Why is Nobody Respecting the Cleveland Guardians as a Legitimate Contender?

Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Guardians are the hottest team in the American League
Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Guardians are the hottest team in the American League / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The 32-27 Cleveland Guardians have the following things:

  • A 13-3 record in their last 16 games
  • A Wild Card spot in the playoffs if the season ended today
  • The fourth-best run differential in the AL
  • The fewest strikeouts in MLB
  • The third-best batting average and third-most runs per game in the AL
  • The third-lowest bullpen ERA in MLB
  • The second-most Outs Above Average defensively in the AL and third-most in MLB
  • An MVP contender in José Ramírez

On top of all of that, they are +5000 to win the AL Pennant and +10000 to win the World Series at WynnBET.

Hold on, what? Look, I wrote almost a month ago that the Guardians were about to start winning and again just 10 days ago that they were a good bet to make the playoffs. All they've done since is win but their odds haven't changed? What is going on here?

Are the Guardians Contenders?

I'll keep banging the Guardians' drum as long as they remain the best futures value in MLB. The case for them is pretty simple: they're great at preventing runs, have a good-enough lineup and play in the weakest division in MLB.

Anything can happen once you get to the playoffs, especially if you have a good defense and bullpen, so why not have incredible odds on a likely playoff team?

My question is: Ahy oddsmakers don't seem to agree? Cleveland has had terrible odds all year, and they haven't budged even though they're surging. Why?

Chicago White Sox Odds

It appears sportsbooks are expecting a huge step forward for the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have the fourth-best odds to win the American League at +900 despite a below .500 record and the fourth-worst run differential. I don't think Chicago is likely to soar up the standings. But if they do, it'll likely come at the expense of Cleveland.

Cleveland Guardians' Rotation

Looking inward, the Guardians' rotation is a question mark. Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, Zach Plesac, and Konnor Pilkington all have worse expected ERAs than actual ERAs, so their entire rotation has been lucky. But this is an extremely young pitching staff with room to grow:

Being such a young roster is a positive, in my opinion. Terry Francona is an exceptional manager and can mine the Guardians' fountain of youth to create a waterfall of wins. We've seen improvement each month already. Cleveland was 9-12 in April, 12-12 in May, and are 11-3 in June so far. Bieber is on a roll, Quantrill has a quality start in eight of his last nine outings, and McKenzie looks like a budding All-Star:


The lineup is admittedly middling. They don't walk much, hit home runs at one of the lowest rates in MLB, and are prone to inconsistent stretches. But they're exceptional at making contact. Singles aren't as effective as blasts out of the stadium, but they keep the line moving all the same.

Cleveland averages the fourth-most stolen bases per game, so they've got the legs to turn singles into run-scoring opportunities and take advantage of mistakes.

Andrés Giménez, Amed Rosario, and José Ramírez all rank in the 78th percentile or better in expected batting average. Owen Miller and Josh Naylor aren't far behind, in the 63rd and 65th percentiles, respectively. Thus, more than half of the Guardians' lineup has an excellent expected batting average. Plus, that guy Ramírez is a bonafide MVP candidate at +900.

The Verdict

Cleveland has legitimate flaws, but they also have legitimate upside. At +5000 to win the AL Pennant and +10000 to win the World Series, there is no better futures value bet in MLB than the Guardians.

These next couple of weeks are critical. The Guardians travel to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers then Minnesota before home series against the Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees. That's a brutal stretch, so we should know by the end if Cleveland's young roster can hang with the best. If they escape with a .500 record, their odds will fall as the schedule lightens up significantly in July.

Now may be our last chance to scoop up Guardians futures at a discount. If they get crushed the next two weeks, then their odds will just stay bad. But if they prove they belong with the class of the AL, you won't see juicy numbers like +5000 or +10000 by their name again.

Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.