All bets are risking one unit unless specified. For the purpose of this column, one unit is equal to $500.
Team Futures, Make/Miss Playoffs
Boston Red Sox no playoffs -250 at DraftKings (or -264 at BetMGM) to win 2x units. The Red Sox’s pitching staff is anchored by Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez. The back end of the rotation is Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson and an assortment of players who have been recently signed off waivers. I don’t think this team can go Over its win total of 30.5, let alone make the playoffs. I don’t think the Red Sox are trying to make the playoffs either. Chris Sale is hurt, and the Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom to rebuild the roster. Realistically this is a team being built for 2021 or even 2022.
If you are interested in giving yourself a 41-cent free roll on the Reds making the playoffs, you can bet Reds Yes Playoffs at BetMGM at + 175 and Reds No Playoffs -134 at DraftKings. To make this bet, you have to be somewhere that you can bet at BetMGM and DraftKings simultaneously. It’s not an official bet listed below, but if you have the ability to make that bet, I’d do it.
AL Cy Young Award
If you have access to any books that will allow you to request odds, try to request Rich Hill to win the AL Cy Young. I requested the Twins lefty at Westgate, and he opened 60/1 and dropped to 25/1. Neither number is very good, but I still bet 60/1. I also asked FanDuel, DraftKings, 5Dimes and PointsBet to post a number on Twitter but haven’t had a response yet. I’m hoping someone posts closer to 100/1; that’s where I’d look to really make a play.
Six pitchers with ERAs below 3.00 over the last five seasons:
Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Rich Hill
Six pitchers with Over 10.6 K/9 IP over the last five seasons:
Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg and Rich Hill
Hill’s talent has never been a question. He can’t stay healthy, but when he does, he has been elite. The last three seasons in the Dodgers’ rotation, he had a 3.30 ERA over 327 innings with 388 strikeouts (10.7 K/9) and a 1.11 WHIP. Maybe he can stay healthy for nine weeks and put up elite numbers. I will take a shot if anyone posts better than 60/1.
AL Rookie of the Year
Let’s start by throwing out a few players. Athletics lefty A.J. Puk is out injured again. Teammate Jesus Luzardo is recovering from coronavirus and is a little behind in camp. He’s great, but I’m passing on him and hoping he doesn’t beat me.
Casey Mize is a very talented pitcher, but the Tigers aren’t serious contenders. If he beats me at low odds, so be it, but I’m not betting on him. Same goes for Jo Adell. I think the Angels won’t be aggressive enough with Adell. If he were up on Day 1, I’d bet on him, but he’s not for me.
I was tempted to bet Astros pitcher Forrest Whitley at 50/1, but I don’t trust Dusty Baker to use him enough, plus he never impressed me in the minors last year. Clarke Schmidt at 50/1 and Deivi Garcia at 60/1 stood out for me, but I passed on both. Neither made the Yankees’ 30-man roster out of camp.
Brendan McKay hasn’t arrived at camp yet, and although he’s a hybrid pitcher-first baseman, the Rays said they plan to use him as a pitcher exclusively this season, and I’m thinking he won’t get close to the required innings to be a contender.
White Sox outfielder Luis Robert is the favorite everywhere, and the best price is now + 275. He has a good chance to win, as he’ll be a Day 1 starter and he hits home runs. He also had a 26.2% strikeout rate. I don’t want to bet him at such a low price. I took a shot on Robert to lead the league in home runs at 100/1, and I saw 300/1 was available last week at Westgate.
I bet Evan White already at 16/1, but I’ll gladly add a second 1x unit bet to that at 40/1 this week.
Nate Pearson is another guy I already bet, but if you haven’t, 25/1 is the best available at BetMGM. He’s starting for the Blue Jays and will be up at the latest, the second time through the rotation. He’s my personal favorite.
A’s catcher Sean Murphy is available at 50/1 at BetMGM, Westgate and FanDuel. I bet that for 1x unit. I like this bet a lot because he’s the opening-day starting catcher. It’s not a very sexy pick, but opportunity is more important than absolute talent in Rookie of the Year voting. Murphy should be lower than 50/1.
The last AL player I’ll highlight this week is 27-year-old Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, an outfielder-third baseman-DH for the Rays. I had to request him to be posted at Westgate, where he got as high as 50/1 before dropping to 25/1. I bet $200 on Tsutsugo at 50/1, and I’d still bet it at 25/1 for a full 1x unit. His spot in the batting order is undetermined at the moment, but Rays manager Kevin Cash said he will be in the upper part of the lineup, so I expect him to hit between second and fourth. He has played 10 seasons and hit 255 home runs in Japan. I’m surprised more places didn’t list him. He’s another player opening the season in the starting lineup. I don’t get why Robert and his 26.2% strikeout rate is + 275, while Tsutsugo is unlisted most places and 25/1 at Westgate. I expect that number to drop significantly by next week.
NL Rookie of the Year
G. Lux + 250 G. Lux + 700
D. Varsho + 300 D. May + 700
M. Keller + 700 S. Akiyama + 900
C. Kieboom + 900 A. Bohm 12/1
D. Carlson 10/1 J. Garcia 14/1
D. May 11/1 N. Hoerner 14/1
M. Gore 12/1 M. Gore 14/1
B. Rodgers 16/1 B. Rogers 14/1
N. Horner 18/1 D. Carlson 14/1
C. Pache 20/1 M. Keller 18/1
J. Bart 20/1 J. Duplantier 20/1
J. Duplantier 25/1 C. Pache 20/1
K. Hayes 25/1 K. Wright 20/1
K. Wright 25/1 S. Howard 20/1
A. Bohm 40/1 N. Lodolo 20/1
S. Howard 60/1 J. Bart 20/1
DraftKings and FanDuel pulled their NL ROY markets as the news broke that Dodgers infielder and NL favorite Gavin Lux had been optioned off the Dodgers’ active roster. The Dodgers have Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor, who can fill in more than serviceably for a few weeks until the Dodgers have left Lux down long enough to claw back a year of service time. That makes Lux dead money in the NL ROY pool for me, and the Westgate was already quick to adjust and drop him to + 700.
