MLB Futures Odds, Picks: 9 Bets to Lock in Right Now
Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge, Spencer Strider, Corey Seager.
It's only January, and it’s certainly the NFL postseason that is on most bettors' minds, but MLB futures are very much alive. And just as we know that opening lines during the night to night drip of the baseball regular season are always the softest, the same can be said of the opening lines for MLB futures, which have only just opened widely at most books.
The big difference, of course, is that you are locking up a chunk of your bankroll for almost nine months to make these bets, so they better have some real value. That being said, historically I have found this market to be incredibly profitable, in part because the sharpest bettors often aren’t locking their money up now. So instead of having to beat both the books and the sharps, it’s just the books you have to beat.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at four win totals that are catching my eye for the 2024 MLB season, along with a few player props that are likely to move.
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MLB Futures Bets
It’s always a little nerve-wracking betting on a team — any team — to lose 100 games, but this Rockies roster could be historically bad. They won just 59 games last season, and it wasn’t bad luck either, as their BaseRuns win-loss was right there at 59 wins. The season before, they won just 68 games, with the Pythag of a 65-win team. In fact, their Pythag over the past two seasons is right at 62.5.
However, there are plenty of reasons to look under that number in 2024. For one, the worse of the two seasons is the more recent, and after an offseason that has been “highlighted” by bringing in Dakota Hudson and Cal Quantrill — two contact-heavy pitchers — to Coors, the light at the end of the tunnel is dim.
While I’m also low on the Giants, the Diamondbacks are a young team with breakout potential, the Dodgers have spent enormously this offseason and the Padres are due for at least a bit of positive regression in terms of close-game luck.
Colorado's front office is finally showing signs of being willing to at least trade with other teams, and the recognition that this team needs a full rebuild will result in players being shipped out for prospects, something that should’ve been happening long ago.
Most books have the Rockies at 60.5, so I want to make sure to grab those two extra wins at Caesars.
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Similar to the Rockies, this is a win total that is two wins off the rest of the market.
For Mets fans, this is not me saying to get your optimism through the roof again, but last season was just about the worst-case scenario. Now, the Mets didn’t connect on any of their mega-targets this offseason, but instead loaded up on depth. The front office brought in hordes of serviceable Major League players just a year after falling flat on its face, in part due to lacking such depth.
The Mets were also notably unlucky last season, with a BaseRuns win total of 79 compared to their real life 75. Considering they were fresh off a 101-win season, I'm also expecting them to land in between those two extreme outcomes.
Steve Cohen is also never going to be shy about making moves to keep his team in contention, if they give him even a sliver of a reason to do so. Last season was unique in that they had two much older, leverageable pieces to flip at the deadline, when they were already 18 games out of the division.
In a standard season, these Mets are far more likely to be buyers than sellers. That, combined with a roster that ranks 11th by FanGraphs projected WAR as of right now, has me buying on a team that just needs to get to .500.
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The Rays have had an admittedly one-way offseason, sending out Tyler Glasnow, Manuel Margot and several other starters, while getting the news that Wander Franco likely won't be playing baseball for a long time, if ever again.
However, this is always the M.O. for Tampa Bay. Once the Rays' players reach a certain age (or more accurately, salary), they are flipped for the next generation of players who Tampa Bay expertly develops into the next round of successful starters.
The Rays have breezed over this win total each of the past six seasons (prorating the COVID year), and each year with a seemingly different roster. This is a team that won 99 games and was actually unlucky by BaseRuns and Baseball Prospectus Injury WARP Lost.
Yes, they appear to be selling off some pieces. Yes, their roster really looks pedestrian on paper. But they are unrivaled when it comes to their year-to-year ability to adapt. And even as of now, they have the ninth-best roster by FanGraphs depth charts.
This number has steadily gone down since opening at Caesars, so clearly some folks out there don’t agree with me, but this number has gotten way too low for me not to jump on it.
Betting unders in January is always a little bit scarier because there’s the possibility of the team going out and getting one of the big remaining free agents, but the Angels don't appear to be taking that tactic. In fact, after years of failed Mike Trout-Shohei Ohtani rosters, the reset appears to be looming.
The Angels have averaged basically this exact number over the past five years (73.0 to be exact, if we prorate 2020), and that was with potentially the most talented baseball player of all time.
They have had crazy bad injury luck during that run, but at some point it becomes a pattern, and even if I account for luck of all sorts last season, I only get them to 76 wins. Losing the 8.8 rWAR of Ohtani gets them easily into the 60s for a 2024 projection.
This is also a team that basically acts as the Reverse Rays. Intriguing players come here and seem to instantly get less valuable and interesting. There is clearly some sort of rot at the core level, and while the idea of a Ohtani Ewing Theory is funny, I think it’s also incredibly unlikely.
I’ll be even eyeing some “worst record in baseball” odds for this team.
This is an auto-bet for me every season.
Judge has cleared this total in only two of his seven seasons as a pro, and while he has been leaving the yard at an absolutely ridiculous rate the past two seasons (basically one every three games), this over still requires him to play in 140 or so games, which he has done in only three of seven seasons.
Judge will be 32 this season and is basically a lock to miss time. There’s also always the chance he plays a full season (which for him is still one IL stint) but just doesn’t leave the park at a historic rate, like in 2021, when he hit 39 homers in 148 games.
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Similar to almost always fading the highest home run total on the board, the highest strikeout total is even more of a near-lock every season for me.
Strider last season became the only pitcher to have hit this total since 2019, and while he is just 25 and entering his prime, his repertoire screams injury concern — even more than the standard incredibly high injury risk any pitcher in the modern era faces.
Strider didn’t miss a single start last season while totaling 281 strikeouts. If Strider were to match his total innings and strikeout rate from 2023, he could miss just two starts and he would go under on this total (albeit just barely).
He also could just see a slight drop in his K rate (say, the 12.52 K/9 FanGraphs projects him for) and then, even if he were to match his lofty innings total from 2023, he’d go under. There are clearly numerous ways to hit this under.
Blind betting pitcher strikeout season totals is a solid investment, and when it also passes the logic test, it’s a must bet.
This is 18 strikeouts higher than his career high, which he reached last year in his eighth season in the league.
Glasnow has topped 100 innings twice in those eight years and is now on a team that has no need whatsoever to have him overworked in the regular season. Any sign of trouble and they’ll want to bubble wrap him for October.
This is one of the crazier lines I’ve seen this preseason. (Caveat: FanGraphs does have him projected for 190 strikeouts, but that is absolutely deranged in my opinion).
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This is a bet that I was eyeing while I tried to wait out all the books posting their numbers to be able to shop around. It had been at +7500 at Caesars, but moved to +5000 by the time I was ready to write this article, so I thought I had missed it. I still like it at that number, but then I saw Superbook and my eyes lit up all over again.
Seager left the yard 33 times in just 119 games last season, projecting him out to 45 long balls in a full season. Of course, Seager has notable injury risk, but his health ceiling isn’t terrible, having played 157, 151, and 145 games in seasons in his career.
He plays in a favorable home stadium and somewhat amazingly still hasn’t even turned 30 (he will this season, though).
Given that this is +5000 at most other books, if you have Superbook, hop on this number while you can.
The story is much the same as above. BetMGM had the line at +12500 for a hot minute, but most books have this at +3000 right now.
Muncy does suffer from platoon splits, but he also managed to drive in 105 runs in 135 games while hitting .212 last season in a lineup that didn’t have Ohtani.
If he can play another 10 games, get some BABIP luck and benefit from that Ohtani bump, his ceiling is certainly in the range of 125, which is typically in the vicinity of this league lead.