2021 MLB Betting Preview: Our Best Bets For All 30 Teams Ahead of Opening Day

2021 MLB Betting Preview: Our Best Bets For All 30 Teams Ahead of Opening Day article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins, Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, Mike Trout of the Angels, Juan Soto of the Nationals.

The 2021 MLB season is finally here, and with it comes a myriad of options to bet on whichever teams your heart desires.

There’s a lot to digest when maneuvering the futures market, and that’s where we come in. Below, you can find the full futures breakdown for all 30 MLB teams, plus one best bet for each team, as picked by one of our staff of experts.

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American League East
National League East
American League Central
National League Central
American League West
National League West

Odds in Betting Overview all via DraftKings

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +5200
Pennant Odds +4000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 64.5
To Make Playoffs N/A

Best Bet: Under 64.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: The Orioles have lost at least 108 games in each of the last two full season and have not shown any interest in getting demonstrably better. Their best player, Trey Mancini, is primed for a great comeback story after beating cancer, but he’s only projected for a 110 DRC+. Breakout 2020 star Anthony Santander is due to regress. Adley Rutschman isn’t coming to the majors anytime soon. The team is set to give Matt Harvey starts. Matt Harvey! 

Oh, and the Orioles play in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. There’s nothing here that doesn’t indicate the Orioles won’t again be among the worst teams in baseball and competing with the Rangers and Tigers for worst in the American League. Another 100-loss season seems likely.

Boston Red Sox

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +2000
Pennant Odds +2300
World Series Odds +5000
Regular Season Wins 80.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +275 / No -375

Best Bet: Bobby Dalbec To Win AL Rookie of the Year (+2000, DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: The Red Sox aren’t going to contend this season, so Dalbec is going to get a lot of time at first base. He’s been drilling home run after homer run in Spring Training. 

Anyone who wasn’t on the Bobby Dalbec 46-homer train two weeks ago isn’t allowed on after today. pic.twitter.com/1qTtmcJWud

— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) March 22, 2021

Dalbec has amazing raw power, which is what has scouts salivating coming into the 2021 season. In his brief appearance in the big leagues last season he was fantastic, hitting eight homers and put up a .400 wOBA. ZIPS Projections have him hitting 26 homers this season, so if he can outperform those projections, while also hitting for a decent average, he’s worth a shot a 20/1 since he will get plenty of time at first base and plays in Fenway for half the season.

New York Yankees

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds -200
Pennant Odds +230
World Series Odds +550
Regular Season Wins 95.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -1000 / No +600

Yankees To Win AL East (-190, Bet365)

Sean Zerillo: In February, I projected the Yankees’ divisional chances at 67.2%. Since that time, the Blue Jays sustained injuries to both George Springer and Nate Pearson, while the Rays lost closer Nick Anderson for at least half the season with an elbow injury. Based upon current projections from ATC, FanGraphs, and PECOTA, the Yankees’ AL East chances range from 68-89%.

At the more conservative end of that projection (implied -212), there isn’t enough of an edge for me to place a wager — and I generally don’t lay this much juice on any MLB futures. I do make their current divisional chances 77.2%, implied odds of -339, so  if you’re highly confident in this Yankees team, I wouldn’t talk you out of this bet.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +350
Pennant Odds +850
World Series Odds +2500
Regular Season Wins 85.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +110 / No -137

Best Bet: Tyler Glasnow To Win AL Cy Young (+1100, FanDuel)

Sean Zerillo: The argument in favor of Glasnow, or virtually any other contender in the AL outside of the top three, comes down to volume. While the projection market has Bieber anywhere from 185-197 innings pitched, Gerrit Cole between 190-201 innings and Lucas Giolito ranging from 171-180 innings, Glasnow (133-163), Kenta Maeda (135-172), Jesús Luzardo (128-151) and Lance McCullers Jr. (113-148) have a significantly wider range of IP outcomes. And if any creeps into 180+ territory, they should be receiving votes for the award. The concerns with Glasnow are threefold:

  1. Inefficiency, as he has averaged roughly five innings per start over the past two years because a high percentage of plate appearances end in a walk or strikeout.
  2. Prior elbow/forearm injuries.
  3. The Rays’ unorthodox game management.

