2020 MLB Futures: World Series Odds, Tips, and Predictions
The shortened baseball season presents a unique opportunity for baseball bettors searching for value in World Series odds and other MLB futures markets. MLB DFS experts Dave Potts and Derek Carty tell us what they’re looking for, who they’re looking at, and how to get ahead of the curve at online sportsbooks in this unprecedented 2020 MLB season.
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After a dramatic spring and much deliberation, players and owners agreed on an abbreviated 60-game season with several key rule changes that will impact play and be of interest to sports bettors.
The official schedule has been released, players reported to camps on July 1, and the 2020 MLB season will officially begin on Thursday, July 23 and run through Sept. 27. Opening Day includes two night games, the first between the defending champion Washington Nationals and American League favorite New York Yankees, followed by an NL West showdown between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
As for the key rule changes, National League teams will play with designated hitters, leaving pitchers on the bench when they aren’t on the mound. In games that go to extra innings, runners from both leagues will start on second base.
The MLB returns to normalcy in the playoffs, as ten teams (three division winners and two wild cards in each league) will battle in the postseason. While NL teams will keep a DH, runners will not start on second base in postseason games that go beyond nine innings.
In short, the 2020 MLB season will look much more like a sprint than the 162-game marathon we’ve become accustomed to. For bettors, this means more variance, explains Derek Carty.
“If we played 10 million games per season, the best team would basically always win. If we play 60 games, there is more of a chance the best team doesn’t win due to more randomness. ”
But variance doesn’t change who the best teams are, Carty is quick to point out.
“A team like the Dodgers is still clearly the best team, but their chance of performing as the best team over the course of 60-game schedule is maybe a little lower. This increased variance gives teams more of a chance to upset the top teams by the conclusion of the season.”
RotoGrinders MLB DFS analyst Dave Potts agrees, “60 games is going to be wild.”
Carty and Potts both think there’s an opportunity in the MLB betting markets given the circumstances.
2020 MLB World Series Futures Odds
Here’s a look at 2020 MLB World Series odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, accurate as of July 15, 2020:
- Los Angeles Dodgers +380
- New York Yankees +400
- Houston Astros +800
- Atlanta Braves +1400
- Minnesota Twins +1500
- Tampa Bay Rays +1700
- Washington Nationals +1800
- New York Mets +2200
- Cleveland Indians +2300
- Oakland Athletics +2500
- Philadelphia Phillies +2500
- Cincinnati Reds +2500
- St. Louis Cardinals +2600
- Chicago Cubs +2600
- Chicago White Sox +3300
- Los Angeles Angels +3500
- Milwaukee Brewers +3500
- Arizona Diamondbacks +4300
- Boston Red Sox +4300
- San Diego Padres +4600
- Texas Rangers +7000
- Toronto Blue Jays +8500
- Pittsburgh Pirates +16000
- Colorado Rockies +16000
- San Francisco Giants +30000
- Baltimore Orioles +30000
- Detroit Tigers +30000
- Kansas City Royals +30000
- Miami Marlins +30000
- Seattle Mariners +30000
To illustrate how wild a 60-game season might be relative to our expectations, look no further than the 2019 season and the defending World Series champions.
Through 60 games last year (37 percent of the 162-game schedule) the Washington Nationals were 27-33, and sat in front of only the Miami Marlins in the NL East standings.
Fast forward 122 games and an amazing postseason run later and you have Max Scherzer dancing atop a DC Tour bus and spraying beer at fans at the first World Series parade in the nation’s capital.
However, a slow start this year will be detrimental regardless of the caliber of team. For example, a seven-game losing streak is equivalent to a 21-game losing streak in a normal year. A bad two-week stretch can quickly sour a team’s World Series aspirations.
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2020 World Series Betting Tips: What to Look for
As for the teams who will be affected by the shortened season….well, if only we knew.
“There’s no way to guess which teams these will be, of course, because variance is entirely random. Any team could get hit with good variance, any team could get hit with bad variance, and, by its very nature, it’s impossible to know beforehand,” Carty says.
“The best thing you can do is take a team with good talent relative to their odds—that is, good expected value—and to bet on them and hope they’re on the right side variance. But that’s the same thing you’d do any other season, the odds of things playing out unexpectedly are just greater now.”
Variance aside, bettors also should look a which MLB teams, and particularly pitching staffs, are best suited for a 60-game schedule. Carty believes how these teams adapt and adjust will be one of the keys to the upcoming season.
“It will depend a lot on how the roster rules work, which I’ve still yet to see any clarification on. How quickly can teams move players from their 60-man pool to their 26-to-30-man roster and for what reasons? Having one-to-five extra roster spots will already help, but if they can shuffle in even more fresh relievers, the smartest teams will pull their non-elite starters much earlier in games.”
