As we count down the final days before Opening Day finally arrives, I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record. All offseason I have been arguing that, despite the big moves from the Indians and Royals, the White Sox are still the second-best team in the AL Central until something changes. I’ve never thought it was a slam dunk, or by a wide margin, but if all three of those teams got roughly equivalent luck and health, to me the White Sox look better than Kansas City and Cleveland by a couple of games. The White Sox’ advantage is almost entirely in their starting rotation, and we all know how fickle that advantage can be.
PinnacleSports posted their yearly win total over/unders about a week ago. The Vegas lines are generally an incredibly accurate prediction tool. Professional sports gamblers in 2013 are extremely sophisticated and there are, naturally, gigantic financial incentives for everyone involved that drive the line toward where it “should” be. As it stands today, here is what those lines say about how the American League will shake out:
The Yankees are conspicuously missing, and I can’t say that I blame even Vegas for being hesitant to try to speculate as to what will emerge in the Bronx. Still, Vegas seems to be on board for my rough predictions. I assure you, I would have written this article if I had been way off, and you’ll just have to take my word for it. The White Sox appear to be well behind Detroit, but slightly ahead of both Cleveland and Kansas City.
The over/unders try to capture every possibility of what may happen this season, combined with how likely those things are to occur. For example, if Sale, Peavy, Floyd, and Danks all pitch to the 90th percentile of their ability 90 wins for the White Sox looks quite plausible. However, what are the odds of that occurring? What if Sale, Peavy, and Danks all succumb to the injury worries that surround them? What is the win forecast paired with the probability of that happening? There are variances surrounding these win totals, and we should think logically about how those scenarios might play out.
Between the extreme flux in the AL East, the likely strength of the Tigers, and the extra Wild Card spot, these figures seem to indicate that the White Sox actually may have a better shot at getting into the playoffs via the Wild Card than through winning their division. It would mean the AL Central’s 2nd ever Wild Card, joining the 2006 Tigers. These numbers also indicate basically what most White Sox fans seem to think of this 2013 team. They’re probably going to be around .500, and things are going to have to break their way if they’re going to sneak into the playoffs.