Otherwise, there’s little to dislike about the pitcher with the second-best strikeout rate (35.7%) over the past two seasons, who has dominated the opposition with two pitches: a power fastball (60% usage, 95th percentile velocity, 79th percentile spin) and wicked curve (35% usage, 93rd percentile spin). Glasnow has worked to develop a cutter/slider this offseason, which could help to complement those two offerings. Over the past two seasons, Glasnow ranks second in xFIP (2.84) behind Cole (2.72) and ahead of both Bieber (2.91) and deGrom (2.97).

Toronto Blue Jays

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +350
Pennant Odds +875
World Series Odds +2200
Regular Season Wins 86.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -112 / No -112

Best Bet: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. To Lead MLB In Runs Batted In (+6000, FanDuel)

Sean Zerillo: Based upon my projections, Guerrero’s RBI leader odds should be half their current valuation. He ranks 15th on my RBI list, among players who are all listed between +2500 to +3500. He is playing in a potentially incredible hitters park in Dunedin, Fla., (the highest park factor in the Florida State League) and the Blue Jays should score a ton of runs this season regardless of their environment.

Vlad transformed his body during the offseason, is absolutely raking during Spring Training, and looks to be on the cusp of a breakout at age 22. Players are rarely given an 80 grade (20-80 scale) in any individual category, but Vlad Jr. has a legitimate 80-grade hit tool, and he should turn into one of the league’s most fearsome run producers during his prime years.

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American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds -121
Pennant Odds +380
World Series Odds +850
Regular Season Wins 90.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -275 / No +270

Best Bet: Under 90.5 Wins (BetMGM)

Sean Zerillo: In February, I projected the White Sox at 88.9 wins. Based upon current projections from ATC, Davenport, FanGraphs, and PECOTA, their win total projection ranges from 80-91; so there is a ton of variance within their range of outcomes. The injury to Eloy Jiménez (projected 2.5 WAR) was a bit of a game-changer which lowers their floor, and generally opens things up within the AL Central.

While I could certainly see this White Sox team winning 100 games and solidifying itself as the AL favorite, the downside also seems to outweigh the upside. I played one unit on their under prior to the Jiménez injury, and added another half-unit share after the injury.

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Cleveland Indians

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +700
Pennant Odds +2000
World Series Odds +4000
Regular Season Wins 81.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +230 / No -305

Best Bet: Triston McKenzie To Win AL Rookie of the Year (+1700, PointsBet)

Collin Whitchurch: Allow me to introduce you to the products of the Cleveland Pitching Factory. You’re familiar with Shane Bieber, recent Cy Young winner? Once upon a time he was a low-ceiling strike thrower. Go back further, and you’ll find Corey Kluber, plucked from obscurity and turned into a multi-time award winner. Wait, there’s more: Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, if there’s a talented arm in there, Cleveland knows what to do with it.

Enter: McKenzie. After more than a year away due to injury, McKenzie made his MLB debut last season and looked downright competent in eight appearances despite all of 90 ⅔ innings in the high minors coming into the season. McKenzie hasn’t had the best spring, but I’m not going to bet against the Cleveland Pitching Factory, and at 17/1, he’s absolutely worth a ROY flier.

Detroit Tigers

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +6000
Pennant Odds +6000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 68.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +5000

Best Bet: Over 67.5 Wins (FanDuel)

Collin Whitchurch: The Tigers are young and still rebuilding. They’re likely destined for another fourth- or fifth-place finish in the division. They’re at least a year or two away from trying to contend once again.

So why am I taking the over? Unlike some other rebuilding teams, the Tigers’ next core is mostly at or near major-league ready. We should see Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning in Detroit this season. (The former two debuted last season). Spencer Torkelson has a non-zero chance at debuting sometime in the second half, too. Later in the season is when you often see losing teams pack it in and start checking for tee times. The Tigers will be stocked with young players looking to prove they can stick long-term. For that reason, I think the over is the smart play here — just barely.

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Kansas City Royals

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +4000
Pennant Odds +5000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 74.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +900 / No -3335

Best Bet: Over 74.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: I personally really like the moves the Royals made this offseason to improve their lineup. They now have one of the more underrated offenses in the American League after adding Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana. They have a fantastic mixture of guys who hit for power and average throughout their lineup. Jorge Soler and Whit Merrfield put up fantastic numbers in the last full season in 2019. Soler smacked 48 homers, while Merrfield led MLB with 206 hits.

