With any luck, normalcy will be a part of the Major League Baseball season.
After last year's weird 60-game sprint in empty stadiums, expanded playoffs and a neutral site World Series, this season will look more like we are used to: 162 games, fans in stadiums — hopefully full stadiums long before the World Series — and a normal postseason.
With that, it's time for Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab and Scott Pianowski to look at some future bets using odds from BetMGM: team win totals, MVP and other awards, player props, and our best bet for the World Series winner.
Who's your favorite bet for AL MVP?
FS: The AL side is easy for me. I'm jumping on the Shohei Ohtani bandwagon at +3000. I say often that when you bet on awards you need to handicap voters. It's easy to see a scenario in which voters are swept up with a player who hits 25 homers and wins 15 games for an Angels team that could compete for an AL West title. Ohtani is capable of doing both. For the odds being offered, it would be a fun ticket to hold. This one is not as sexy but I also think Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker at +5000 has good value. Honestly, since Mike Trout is an overwhelming +200 favorite, anyone else you might like has value.
SP: I'd like to see MGM offer an MVP prop without Trout; you see those types of bets in golf tournaments sometimes. It's a wide-open field after Trout. Narratives and division winners will come into play in MVP races, so you're handicapping the teams as much as the players. I wish Matt Chapman were longer than +1500. How about Tim Anderson or Bo Bichette at +4000? I could steer some jelly beans that way.
What about in the NL?
FS: There’s a lot of talent in the NL. Ronald Acuna Jr. at +800 or Fernando Tatis Jr. at +900 are reasonable picks. Either one could have a 40-40 season for a playoff team. Down the list, I really like Jacob deGrom at +10000. I know it’s hard for pitchers to win MVP, but he’s the best in the game and if the Mets are good they’ll get plenty of attention. Definitely worth the odds he’s getting, especially if hitter stats dip a bit with the un-juiced ball.
SP: I love deGrom at +10000 too. Most pitcher MVPs come in weird seasons and often it's because the offensive candidates were glutted, but they can also arrive because the pitcher posted a statistically outrageous season that becomes portable for voters. Maybe deGrom's ERA will be half a run lower, or he'll win 3-5 more games than anyone else (I know wins are silly, but they still carry weight; and if any pitcher is due some wins luck, it's Jacob deGrom). Jake's my No. 1 player in fantasy, I suppose I can dip my toes in one additional time.
What about other awards?
FS: As a Walker Buehler fan, +1000 for NL Cy Young is reasonable to me. Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson for NL Rookie of the Year at +900 makes sense. I’ll have a ticket on White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn at +2000 for AL Rookie of the Year too.
SP: I rarely lean into favorites for an award, but Gerrit Cole at +350 for the Cy Young looks like an overlay. He's been ridiculously close to the award without winning it, which might push him across if the race is close. We know he's a strikeout god. And the pitcher pool in the American League is considerably shallower than the NL pool.
How about season win totals?
FS: The one I like best is the Marlins over 70.5. I realize their 31-29 record last season wasn’t backed up by metrics, and they’re due for regression. But regress to what? If you play fantasy baseball, you know every one of their pitchers is on sleeper lists. Their lineup isn’t great but it’s not that bad. They might not be playoff good again, but they don’t need to be to win 71 games. I also like Brewers over 83.5, Phillies over 80.5, Reds over 81.5, Cubs under 78.5. It's a good thing I prefer watching the National League, I guess.
SP: Miami over was the first baseball prop I jumped on this spring, Their pitching staff went from secret speakeasy without a sign to the trendiest club in town. I'm surprised this number never got ironed out; tons of value here. You can also make money leaning into the current polarization in baseball; the good will be very good, the bad will be unsightly bad. Baltimore under 64.5 and Texas under 67.5 look like gifts.
Any other plays on BetMGM stand out?
FS: BetMGM offers seemingly endless player props, and I’ll repeat something Scott has taught me through the years: You won't profit by being optimistic with injuries. Look for unders on players who are already hurting. So if you want props like Zac Gallen under 12.5 wins or Chris Sale under 6.5 wins, I’m with you. A lot more can go wrong than can go right. Also, taking the under on saves from shaky closers (Craig Kimbrel under 30.5 saves and Matt Barnes under 26.5 saves are my two) seems good to me. Think about how much closer turnover there is every year. I told you, BetMGM has an endless buffet of MLB props.
SP: I'm a Chris Sale fan and my heart is completely invested in him, but you outlined a perfect reason to play against him. Can my profit-hunting pragmatic side overrule my heart? I think so. If I knew the Mariners would bring Jarred Kelenic up before May 15, I'd try him at +650 for Rookie of the Year. And Randy Arozarena at +350 is also a reasonable value; have you ever seen a ROY candidate with such a low ADP? We already can say with confidence, he's proven he can play.
As for divisions, the White Sox are the buzzy team in the AL Central but Minnesota at +150 is the more boring value.
Does it make any sense to ask who your World Series pick is?
FS: Dodgers, of course. We agreed on that last year and I’d be surprised if we don’t agree again. Here’s the question: Is +350 on the Dodgers decent value? I think it’s at least reasonable.
SP: The Dodgers are my pick in a vacuum, but jelly beans might be steered to the Padres (+900), Braves (+1000), or Mets (+1000). I like my championship odds to have a little heft to them, and then I can look at hedging during the tournament.
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