2022 MLB Futures Odds: Can You Find Value in the Make Playoffs/Miss Playoffs Market?
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Minnesota’s Max Kepler and Byron Buxton
There are so many ways to bet on MLB futures ahead of the start of the season. There are win totals, divisional, pennant and World Series futures, stat leaders and awards.
A lot of those team-based futures can be simplified even further by betting the make/miss playoffs market. The idea is simple: you bet on whether or not a team will make the postseason or not.
This is a less-popular market overall, but there’s still value to be found. I broke down the implied odds of each team via FanDuel and compared them to the playoff odds from popular projections websites Baseball Prospectus (PECOTA) and FanGraphs (ZIPS).
It’s important to remember on this chart and analysis below that make/miss playoff odds can vary depending on the sportsbook, so be sure to shop for the best price if you see a team whose projections you like.
Make Playoffs Odds and Projections
Top Overall Edges
It’s important to note that averaging out two projections systems isn’t a fool-proof exercise. While systems like PECOTA, ZIPS and others are generally in pretty close agreement on most teams, we do see some pretty drastic differences, particularly at the top with the New York Yankees. PECOTA gives the Yankees the second-best odds to make the playoffs (behind only the Dodgers), while ZIPS is more bearish.
Still, even if you take ZIPS’ low-end projections, that’s still a 7.3% edge on FanDuel’s implied odds of 78% (-355). It’s not particularly fun to tie up a large chunk of your payroll on futures generally, and especially when you’re eating as much juice as a Yankees bet will require, but there’s clearly value there.
The Yankees’ tough division might make one hesitant to bet on a Make Playoffs future, but the same can’t be said about the team with the second-biggest edge, the Milwaukee Brewers.
You’d still need to eat a fair amount of juice to bet on the Brewers and their implied odds of 74.4% (-290), but they are clearly the class of the division. The next-best percentage chance to make the playoffs is the Cardinals, who are at just 38% on ZIPS and 22.6% at PECOTA. And as you can see from the chart, there is no edge with the Redbirds.
The next three teams that represent positive edges are also the three teams that have the biggest probability disagreement between ZIPS and PECOTA. The latter is much more bullish on the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels, giving both teams a better-than-50% chance of reaching October, while ZIPS has both teams at a little better than 40%.
Getting both teams at plus money makes them particularly intriguing relative to the aforementioned Yankees and Brewers. The Twins are +172, while the Angels are +138.
The San Diego Padres are the third team that ZIPS and PECOTA have a stark disagreement about. If you weigh ZIPS stronger than PECOTA, the edge is only 3.1% relative to their -230 odds, but the average of the two still yields an edge north of 10%.
Finally, there’s the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves. PECOTA and ZIPS are in pretty direct agreement about the Braves, and that gives us an edge of just above 10% relative to the -355 odds you’ll find at FanDuel. Again, it’s a lot of juice, but if you are able and willing to eat it and wait until October, it should pay off with a solid return on investment.
Other Interesting Notes
Other teams PECOTA and ZIPS disagree about to a pretty drastic degree include the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.
For the Mets, if you give PECOTA additional weight, you could see value, as their 88.1% odds of making the playoffs is significantly higher than the -188 you’ll find at FanDuel.
Both PECOTA and ZIPS like the Blue Jays more than the 78% implied odds we get at FanDuel (-355), but this is another heavily juiced team.
The most interesting disagreement lower down the odds list is the Reds. The average of the two projection systems has Cincinnati actually garnering a negative edge. However, PECOTA is a lot more bullish on the Reds, with their system garnering you a 6.5% edge relative to the whopping +570 odds you’ll find at FanDuel.
The Reds are obviously a longshot to make the playoffs, but in such a bad division, you can make a logical argument for taking a small stab on them at that number.
Miss Playoffs Odds and Projections
Top Overall Edges
We won’t spend as much time here as on the Make Playoffs odds because, when it comes to PECOTA and ZIPS, the odds are simply flipped since their odds for each team will add up to an even 100%.
For the sportsbooks, however, if you add up the implied odds to Make vs. Miss, you’ll get around 105% because of the juice they book into these odds. That creates some mild differences in the edges we can find.
The San Francisco Giants stand out ahead of everyone, and that’s mostly because of PECOTA, which is insanely low on last season’s NL West champions. ZIPS, on the other hand, has odds that fall pretty close to what our FanDuel odds imply. The Giants to miss the playoffs are +104 on FanDuel, so if you agree with PECOTA and believe they’re going to fall back to the team everyone thought they would be prior to 2021, that’s where your edge would lie.
The St. Louis Cardinals also have a somewhat notable difference between PECOTA and ZIPS, but both odds give you an edge on FanDuel, which gives out -122 odds on them to miss the playoffs.
One of the more contentious teams you’ll find on the projections market is the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has regularly surpassed preseason projections for the last several years. I personally won’t touch Tampa’s +168 odds to miss the postseason, but there’s some logic if you simply want to follow what these two projections systems think of them.
Finally, there’s the Detroit Tigers, who will be a trendy dark-horse pick entering the season given their plethora of young arms and the fact that we will see top prospect Spencer Torkelson (on Opening Day) and likely Riley Greene (after he recovers from injury).
PECOTA and ZIPS are not buying any Tigers hype, however, both projecting they miss the playoffs more than 90% of the time. The -520 odds for the Tigers to miss the playoffs is, of course, heavily juiced, but there’s some value when you compare to the projections.