They also have two capable starting pitchers in Brad Keller and Brady Singer, who both posted xFIPs below the MLB average in 2020. The biggest question mark will be the back end of their rotation and their bullpen. However, I think the Royals’ lineup is good enough to propel them to 75 wins or more.

Minnesota Twins

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +125
Pennant Odds +750
World Series Odds +2000
Regular Season Wins 88.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -157 / No +125

Best Bet: Twins To Win AL Central (+150, BetMGM)

Brad Cunningham: With the Indians in disarray after the Francisco Lindor trade, the AL Central comes down to the Twins and White Sox. In my opinion, the White Sox hype train was overblown even before the Eloy Jiménez injury. The Twins are back-to-back division champs because they are sound in every facet of the game. 

Minnesota was able to hang onto its entire lineup from last season, which was in the top half of MLB in pretty much every statistical category. Along with that, the Twins have two of the best starters in the division in Kenta Maeda and José Berríos. Maeda was third in MLB last season in xFIP and top-five in BB/9. Berríos is starting to take a step back, but does have the stuff to be one of the best pitchers in this division.

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American League West

Houston Astros

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +125
Pennant Odds +1000
World Series Odds +2200
Regular Season Wins 87.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -124 / No +100

Best Bet: Alex Bregman Over 30.5 Home Runs (DraftKings)

Matthew Trebby: Given the odd nature of the 2020 season, as long as a player hasn’t aged further into his 30s, I’m going to lean toward giving them the benefit of the doubt for any potential struggles. That applies here for Bregman, who hit just six home runs in 42 games last year. He had 72 over the previous two and played at least 156 games in both seasons.

The entire AL West will get to beat up on the Rangers’ pitching staff this season, while the Angels, as usual, don’t have much to write home about on the mound. Seattle’s two most reliable arms are lefties, against whom Bregman has a 1.010 career OPS. Bregman also plays in a park that gives him plenty of home runs each season, so I’ll back him to return to his 2018-19 form.

Los Angeles Angels

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +375
Pennant Odds +2000
World Series Odds +4000
Regular Season Wins 83.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +160 / No -200

Best Bet: Under 85 Wins (WynnBet)

Sean Zerillo: In February, I projected the Angels at 80.2 wins. Based upon current projections from ATC, Davenport, FanGraphs, and PECOTA, their win total projection ranges from 78-87; so there is a upside variance within their range of outcomes. However, I think this Angels team is a poor defensive club, filled with players who are on the wrong side of the age curve. I also have a share of Under 83.5 based upon my initial projection, but they’re the one team who I would have looked to fade before running any projections.

The Angels were the second-worst defensive team in the AL in 2020, despite the presence of solid gloves like Anthony Rendon and David Fletcher, and they lost Andrelton Simmons — the best defensive player in the game over the past decade (191 Defensive Runs Saved, or DRS) — to free agency. Justin Upton (-4 DRS in 2020) and Mike Trout (-9) were one of 2020’s worst defensive outfield combinations, and veteran additions like José Iglesias (-2) and Dexter Fowler (-2) may not fill their defensive roles as adequately as the Angels hope.

Oakland Athletics

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +145
Pennant Odds +900
World Series Odds +2500
Regular Season Wins 86.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -130 / No +105

Best Bet: Under 87.5 Wins (BetMGM)

Sean Zerillo: In February, I projected the Athletics at 83.8 wins. Based upon current projections from ATC, Davenport, FanGraphs, and PECOTA, their win total projection ranges from 79.5-84; meaning that the most optimistic projection still falls short of their listed total.

Oakland is now lagging in terms of breakout upside (essentially, now limited to getting anything from A.J. Puk, and/or a level jump from Jesús Luzardo), and most projection systems continue to place the Angels ahead of them. This has been a consistent theme in the projection market for years, and I remain on the high side for Oakland, and the low end for the Angels. But even being on the more optimistic side for Oakland, the win total is still too high.

