Cleveland Guardians Odds: Do Projections Surpass MLB Win Totals?

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
Guardians odds

Welcome to TheLines.com’s 2024 MLB odds preview series. Here, we’ll preview every team’s outlook, zoning on MLB win totals and World Series odds. We’ll evaluate each team’s roster and see if there are any wagers worth monitoring. In this article, we’ll assess Cleveland Guardians odds.

According to the market, Cleveland entered 2023 as the clear division favorite, but I and many others tabbed the Twins as the clear value play. That came to fruition as the Guardians finished behind Minnesota and Detroit in a below .500 campaign.

Can the Guardians reverse course and turn their penny-pinching ways into another competitive season? They’re in the right division to do it, with the AL Central essentially tied with the NL Central for having the lowest projected median winning record.

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Guardians Odds: An Overview And What The Projections Say

First, let’s compare the market on Guardians odds to publicly available projections from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

  • 2023 wins: 76
  • Market wins: /
  • FanGraphs wins: 80.2
  • Baseball Prospectus wins: 83

The computers like the Guardians more than the market does. In 2023, despite finishing sixth-worst in team wRC+, they were only a little unlucky with their offense. With neutral sequencing, they would have been sixth-worst in runs scored when they were actually fourth-worst. Since the pitching staff still looks like one of MLB’s stronger groups and performed well last season, any hopes for improvement must come from the offense.

Evaluating The Guardians Roster

Bats And Defense

Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor are rocks in the middle of the Guards lineup, but everything else fell apart in 2023.

Steven Kwan predictably regressed when his batted ball luck reversed after a tremendously fortunate 2022. Same for Andres Gimenez, whose incredible 2022 was one of the main reasons I was bearish on Cleveland as I didn’t expect him to come close to repeating it. Mike Zunino and Amed Rosario stunk up the joint on both sides of the ball. Josh Bell turned in a dreadful campaign before inexplicably pounding the baseball again the minute he was traded to Miami, much to Cleveland fans’ frustration.

As a whole, the Guardians were quite unlucky, though. Only five teams had a worse wOBA-xwOBA differential. They were particularly unlucky in balls falling for hits, as only two teams had worse fortune in the batting average department, per Statcast.

Zunino and Rosario have mercifully left the building.

Gimenez and Kwan still have quality projections. A full season of Bo Naylor, a former top prospect who projects as an above-average player, will provide a large boost at catcher. Brayan Rocchio and Kyle Manzardo bring strong prospect pedigrees and real upside at SS and 1B, respectively. At the very least, Rocchio will provide MLB-quality defense, more than can be said for Rosario (-14 OAA).

There are still big holes in the outfield with Myles Straw and Ramon Laureano. Laureano has produced back-to-back below-average seasons while battling injuries and PED suspension. Straw is one of the worst hitters in MLB.

But as a whole, there are some reasons for optimism with this group. Certainly, the glovework should be solid. Basically every defensive metric liked Cleveland’s work last year.

Pitching

This is where Cleveland shines.

Starting with the bullpen, it’s probably fair to call Emmanuel Clase the premier closer in the game right now until we see Edwin Diaz return to full strength. Scott Barlow is a solid setup man, and Trevor Stephan was a star in 2022 and above average last year. There’s quality depth here as well.

Speaking of depth, the starting rotation runs five deep with quality arms. Ostensible No. 5 Gavin Williams was a good prospect and projects as an average pitcher. Everyone else (Tanner Bibee, Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Logan Allen) should land somewhere between average and very good. Aside from Bieber, each is on the right side of the aging curve.

The issue is that Cleveland no longer has a star, as Bieber’s days as an ace may have ended. Entering his seventh big-league campaign with declining fastball velocity, Bieber got hit harder and missed fewer bats by a large margin in 2023.

Depth exists here as well. Xzavion Curry and Hunter Gaddis made several MLB starts without embarrassing themselves, and former elite prospect Daniel Espino could contribute if he can finally get healthy.

Cleveland should have a top-10 run-prevention unit between its pitching and defense.

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Possible Bets On Guardians Odds

As you may have surmised from my rundown of the Guardians’ hitting, I like this team quite a bit more than the market and even more than the more optimistic projections.

I think the hitting should regress positively, especially if one or both of Rocchio and Manzardo produce. With the pitching in place, even a top-20 offense should allow the Guardians to mount a legitimate challenge to the Twins.

Minnesota has plenty of downside, with a roster that probably has one of MLB’s highest collective injury risks. The White Sox are terrible, the Royals look decent but not great, and I think the Tigers are weaker than the Guardians in every facet of baseball. Yet, the latter team has a slightly shorter price in AL Central markets, which makes no sense to me.

One thing that bears mentioning is that Cleveland made a big managerial change with Terry Francona retiring. Rookie manager Stephen Vogt will replace him, which may have negative consequences. But these things are tough to quantify, and it’s debatable how much value a manager can bring to the table in general.

I was eyeing a Guardians World Series ticket at a very long price. But it’s hard to see enough upside with this team to justify it. I think their ceiling is probably just a very good team.

Still, I like them to go over their win total and challenge for the division. Over 78.5 (-110) and +400 are both bets for me.

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