. It has been inevitable since the start of the season that Cleveland was going to win the division, and despite a glacially-slow start they are doing exactly what they were supposed to now. The biggest issue the division has is that if Cleveland doesn't win it then who else will? Minnesota got off to a solid start, but they were clearly overachieving, and they are at least a couple of years away from being ready to shine. Detroit just isn't any good, and while Kansas City is hot right now they are a team heading right towards being sold off for parts and they seem to know it. Cleveland has to only play at about 60 percent of their capacity and they will be able to win the division soundly. They are 2.5 games up on the Twins now, and that is despite being just 15-17 at home. That simply has to improve - they can't stay that bad at home all summer - and that will help put them over the top.
St. Louis +700
It must be rough to be a Brewers fan. Their team has won seven of 10 and is in first place by a game and a half, yet they are a significant underdog to win the division. It's totally justified, though. The Cubs have been lousy and just don't seem mentally into this season so far. They have so much more talent than the rest of the division that it's ridiculous, though, and while they still haven't found anything close to their top gear they are playing better than they have up to this point, and like Cleveland it seems like just a matter of time until they get things on track and claim what, by default, pretty much has to be theirs. Milwaukee is playing way, way over their heads, and while St. Louis is eternally dangerous they just aren't up to the challenge this year. It's the Cubs or no one, which is why this price has to be what it is.
This one has been surprisingly and ridiculously tight so far, and it's not letting up. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks have both won nine of 10, which gives L.A. a one-game lead in the division. Colorado has led much of the way, but they haven't been quite as sharp - 6-4 in their last 10 - so they are now tied with the Diamondbacks. As great as Colorado has been, they are relying on a whole lot of rookie pitching, and that is hard to have faith in down the stretch. Arizona has a better anchor on their staff, but they still shouldn't be able to match the Dodgers in the long run. My gut tells me that the Dodgers are deserved favorites, but that the gap isn't quite as large as this price suggests - which isn't surprising because the Dodgers are by far the most public team here.
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