Not only did the Tigers make a huge splash when they signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million dollar contract, they became a huge betting favorite in the American League. Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander (not necessarily in that order) give Detroit three of the top players in the majors and will make them hard to beat over the course of a season. Only the Angels and perhaps the Rangers have the talent and depth to match and both of those teams would be favored in a short series.

The Tigers are now the clear-cut favorites to win the American League Central with 2/1 the best baseball odds or even money at many sports betting establishments. Detroit is also is lined at 5/1 to capture the American League Pennant and 8/1 to win the World Series.

Detroit was already one of the most profitable teams for its backers last earning +1888 units during the regular season plus a record of 84-66-2 to the ‘over’. You can expect the totals to rise dramatically in games involving the Tigers this year.

Fielder finished third in NL MVP voting last year, hitting .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs for the Milwaukee Brewers. Adding Fielder’s big bat to an already explosive offense will likely make it harder to find a decent price on the Tigers this season.

It’s quite possible that the race in the American League Central this season will be for second-place behind Detroit.

Here’s a thumbnail look at the other AL Central teams with odds of winning the AL pennant in bold and analysis of their baseball betting potential.

Kansas City Royals (15/1)

The Royals were the talk of spring training a year ago as opposing teams drooled over KC’s wealth of top prospects. At the time the farm system was supposedly three maybe four years away from seriously producing at the Major League level.  But now with the first wave of prospects -- Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas most notably, their success has fans talking optimistically about the present as well as the future.

Royals rewards. KC was a ML loser last year (-542) but turned a profit on the run line (+1144). Still, I don’t trust a team that was 20 games under .500.

Adam DunnCleveland Indians (30/1)

The Indians stayed into contention well into the summer but it’s doubtful they’ll catch teams by surprise this year. The key for the Tribes success this year will be outfield stability.  Cleveland saw 12 different players in the outfield at some point during the 2011 season. Michael Brantley led the way with 451 at-bats and 108 starts while Shin-Soo Choo was next with 313 at-bats and 84 starts.

Cleveland has a solid rotation with Derek Lowe to go along with Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona. Former Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez is the No. 1 starter with Josh Tomlin right behind him.

Best bet: The ‘over’ was 84-70-8 in 2011 including 44-31-6 on the road.

Minnesota Twins (40/1)

The Twins are usually pegged as a ‘team to beat’ in the Central Division but injuries and inaction by the front office have rendered the once proud Twins as nothing more than an afterthought. The fortunes of the Twins changed last year as they went from the upstairs room with a view to the basement faster than you can say Joe Mauer. Injuries to Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Denard Span, which contributed to a league-leading 27 trips to the disabled list was just too much to overcome, as will be the Tigers.

Bettors beware: This team gave backers nightmares. Minnesota had a 63-99 record (-2442 units) and a run line record of 80-82 (-1872 units). My advice: fade but don’t follow in your MLB picks.

Chicago White Sox (45/1)

Manager Ozzie Guillen is gone for the glamour and glitz of South Beach and the Miami Marlins. That leaves the White Sox with a rookie manager (Robin Ventura), an aging but effective first-baseman (Paul Konerko) and very little else. Of course there’s still Adam Dunn coming off one of the worst seasons by any player in baseball history.

Be wager wise: Chicago was also in that ‘don’t play’ category in 2011. The Pale Hose were -1036 on the money line and -1513 on the run line.