They’re the defending World Series champions. They’re coming off a 108-win season, tied for the ninth-highest total in MLB history. They’re the three-time defending A.L. East champions.
And yet the 2019 Boston Red Sox somehow aren’t even favored to win their division according to early odds from Caesar’s Palace. Say what??
Yes, you read that correctly. Despite finishing last year with eight more wins than the Yankees and then knocking them out of the ALDS in four games, the over/under for the Red Sox win total in 2019 has been set at 95.5, behind New York’s 96.5.
Boston isn’t even the second choice in the American League, with Caesar’s setting the Astros’ over/under at 97.5 wins.
There’s no doubt duplicating — or even approaching — last year’s historic win total will be a tough challenge for Alex Cora’s club, but the lack of respect is still curious considering the World Series-winning roster is almost entirely intact.
Maybe the total will get bumped up if and when the Sox lock up a closer, especially if they can re-sign Craig Kimbrel, who isn’t getting the kind of offers he hoped to find on the free agent market.
Or maybe Vegas just realizes that exceeding 95.5 wins is pretty tough, even for a good team. After all, the Sox have only eclipsed that total four times over the last 40 seasons.
But predicting a second-place finish for the champs? Don’t bet on it… unless you want to.