Seattle Mariners

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +2600
Pennant Odds +5000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 72.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +1000 / No -5000

Best Bet: Taylor Trammell To Win AL Rookie of the Year (+5000, FanDuel)

Collin Whitchurch: While all eyes around Mariners camp have understandably been focused on Jarred Kelenic, Trammell, who has been a top-100 staple for most of the last three years, won himself a spot on the Opening Day roster and figures to see the lion’s share of playing time in left field … at least to start the season.

Trammell has been traded twice already in his young career. He went from Cincinnati to San Diego in the three-team blockbuster that sent Trevor Bauer to the Reds in 2019, and from San Diego to Seattle last summer in the deal that netted the Padres Austin Nola, among others.

Throughout all that, he’s been a talented but flawed prospect. He shows plus hit and power tools and the ability to handle center, but has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. His arm is below-average.

There’s a strong possibility that Trammell strikes out 50% of the time in April and spends the rest of the reason in Triple-A. But he’s got a lot of talent, and it’s also possible that he takes this job and runs with it. At 50/1, that’s worth a shot.

Texas Rangers

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +6000
Pennant Odds +5000
World Series Odds +15000
Regular Season Wins 67.5
To Make Playoffs N/A

Best Bet: Over 67.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: This is basically a bet on the Rangers not losing 100 games, and I think Texas is better than this number. The Rangers made some really nice upgrades to their lineup this offseason, adding David Dahl, Khris Davis and Nate Lowe. Those are massive upgrades to a lineup that was one of the worst in all of baseball last season. Not to mention the Rangers also have one of the best home run hitters in baseball in Joey Gallo.

They do lose Lance Lynn from the starting rotation, but have a couple capable replacements in Dane Dunning and Mike Foltynewciz. Their bullpen is likely going to be a pretty big mess all season long, but given the upgrades they’ve made on offense, I think it’ll keep them from losing 100+ games, especially since they are in a weak AL West division. 

I have the Rangers projected for 75.29 wins, so I think there is some value in their Over of 67.5 wins.

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National League East

Atlanta Braves

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +120
Pennant Odds +500
World Series Odds +1000
Regular Season Wins 91.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -275 / No +210

Best Bet: Ian Anderson To Win NL Rookie of the Year (+800, William Hill)

Sean Zerillo: If you allow me a hot take for the Braves’ 2021 outlook, it is that Anderson — and not Max Fried nor Mike Soroka — will be Atlanta’s most effective pitcher. The former No. 3-overall pick dominated at every stop on his quick ascent through the minor leagues, while striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings in 2019 in the high minors — matching his 2020 strikeout rate at the MLB level.

Moreover, his low-spin fastball (10th percentile) and curveball (seventh percentile) help to generate a high number of ground balls (52.5%), while his best pitch — a changeup — worked to tame left-handed hitters (.201 wOBA vs. .269 vs. righties). It’s difficult to find any weaknesses in Anderson’s profile; he’s extremely polished for a young pitcher, and on the path to an All-Star caliber season if he repeats his 2020 success.

Miami Marlins

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +2500
Pennant Odds +3300
World Series Odds +7500
Regular Season Wins 71.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +1000 / No -5000

Best Bet: Sixto Sanchez To Win NL Rookie of the Year (+500, DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: The Marlins’ rotation starts with rookie Sixto Sánchez, who has some of the most electric stuff in the game. His numbers in only nine starts were pretty fantastic: 3.50 FIP, 2.54 BB/9, and 0.69 HR/9. Righties hit him pretty well last year, posting a .329 wOBA, but he was dominant against left-handed hitters. Lefties were only able to put up .239 wOBA and of the 74 lefties he faced only two were able to get extra base hits.

Sixto usually mixes between his three main pitches, but throws his changeup most often and for good reason, since opponents were only able to put a .149 wOBA against it last season. He somewhat struggled with his fastball and sinker, but if he can figure out some control on both pitches he’s going to be incredibly effective since he can top out both pitches at 99+ mph with movement.

New York Mets

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +140
Pennant Odds +525
World Series Odds +1000
Regular Season Wins 90.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -250 / No +195

Best Bet: New York Mets Win Total +4.5 New York Yankees Win Total (-112, DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: This is a fun, unique prop that pits the crosstown rivals head-to-head in a win total matchup. For the Mets to cash, they just need to win four games or fewer than the Yankees. PECOTA has the Yankees winning this prop, with a projected 100 wins compared to the Mets’ 92. FanGraphs sides with the Mets at 91 compared to the Yankees’ 95.

