I have explained to our readers before why there are very few individual baseball games previewed here at Legit Gambling Sites. Major League Baseball occurs every day with odds posted the previous afternoon, leaving little time for bloggers to write, edit, post, and promote a story.
Not that it gets any more relaxed when it comes time to cover MLB futures during the season. Heck, I might tout the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series at 10-to-1 odds, only for the Tribe to lose 3 or 4 straight to an average series-opponent the week that the article is published.
But that’s part of the trick of successful futures gambling on hardball. Daily NL and AL results are subject to random chance while the pennant race is not. A newbie looks at the last week’s worth of scores and tends to overreact, yet the smartest managers of the best teams are not overly concerned with a few losses here and there…so long as the club’s long-term plan appears to be coming to fruition.
It’s all about what happens in fall. The New York Yankees will obviously be a playoff team, as will the mighty L.A. Dodgers. The Year of the Home Run is helping sluggers on the Minnesota Twins, and Houston Astros keep their American League clubs in 1st place, while in the National League the St. Louis Cardinals are subsisting on big bats despite the lineup’s struggle with contact hitting.
The regular season will have a dramatic finish if ballclubs like the Giants and the Mets continue surging after springing out of the cellar in July. But will a pitching staff that must go all-out in August have anything left by the time leaves are turning?
Here’s a look at where early-August MLB division leaders’ futures betting lines stand with about 50 games left in the season.
Odds-to-Win 2019 World Series at Sportsbetting.ag
NL East – Atlanta Braves (+1200)
The Atlanta Braves are 1 of baseball’s best road teams, rivaling the Tampa Bay Rays and the Twins with 35 away victories as of August 4th. In contrast, the club’s record at home – just 7 games above .500 at press time – looks rather pedestrian.
Pundits will apply theories of how a pitching staff can get mismatched with its own ballpark. The surface of SunTrust Park is designed to help fielders, and Atlanta enjoys a Top-10 status among defensive units in Major League Baseball. It would seem that either disappointing pitching or hitting (or plain bad luck) is responsible for the Braves’ modest record at home.
Most likely the team’s batting lineup is simply more patient on the road. In an era where power reigns supreme and plate, discipline is at a premium, a player like Atlanta 1st baseman Freddie Freeman could potentially lead a multi-faceted offense to success in small-ball contests and shoot-outs alike. Freeman has struck-out nearly 100 times but has a ton of walks and the highest OBP on the squad.
Meanwhile, Ronald Acuna Jr. is having a fantastic season at the plate and on the base paths, and could potentially reach 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases.
Pitching is top-heavy in Atlanta. Max Fried and Mike Soroka are the aces in the starting rotation but have the same number of combined wins (24) as other Braves starters have combined for in ’19. Luke Jackson is a closer in his prime with 17 saves on the season.
Washington (+2500) is getting more national World Series hype than the Philadelphia Phillies (+2500) despite the Nationals having struggled in spring and remaining 7 games back of the Braves.
But don’t sleep on the New York Mets (+4000), a club which has roared out of the All-Star Break and could play a role in the NL Wild Card chase. The Mets crushed the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-2 in a rubber match on Sunday as Todd Frazier, and J.D. Davis combined for 5 hits and 6 RBIs.
New York has only lost 1 ballgame in its last 10 outings.
NL Central – Chicago Cubs (+1600)
St. Louis poked its nose into the NL Central lead at the beginning of August, but the Chicago Cubs are again the front-runners and almost certainly the deeper ballclub. Pundits and fans in the Gateway City are beside themselves that the Cardinals have not taken over a division that looks surprisingly ripe for the picking. Cubs supporters seem to have more confidence as the summer goes on.
A tightly-packed division amounts to more than an opportunity for trailing clubs. It also means that just about any series can be won or lost. Chicago dropped 2 out of 3 ballgames to the Redbirds last week but rebounded with a sterling sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. The 7-2 win at Wrigley Field on Sunday was especially impressive – Windy City batters ground down the Brew Crew with runs in 5 out of 8 innings, and relievers Derek Holland and Tyler Chatwood shined alongside starter Yu Darvish.
The Cubbies are dealing with some injuries that could keep the ballclub’s futures line-to-win the MLB title at a nice long payoff until September. Batters like Anthony Rizzo are crucial to the team’s success, but the best reason to tout Chicago remains the pitching. Only Darvish has a losing record among players in the Cubs’ starting rotation – he also leads the club with about 150 Ks and has shown signs of rounding into form.
Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester are better than their ordinary W/L records indicate, and veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler has been a quiet workhorse.
Futures odds on the Cardinals are still (+2000) at Sportsbetting.ag, an inflated number for an historic team that some fans just can’t imagine losing-out in the pennant race. Milwaukee boasts the next-shortest World Series line from the NL Central at (+4000).
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers (+300)
When picking out a futures wager on a 10-to-1 or even a 5-to-1 ballclub, the successful speculator can afford to hedge on a few analyses. The gambler is looking for a team with a high ceiling that could conceivably win in late October.
