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Loss of Davis shows LeBron not MVP

I don’t watch a ton of NBA games, but I do follow the league for futures betting. And after a week or so of watching the Lakers play without Anthony Davis, I don’t see how anyone with a Most Valuable Player vote could argue that LeBron James deserves to be the favorite. He’s not even the MVP of the Lakers. Yet according to DraftKings: 



LeBron James + 150

Joel Embiid + 300

Nikola Jokic + 600


James is one of the greatest players in NBA history, but there’s no possible way you could justify him being + 150 with Embiid + 300 and Jokic + 600. Look at these Lakers’ games without Davis:

— Beat an awful Bulls team.

— Lost by 15 to the Pistons off a back-to-back.

— Twice needed overtime to beat the Thunder.

— Lost at the Nuggets.

— Lost to the Nets by 11.

— Lost back to back against the Heat and Wizards. 


Last week Embiid became the first 76ers player with a 50-point game since Allen Iverson in 2005 and the first Sixer with a 50-5-5 game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Embiid had a career-high 50 points with 17 rebounds, five assists and four blocks while shooting 65%. Meanwhile, the Lakers without Davis have lost four of five, including three straight at home. Their only win came against a very bad Minnesota team that is so dysfunctional that it fired its coach and hired an assistant from a different organization in the middle of the season. 


LeBron is the MVP favorite because he’s LeBron — that’s the only reason. If a LeBron-vs.-field bet were available, I’d gladly bet the field. For now I don’t recommend jumping on Embiid at such short odds, but keep an eye out because I think this race will tighten and James will be overtaken as the favorite.

NFL Futures


The only future I’ve invested in so far is the Chargers to win the AFC West at + 525 at DraftKings. I’m in no hurry to make any big NFL futures bets until we find out where Deshaun Watson ends up. As with front-running the Tom Brady-to-Tampa Bay news last year, the most money to be made on NFL futures will be in the three to five minutes after any Watson trade is announced.


Besides that, I have looked into NFL draft props briefly. No upset is likely with the first pick and first quarterback taken — it’s going to be Trevor Lawrence. I am interested in the second-quarterback-drafted market, which I think is overpricing BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. If I were an NFL GM, I’d have North Dakota State’s Trey Lance as my second-rated quarterback.


The other obvious bet is first offensive lineman drafted with Oregon’s Penei Sewell. It’s up at DraftKings and it’s only -1000, but it should be -10000. I don’t make a habit of laying large bets, especially in something that’s a glorified novelty market, but I also can’t stay away from a relatively risk-free return. The first day of the NFL draft is April 29. I bet $2,000 to win $200 on Penei Sewell to be the first offensive lineman selected in the NFL draft because I can’t pass up a 10% return for locking up my money for eight weeks.




Spring training is underway, and more books are posting player futures this week. The Westgate in Las Vegas is the only book to put up Rookie of the Year numbers, and I was all over the openers. I’ve also made more bets on the NL MVP and NL Cy Young, as well as bets on individual player home run Over/Unders. Let’s dive into the MLB bets I’ve made this week. 


Division Futures


I already bet the Cardinals + 210 to win the NL Central, but the other number that stands out is the Brewers + 385 at DraftKings. The Brewers are + 380 at FanDuel, + 275 at BetMGM and + 285 at Circa. I bet $500 on the Brewers + 385 at DraftKings. I wasn’t planning to have two NL Central preseason futures, but I couldn’t pass up what I think is too high a price on the Brewers. The Cardinals to win the NL Central number is all over the board, down from a high of + 210 before the Nolan Arenado trade. It’s + 100 at DraftKings, + 155 at BetMGM, -105 at FanDuel and + 130 at Circa. If you missed + 210 and don’t want to bet the Brewers, + 155 on the Cardinals at BetMGM is still a good bet. In the AL West, I think there’s value on the Astros + 150 at DraftKings. That number is + 130 at FanDuel and Circa and + 120 at BetMGM. 


Instead of betting more division futures or looking at win totals, I decided to focus on the make/miss-playoffs market at DraftKings. I bet the following teams to make/miss the playoffs at DraftKings, risking $500 each on the dogs and to win $500 on favorites. 


Brewers to make playoffs + 145

A’s to miss playoffs + 105

Nationals to make playoffs + 130





Mookie Betts + 750

Juan Soto + 750

Cody Bellinger + 800

Ronald Acuna Jr. + 850

Fernando Tatis Jr. + 850

Nolan Arenado + 1200

Freddie Freeman + 1200

Francisco Lindor + 1200

Christian Yelich + 1200

Bryce Harper + 1500

Corey Seager + 1500

Manny Machado + 2200



Mookie Betts + 750

Juan Soto + 750

Cody Bellinger + 800

Ronald Acuna Jr. + 800

Fernando Tatis Jr. + 900

Freddie Freeman + 1000

Nolan Arenado + 1200

Christian Yelich + 1200

Corey Seager + 1200

Francisco Lindor + 1500

Bryce Harper + 1700

Manny Machado + 2000


I bet Seager 25-1 with Gill Alexander last week. We made the same bet last year at 60-1, and Seager rewarded us by winning the NLCS and World Series MVP — though not the regular-season MVP, which went to Freeman. This year we immediately bet Seager again at 25-1 and 15-1, and I don’t understand how this number was priced. Why I think it’s a bad price can be answered by asking more questions. 