I tend to agree with FanGraphs here. Both teams are favored to win the division and both play in competitive divisions, but I can’t get over the Yankees’ rotational uncertainty. Gerrit Cole is Gerrit Cole, but behind him is a group of talented pitchers who are either injury-prone, volatile, or both. The Mets are far from flawless, but the rotation, top to bottom, is stronger, and that alone is enough to make it seem likely they’ll at least come within four wins of the Yankees’ win total.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +875
Pennant Odds +2000
World Series Odds +4000
Regular Season Wins 80.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +285 / No -385

Best Bet: Aaron Nola To Win NL Cy Young Award (+1200, DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: Nola was one of the best pitchers in baseball a year ago, and the reason he finished only seventh in Cy Young voting had more to do with the competition he faced compared to his peers than his actual performance. While Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish feasted on NL Central weaklings, Nola faced the gauntlet that was MLB’s East divisions.

By DRA, Nola was the best starting pitcher in the National League (tied with Shane Bieber for the best mark in baseball). This year, he’s projected among the top-5 pitchers in baseball once again. I’d put him as the second- or third-most likely winner in the NL along with deGrom and Flaherty, so at 12/1 this is great value.

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Washington Nationals

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +600
Pennant Odds +2000
World Series Odds +3300
Regular Season Wins 84.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +130 / No -162

Best Bet: Juan Soto Under 118.5 RBI (DraftKings)

Matthew Trebby: For context on what an accomplishment this would be for Soto, only four players went over 118.5 RBI in 2019, and it was just two in 2018. This is by no means a fade of Soto’s incredible talent, but frankly, I don’t trust what will be around him enough to hit this total.

Trea Turner is unlikely to get on base at a .394 clip ahead of him, and the Nats are actually toying with the idea of Victor Robles leading off, again. He might be the MVP, but given the level of talent ahead of him — as fast as those players may be — I can’t bet on a player getting to that incredible RBI total.

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National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +425
Pennant Odds +2200
World Series Odds +4000
Regular Season Wins 78.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +325 / No -455

Best Bet: Under 78.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: On true talent, the Cubs are certainly a better team than the win total put out by various books. Despite trading Yu Darvish, the core of Kyle Hendricks, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras is good. Maybe not as good as it was in, say, 2016, but good, and sure to be better than a year ago when many of those players suffered through career-worst seasons.

So why am I taking the under? I don’t trust Cubs ownership to keep those guys around through the trade deadline. The Ricketts family has been crying broke for a while now, and with Baez, Bryant and Rizzo set to become free agents after the season, there’s a good chance they blow it up. All of this is to say, there’s a good chance the Cubs in July look a lot different than the Cubs in April, and a lot worse. Hence, an under bet is the logical conclusion.

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Cincinnati Reds

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +330
Pennant Odds +1500
World Series Odds +3300
Regular Season Wins 81.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +190 / No -245

Best Bet: Luis Castillo To Win NL Cy Young (+1500, DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: The Reds lost Trevor Bauer in the offseason, and now it’s time for Luis Castillo to take the top spot in the Reds’ rotation. For those who aren’t that familiar with Castillo, he has one of the sickest changeups in all of baseball.  In the shortened season last summer, Castillo put up career-best numbers, posting a 3.21 ERA, 2.82 xFIP, and 11.67 K/9 rate. Hitters couldn’t touch his changeup, as he allowed opposing hitters to hit only .205 off it with a 40.1% whiff rate, per Baseball Savant.

The NL is loaded with talented pitchers, but one of the reasons I like Castillo at this price is because he’s in the NL Central. All of the loaded lineups in the National League are out West or out East. Facing the Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs on a regular basis isn’t going to be as challenging as, say, Aaron Nola trying to face NL East lineups. Castillo has the arm talent and now the experience of pitching regularly in the big leagues for four years now, so I think he’s worth a shot at 15/1.

