White Sox, Cubs, Braves offer late-season value

By Jason Weingarten  () 

Player futures have been down for over a week at all the books I use. I figured this would happen as we got closer to the end of the regular season. However, I found some value on division futures. All bets are risking one unit unless specified. For the purpose of this column, one unit is equal to $500.

I wasn’t planning to bet a lot this week, but then I noticed BetMGM has entirely different division odds than DraftKings and FanDuel. I think it might just be that BetMGM is using stale numbers and has not taken the time to update them. Let’s compare.

BetMGM to win AL Central:

Chicago White Sox + 120

Minnesota Twins + 130

Cleveland Indians + 400

DraftKings to win AL Central:

Chicago White Sox -230

Minnesota Twins + 175

Cleveland Indians + 2800

FanDuel to win AL Central:

Chicago White Sox -230

Minnesota Twins + 170

Cleveland Indians + 2600

The White Sox held leads of two games over the Twins and five games over the Indians heading into Tuesday night’s games. The White Sox to win the AL Central at + 120 is a very stale and very playable number. I wanted to bet at least $1,000 on this stale number or even more if they’d let me, but I’m limited to $300 on the app right now. So I bet $300 on the White Sox to win the AL Central at BetMGM. 

The Rays and A’s are close to putting away their divisions, and I didn’t find any value on the AL East or West. 

The Cubs are -455 to win the NL Central at BetMGM, while DraftKings and FanDuel make it -5000 and -3000, respectively. The Cubs led the Cardinals by four games, so I bet $1,365 to win $300 on the Cubs winning the NL Central at BetMGM. 

The NL East is another opportunity to tie up another $1,365 to win $300 on the Braves at -455 at BetMGM. DraftKings makes the Braves -2000 and FanDuel -2100. 

BetMGM is also dealing entirely different numbers on the NL West winner, making the Dodgers -3335 and the Padres + 600. But at DraftKings those numbers are -770 and + 400 and at FanDuel -700 and + 360. I have already bet the Dodgers and the Padres and don’t feel the need to get more involved here, but if I were looking for more action, I’d take the Padres at + 600.

NL MVP

Fernando Tatis Jr. has just about locked it up. MLB.com did a poll of 30 baseball writers, and it came back 28 votes for Tatis and two for Mookie Betts. Barring a major slump over the final week and a half, this is Tatis’ award to lose.

AL MVP

A slightly more interesting battle is taking place here involving Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu and Mike Trout. Cruz was in a three-way tie with Trout and Luke Voit for the MLB home run lead, while Abreu was only one back at 15. Abreu was leading the AL in hits and the majors in RBIs as well. 

Abreu: 35 runs, 62 hits, 15 home runs, 48 RBIs, 11 walks, 42 strikeouts, .320/.362/.981

Cruz: 33 runs, 52 hits, 16 home runs, 32 RBIs, 21 walks, 50 strikeouts, .323/.414/1.066

Trout: 39 runs, 48 hits, 16 home runs, 39 RBIs, 29 walks, 46 strikeouts, .296/.403/.1.051

Shane Bieber lost his last start against the Minnesota Twins, giving up three earned runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings. It was his first loss of the season, and with the Indians five games back of the White Sox, I see Bieber having a hard time winning MVP on a non-division-winning team. 

Trout is putting up elite numbers again, but he's not the MVP — not on a sub-.500 team in fourth place in the AL West. Trout is unworthy of the MVP this year or really any year he’s on a team that wins barely 40% of its games. Simply put: The Angels lose with Trout in the lineup and they lose without him. Trout’s value comes from selling jerseys, not winning games. It would be an insult to guys like Cruz and Abreu to give Trout the MVP this year.

Right now I’d give the AL MVP to Abreu over Cruz by virtue of Abreu more likely being on the AL Central winner. I don’t think Voit will get serious consideration on a potentially third-place Yankees team. 

NL Cy Young

It’s a three-and-a-half-way race among Jacob deGrom, Yu Darvish, Trevor Bauer and Kyle Davies, but Davies clearly trails the top three. Clayton Kershaw finally looked average on the road against Arizona and again Monday night at San Diego, giving up three runs. Kershaw is out of the race. 

Darvish: 7-2 in 9 starts, 1.77 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 56 innings pitched, 72 strikeouts, 11 walks, 11.6 K/9

Bauer: 4-3 in 9 starts, 1.71 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 58 innings pitched, 83 strikeouts, 15 walks, 12.9 K/9

deGrom: 4-1 in 9 starts, 1.67 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 54 innings pitched, 79 strikeouts, 13 walks, 13.2 K/9

Davies: 7-2 in 9 starts, 2.48 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 54.1 innings pitched, 50 strikeouts, 15 walks, 8.3/K9

I think Bauer has passed Darvish through nine starts, but it might be deGrom’s award to lose. He’s the two-time-reigning Cy Young winner, and it’s hard to say someone has made a case to take the award from him. Bauer’s Cy Young campaign is probably contingent on the Reds sneaking into the playoffs. Davies is going to need the Padres to jump the Dodgers and win the NL West to have a serious chance. 

AL Cy Young

This is most likely Bieber’s award. A large gap exists between Bieber and Lance Lynn, Liam Hendriks and Lucas Giolito, the other three contenders. 

NL Rookie of the Year

Dustin May had a chance to run away with the award, but he didn’t. May has been better than average, giving the Dodgers nine starts and 41.2 innings. But his 28 strikeouts and 2.81 ERA aren’t enough to separate him from anyone else, and he was pulled after one inning in his last start after taking a ground ball off his foot. May is still in the picture and could move ahead with a few dominating final starts, but I’m not sure that will happen.

May’s pitching competition is coming from Kwang Hyun Kim of the Cardinals and Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins.

Kim: 2-0 in 5 starts, 0.63 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 28.2 innings pitched, 17 strikeouts, 9 walks, 5.3 K/9.

Sanchez: 3-1 in 5 starts, 1.69 ERA, 0.906 WHIP, 32 innings pitched, 29 strikeouts, 5 walks, 8.2 K/9 

Those are excellent stat lines for Kim and Sanchez, good enough to make cases they should be ahead of May. But to me, at least, it’s not a good enough case to award either the ROY. 

The Padres’ Jake Cronenworth is the front-runner right now, and I think Alec Bohm is the only guy with a real shot of catching him.

Cronenworth: 24 runs, 45 hits, 4 home runs, 20 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, 13 walks, 24 strikeouts .328/.388/.950

Bohm: 15 runs, 35 hits, 3 home runs, 19 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, 9 walks, 25 strikeouts .318/.369/.851

Cronenworth leads right now, but enough games remain that it could change. His seven counting stats are nothing sensational. 

AL ROY

It’s still Kyle Lewis vs. Luis Robert. Robert is leading the counting-stats battle 17-13, but with the Mariners only 1.5 games back of the Astros for second place in the AL West, the ROY is still up for grabs. 

Recap

$300 to win $360 on the White Sox to win the AL Central

$1,365 to win $300 on the Cubs to win the NL Central 

$1,365 to win $300 on the Braves to win the NL East

This week I didn’t think I’d find a lot to bet, but I ended up betting $3,030 on three division futures. Added to the $27,721.36 I’ve already bet, I now have a total of $30,751.36 in MLB futures.

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