But when MLB betting sites are giving a club 3-to-1 or (+300) odds such as the World Series championship line currently affixed to the L.A. Dodgers, a different basis for handicapping comes into play. To go-in for a steep price like (+300) the ‘capper must conclude that the club has so much firepower and depth that postseason opponents ought not to prevail even if they’re lucky.
The Bums certainly appear to qualify at a glance. L.A. has spent most of the season merely crushing the NL West, a division that they currently lead by 17 (!) games over Arizona and San Francisco. Most recently the Dodgers took 3 of 4 from the San Diego Padres, including a thrilling 11-10 win in which veteran infielder Max Muncy starred with 4 hits and nailed a winner in the 9th inning.
Cody Bellinger is batting well over .300 and has somehow slugged 36 home runs while only striking out 75 times, calling Freddy Freeman’s plate discipline and raising it. Muncy is slugging at about a .900 clip, and Justin Turner is 1 of 5 Dodgers with 20+ doubles on the season.
The starting rotation is simply extraordinary, with Hyun-Jun Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw combining for 31 wins and just 6 losses in early August. Kenley Jansen is a solid closing relief pitcher who has struck out 57 batters and posted a WHIP of 1.031.
If there’s a weakness it’s fielding – the Dodgers are nearly last in Major League Baseball in defensive stats. I’m inclined to be skeptical of the numbers since the Bums have won so many lopsided games and shuffled the lineup to rest superstars. Fielders aren’t as finely tuned-in when it’s 9-1 in the 8th inning. However, you can’t make the MLB’s 2nd-worst 83 errors part of any “complete team” boast about the L.A. Dodgers. They’re an excellent team in all ways…except for fielding.
The San Francisco Giants (+5000) are the most interesting potential Wild Card bid from the National League West, a club that appeared dead-in-the-water on offense but which has been lights-out in both halves of innings since the All-Star Break and is now cracking the .500 mark after months in the doldrums.
AL East: World Series Odds on the New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers stand at (+350) to win the 2019 World Series according to Sportsbetting.ag, and it’s interesting to look back at how New York was able to overcome so many injuries to lead the pack in the AL East almost from the outset of spring.
I always thought that the Yanks would make a solid futures pick this season – and I even thought that the minor bumps and bruises plaguing the club in spring training would lead to fresh horses for the stretch run. What I didn’t anticipate is that the ball team would not even need to heal before asserting its dominance over a strong American League division.
Heck, it’s not as if the injury bug was a product of March only. Several top-notch Bronx starters are currently on the 10-Day Disabled List (or worse) alongside starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia. But even with 5/9ths of a batting lineup in place the Yankees still whipped the rival Boston Red Sox in 4 straight over the weekend.
Oh, and it’s not that the Pinstripes are just “doing all of the little things” right. New York is 26th in the league in errors made.
The club is getting by on muscle, pitching, and determination. Several players could be headed for 30+ home runs in a season full of dingers, but what sets the Yankee lineup apart is its ability to bat for controlled contact. D.J. LeMahieu is .336 at the plate and has only struck out 61 times in nearly 100 ballgames. Fellow infielder Luke Voit is a strikeout king by comparison, but Voit is still hitting almost .280 with 54 RBIs. Aaron Judge could be starting to round into shape and is on pace to score more runs-per-outing than he did in 2018.
Domingo German is exceptional and of tremendous value for the Yankees with a 14-2 record and a $500,000-a-year salary.
Here’s predicting the Dominican’s next MLB contract will be far richer.
The Bronx attractions named Tanaka, Happ, and Paxton (a firm of lawyers or a Vaudeville act, take your pick) don’t have ERAs to write home about. But the rotation is strong and getting stronger, and I don’t mean that like George W. Bush did when talking about the economy in 2006. It’s a batter’s year. Winning W/L records are all you want from the mound.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing wrong with a bullpen that can trot-out Aroldis Chapman whenever things get hairy.
The Tampa Bay Rays (+2500) are an exciting market, considering that while the price is right on an excellent ballclub, the Rays will almost certainly face more playoff rounds than the Yankees or Dodgers will. Boston (+3300) wears Beantown disgust all over its suddenly-longer World Series gambling line as the Red Sox had threatened a charge at the pennant only to be “Judge’d” in multiple, devastating series losses to the Yanks.
AL Central – Minnesota Twins (+1400)
The Twins could be a sneaky-good futures wager simply because they’re the most solid club in MLB that isn’t getting an overdose of championship hype.
Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with a ball team on an early-August hot streak, out-pacing the powerful Cleveland Indians (+1600) in a top-heavy AL Central division. Minnesota has been feasting on poor clubs to help secure a bid in the postseason, taking series against the Chicago White Sox and the Miami Marlins before whipping the KC Royals in 3 straight games.
Every starting member of the Twins is in double-digit home runs, and only 1 player is slugging significantly below .500 – that’s Jonathan Schoop, and he’s still going 44 RBIs and 19 doubles in 2019.
