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Francisco Lindor and New York Mets reside near the top of MLB futures odds (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In the marathon run to win the World Series, the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Mets continue to be the front-runners on oddsboards at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and PointsBet.

The Yankees (+450 DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet) and Astros (+650 BetMGM, PointsBet) have double-digit division leads in the American League, and the Dodgers (+450 DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM) and Mets (+700 DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet) are the hheadliners in the National League.

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And this year it’s important to note that the two division winners with the best records in each league earn a first-round bye in the playoffs and avoid having to play in the best-of-three wild-card round.

On the other end of the futures board are 10 mega underdogs. And if big odds entice you, FanDuel is the place to look. One team is listed at +100000, four at +250000, and five more at +500000. You know who they are.

Here’s a look at how the divisions are playing out and what teams to keep an eye on for futures wagers:

AL East

Just when you think the Yankees are virtually invincible, they go 16 1/3 innings without a hit last weekend at home against Houston, including being no-hit on Saturday.

But with a 12-game division lead, thanks to the MLB’s second-best ERA and a lineup that’s hit the most homers, they probably aren’t far from invincibility.

Then there are the second-place Red Sox, who despite going 19-5 in June, lost half a game to New York in that span and likely can focus only on hanging on to the top wild card. Since the Sox and the Dodgers are the sole teams ranked in the top six in batting and ERA, Boston’s chances look good.

And with their Series odds remaining attractive (+3500 BetMGM), the Red Sox seem to be worth a bet. The big drawback, as mentioned last week, is they have baseball’s most difficult remaining strength of schedule, according to

Preseason division favorite Toronto, half a game behind Boston, moved up oddsboards (+1200 DraftKings, FanDuel) but has trouble with its starting rotation. Probably not worth the gamble at such a low number.

Tampa Bay? With its starting catcher, second baseman, and center fielder on IL, now’s not the time to be a Rays backer (+3000 Draftkings, BetMGM), even though they currently have a 2.5-game grip on the third wild card.

Among the previously mentioned 10 teams with ballooning odds, the one that has seen the most recent success has been the Baltimore Orioles (+100000), who were at +25000 before taking three of four from the White Sox and then trouncing Seattle on Monday. The O’s are 35-40, have won eight of their past 10, including three by shutouts, and are only 6.5 games out of the running for the final wild card.

AL Central

Minnesota (+4500 DraftKings), after slipping out of first place Wednesday for the first since April 24, has reclaimed a solid foothold atop the division by three games and can put some extra distance between itself and second-place Cleveland (+8000, BetMGM) with four more road games this week against the slipping Guardians. On Monday, the Twins beat them, 11-1.

As the Boston radio broadcasters said of Cleveland’s third straight loss to the Red Sox over the weekend, it looked like the Guardians were running on fumes. And it probably looked that way Monday in its most lopsided defeat of the season. Cleveland’s odds could be returning to +18000 in short order.

Also in the Twins’ favor is the injury situation for the tumbling White Sox (+3000 DraftKings), who just dropped five of six, including three of four at home to Baltimore. Chicago is six back in the wild card and 6.5 in the division race.

But all is not totally well for the Twins, who continue to have injury woes on the pitching staff and will soon be losing their pitching coach, Wes Johnson, who accepted a job at LSU. Twins ace Sonny Gray on Monday was particularly upset about his imminent departure.

AL West

Houston continues to flex its muscle, including a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, and has seen its World Series number shorten a tad this week after splitting a four-game series in New York.

A week ago, the Los Angeles Angels seemed recharged and ready to make their mark in the wild-card race again with an accommodating home schedule. But they lost two of three to Kansas City and then two of three to Seattle. That 2-4 mark is no way to become relevant. But for those tempted to jump on the empty bandwagon, FanDuel is the way to go at +8500. Some sites have L.A. at only +5000.

Inconsistent Seattle (+14000 DraftKings) and Texas (+40000 DraftKings) have had their moments, but not enough of them.

NL East

The New York Mets (+700 DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet) continue to have the best record in the National League (47-27) and should be getting back stud RHP Max Scherzer (oblique) in the next week or so, but they also just put RHP Tylor Megill on the 60-day IL (shoulder).

So things appear a little dicey for the Mets pitching staff, but they do have a five-game lead over Atlanta (+1300 FanDuel, PointsBet), which recently lost right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. when he fouled a ball off his left foot. No fracture, but he can’t put pressure on it.

Starting Tuesday, the Braves open a six-game road trip against resurgent Philadelphia and then Cincinnati. They can’t afford much slippage with the Mets’ schedule softening as of Friday with 10 straight games against Texas, Cincinnati, and Miami, all of which are under .500.

As for the Phillies (+4000 FanDuel, PointsBet), the loss of last year’s NL MVP, Bryce Harper (fractured thumb), will hurt immensely. And the odds are probably good the bubble will burst soon for the suddenly unhittable Philly bullpen.

NL Central

Since June 15, Milwaukee has gone 8-4 to take a half-game lead over St. Louis for division honors. In the process, the Brewers have averaged 5.4 runs a game, which isn’t bad for a team that ranks 24th in the league in hitting at .234.

