MLB Futures Betting: Which NL Team is Best Value Pick to Win Pennant?

July 05, 2019 - 3:21 am

By Eli Hershkovich

With the All-Star break around the corner, let’s assess the MLB futures market and attempt to find some value.

In the American League, the Yankees (+175), Astros (+200) and Twins (+450) are the favorites to win the pennant (via FanDuel Sportsbook). They boast the third (+350), fourth (+400) and fifth-shortest odds (+750), respectively, to win the World Series. Their elite offenses are a major part of their success, with New York (5.80) and Minnesota (5.71) generating the most and second-most runs per game (RPG).

The Rays (11-1), Red Sox (14-1), Rangers (22-1) and Indians (24-1) own the next lowest AL pennant odds. Tampa Bay, which has accrued the second-lowest team ERA (3.04) in MLB, presents a pitching staff that can compete with any of the aforementioned lineups. But its own offense (4.58 runs per game, 19th-most) could stand in the way of a postseason run.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are the National League pennant favorites (+120), led by the lowest ERA in baseball (3.01) while notching the seventh-most RPG (5.34). The teams directly behind them lack a rotation dominant enough to shut their attack down in October.

Here are the latest odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, including a bet worth considering further down the list.

NL Pennant Odds:

  • Dodgers +120
  • Braves +160
  • Cubs +850
  • Brewers 12-1
  • Phillies 13-1
  • Nationals 21-1
  • Cardinals 28-1
  • Rockies 32-1
  • Diamondbacks 38-1
  • Padres 38-1
  • Pirates 55-1
  • Reds 70-1
  • Mets 100-1
  • Giants 500-1
  • Marlins 1,000-1


Value Bet: Nats 21-1

After opening the season at +800 to win the NL pennant (fifth-shortest) en route to tallying a  19-31 record come May 23, Washington faced a 7.5-game deficit for the second NL wild-card spot. But Davey Martinez’s crew has won 24 of its past 34 games while picking up 6.5 games in the playoff race.

There’s tremendous value in a team that’s hitting its stride with plenty of time to spare, guided by one of the premier rotations in baseball. Nationals’ starters have combined to manufacture the league’s third-lowest FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which delivers a pitcher’s true outcomes (strikeouts, unintentional walks, home runs, hit-by-pitches) into an ERA-like number. On top of that, their 10.5 fWAR (via Fangraphs) sits behind the Dodgers for the second highest in MLB.

Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer (2.09 FIP), Stephen Strasburg (3.36 FIP) and Patrick Corbin (3.71 FIP) would give Los Angeles serious issues in a series. Even though their bullpen has amassed the seventh-highest FIP (4.83) across the majors, Washington general manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t dismissed being a buyer around the MLB trade deadline.

Offensively, the Nats have accumulated the sixth-most RPG (4.99), placing just 35 percentage points behind the Dodgers. Even without now-Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, the group of Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Co. still form one of the most dangerous lineups in the game. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman just returned after missing two months with plantar fasciitis, too.

Jump on board before Washington gains control of a wild-card spot, and its odds dip as a result.

MLB betting record: 48-34-3 (+12.16 units)

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