Why is Seager listed at 15-1 and Bellinger 10-1 when Seager replaced Bellinger as the Dodgers’ No. 2 hitter behind Betts last season? And Bellinger is coming off offseason shoulder surgery. Bellinger is a former regular-season MVP, but Seager is the reigning World Series MVP and will likely be batting ahead of Bellinger in the order. 


Why is Seager 15-1 and Tatis + 650? They play the same position (shortstop) in the same division (NL West), and Seager is on a team projected to win eight to 10 more games. I get it: Tatis is the face of baseball, but the best numbers on him to win the MVP last year were preseason, when he was upward of 40-1. Tatis has no value here under 10-1, and he’s not even the best shortstop in his division. That’s Seager, and that’s whom I’ve bet on. This week it’s another $500 at 25-1 and $500 at 15-1. 


NL Cy Young


This year I am focused on betting fewer guys for more money rather than trying to pick 10 guys who I think have better odds than their prices imply. Jacob deGrom is + 500 at BetMGM and DraftKings. He’s + 395 at Circa and + 400 at FanDuel. I bet + 500 last week, and I’m doing it again this week. I got another $300 on it at DraftKings at + 500 as well as $500 at BetMGM at + 500. I’ve bet $1,100 so far on deGrom, all at + 500. 


I still had to bet one long shot for the Cy Young, and I picked a pitcher on the Dodgers who I think could have a breakout year, Julio Urias. He got the final outs of the 2020 World Series. The only place that had Urias listed was Circa at 75-1, and I bet $700 and they moved it to 40-1. I don’t think 40-1 has much value, but I was happy to take a shot at 75-1. After his first spring bullpen, manager Dave Roberts said it was the best Urias had looked on Day 1 of spring training since he’s been a Dodger. Pitching coach Mark Prior said he expects Urias to be “unleashed” this season, and the Dodgers are hoping to see him pitch deeper into games. I expect a top-5 Cy Young finish and a K/9 rate over 9.00. The projections I’ve seen mostly have him about 140 innings in 20 starts and 30 appearances, meaning most people think he’ll still be a reliever. I don’t think we’ll see him come out of the bullpen, and I think Urias will at least double his previous-high innings total in 2019 from 79.2 to about 160. To put that in some context, deGrom eclipsed 200 innings in both Cy Young seasons, so really Urias’ Cy Young chances rest on him making 30 to 32 starts and working deep into games. 


NL Rookie of the Year 


Sixto Sanchez + 200

Ian Anderson + 600

Dylan Carlson + 700

Joey Bart + 700

Ke’Bryan Hayes + 1000

Spencer Howard + 1000

Ha-Seong Kim + 1200

Josiah Gray + 1800

MacKenzie Gore + 1800


The Westgate deserves some credit for being the first book to make Rookie of the Year numbers and release them before spring training games begin. But I would have waited a week or two so I could correctly price everyone. Instead Westgate threw up some hilariously bad numbers, and though the bookmaker should be commended for being first, I think it should have taken more time to make good numbers instead of tossing up such awful numbers and allowing only a maximum win of $10,000.


The Westgate somehow came up with the NL Rookie of the Year favorite being the Marlins’ Sixto Sanchez at + 200, a pitcher on probably a last-place team whose best projections (Derek Carty THE BAT) have him throwing 139 innings with a 7.71 K/9 and a 4.07 ERA/3.98 FIP.  That’s a joke. The actual favorite is Ke’Bryan Hayes, who put up a 1.7 WAR in 24 games for the Pirates in 2020. The BAT projects Hayes for 73 runs, 16 homers and 68 RBIs with nine stolen bases in 600 at-bats. The only reason I haven’t bet on this yet is because I’d like more places to copy the bad numbers Westgate put up. (Fun fact: Many offshore books copy the Westgate futures numbers.) 


Hayes should be the favorite, followed by the Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson. None of the pitchers should be under 20-1, with the exception of Anderson, who probably should be 8-1 or 9-1. 


Westgate priced the AL Rookie of the Year market slightly better. It correctly made Randy Arozarena the favorite at + 350, but it gets a little worse after that. 


AL Rookie of the Year 




Randy Arozarena + 350

Nate Pearson + 500

Jarred Kelenic + 700 (opened 25-1)

Michael Kopech + 800

Adley Rutschman + 1000

Casey Mize + 1000

Wander Franco + 1400

Clarke Schmidt + 2500

Ryan Mountcastle + 4000

Logan Gilbert + 4000

Alex Kirilloff + 4000 (opened 60-1)

Andrew Vaughn + 6000 (opened 100-1)


These numbers don’t make much sense. Kopech won’t come close to pitching the innings needed as a starter to be + 800. Pearson is one of my favorite pitchers, but there’s no way he should be + 500 pitching in the AL East. Schmidt is already shut down with an injury, and he’s + 2500 compared to Gilbert, the Mariners pitcher who will be up in April and is + 4000. 