And on the mound, last year’s Cy Young winner, Corbin Burnes, is coming off victories against the Mets, Cardinals, and Blue Jays, all of which are in the top five in MLB hitting.

And now the Brewers have a chance to pull away before the All-Star break with two games against the banged-up Rays this week, followed by 10 games vs. division dregs — seven against Pittsburgh and three vs. the Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals (+3500 DraftKings), who lost two of three to the Cubs at Wrigley over the weekend, got more bad news Monday when RHP Jack Flaherty returned to the IL (shoulder) after pitching only eight innings in three appearances. He was 9-2 last year.

NL West

The Dodgers (+450 DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM) have gone 5-2 since last Tuesday and have taken a 1.5-game lead over a San Diego team (+1400 DraftKings) that has been hard hit by injuries.

The Dodgers have their injuries, too, although not as many crucial ones. But they are feeling the pain from the absence of outfielder Mookie Betts (ribs), whose return to the lineup is uncertain. His 17 homers are six more than anyone else on the team.

The Padres, meanwhile, continue to be without sluggers Manny Machado (ankle) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist) in addition to veteran center fielder Wil Meyers (knee). In losing three of four at home to Philadelphia over the weekend, the punchless Padres got only one hit vs. the often-beleaguered Phillies bullpen.

San Francisco (39-33) continues to be a relative disappointment after their 107-win season last year. Since winning seven of eight games from June 10-18, including a three-game sweep of the Dodgers, they’ve lost six of eight and also temporarily lost star shortstop Brandon Crawford to the IL (knee).

Over the weekend they dropped two of three games in Cincinnati to the NL-worst Reds. But they still are only one game out in the chase for the last wild card. The odds are holding steady at (+3000 across the board).

World Series Betting History: Longshots Have Produced Big Payoffs

Since expansion began in 1961, several longshots have contended deep into the season/postseason for the championship. Not all of them prevailed with a World Series title, but many won pennants or led the league in wins, which made for rollicking summers.

And some of the best odds were available for those teams in mid to late season.

The first out-of-nowhere longshot came in 1967 with the Boston Red Sox, who hadn’t had a winning season since 1958 when Ted Williams was there. They wound up winning the AL pennant at 100-to-1 odds before losing in the World Series to St. Louis in seven games.

Two years later came the Miracle Mets. They had 100-to-1 World Series odds to open, but written accounts indicated the number skyrocketed to 1,000-1 during the season. That’s probably because as late as Aug. 13, they were 10 games out of first in the NL East and in third place.

A fun close call took place in 1984 when the Minnesota Twins, who finished 29 games off the AL West pace the year before, went off at 120-1 for the pennant and +250 for the Series. No one got to cash a ticket on them, but with a 5.5-game lead in late August, it had to be a thrill ride for their backers.

In 1991, the Twins were involved again as a big longshot, climbing to 500-1 during the season by some published accounts, and this time they pulled off a world championship at the expense of the long-forlorn Atlanta Braves, who had preseason odds of 250-1.

Then comes the mother of all longshots, an extreme example that futures bettors should keep their eyes open until toe tags are placed on teams. On Sept. 12, 2011, the Cardinals were languishing 6.5 games behind in the NL Central and 5.5 from the only wild card with 17 days remaining in the season. That morning, a bettor wagered $250 at 500-1 odds at the MGM Grand on St. Louis to win the pennant. He also put up $250 at 999-1 for the World Series. He collected on both for a total of $375,000.

Then, of course, last preseason, somehow the Giants unbelievably were briefly 150-1 for the NL pennant and 300-1 to win the World Series at the Westgate. They finished with a franchise-record mark of 107-55 before losing in the division series. Like the 1984 Twins, it had to be quite a ride for Giants bettors, who might still have cashed in with some hedge bets. Even the world champion Braves could be had at 50-1 as late as August last year before their closing surge.

More baseball betting: Daily MLB lines

MLB Futures Betting – FAQs

What is an MLB futures bet?

A futures bet is long-term wager, typically on the season-long performance of a team. Examples of MLB futures bets include wagering on a team to win the World Series, AL or NL Pennant, and/or its division. Season win totals, where you can bet that a team will win over or under a certain number of games, may also be considered futures bets.

How do I make an MLB futures bet?

If sports betting is legal in your state, regulated sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, and BetRivers, offer futures betting on MLB. Shop around your state’s approved sportsbooks for the most advantageous sign-up bonuses, as well as for the best odds offered for your bet. If you’d like to bet the Braves to win the World Series, for example, find the sportsbook that offers the longest odds (largest payout) on that outcome. For example, if one sportsbook offers +1000 (10-to-1 odds) on the Braves winning the World Series and another offers +1200 (12-to-1 odds), make your bet with the latter, since +1200 pays off a larger sum than +1000.

Can I bet MLB futures after the season has started?

Yes. Most sportsbooks offer futures wagering throughout the season and will adjust the odds based on how each team is performing, their chances of making the playoffs, injuries, and other factors. You can even wait until the postseason starts to make a futures wager.

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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