Reliever fatigue issues could be less of a concern with the new rules, Carty points out, which means we might see relievers eat more innings this season.
Potts figures every team will approach the unusual season a little differently depending on their roster and bullpen. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all rotation plan.
“We’ll probably see a few 4-man rotations, a few 6-man rotations, and some teams will even go with a 3-man rotation while using some opener/bullpen games.”
Similar to Carty, Potts expects bullpens to be even more important this season thanks to expanded rosters.
“The teams that are already used to incorporating openers/short starts/bullpen games will be better off. With all the question marks, depth is probably even more important than in a full season,” Potts says.
Potts also gives the edge to teams that can mix and match right and left-handed batters, and of course, having a couple of strong starters will pay dividends.
2020 MLB World Series, Division, and Pennant Betting Picks
Aside from the obvious teams—the Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees—Potts says to watch out for the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers.
“I don’t see a lot of value in any of the top teams as far as betting odds for either season win totals or division championship. If you’re looking at NLCS, ALCS or World Series champs, we could see someone like the Dodgers, Astros or Yankees miss the playoffs in a short season,” Potts says.
“As good as the Yankees are, I have no interest in a favorite in an unknown season like this, and I’d prefer to go a little further down to teams like the Rays and Twins.”
Potts points towards the Rays’ history of perfecting the use of openers. The Rays are used to mixing and matching their lineup for different situations and are already made for a 60-game sprint, he says.
The Brewers have one of the better bullpens in the league and using their startings 4-5 innings at a time won’t be much of a change.
“I think my play would be to bet on a couple of longer shots to win the division,” Potts suggests.
Carty, too, thinks bettors should be willing to lean towards underdogs more than they typically would. Concurring with Potts’ liking of the Rays, Carty has an additional interest in the Cleveland Indians to win the AL Central.
“In a 60-game season, both teams project within one game of the favorites in their division, which are the Twins and Yankees, respectively, but the odds don’t reflect that slim of a difference. DraftKings has Cleveland +265 and Tampa +350, and those are strong odds for teams that could easily win outright.”
In the American League, the Minnesota Twins are one of Potts’ favorite bets for the short season.
“Their offense remains loaded, and they already had a very solid bullpen even before adding Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard.”
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2020 MLB Longshot Futures Bets and Predictions
So does a team further down the odds board really have a chance in this season’s sprint to the World Series? Potts believes so.
Confessing its tough to get excited about underdogs in the American League with how good the top teams are, Potts does appreciate what the Texas Rangers have done with their rotation.
“They are a boom or bust offense, but if guys like Joey Gallo, Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor all get hot at the same time, they could be interesting.”
That’s about as far down as Potts’ eyes go.
From the National League, he’s looking at the Padres and the Reds, which are between +3500 and +4000 to win the World Series and roughly +2000 to win the NL pennant.
When it comes to true longshots, Carty thinks one angle is flying below bettors’ radars: MVP odds for ace pitchers.
The MVP awards aren’t normally given to pitchers, but it’s not unprecedented.
Though the last ten MVP awards have gone to non-pitchers, Clayton Kershaw won MVP in 2014 and Justin Verlander became the first pitcher to win the award in 2012 since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.
“In a shortened season, pitcher rate stats will look really good for the guys who are on the right side of variance,” Carty explains while laying out a possible scenario.
“If, say, deGrom gives up six runs all year and finishes with like a 0.70 ERA, that’s going to look really good and will be hard for voters to ignore, especially when the league leader in home runs finishes with maybe 22 or the RBI leader with 45.”
DeGrom and Scherzer are both +4000 to win the NL MVP at PointsBet, while 2014 MVP winner Clayton Kershaw is mysteriously missing from the betting board, at least for now. In the AL, Gerrit Cole is +5000 to win MVP at DraftKings.
If MVP pitchers aren’t your thing, Carty has one more longshot bet worthy of consideration.
“Nelson Cruz at 125-to-1 to win MVP at DraftKings seems about as good of a long-shot bet as you can get. One of the best hitters in the game, on a team projected to win their division, and his odds are worse than four of his lesser teammates (Jorge Polanco 80-to-1, Luis Arraez 100-to-1)?”
Cruz’s odds are even better at BetMGM where he’s +15000 (150-to-1).
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Derek Carty, a contributor at ESPN and RotoGrinders, is the creator of THE BAT, the most sophisticated MLB DFS projection system on the market. To use THE BAT this MLB season, click here!
Dave Potts, AKA CheeseIsGood, is one of the preeminent baseball minds in all of fantasy. A two-time winner of a million-dollar first place prize in DFS, Potts has won contests at the highest levels of both season-long and DFS. Subscribe to RotoGrinders Core package for more from Potts during the 2020 MLB season.