Milwaukee Brewers

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +300
Pennant Odds +2500
World Series Odds +4400
Regular Season Wins 82.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +145 / No -182

Best Bet: Over 82.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Matthew Trebby: Somehow, the Milwaukee Brewers went 29-31 last season. They had two players who played 19 or more games with an OPS over .800, and those were Jedd Gyorko and Daniel Vogelbach. Omar Narváez is going to improve upon his .562. Keston Hiura will be better than .707. Christian Yelich will be better than his .786. Avisail García will be above his .659. Those aren’t hot takes. It’s simply what the players’ track records tell us, and they’re all likely to be well above those numbers.

Adding Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley Jr. made the Brewers one of the best defensive teams in baseball and while their pitching isn’t sexy, they have two of the best young starters (Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff) and relievers (Josh Hader and Devin Williams) leading the way. If Milwaukee just missed on being .500 last season, it’ll be comfortably in the mid-to-high 80s in wins this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +6500
Pennant Odds +10000
World Series Odds +25000
Regular Season Wins 59.5
To Make Playoffs N/A

Best Bet: Over 35.5% Win Percentage (Bet365)

Sean Zerillo: This win percentage bet implies a total of 57.5 wins for the Pirates over a 162-game schedule. In February, I projected the Pirates at 59.5 wins. Based upon current projections from ATC, Davenport, FanGraphs, and PECOTA, their win total projection ranges from 61-66; meaning that the least-optimistic projection still exceeds their listed total.

Though they have clearly been shedding talent (Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon) and have no intention of competing in 2021, solid bullpen arms will keep them in tight games, and there’s upside in their lineup, particularly in third baseman KeBryan Hayes, who looks like an instant superstar on both sides of the ball. Given the relative weakness of this division, I think the Pirates can avoid a 100-loss season.

St. Louis Cardinals

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +105
Pennant Odds +1050
World Series Odds +2200
Regular Season Wins 86.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -124 / No +100

Best Bet: Cardinals To Win NL Pennant (+1200, PointsBet)

Collin Whitchurch: This one is all about value. Say you think the Cardinals are the best team in the moribund National League Central (I do). You can bet on them to win the division, but after acquiring Nolan Arenado they rose to consensus favorites at around +100 to +120 depending on the book. That’s a fine bet, but we can do better.

The Cardinals are pretty significantly behind the powers in the NL West (Dodgers, Padres) and NL East (Mets, Braves) in NL pennant odds. But should they be? Assuming things play out the way the projections say, two of those teams will play in the NL Wild Card Game. The winner of that will play the Dodgers (probably) while the Cardinals face the lesser division winner in the NLDS, and whoever emerges from the bloodbath between the other three teams. The Cardinals aren’t as good as these teams, but they do have some Devil Magic, and an easier path to the World Series. At 12-1? That’s worth a shot.

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National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +5000
Pennant Odds +8000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 74.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +1000 / No -2500

Best Bet: Ketel Marte Over 169.5 Hits (DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: The Diamondbacks are somehow the most uninteresting team in baseball. They’re not the worst, mind you, there’s just not a lot to care about. They’re definitely worse than the Dodgers and Padres. They’re definitely better than the Rockies. They’re about as good as the Giants.

With all due respect to the fine folks of Phoenix, the only interesting player on the Snakes’ roster is Ketel Marte. OK, Zac Gallen is pretty cool, too, but he’s hurt, so we’re looking at Marte to give us a reason to tune in to the Diamondbacks. In his last full season, Marte missed 18 games and still topped this hit total by 18. Presuming good health (never a guarantee), he should top this at some point in September. It feels as safe as a player prop can get (ya know, health pending).

Colorado Rockies

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +5000
Pennant Odds +8000
World Series Odds +10000
Regular Season Wins 63.5
To Make Playoffs N/A

Best Bet: Under 63.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Collin Whitchurch: I was on this from the moment win totals was released, and it’s my favorite bet off the entire MLB slate. The Rockies probably aren’t the worst team in baseball — the Pirates are — but they’re likely to finish with the worst record in baseball. The reason? They play the Dodgers and Padres a combined 38 times, and the entirety of the NL West (the Giants and Diamondbacks aren’t all that bad) 76 times.