Two things are very important to keep in mind with ROY betting. First, it’s crucial to have access to as many books and as many sets of odds as possible so you can get the best numbers. Second, opportunity is more important than talent, so always be on the lookout for mispriced favorites. They create value on the rest of the field. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at -200 or -300 at the start of last season is an example of a mispriced favorite. Lux this season is another.
Similar to Tsutsugo in the AL, I’m surprised nobody listed Shogo Akiyama for NL Rookie of the Year. I had to request him at Westgate. He opened 20/1, and after I bet him he was moved to 10/1. What I don’t understand is if he was going to be a 10/1 (now 9/1) second-choice favorite, why wasn’t he listed to begin with? Akiyama is going to lead off for the Reds, and he has played nine seasons in Japan. He averaged 186 hits a season in Japan the last three seasons. I’m hoping more books post a number for him.
Last week I bet Alec Bohm 60/1, and the Westgate has moved him all the way down 12/1. So there is no value there, but you can still grab Alec Bohm 40/1 at BetMGM. This week I’m adding Bohm’s Phillies teammate and potential starter Spencer Howard. I bet Howard 55/1 for a 1x unit bet, but he’s as high as 60/1 at BetMGM and currently 20/1 at Westgate, where he was just bet down from 40/1. Bryce Harper was quoted via Sports Radio 94WIP in Philadelphia as saying: “If Spencer Howard isn’t starting in our rotation by Game 6 in New York against the Yankees, there’s a problem. That’s all I’m saying.” Again, due to service-time considerations, the Phillies have an incentive to leave him down five extra days. I’d say we can expect to see him making his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium next week. Grab that 60/1 at BetMGM before it’s gone. If Howard pitches well against the Yankees in his first MLB start, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shoot up to the favorite.
Also, the Westgate has Jose Garcia at 14/1 and Jarred Kelenic at 10/1. Garcia is a shortstop for the Reds and Kelenic is an outfielder for the Mariners, and neither is starting the season with his MLB club. I don’t get why they are so low other than it took one bet from me at 40/1 and dropped them.
Most Home Runs
Yoenis Cespedes is in a similar situation to Rich Hill. He’s 32 and hasn’t played close to a full season since 2016. He’s healthy now, at least healthy enough to bat cleanup and DH for the Mets every day, and I made a .5x unit bet on Yoenis Cespedes to lead MLB in home runs at 55/1. It was 75/1 at FanDuel a week ago, and I missed that number. If anyone posts a similar number for Cespedes to lead the league in RBIs, I would take a shot on that as well. Maybe the short season will benefit Cespedes. Batting in the same lineup as Pete Alonso doesn’t hurt. What worries me is the Mets’ insistence on batting Robinson Cano third. Cano is hurting the Mets every day he’s on the field and making them less of a contender.
This Week's Bets Recap:
$2,500 to win $1,000 on the Boston Red Sox missing the playoffs
$500 to win $20,000 on Evan White American League Rookie of the Year
$500 to win $25,000 on Sean Murphy American League Rookie of the Year
$200 to win $10,000 on Yoshitomo Tsutsugo American League Rookie of the Year
$500 to win $27,500 on Spencer Howard National League Rookie of the Year
$250 to win $13,750 on Yoenis Cespedes to lead MLB in home runs
This week I bet a total of $4,450. Combined with the $10,600 I bet the last three weeks, I’ve bet $15,050 in MLB futures and we aren’t at opening day yet. The bets from the previous three weeks are listed below.
$500 to win $10,000 on Bryce Harper to win NL MVP
$500 to win $17,500 on Shohei Othani to win AL MVP
$500 to win $8,000 on Evan White AL Rookie of the Year
$500 to win $12,500 on Nate Pearson AL Rookie of the Year
$250 to win $15,000 on Alec Bohm NL Rookie of the Year
$500 to win $5,500 on Dustin May NL Rookie of the Year
Most Home Runs
$500 to win $25,000 on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to hit the most home runs
$200 to win $20,000 on Luis Robert to hit the most home runs
$250 to win $5,500 on Ozzie Albies to have the most hits
$250 to win $8,250 on Fernando Tatis Jr. to have the most hits
$250 to win $10,250 on Bo Bichette to lead MLB in hits
Most Hits AL Only
$250 to win $5,000 on Bo Bichette to lead the AL in hits
$500 to win $3,000 on Max Scherzer to lead both leagues in strikeouts
$250 to win $1,375 on Max Scherzer to lead MLB in strikeouts
Most Strikeouts NL Only
$250 to win $16,250 on Chris Paddack to lead the NL in strikeouts
AL Strikeout Leader
$500 to win $5,000 on Lucas Giolito to lead the AL in strikeouts
$500 to win $12,500 on Trevor Bauer to have the most wins in the National League
$500 to win $1,500 on the Washington Nationals to win the NL East
$250 to win $687.50 on the Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Central
Yes/No Make Playoffs
$500 to win $875 on the Cincinnati Reds to make the playoffs
$500 to win $7,500 on the Seattle Mariners to make the playoffs
Individual Player Futures
$575 to win $500 on Mike Trout Under 16.5 home runs
$525 to win $500 on Yordan Alvarez over 35.5 RBIs
$575 to win $500 on Anthony Rizzo Under 11.5 home runs
$625 to win $500 on Trevor Bauer Over 83.5 strikeouts
$600 to win $500 on Trevor Bauer Over 4.5 wins