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'Embrace variance' with MLB futures betting

By Jason Weingarten  () 

There will be good and bad futures bets this season. In March I bet the Cincinnati Reds to win the NL pennant at 22/1 and David Price to win the NL Cy Young Award at 100/1. The Reds’ pennant is currently about 10/1 or 11/1, while my David Price future is dead since he has opted out of the season. A famous Latvian-Canadian bookmaker saying is “Embrace the variance.” That’s all you can do. All bets are risking one unit unless specified. For the purpose of this column, one unit is equal to $500.

Hits leader: Bo Bichette 41/1 at Fanduel .5x unit bet

Hits leader AL only: Bo Bichette 20/1 at BetMGM .5x unit bet. 

I have several Blue Jays player futures. Last week I bet Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to lead the league in home runs at 50/1, and this week I am adding the Jays’ leadoff hitter to have the most hits in the AL and both leagues. Getting 20/1 and 41/1 on those bets, I decided to split it into .5x bets on each market to start. I have at least two more Jays player futures I am looking to add in the next week.

 

Cincinnati Reds to make the playoffs: Yes + 175 at BetMGM.

Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Central: + 275 at BetMGM .5x unit bet

I am a big fan of the Reds’ lineup, their pitching staff and the front office they’ve assembled. My thinking in March was they were probably about a .500 club this year with an eye toward the future and a chance to contend for the NL Central in 2021. That changes in a 60-game season with unbalanced schedules. The Reds play six of their first 19 games against the Tigers, and hopefully a strong start propels them into the playoffs. I also added a .5x unit play on the Reds to win the NL Central at + 275, which is the best price I could find.

Seattle Mariners to make the playoffs: + 1500 at BetMGM.

I took a flier on the Mariners to win the AL West at 100/1, but I think this is a better bet. The Mariners are putting together a good team, and they have said they are willing to be aggressive in promoting their best prospects. That means we have an outside chance of appearances by future impact outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez and pitcher Logan Gilbert. 

NL strikeouts leader: Chris Paddack 65/1 at BetMGM .5x unit bet.

Chris Paddack is one of my favorite pitchers, so I am a little biased about making this bet. But this number is way too high, especially considering the 60-game season will limit pitchers to 10 or 12 starts. Paddack will likely come up just short, but I’ll take a shot with a high number here. I like 65/1 on strikeouts better than taking lower odds in the Cy Young market.

Mike Trout: Under 16.5 home runs -115 at BetMGM.

Trout’s wife is going to have a baby at some point during the season, and he’ll have to sit out a couple of games for the birth and then wait for his coronavirus test to come back negative. If Trout doesn’t take a single day off all season, he’ll have 52 to 55 games to hit 17 home runs. He could do it because he’s the best player in baseball. But if he misses any amount of time besides his paternity leave, this bet is likely dead.

Yordan Alvarez: Over 35.5 RBIs -105 at BetMGM.

Alvarez’s home run Over/Under is 13.5. Forty home runs over 162 games is 14.8 for the shorter season, so a 13.5 Over/Under projects him for just under 40 home runs in a full season. Alvarez is an elite home run hitter, but he’s also an elite hitter in general. Batting cleanup in the Astros’ lineup should give him plenty of RBI opportunities, and he can win this bet without having to beat his home run projection. One major red flag, though: Alvarez hasn’t reported to camp yet, most likely due to virus-related issues. Hopefully he’s ready to go by opening day.

Recap:

$250 to win $10,250 on Bo Bichette leading MLB in hits

$250 to win $5,000 on Bo Bichette leading the AL in hits

$500 to win $875 on the Cincinnati Reds to make the playoffs

$250 to win $687.50 on the Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Central

$500 to win $7,500 on the Seattle Mariners to make the playoffs

$250 to win $16,250 on Chris Paddack leading the NL in strikeouts

$575 to win $500 on Mike Trout Under 16.5 home runs

$525 to win $500 on Yordan Alvarez Over 35.5 RBIs

I bet $3,100 total this week and $3,000 last week for a total of $6,100 in MLB futures.

Next week: Still waiting on more places to open Rookie of the Year and other awards markets. Hoping Circa and Westgate post player futures.

 

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