MLB Teams to Make the Playoffs Expert Predictions and Betting Odds
One of my favorite prop bets to look at every year is the series of bets about whether each Major League team is going to make the playoffs. I don't think they offer that much value in most cases - you have to lock your money in too long to make the potential payoff attractive. But they are a good exercise to look at later in spring training because they show you how people are thinking about different teams, and it forces you to consider how you are feeling about them. As I looked over the prices on offer at BetOnline this year, I picked out not the prices that are the most attractive necessarily, but the ones that are the most interesting to consider for one reason or another.
Colorado - Yes +195: Last year this team took a superstar, a solid supporting cast, and a shockingly good young pitching staff right into the playoffs. It was tough to see it coming. Now can they do it again? Up front, I like a lot of what the team has going on, and I am reasonably optimistic. The challenge, though, is that the National League is just brutal this year. I don't love the Dodgers - certainly not like many do - but they are the likely NL West champions given their depth. So, Colorado is in the wild card mix. But both the NL East and the NL Central run three teams deep in terms of top-tier contenders that could very easily win the division. At the very least, then, it seems like we have Colorado is a group of at least five wild card contenders for just two spots. And though I like several things about this team, I like all of the possible teams in the other two divisions at least a little better - with the possible exception of Milwaukee. So, while I find the Rockies really easy to root for, and I don't think they are going to fade away by any means, their chances of making it aren't enough to justify this price in my eyes.
Minnesota - Yes +215: I have been falling for the Minnesota team a little bit as the season has neared. They are young, but they are moving in the right direction for sure. But they are coming off 78-win season last year, so when I saw this price I was honestly surprised. It feels like an overly aggressive price for sure. To get into the postseason in the AL is likely easier than the NL - significantly easier - but it is no cakewalk. The Indians have likely secured the AL Central with their depth and talent, and the AL East has all but locked down one of the wild card spots between the Yankees and the Red Sox. That leaves Minnesota in the battle for the second spot, likely with Oakland and Tampa Bay among other teams. Minnesota was far behind those two squads last year, and I am not convinced that they have closed the gap enough this year. There are so few real contenders in the league this year that the team should likely be in contention almost by default, but they aren't as competitive as they need to be to justify this price. Not yet, anyway.
Oakland - Yes +225: As a follow up to the last discussion, I see a fair bit of relative value in this price. They won 97 games last year. And while that was at the top end of reasonable expectations, it didn't feel like it was totally insane overachievement by any means. I like a whole lot of what the team is doing, so I trust that they can come reasonably close to replicating what they did. Their division hasn't gotten a lot tougher, and the league is far from deep. Like I said, I like this price.
San Diego - Yes +400: The Manny Machado hype isn't such that it has driven expectations out of line with this team. In fact, people are, if anything, being overly cautious. They definitely are a long-term play, and it would definitely be easier to love this team this year if they were in the American League than in the absolutely brutal NL. But if nothing else, this price would be something fun to root for as the season goes along. But this would be for fun, not as a real investment.
St. Louis - Yes -115: The NL Central is a brutally tough three-team race, and the NL wild card is a very brutal five-horse race - at least. There is no easy path here. But I just really like what the Cardinals have to offer, and I feel as confident as you can in a situation like this that they are going to win the division. This isn't a value play, but I would happily be on the yes side for bragging rights.
Baltimore - No -5000: This is actually a little interesting. The Orioles would require a massive miracle just to win 60 games. They have nothing close to a Major League rotation, their best players are gone, and they don't have a pipeline of young talent coming up to save them. It is a dire, ugly mess. There is no such thing as a sure thing, but it is as close to a sure thing as you can get that Baltimore is not making the postseason. While this price is ridiculous, it still represents a return of two percent. And you would have to invest for about six months or so to get it. So, you are getting an annual return of about four percent, with very little risk. As long as you trust your book to pay you out when the bet is done, you can get a better return here than your savings account. I'm not saying you should do that, but you could. And you could sleep easy.
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