[table id=31 /]
It’s too cold outside to play baseball, but that hasn’t stopped the New Jersey sports betting market from heating up its own version of the Hot Stove. MLB division futures went out at PointsBet during the Winter Meetings in December and they certainly are interesting.
Even if you aren’t ready to bet on the upcoming Major League Baseball season yet or simply want to hold off and see where players end up, it is never bad to be able to see how the oddsmakers and bookmakers view these teams. You can use that as a jumping off point for some of your own research. It also isn’t a bad idea to try and get out in front of some odds movements if you can as well.
If you expect teams to be aggressive, you can make some speculation bets at odds that won’t be around if those teams sign a big free agent or make a big trade. There are always going to be opportunities to do that sort of thing.
Let’s go division by division here with the odds and some quick thoughts on each of the five teams in that set to see if we can’t find a bit of value.
Baltimore Orioles +20000
Boston Red Sox +190
New York Yankees +110
Tampa Bay Rays +210
Toronto Blue Jays +10000
The AL East looks like a three-horse race as you can clearly see. It may be more of a two-horse race if Boston loses a superstar like Mookie Betts in the trade market, depending on the return.
The Yankees are always a popular bet and we’ll see how they use their vast financial resources, but the Rays are the team that is getting a little bit disrespected. This is a team that makes savvy and shrewd moves and has an excellent rotation anchored by 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and 2020 Cy Young hopeful Tyler Glasnow. With a good offense, an elite bullpen, and a top-notch rotation, a price better than 2/1 on the Rays seems worth your while.
Chicago White Sox +375
Cleveland Indians +110
Detroit Tigers +10000
Kansas City Royals +8000
Minnesota Twins +125
You have two choices here. The White Sox are not ready to compete yet, but they could be by 2021, assuming we have a baseball season to handicap. The rotation needs too much work and the lineup has its fair share of holes as well. Not to mention the bullpen.
So, we decide between the Indians and Twins. The Twins won the AL Central last season to knock the Indians off of their perch for the first time in four years. Expect the Indians to get their revenge this season. The Indians were without Corey Kluber for most of last season, Mike Clevinger for two months early in the year, Carlos Carrasco while he battled leukemia, and then Trevor Bauer when he was traded to the Reds. Three of those four should join All-Star Game MVP and fourth-place Cy Young finisher Shane Bieber and then any member of the Aaron Civale, Logan Allen, Adam Plutko, Zach Plesac quartet to form arguably the best rotation in the AL.
The Twins ran at an historic pace offensively early in the year last season, but did come back to earth a bit in the second half. Cleveland’s injuries and slow start, both a byproduct of injuries to Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, proved to be too much for the Tribe to overcome. That won’t be the case in 2020.
Houston Astros -455
Los Angeles Angels +1000
Oakland Athletics +375
Seattle Mariners +15000
Texas Rangers +4000
This is way, way, way too big of a favorite price on the Houston Astros, who have lost Gerrit Cole. Justin Verlander is on the wrong side of 35 and the rotation has a ton of questions with some young arms that were a mixed bag at the MLB level last season and a top prospect in Forrest Whitley that has had his fair share of injuries.
The Oakland A’s look like a contender once again as an elite defensive team with a good offense and a strong bullpen. The Los Angeles Angels have money to spend and some will believe in the Magic of (Joe) Maddon, but they do have a lot of holes to fill. The Rangers and Mariners are non-factors. If you really, truly believe in the Angels making moves this winter to help Mike Trout, 10/1 isn’t bad. If you don’t, the A’s are your option and a very reasonable one at that with an Astros team that will regress.
Atlanta Braves +190
Miami Marlins +15000
New York Mets +300
Philadelphia Phillies +350
Washington Nationals +200
The reigning World Series champions are not even the favorites to win their own division based on the opening odds at PointsBet for division futures. This is far and away the most competitive division in baseball with four teams that can hang a banner and then the Miami Marlins.
Will the Mets be in a better mindset without Mickey Callaway? Can somebody pick up Zack Wheeler’s innings? Will the young arms in the Braves rotation improve? Will the Phillies live up to their potential? Can the Nationals avoid a World Series hangover? All four of these teams are supremely talented. You can pick the one you like the most or stay away and all of those decisions are probably justified. This looks like a premier horse race that will come down to the wire.
Chicago Cubs +190
Cincinnati Reds +350
Milwaukee Brewers +350
Pittsburgh Pirates +3300
St. Louis Cardinals +190
While the odds are bunched even a little tighter in the NL Central, it is because all four of the contenders for the division title have flaws. In the NL East, all of those teams have questions. There is a difference. The Cubs have a bad rotation. The Reds have to live up to expectations and find some more offense. The Brewers have to find more pitching. The Cardinals have to find more offense.
This is one where the way in which the winter plays out is going to give one of these four teams an edge. Right now, the Reds look like that team, as they have more of a willingness to spend than their NLC counterparts and also have made substantial strides on the player development side. They also have the best rotation in the division by a decent margin and appear likely to add another starting pitcher.
If you want to take a shot, the Reds at +350 or so is the one to take.
Arizona Diamondbacks +1200
Colorado Rockies +1600
Los Angeles Dodgers -455
San Diego Padres +450
San Francisco Giants +4000
It is the Dodgers’ division to lose for like the 20th season in a row. Okay, so it hasn’t gone back that far, but it sure as heck feels like it has. The Dodgers are losing some of their pitching depth and Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill aren’t getting any younger, but this is still one of the deepest lineups in baseball and Los Angeles always finds pitching.
The only team with a realistic shot to challenge the Dodgers is the Padres, who are bursting at the seams with young talent. It is young, unproven talent. If you want to back the team with the most potential, it is the Padres, but if you are more of a realist, you have to stay away from this division and look at the Dodgers to win the NL Pennant or maybe even the World Series.