MLB Futures 2023: World Series, MVP, Cy Young, More Early Bets To Make Right Now

MLB Futures 2023: World Series, MVP, Cy Young, More Early Bets To Make Right Now article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Cristian Javier, Kyle Schwarber, Zac Gallen and Ronald Acuna Jr.

With the conclusion of Sunday's Super Bowl, the NFL season is officially in the rearview window, which means it's time to start looking ahead to baseball season.

Players will begin reporting to spring training in just a few days' time, and Opening Day is a mere six weeks away.

With MLB officially on the horizon, it's time to talk futures. Odds have been out for a while now on a myriad of futures, including World Series, awards, and more.

We're here to help you get ahead of the curve. Odds on those markets will undoubtedly be on the move between now and Opening Day, so we have a couple of bets to recommend jumping on now before they move in the wrong direction.

For a complete list of MLB futures, including odds at a wide variety of sportsbooks, click here.

World Series — Philadelphia Phillies (+1700)

Odds via DraftKings

Mike Ianniello: The Philadelphia Phillies were two wins away from winning the World Series and are now sitting at +1500 heading into 2023. They have the seventh-best odds in the league, with four NL teams sitting in front of them. The only main contributor they lost during the offseason was Jean Segura, and all they did was replace him with the best shortstop in the game, Trea Turner.

The Phillies also added Taijuan Walker to the two-headed monster of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler in their rotation. The biggest weakness for Philly in the last few years has been the bullpen and the Phillies looked to sure-up that area by signing Craig Kimbrel and trading for All-Star closer Gregory Soto from Detroit.

I like this market to attack Philadelphia over a win total or division future because of what we saw last season. Bryce Harper underwent Tommy John surgery following the World Series and is expected to be out for the first half of the season. While that makes the beginning of the season uncertain for the Phillies, we saw them able to stay afloat when he missed two months in 2022 with a broken thumb.

Even if they start slow without Harper, as we saw last year, all this team has to do is get in and they have what it takes to make a run. We have seen in recent years with the Royals in 2015 (Lost in WS), Cubs in 2016 (Lost in NLCS), Atlanta in 2021 (Lost in NLCS), and Houston in 2022 (Lost in WS), a team that lost in the World Series or Championship Series come back and win the whole thing the next season.

Philadelphia should be even better this season with Turner in the lineup, and if Harper can return rested and ready to go, look out.

American League MVP — Corey Seager (+4000)

Odds via BetRivers

Jim Turvey: This number has already moved a bit, so hopefully you followed in the Action App (@TurveyBets), so you got this at +5000 at open. If not, there is still strong value as is. Seager is +4000 at BetRivers while he's moved into the +2000 to +2500 range at many other books.

Seager is projected as a consensus top-10 player by WAR in 2023. The reason you’re getting a decent price here is twofold: Last season’s surface statistics, and last season’s TexasRangers record. Let’s tackle both.

Last season, Seager hit just .245 with an OPS of .772, both of which were the worst, by far, in any full season in his career. However, there’s reason to believe a lot of that should change in 2023.

For one, he had a .242 BABIP last season, a far cry from his career BABIP of .317. Part of that was due to having the most hits lost to the shift of any player in baseball last season, per Mike Petriello.

With the new shift rules in place, there’s a good case for Seager to benefit more than any other player in 2023. Seager’s ISO last season (.211) was actually better than his career rate (.208). If his BABIP can come back to normal, Seager should be right in that 130-150 wRC+ range.

This is a player who — even in his worst season — was still worth 4.0 WAR in 151 games. A 6-WAR season is well within range with a bit of better luck and the new shift rules in place.

Seager is also perfectly positioned to be on a team that is right on the bubble of contention. The Rangers are projected to be around .500 after a couple key offseason additions, as well as a run of bad luck that should at least return to average this season.

If the Rangers surprise some folks and are lingering around the wild-card race in September, Seager will have a chance to cover every type of voter: His WAR will be undeniable for the new sect, and every potential clutch hit down the stretch will endear him to the old school crew.

I’d play this number down to +3000.

The must-have app for MLB bettors

The best MLB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

National League MVP — Ronald Acuña Jr. (+1400)

Odds via Caesars

Collin Wilson: One of the biggest superstars in MLB will return after two seasons of multiple injuries in the post-pandemic world.

Ronald Acuña Jr recently proclaimed himself to be “100 percent healthy” after a laundry list of wounds that include a torn ACL prior to the Braves' 2021 World Series win. After dealing with continued soreness in the year after surgery, Acuña compiled only 15 home runs in 2022 with an isolated power drop to half of his career average.

