The 60-game MLB season is on track to begin on July 23 and as we slowly learn more and more about how this season will be played, the futures market begins to take form.
Saying it’s a unique season to bet player props is beyond an understatement. Besides teams playing just over a third of the games they do in a typical season, which should lead to some awkward outcomes, any player could test positive for coronavirus at any time. If you bet “Player X” to lead the league in home runs and he tests positive two weeks into the season, your bet is dead.
So we need to take a very unique approach to betting player futures, which to me means identifying elite value and/or making very small investments in extreme long shots. These plays are more based on narratives than numbers, as players should be able to make more of an impact beyond the numbers than ever. Here are five plays worth considering.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
AL MVP: Mike Trout (+200)
This one’s purely a value play if you can come to grips with +200 being a value on an MVP bet. Trout was -150 to win this award back in February, so is cutting the season down from 162 to 60 games going to bring Trout this far back to the rest of the field? Of course, Trout was considering opting out of the season since his wife is pregnant, which I assume is factored into this price. It’s also the reason I imagine we don’t have an LAA win total available to bet on. I think +200 on any future is a bad price, but I have to point out how much this number has changed.
AL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton (+3300)
Stanton comes with plenty of flaws, but if you look at the rest of the numbers on his player futures you can convince yourself to swing for the fences with a play on MVP. Stanton and Pete Alonso have the highest set HR totals at 16.5 and Stanton is +1100 to lead MLB in home runs. The Yankees have the potential to be an absolute wagon this season, so if they wind up winning 45 games and Stanton has 20-plus homers, is MVP out of the question? Stanton goes through some terrible stretches but can also catch fire. If he’s hot for the 60-game stretch, I’d rather play the +3300 on MVP than get paid out a third as much for being the home run leader.
AL MVP: Gerrit Cole (+5000)
Sticking with the idea of the Yankees having the potential to put together an all-time dominant season, inserting Cole at the top of the rotation gives him the opportunity to have a massive impact. Cole could start 12-14 games — what if he gets 10 wins in a 60-game season? He’s already the heavy favorite to win Cy Young and lead baseball in strikeouts, so is MVP out of the question? Normally it’s very difficult for pitchers to win the award but there could be a premium on pitching in the shortened season.
AL Cy Young: Lucas Giolito (+1800)
Giolito ended what was a spectacular 2019 season on a sour note and the White Sox won just 72 games. This year could be different though, with the White Sox win total set at 31.5 — so the market expects a sizable jump. Giolito put together some spectacular stretches last season, including allowing 18 total runs in the months of May and June — enough starts to make up nearly as many as he could make in 2020. The AL Cy Young numbers took a huge shift with Cole entering the equation but as we said, it’s a year unlike any other when it comes to not being able to trust the availability of players. If Giolito can string together a stretch like he did last season and lead the White Sox to the postseason, this award is within reach.
Runs Leader: DJ LeMahieu (+4000)
More love for the Yankees. This could easily be the best offense in baseball, and yet the leadoff man finds himself tied for 22nd in the odds to score the most runs with none of his teammates above him in the odds. LeMahieu scored 109 runs last season and finished fourth in the MVP voting. If Stanton and Aaron Judge stay healthy to drive him home, a slight uptick in runs per game could be enough to finish tops in baseball.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.