Baseball is back!
Baseball. Is. Back!
We have a full 162-game season on tap, with the hopes, wishes and dreams of post-COVID materializing around the All-Star Break.
I’m excited and you should be, too. Regardless, we all like winning bets, and I’m here to share my favorite picks for this year’s MLB Division and World Series winners. Last year we went 4/4 on our futures, including the Dodgers bringing the championship home, and will look to expand on that success in the season ahead.
Let’s get after it.
World Series Winner
Pick: Dodgers (+350)
Value bets: Mets (+1000) , Braves (+1000), Padres (+800)
I won’t take LAD’s 103.5 win prop, but I will happily back them as the favorite to repeat as World Series Champions. The lineup is deep, the front office’s pockets are deep, and the rotation is laughably deep. It’s the last piece that makes them frontrunners.
Former Cy Young winner David Price joins Tony Gonsolin and Jimmy Nelson as starters in the LAD bullpen. That’s as weird as it sounds, but it’s also more impactful than it sounds. Major League Baseball is coming off a historically awkward, shortened season due to the pandemic. Whether starting pitchers get hurt or simply tire and lose effectiveness, the season-long fluctuation of innings can not be understated. I trust Dave Roberts to manage his staff’s innings in an optimal manner and setup this squad to make another deep postseason run.
AL Central Division Winner
Pick: Twins (+110)
Also consider: White Sox (-110)
Good news: I can guaran-damn-tee that either Chicago or Minnesota will win the AL Central.
Bad news: It is a legitimate coin flip pre-season.
Better news: Both of these teams will make the playoffs.
Best news: Value will emerge as this line moves throughout the season, so check back here for tips and analysis.
In the meantime, I’ll say that for as much hype as the White Sox have received, the Twins are every bit as deep, talented and balanced. The coin flip comes down to the coaching staff, and I give that edge – and my pick – to Minnesota.
Bonus bet: Royals OVER 73.5 wins (-115) – This is a much improved team in a top-heavy division. 74-88 sounds about right, although I think this fits the bill of one that’ll have a poor run differential, but out-perform its expected wins.
AL East Division Winner
Pick: Rays (+600)
Also consider: Blue Jays (+440)
The Yankees (-304) are great. They’ll score lots of runs and win lots of games. They’ll make the playoffs, but I see no value – none – in their prop to win the division given the long odds provided for their AL East adversaries. Tampa is as (quietly) dangerous as ever and if Toronto is even a few months ahead of schedule, they’ll give the Bronx Bombers fits. This division is murder’s row.
AL West Division Winner
Pick: A’s (+175)
Value bet: Angels (+330)
Oakland keeps “quietly” winning 90+ games/season and is as talented, young, and all-around loaded as ever. Houston might make it close come September, but the A’s have everything they need to lock up back-to-back division titles.
The Angels, while much-improved simply by entering the season healthy, will make some noise, but still are a few pieces short from making a legitimate run.
NL Central Division Winner
Pick: Cardinals (+120)
Value bet: Brewers (+290)
This will be the most boring division in baseball in 2021. St. Louis has the most talented team, and while I think MIL surprises its skeptics, I don’t see them or CIN ultimately challenging STL in September. The Cardinals should scratch out close to 90 wins, while the rest of the pack clusters around 74-82 victories.
NL West Division Winner
Pick: Dodgers (-304)
Value bet: N/A
The Padres absolutely will secure a Wild Card spot, but as far as the division is concerned, just lock in the Dodgers and move on.
NL East Division Winner
Pick: Mets (+150)
Also consider: Braves (+115)
I could see Atlanta or New York upsetting the Dodgers and winning the World Series. I also could see the NL East cannibalizing itself and only sending one team to the playoffs. Either way, the Mets and Braves are a class above the Nationals, Phillies and Marlins. I give New York the edge thanks to their video game-like rotation and suddenly lavish-spending front office, which should do all it can between now and the trade deadline to make sure the franchise is as well-positioned as possible for a playoff run.