Midseason 2021 MLB Futures Picks

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Ten weeks into the Major League Baseball season we’ve seen a number of surprises, headed by the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, who have the best record in baseball at 38-23 (.623) entering play June 11.

Not bad for a team that was pegged to finish miles behind the LA Dodgers and San Diego in the division and only excels in even-numbered years. The Giants’ preseason pennant odds were +6000 and the World Series number at +10000 at William Hill.

For long-shot futures bettors, though, San Francisco’s bandwagon has left the station. Its odds have since plummeted by roughly two-thirds.

Much the same goes for the Boston Red Sox, who were expected to finish fourth in the AL East, based on preseason odds (+2200/+5000) at DraftKings. They are almost as hot as the Giants (38-25, .603), standing a game behind Tampa Bay in the loop.

But their odds have since been shaved my more than half, making them far less desirable to place a wager on these days.

Sigh.

Looking back

But all this doesn’t mean there aren’t potential futures betting gems to be found now. History indicates great values can be had virtually any time in the season.

Thirty years ago is a great example.

That season both eventual World Series participants, Atlanta and Minnesota, got off to slow starts and could be had for 50-1 for the pennant and 100-1 for the Series well into the season.

Back when there weren’t wild cards, the Twins were already 7.5 games off the AL West pace at 20-24 before making a surge. The Braves were 39-40 in early July and 9.5 back in the NL West before closing with a 55-28 rush.

Gigantic payout

Ten years ago there were the St. Louis Cardinals, who with 15 games remaining were 6.5 out in the NL Central and 4.5 behind in the wild-card race. Incredibly, there odds at the MGM were an outlandish 500-1 for the pennant at that time and 999-1 for the World Series, and on Sept. 12 a man famously wagered $250 on both options and collected $375,000.

Sigh again.

Even two years ago there was nice money to be made on the eventual world champion Washington Nationals. They were the NL East preseason favorites but got off to a 19-31 start and quickly fell 10 games off the division pace and 8.5 games out of the second wild card. Then zoom!

Savvy prognosticators jumped on their adjusted odds (+3000 pennant/+6000 Series) and cashed in nicely.
OK, enough looking back at opportunities we all probably missed out on.

Suggested MLB Future Odds To Take Now

AL EAST: Toronto gets the nod at odds of +1000/+2500, slightly up from its preseason numbers.
No one’s hotter at the plate than Vlad Guerrero, and ex-Astros slugger George Springer is expected back of the IL in the near future. And the lefty pitching tandem of Hyun Jin Ryu and Steven Matz is solid.
And don’t wait too long to pull the betting trigger. Starting June 18, the Blue Jays have nine straight games against bottom-feeders Baltimore and Miami and could quickly climb the standings.

AL CENTRAL: The Kansas City Royals were the long-shot pick in this loop coming out of spring training at +5000/+10000 (See story dated March 15) and got off to a 16-9 start and a one time led the Central by 2.5 games. But they’ve gone 14-22 since. The magic apparently is gone.

Since the White Sox, up by 4.5 games and current favorites to win the pennant, can’t be counted on to dissolve, we’re looking at a wild card here.

The reluctant pick is two-time defending division champ Minnesota, which was forecast to finish second this season. Considering the Twins are 13 games behind Chisox and 10 games behind Houston for the second WC, their odds logically should be more than the current +4000/+8000. But they still could be worth a small fun wager.

AL WEST: For the fourth straight season it’s been a two-team race between Oakland and Houston. Little value there.

But there is big value with the LA Angels (+3300/+7000) at DraftKings. The Halos are only six games off the lead, having gone 11-5 since May 23 — all without injured Mike Trout. He’s due back in late July/early August and could team with the spectacular Shohei Ohtani to put them in the thick of a playoff drive.
As a bonus, seven of their next 10 games are against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers.

NL EAST: Washington would be the choice to overcome another slow start, but the Nationals will find it hard to charge the top without star RHP Stephen Strasburg, who is having nerve irritation issues in his neck. There reportedly is no timeline for his return.

Elsewhere, the Phillies have nice odds (+3000/+5000), but their fielding is atrocious (especially at third base) and their relief corp, as usual, a mess.

Thus, the choice is preseason division co-favorite Atlanta, whose odds have almost doubled to +1000/+2000. Not great, but good enough. The Braves are only four games behind the fragile Mets and have the playoff moxie to handle the stretch drive.

NL CENTRAL: It’s not often that the nationally loved Chicago Cubs have a decent team and decent odds at the same time, so their +2200/+4000 numbers are worth jumping on.

They are tied with Milwaukee for first in the division and have just bashed the high-profile San Diego Padres five out of six. Chicago also has outscored foes by 33 runs. By comparison, Milwaukee is at plus-1.
How hot are the Cubs? On May 2, Chicago was last in the loop five games out at 12-16. Since then they’ve gone 23-11.

NL WEST: No sense wasting time on any of these squads.

Arizona and Colorado are as miserable as you can get, and the Dodgers and San Diego are awfully good and have little value.

Maybe if you’re a Giants fan their odds of +1800/+3500 don’t look all that bad but it’s just not the same as catching them before their sensational start.

About the Author

Bob Christ

Bob Christ, based in New Mexico, has been a gaming writer (primarily the NFL) for almost four decades, with his work appearing in publications/websites across North America. He's a big fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Philadelphia's Eagles and Phillies, and inexplicably the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.

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