Oh, and the team isn’t very good, either. The Rockies currently have three hitters projected to be above-average offensively by DRC+: Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and C.J. Cron. The rotation is led by the promising Germán Márquez, but behind him is the uninspiring trio of Jon Gray, Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland. And Freeland is already hurt. Anyway, the Rockies are going to be really bad. Hammer this under.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds -250
Pennant Odds +175
World Series Odds +350
Regular Season Wins 102.5
To Make Playoffs N/A

Best Bet: Mookie Betts To Lead MLB In Runs Scored (+850, Bet365)

Sean Zerillo: Betts leads all of MLB in runs over the past two, three, four, five, and six-year periods. He only led the league twice (129 runs in 2018, 135 in 2019) in individual seasons over that span, but he has been so consistent that the field has been unable to catch up. Not only is he a great hitter and defender who gets on pace at a high clip, but Betts is also arguably the best baserunner in the game, and he puts himself in a position to score more often than his peers.

Sitting atop the Dodgers’ lineup, he should score a plethora of runs again in 2020 — the only question is whether he plays enough games in order to win this category on volume. I have him projected for 118 runs — the most in MLB — as one of four players projected to exceed 110 runs scored (Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto and Mike Trout the other three) in 2021.

San Diego Padres

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +200
Pennant Odds +390
World Series Odds +800
Regular Season Wins 94.5
To Make Playoffs Yes -590 / No +400

Best Bet: Manny Machado To Win NL MVP (+2600, FanDuel)

Collin Whitchurch: Preseason narratives can influence odds considerably. That’s not to say that Fernando Tatis Jr. isn’t an extremely viable MVP candidate, it’s just that he isn’t the best MVP candidate on his own team. That would be Machado.

I can’t figure why last year’s third-place finisher in NL MVP voting has such long odds. Bettors maybe have grown fatigued of Machado, who is now in his 10th MLB season. But Machado is somehow still only 28 and one of the best players in baseball. In the shortened 202 season, he had the fourth-highest WARP among position players. He plays sterling defense at third and his bat hasn’t taken a step back at all.

In 2021, Machado will be plying his trade for one of the best teams in baseball. His teammate understandably gets a good majority of the pub, but don’t sleep on Machado. He’s not the MVP favorite, but deserves better than 26/1 odds.

San Francisco Giants

Betting Overview
Divisional Odds +4000
Pennant Odds +6000
World Series Odds +8000
Regular Season Wins 75.5
To Make Playoffs Yes +800 / No -1667

Best Bet: Over 75.5 Wins (DraftKings)

Brad Cunningham: The San Francisco Giants were only one game away from making the playoffs last season, finishing at 29-31. The Giants had one distinct weakness last season: They had one of the worst bullpens in baseball, posting a 5.07 xFIP as a unit. Only the Mariners, Marlins and Rockies were worse, but the Giants did make some significant upgrades in the offseason to address that problem. They added Jake McGee, Alex Wood, John Brebbia and Matt Wisler, all of whom will be significant upgrades as they each have a FIP projected less than 4.00. Only three Giants relievers had a FIP below 4.00 last season.

San Francisco’s lineup to the naked eye may not look very good, but the Giants were one of the most underrated lineups in baseball last season. They were sixth in wOBA and wRC+ mainly because they have one of the best young hitters in baseball in Mike Yastrzemski, who broke out with a .407 wOBA and 159 wRC+. You want to hear the crazy part? He led the NL West in both of those stats. That’s right, he was better statistically than Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Manny Machado. The offense is really what has me high on the Giants because they kept their entire offense together from last season and added utility man Tommy La Stella, who is projected to have a wOBA of .317. I expect the Giants to maintain their spot in the top 10 offensively.

The starting rotation does have a solid front-end starter in Kevin Gausman. I’ve been high on Gausman since his days with the Orioles, but I think he is one of the more underrated starters in baseball. Last season, he put up career-best numbers in almost every category, most notably a 3.05 xFIP, which was top-20 in the league. After Gausman it gets a little dicey, but if Logan Webb and Alex Wood can become serviceable starters, the Giants should be able to win more than 75 games with their offense.

Yes, I realize the Giants are in the same division as the Dodgers and Padres, but they also are in the same division as the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Every outlet, except Davenport has the Giants projected for more than 75 wins, so give me the Giants over with their stellar offense and improved bullpen.

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