When opposing hurlers’ mistakes are getting spanked into the cheap seats, the pitching staff must only proceed with caution and focus on giving up less long balls. Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson make a formidable pair in the rotation, and each is whiffing a ton of batters who wheel for the yard while trying to come-from-behind against 4 and 5-run leads for Minnesota.
Gamblers like a club that can win with small-ball and shut-down pitching when needed, which might explain the more-optimistic if slightly-longer Las Vegas line on the Indians. The 2019 All-Star Game hosts are playing excellent baseball, defending the hell of out Progressive Field with a .985 defense and a 36-23 home record, and recently swept a resurgent L.A. Angels team…likely putting the Halos out of the ’19 postseason chase once and for all.
I won’t be the 1st or the last sportswriter to make puns about “Carlos Santana’s many hits,” but every now and then the other Cleveland batters could take a clue from Santana’s disciplined contact batting. The 1st baseman has a sub-.300 average (slightly) and has batted-in 63 runs, but he’s also walked 78 times and leads the club in runs scored. A masterpiece!
Yes, 24 home runs will artificially inflate batting and base running numbers, but heck…24 homers is pretty average for a big man these days.
The Tribe enjoys the services of excellent hurlers like Shane Bieber, whose 11-4 record is helping to keep the club warm. But players like Jose Ramirez need to be getting on base more often, and the injury bug has hit Cleveland harder than a lot of ballclubs in summer.
We’ll know more about the Twins vs. Indians race when the clubs meet for a 4-game series that concludes at Target Field on Sunday 8/11.
Wait, or will we? Sometimes those emotional home runs, sweeps, grudge-match closers, and other elements of a 3 or 4-game series can overwhelm recreational gamblers’ sense of perspective. A series played on dog day afternoons does not necessarily bear on the outcomes on autumn. That won’t stop excited fans from placing impulse-bets while a sweep is happening.
The best advice for MLB bettors is to wait for whoever loses the Cleveland at Minnesota series to move in price at the sportsbook, then pounce on the “losers” who are just-as-solid a long-term wager.
AL West – Houston Astros (+300)
Houston, they just don’t have that many problems.
The Houston Astros may have the easiest waltz into the playoffs of any American League ballclub. The Oakland A’s (+400) are technically pushing the ‘Stros at single-digit games back in the AL West, but the Athletics are barely above .500 on the road, while the division leaders have been winning series in whatever ballparks they’re in.
Like a 50-pound tarpon that got too close to the boat, the Astros are running away from their NorCal rivals with yet another tear as of press time.
3-in-a-row against the Seattle Mariners is handy. But how about series triumphs over the Indians, the Cardinals, and yes – the Athletics in mid-summer?
Infielder Alex Bregman dings home runs left and right, but the Astros offense looks like the kind of dynamic unit that’s missing from the pure slugging teams. Yordan Alvarez is batting .340, Michael Brantley is .320 after almost 3x Alvarez’s number of at-bats, and Yuli Gurriel is an RBI king who is among the best on the team at protecting the plate and making contact. George Springer is a powerhouse with lumber in hand.
Live at-bats make nervous opponents, and that’s when hurlers like Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and 10-and-4 Wade Miley are capable of stonewalling a batting order. Zack Greinke has also arrived in Space City, ensuring that the Astros’ sportsbook line won’t get longer any time soon.
I’d like to see a better base-running team in a 3-to-1 pick, however, and the Astros just demoted their best base-stealer in Myles Straw.
Remember the Little League World Series, with batters glued to bases and the only “steals” resulting from opposing fielder’s mistakes? The Astros (and a few other MLB clubs) are trying the “Hawaii-Japan 11-and-up” system of baseball in ’19…even though lead-offs are legal in the big leagues.
Early Prediction and MLB Futures Pick
I’ve been a little long-winded here (to say the least), so I’ll keep my handicap succinct. I have a solid analytical reason to wager (+350) on the New York Yankees to win the 2019 World Series.
But I’ve also got a hunch on them. My father used to have a saying about a tough batting order, “Murderer’s Row.” He once predicted long in advance – and with little help from the spring standings at the time – that the Cardinals would win the Fall Classic. His reasoning was based not on the pitching rotation or the bullpen or fielding subtleties, but around the fact that hurlers facing the Redbirds were going to be mentally worn-down very quickly.
Even the best pitchers in the playoffs will struggle to put-out 5 or 6 exceptional batters in a row, each with the power to dismiss any mistakes far out into the bleachers. That’s “Murderer’s Row.”
2019’s New York Yankee lineup looks a lot like a Murderer’s Row to me.
Fans of other ballclubs might say that the Pinstripes’ depth is impressive but not necessarily as useful in October as it is during the marathon of 162 games. But none of their teams just stomped all over their fiercest rival’s postseason hopes in less than a week’s time. The Yankees are legit.
My analytical reason for picking the Yanks? They’re dominating baseball with half of a roster and overcoming injury problems that would be catastrophic for almost any other club.
If the Yankees are winning every series in sight against a loaded deck of cards, just imagine what they can do when the breaks even-out later on.