Padres, White Sox worth a look in ‘21

As one season gets put in the history books, another season looms which will hopefully mean a return to normalcy. Although there are surges in new COVID-19 cases as we approach winter, there’s still hope that the availability of a vaccine and continued mitigation behavior will lead to a normal spring training next February and a full 162- game regular season beginning in late March.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has released opening World Series and Pennant odds for 2021 and other books soon will do the same. Over the coming months, Division odds and Season Win Totals will also be posted in advance of the start of spring training.

The main advantage in betting futures early is that you’re generally able to get the most attractive odds in the betting cycle. Of course, the major drawback is so much can happen before the season even begins. Trades, retirements, free agency and other factors all impact adjustments to the odds, as will major injuries which will result in key players missing the start of the season and perhaps several months or more.

With those caveats out of the way here are teams I’m considering for World Series and Pennant plays or for Season Win Totals.

San Diego had the second-best record in the NL during the 60-game season but also had the second-best record in the NL West thanks to the ultra-talented Dodgers. With Los Angeles expected to field yet another strong team, you’d think by default there’s value in the Padres. 

But oddsmakers are sharp. The Dodgers are 5-1 to win the 2021 World Series with rival San Diego tied for third choice at 12-1 (the Yankees are second at 6-1). The Dodgers are 5-2 favorites to win the NL Pennant with the Padres and Atlanta next at 6-1.

The best way to play the Padres might be to win the NL West with only the Dodgers offering true competition. With World Series and Pennant odds, there are 29 and 14 other teams to consider with perhaps a third of those teams legitimate challengers, making San Diego’s 12-1 Series and 6-1 Pennant odds seem too short.

The other way to back the Padres will be to look Over their Season Wins Total which might be in the range of 88 to 92 when posted early in 2021.  

San Diego was 37-23 during the shortened regular season which equates to a 100-62 record over a full 162-game schedule. Since beginning their streak of eight straight Division titles in 2013, the Dodgers are 97-49 against the Padres, including 9-4 this season. In a full season, they play 19 regular-season games. San Diego’s best record over that stretch is 8-11. Thus, we’re likely to see a total around 90 to account for the Padres’ sustained struggles against their neighbors to the north.

In the AL, I’m considering backing Chicago. The White Sox were 35-25, which equates to 94-66. Neither of their two main AL Central challengers – Cleveland and Minnesota – are dominant. 

The Sox are 12-1 to win the World series, 6-1 to win the AL Pennant. Again, the best way to play the Sox would be to win their Division and exceed their Season Wins Total which might be in the 86-90 range.

The big free agent signing this offseason will be Trevor Bauer, the likely NL Cy Young Award winner. He was brilliant with Cincinnati and will immediately lower the odds for whichever team signs him. Both the Yankees and Dodgers have the need and the resources to land perhaps the best starting pitcher in the game today. Should he sign with either of those powers, perhaps the odds on the White Sox or Padres will be a bit more generous than they are now.

Last week: 2-1

Season: 19-12