With a few months off after the Braves took a 3-1 loss in the NLDS to the Phillies, Acuña popped up in his native Venezuela for winter ball. He proved to be healthy and ready to go for spring training, as the former All-Star hopes to regain his form that led to 41 home runs in 2019. The fans that paid to see the Venezuela Home Run Derby got their money’s worth, storming the field after Acuña's  victory.

Ronald Acuña Jr. wins the Venezuelan Home Run Derby and the fans storm the field!

— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) November 29, 2022

No matter which projection system is used between ZiPS, Steam or THE BAT X, Acuña is pegged to finish with a 30 home run 30 stolen base season. This is a World Baseball Classic calendar year and Acuña had every intention of playing for the Venezuelan National Team, but the Braves had a different path for their star heading into Opening Day.

With a 30-30 season projected and no extra games coming from the World Baseball Classic, Acuña is prime to take home MVP honors as the centerpiece of one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball.

National League MVP — Trea Turner (+1500)

Odds via PointsBet

B.J. Cunningham: Typically when betting a voted-upon award like MVP or Cy Young, WAR is the number-one metric that has been consistent through the years on deciding who wins the award — plus some narrative angles as well. Per FanGraphs ZIPS projections, Aaron Judge is the projected WAR leader in the American League and is obviously one of the favorites behind Shohei Ohtani, so that’s an easy pass at such a short price.

The projected WAR leader for National League, though? Trea Turner at 6.8. The last two seasons, he’s one of only two player in Major League Baseball with a WAR above 6.0 in back-to-back season (José Ramírez is the other).

Turner has signed a massive deal to play in Philadelphia this season, which means he’s moving to the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Ball park rather than Dodger Stadium, which is more friendly to pitchers.

Turner put up more than 100 runs and RBIs in 2022, while also having a .350 wOBA. If he can replicate those types of numbers and continue to put up a WAR above 6.5 for what is likely going to be one of the best teams in the National League, he’s worth a shot at 15/1.

American League Cy Young — Cristian Javier (+2800)

Odds via BetRivers

D.J. James:Cristian Javier has been the best pitcher on the World Series winning Houston Astros for at least a year now. While he was overshadowed by the much more famous Justin Verlander, with the erstwhile ace now in Queens, Javier should get his flowers, finally. 

Javier smothered hitters in 2022, especially in the second half of the season, owning a 1.79 ERA over 70 1/3 innings. He only ranked in the 52nd percentile in Average Exit Velocity, but he held hitters to a paltry hard hit rate of 33.6%, down from 43.2% the prior season. His strikeout rate ranked in the 94th percentile at 33.2%, up from 30.7% in 2021, and even though his walk rate was over 8% in 2022, he dropped that from 12.5% to 8.9% in a year.

There is no reason he cannot improve yet again. 

His xERA and ERA for the year were right in line with each other, which usually yields consistent results. He was performing just as well as his expected metrics and not getting lucky. A 2.43 xERA and 2.54 ERA put him among the top of the league. In comparison, Verlander’s xERA was 2.66, Dylan Cease’s was 2.70, and Sandy Alcántara’s was 2.90.

Javier was in elite company and should have been given more accolades for his 2022 performance. 

Getting Javier at +2800 is a gift, and I would take this at +1500 or higher. 

Charlie DiSturco: From August onward, there were few starting pitchers as dominant as Cristian Javier. It was his first season in a full-time starting role and the 25-year-old starred as he grew into his own.

Aside from his dominant postseason — 12 2/3 innings of one-run ball, two hits and 16 strikeouts — Javier flashed his ability to overpower the opposition and limit hard contact.

Javier finished in the top five percent of all pitchers in xERA (2.43) and xSLG (.286). His strikeout rate pushed over 33% for the first time in his career and his xBA (.168) sat in the 98th percentile.

And more importantly, Javier was even better in the second half of the season. He had a 1.79 ERA across 78 1/3 innings post All-Star break. It’s clear the Astros found a Cy Young-level pitcher so long as the innings are there.

When looking at Javier’s improvement from year to year, we’ve seen him shore up in some of his weak spots. His walk rate dropped nearly four percent from 2021 and his barrel rate went down by 2.6 percent.

Javier has one of the highest ceilings in baseball and that’s the best way to attack the futures market. Can he pitch deeper into games and come closer to 200 innings? That’s the only thing holding him back.

