This past weekend, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released several MLB props and futures. Some might even go as far as calling it a slew of props and futures.
Included are playoff odds for all 30 teams. Let’s take a look and see if we can find some hidden value.
Each league has three heavy favorites that are expected to be division winners and if not, at least make it in as a wild card. The Red Sox add a fourth heavy favorite in the American League, leaving three wild card spots open if you expect all of the odds-on favorites to make it in.
The “bubble” teams in the AL include the Twins (+140), Angels (+142), Mariners (+190), and Blue Jays (+220). The NL is a bit more wide open with both wild card spots essentially up for grabs. The Cardinals (+100), Diamondbacks (+115), Brewers (+140), Giants (+170), Mets (+180), and Rockies (+210) all have reasonable shots.
I don’t really like locking up “minus money” futures for six or seven months, so bet on those on your own time.
Instead, here are a couple of bubble teams I like to make the playoffs at these current prices.
Toronto +220: After putting up 93 and 89 wins in 2015 and 2016, respectively, the Blue Jays had a very disappointing 2017 with just 76 wins. I definitely think they’re a bounce-back candidate this season with an overhauled offense and hopefully better health. Last season, they got just 179 combined games out of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki. Devon Travis, their promising young second baseman, played just 50, while one of the more talented young pitchers in the game, Aaron Sanchez, threw just 36 innings.
The big “X Factor” is Randal Grichuk. The former Cardinal was once touted as the next Mike Trout by some, but could never consistently play well. He is expected to start for them in right field in place of Jose Bautista, who weighed them down last year more than anything.
Another huge factor is whether or not they are contending at the trade deadline. If they’re not, they could easily trade away Donaldson and others. Fangraphs is currently projecting 87 wins for Toronto, 5th best in the AL and three more than the next best team, the Angels. There’s a chance this year could be just like last year with an 85- win team making the playoffs, so +220 is great value for a team that has a chance to do just that.
San Francisco +170: After an 87-win 2016 campaign, the Giants were expected to compete for a division title and World Series last year. They ended up with 64 wins… Willie Mays is rolling over in his grave. Oh, NVM he’s alive.
Anyway, the Giants scored fewer than four runs per game last year and hit the fewest homers in the league by a wide margin. They made an effort to combat these problems by acquiring both Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. They’re probably also set for an improved year out of Hunter Pence, who had easily the worst year in his career at the plate.
Their bullpen was also god-awful, while their ace Madison Bumgarner only started 17 games.
Last season, the other four NL west teams won a combined 355 games. This year, that number is expected to drop to 328, according to Fangraphs’ current projections. Fangraphs is also projecting them for 82 wins, tied with the D-Backs for 4th most in the NL.
With a weaker division, revamped offense, and hopefully improved health, the Giants should have a good shot at one of those spots.
Top Photo: Madison Bumgarner
Photo via Sergio Estrada – USA TODAY Sports