Rutschman is + 1000 even though the Orioles aren’t remotely close to competing for a playoff spot and Rutschman is likely to play too few games to make an impact in the rookie voting. Meanwhile, teammate Ryan Mountcastle will be the opening-day 1B/DH and is projected for over 500 at-bats yet is 40-1. Kirilloff, an opening-day starting outfielder for the Twins, was + 6000 until I bet him and they moved him. 

Kelenic had probably the most egregious number of all with Westgate opening at 25-1. But Westgate immediately took a bet to win $10,000 and moved Kelenic to 16-1, only to take another $1,000 on Kelenic, which finally sparked the move to a more reasonable + 700. 


Lost in the news of the Mariners firing CEO Kevin Mather for statements, in a Zoom video with fans, that violated the collective bargaining agreement is that he laid out Kelenic’s 2021 timeline and said he’d be up at worst right after the Super Two deadline. But after the backlash from his comments, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelenic start the year in the majors as the Mariners attempt to save face. 


The reason this situation exists is that the Mariners have already tried to buy out Kelenic’s arbitration years and sign him to a long-term contract, but Kelenic has turned down the offer and said he would test free agency in six years. He is betting that he’ll be a superstar, and I’m betting he will too. Not only did I bet him enough to move him from 25-1 to 7-1 at the Westgate, I also bought two of his baseball cards. 

Kelenic is my best bet for AL Rookie of the Year, though with the value now gone at Westgate I’m going to wait and see what other shops do before I add more. This week I bet $400 at 25-1 on Jarred Kelenic to win the AL Rookie of the Year, and I bet another $1,000 at 16-1. 


Home Run Leader


As a charter member of the Yordan Alvarez Fan Club, I am obligated to bet on him to hit the most home runs at + 3000, which I bet at Circa this week for $500. That’s my only bet in this market for now. 


Individual Player Home Run Over/Unders


These numbers are available at DraftKings right now, and I decided to take advantage of what I think are bad numbers based on a juiced ball. I bet these to win $500 each. 


Ronald Acuna Jr. Under 41.5 -112 560/500

Cody Bellinger Under 38.5 -112 560/500

Freddie Freeman Under 31.5 -112 560/500

Christian Yelich Under 34.5 -112 560/500

Juan Soto Under 38.5 -112 560/500

Jose Abreu Under 32.5 -112 560/500

Pete Alonso Under 41.5 -112 560/500

Mookie Betts Under 34.5 -112 560/500

Alex Bregman Under 30.5 -118 590/500

Nelson Cruz Over 34.5 -112 560/500

Yordan Alvarez Over 33.5 -112 560/500

Bryce Harper Under 27.5 -118 590/500


Total: $6,780 to win $6,000





$2,000 to win $200 on Penei Sewell to be the first offensive lineman selected in the NFL draft at DraftKings



$500 to win $1,925 on the Brewers to win NL Central

$500 to win $725 on the Brewers to make playoffs + 145

$500 to win $525 on the A’s to miss playoffs + 105

$500 to win $650 on the Nationals to make playoffs + 130


$500 to win $7,500 on Corey Seager to win NL MVP

$500 to win $12,500 on Corey Seager to win NL MVP


$300 to win $1,500 on Jacob deGrom to win NL Cy Young 

$500 to win $2,500 on Jacob deGrom to win NL Cy Young

$700 to win $52,500 on Julio Urias to win NL Cy Young


AL Rookie of the Year

$400 to win $10,000 on Jarred Kelenic to win AL Rookie of the Year 

$1,000 to win $16,000 on Jarred Kelenic to win AL Rookie of the Year 


Home Run Leader

$500 to win $15,000 on Yordan Alvarez 


Home Run Over/Unders 

Ronald Acuna Jr. Under 41.5 -112 560/500

Cody Bellinger Under 38.5 -112 560/500

Freddie Freeman Under 31.5 -112 560/500

Christian Yelich Under 34.5 -112 560/500

Juan Soto Under 38.5 -112 560/500

Jose Abreu Under 32.5 -112 560/500

Pete Alonso Under 41.5 -112 560/500

Mookie Betts Under 34.5 -112 560/500

Alex Bregman Under 30.5 -118 590/500

Nelson Cruz Over 34.5 -112 560/500

Yordan Alvarez Over 33.5 -112 560/500

Bryce Harper Under 27.5 -118 590/500


Total: $6,780 to win $6,000


This week I bet $15,180 in futures. I bet $900 last week. I have more bets to look through from before that but I can confidently say I’ve bet over $16,000 on MLB and NFL futures for the upcoming seasons.

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