But if he’s able to do so, Javier should find himself in the thick of the Cy Young discussion as the season progresses.

The betting tools used by the pros

Best bets & signals for every game

Projections from proven pros

Profitable betting system picks

National League Cy Young — Zac Gallen (+1700)

Odds via DraftKings

Alex Hinton: The National League has a loaded crop of starting pitchers. The Mets replaced Jacob deGrom with Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara joined the ranks of the elite when he won his first Cy Young Award. But there may be another under-the-radar arm in the desert.

Zac Gallen finished fourth in the NL with a 2.54 ERA and sixth with a 5.1 WAR. He was even more dominant over his last eight starts, posting a 1.61 ERA, which is certainly Cy Young worthy. He was also second in the major leagues with a 0.91 WHIP. His other metrics were strong as well. He had a 3.05 FIP, 158 ERA+ and .213 XBA.

One downside for Gallen could be the voters who still value win-loss record as part of their criteria. However, Gallen went 12-4 on a Diamondbacks team that was more competitive than expected last season, particularly in the second half. Alcantara won it with a 14-9 record last season.

To offset that, Gallen may need to reach 200 strikeouts and 200 innings. He had 192 strikeouts in 184 innings last season. Reaching 200 would set career highs in both categories, however, at age 27 Gallen should be ready to handle that workload as the Diamondbacks ace.

At +1700, I like the value on one of the NL's best starting pitchers.

National League Rookie of the Year — Corbin Carroll (+400)

Odds via DraftKings

James Lumalu: If you’re a prospect nerd or dynasty fantasy player, then you already know this is hardly a crazy call.

Carroll, the 16th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, has been a fixture on top prospects lists since 2020 — and for good reason. With five tools and then some, Carroll has raked at every level of the minors.

He probably would’ve made the majors sooner if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending posterior capsular avulsion and a labrum tear in his shoulder in 2021 — an injury he sustained while hitting a home run, which is kind of badass and almost makes losing a season of development worth it.

A number of publications (notably Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel) have Carroll as the No. 2 prospect in baseball. The Athletic’s Keith Law has him No. 1. Baseball Prospectus is the “lowest” on him, ranking Carroll No. 6.

Despite being the betting favorite for NL ROY, I see no reason to shy away from Carroll. I believe he’s about as close to a slam-dunk pick out of all the MLB futures markets.

In 32 games with the Diamondbacks last season, Carroll produced a .260/.330/.500 slash and 130 wRC+ with four homers, 14 RBIs and two steals. He accrued 1.4 fWAR and 1.2 bWAR.

FanGraphs' 2023 ZiPS projections for Carroll peg him for a .253/.341/.428 line and 116 wRC+ and a 16-homer, 20-steal type of season, with a plus defensive projection that ultimately results in potentially 4.2 WAR. Looking at NL ZiPS for all position players, Carroll comes in at 25th — the only rookie in the top 30.

There are other top prospects I love but not nearly as much for 2023 NL ROY, and the D'backs could take a step up and push for 80-plus wins. There's good vibes with this organization right now and it's easy to envision a successful future in the next couple years.

Carroll has to be a stud for it to happen, and I'm happy to bet on him as an immediate foundation piece.

Win Total — Arizona Diamondbacks Over 74.5 (-115)

Odds via DraftKings

Anthony Dabbundo: The Arizona Diamondbacks were actually one of the most profitable first five teams in all of baseball last year, but their bullpen consistently underwhelmed.

The bullpen doesn't project to be all that much better in 2023 on paper, but variance of bullpens on a year-to-year basis suggests there will be some improvements for the Diamondbacks after the fifth inning this year on just natural randomness alone.

The Diamondbacks have quietly assembled a group of young arms at the back-end of their rotation to contribute in 2023. Zac Gallen is one of the best pitchers in the NL, Madison Bumgarner and Merrill Kelly both remain solid innings-eaters in the middle and they have a trio of interesting young pitchers that should make significant starts in 2023: Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson and Brandon Pfaadt.

Corbin Carroll is one of the best prospects in baseball and is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. Ketel Marte is an excellent candidate for a bounce-back season if he's healthier. Evan Longoria and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. should raise the floor of this lineup by providing more consistent production.

They also project as one of the league's best defenses, headlined by Geraldo Perdomo or Nick Ahmed at short, Alek Thomas or Carroll in center and Christian Walker at first base.

The Diamondbacks look closer to a .500 team and the over 74.5 is my favorite MLB win total in 2023. I'd bet it to 78.5.

The must-have app for MLB bettors

The best MLB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.