Weingarten: Baseball futures bets in light of a shortened season

March 6, 2022 10:19 PM
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The start of the Major League baseball season has been delayed indefinitely and the prospect of a prolonged lockout looms on the horizon. It doesn’t sound like the owners ever had any intention of reaching an agreement with the players, which is disappointing but not surprising. 

There are a few things we can take away from the recent negotiations for gambling purposes and one of those is that when MLB does come back, whenever that may be, we are going to see an expanded playoff between 12 and 14 teams. 

An expanded playoff very much benefits management as more playoff teams dis-incentives winning as teams know they can still make the playoffs with 81-83 wins. You don’t have to try and spend extra on free agents to put you over the top when you know a playoff spot is attainable with a low 80s win total.

 

This will lead to some interesting team building strategies, a MLB team’s entire season now likely comes down to a best-of-three series, which would give teams with rotations like the Mets with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top significant advantages (at least in the first round).

The only way for the MLBPA to establish real change at this point is by missing a lot of games. I am skeptical that a lot of players can afford to miss an entire season of income, which will likely force the union back to the negotiation table sooner than later.

I think at this point it's realistic to expect that we lose at least a month of regular season games and potentially more than that. A season of 100 or fewer games is still on the table, and in the event we get another short season for the second time in three years, I have made a couple division bets that I think will have lower odds in a shortened season. 

Division Futures 

Baltimore O’s to win AL East (200/1 at Westgate, now 150/1): Baltimore is probably still one year away from being one year away, but they’ve recently been linked to Carlos Correa and adding him at shortstop, in addition to calling up Adley Rutschman at catcher, will give the O’s a serious boost on offense. A lineup with Cedric Mullins, Carlos Correa, Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle at the top can score runs. 

Washington Nationals to win the NL East (50/1 Fanduel): I wrote several articles last year about how the Nationals had a path to win the division in the second half of the MLB season, while the Mets would likely falter down the stretch due to the incredible difficulty of their second-half schedule. I was half right. The Mets did falter down the stretch, but the Nationals did not take advantage of the situation at all, instead using the opportunity to dump Scherzer and Trea Turner to start a soft rebuild. The Nats’ bullpen remains a huge weakness at the moment, but they come into 2022 with a healthy Juan Soto and I can’t really see how the Marlins are 11/1 to win the Division while the Nationals are 50/1. 

Colorado Rockies to win NL West (100/1 DraftKings): Last season, the Rockies were 39-38 after July 1. Colorado’s 2021 home record was 48-33, giving them more home wins than the Padres, Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Yankees and only trailing the Rays, Red Sox, Astros, White Sox, Dodgers and Giants, all 2021 playoff teams. The Rockies would still likely need to add more players in free agency post-lockout to really have a chance at contending, but a short season can lead to all sorts of crazy outcomes and I think 100/1 for the Rockies is too high given their strengths at home and how competitive they were in the second half of the 2021 season. 

Other things to keep in mind: 

- While there might not be Major League baseball, the minor league season still starts in early April and AAA will be playing a 150 game season and I would definitely expect betting on money lines and totals to be widely available in the AAA market. 

- Baseball is still played at professional levels around the world. Spring leagues with betting lines exist in Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua and Cuba. 

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