MLB Gambling Guide/Futures Bets To Make For Wild 2020 Season

MLB Gambling Guide/Futures Bets To Make For Wild 2020 Season

Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Photo: (Getty Images)

Baseball season is finally just about here. Well, on American soil that is, as this has already been the case in other parts of the world for weeks and months now.

Nonetheless, the finish line to this lonngggg wait is in sight. That’s all that matters considering it looked possible at times that a gory 2020 would carry on without a season at all. So, as outrageous as a 60-game slate may be, just accept and embrace the madness. There will never be another year like it (hopefully).

This is probably the best attitude to possess as it pertains to betting on the oncoming campaign. Surprise and unlikely heroics are prepared to be themes — not anomalies — for such a short season, making it crucial to adjust on the fly when necessary. After all, increased variance will cast a wider net of potential results.

All of that in mind, let’s do our best in scoping out the best wagers to make heading into the much-delayed new year.

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Team Futures

Team Futures

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Best Over/Under Win Total

Cincinnati Reds Over 31.5 Wins (-115)

When Johnny Cueto dropped the ball (literally and figuratively) back in the 2013 NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh, who knew that’d be the last time we would see the Reds in the playoffs? Six straight seasons of being at least 10 games under .500 would commence and here we are. 

I think it goes without saying that streak will end. But more importantly for this bet, they should actually be good. When Cincy added Trevor Bauer a year ago at the trade deadline, an elite starting rotation was instantly formed. Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray were both All-Stars in 2019, while Anthony DeSclafani operates as one of the most underrated hurlers in the league. And the Reds have depth as well —.something to consider with COVID-19 — in Tyler Mahle and Wade Miley.

The bullpen is steady and reliable. Hell, Amir Garrett will fight an entire team for his colleagues. There’s also a reliever, Michael Lorenzen, who shares major league history with Babe Ruth. All of these guys work to get the ball to Raisel Iglesias, who has established himself as a superior closer. 

Fortunately, this team isn’t a one-trick pony. The bats are arguably just as talented as the arms. Cincinnati added Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Japanese import Shogo Akiyama to a lineup that already contains Eugenio Suarez and former MVP Joey Votto. Furthermore, figure either one or both of youngsters Nick Senzel and 2019 breakout star Aristides Aquino will keep emerging and voila, a batting order that can score in bunches.

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Best Division Future

Best Division Future

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Best Division Future

New York Mets to win NL East (+285)

Having arguably the game’s best pitcher and power hitter both on one team is rare in any era. The Mets can indeed stake a claim to this feat — and that’s just the foundation for a notably deep roster.

Like the Polar Bear he is, Pete Alonso established his turf right away, swatting the most home runs (53) by a rookie ever. His monstrous showing led him to easily earn (in a pretty stacked freshmen class) NL Rookie of the Year honors. It’s hard to argue Alonso doesn’t nab at least one MVP in his future. Hitting machine Jeff McNeil might also have one as well. Yoenis Cespedes, who almost won the award a half-decade ago when driving the Mets in their 2015 World Series run, is now finally back healthy for the first time in years. Taking all that into consideration, there’s more than enough lumber stationed in Flushing.

It was New York’s bullpen that was their undoing in 2019. Edwin Diaz had as nightmarish a first season in Queens as anyone, looking like the franchise’s worst acquisition in the last couple decades (north of Jason Bay), but there is no way he remains at rock bottom. That means the Mets’ three-headed monster of Diaz, Seth Lugo and former Yankee Delin Betances closing out games will be as fierce as any.

A starting pitching staff led by two-time defending NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom has been the club’s main strength. True, Noah Syndergaard is on the sidelines after Tommy John surgery, while Zack Wheeler was allowed to walk to another NL East residence. That’s two significant blows. However, a top trio of deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz is more than formidable. Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello were both inked in the offseason as fine reinforcements.

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Best Yes/No Playoffs Future

Best Yes/No Playoffs Future

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Best Yes/No Playoffs Future

Chicago White Sox to make playoffs (+205)

Much like the infusion of young mega talent viewed in recent years on the north side of town, Chicago’s south side is bracing for the same. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu and reigning AL batting champ Tim Anderson (.335) are already well-established, but the ascension of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert is what could really transform the White Sox into a playoff team. Acquiring Yasmani Grandal and Nomar Mazara to further beef an already beefy lineup helps, too.

Patchwork was done to the pitching rotation as well with the additions of veterans Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez. Both should serve as stable depth behind Lucas Giolito, which will be crucial after future ace Michael Kopech elected to opt out of the season. There’s plenty of uncertainty in his absence.

Will sessions with the team psychologist finally trigger a Reynaldo Lopez breakout? Can Carlos Rodón return to form after Tommy John surgery? Is Dylan Cease ready for the Big Leagues? The ceilings for all three are high, at least. With a relatively weak schedule, the window is open for Chicago. 

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Best World Series Future

Best World Series Future

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Best World Series Future

San Diego Padres (+2500)

Yes, I’m aware the Padres are one of six franchises to have actually never won a championship. And yes I’m aware they’re coming off a 70-92 season, not to mention coming in riding a 13-year postseason drought. But given the short-season format, now is as good a time as ever to explore longshots that can do a lot of damage in such a limited timeframe.

San Diego is clearly stacked enough to make a run for two months. Through its first 60 games last season, in fact, it had a winning record. I love the Padres’ starting pitching staff, with budding star Chris Paddack at the top. There’s a pair of up-and-comers in Dinelson Lamet and Joey Lucchesi who could be peaking. The hard-throwing Garrett Richards, who put together some dominant starts over the years with the Angels, is healthy again for the first time in a while, and is one of my top sleepers for the year. A strong bullpen resides here as well.

Yet it might be San Diego’s offense that generates the most excitement. Fernando Tatis Jr. showcased a wide array of talent last season as a rookie that has him looking like a perennial All-Star. Manny Machado already is one, and still plays at a very high level. Employing guys like Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers around those two big names provides a real quality supporting cast. As important as anything, the +2500 price tag is steep enough to hedge for a profit if the Padres manage to surge into October.

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Player Props

Player Props

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AL MVP

Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics (+1550)

The A’s boast one of baseball’s best young rosters and have a solid shot at making it past September for the third year in a row. Well, who’s emerged as the unquestioned leader of this squad? That would be Chapman.

The secret is out about the fourth-year third baseman. Chapman made his first trip to the All-Star game in 2019, ultimately clubbing 36 long balls, and he also sealed up his second straight Gold Glove. So, we have a studly all-around player that will get ample credit if Oakland thrives.

Sounds like a legit MVP candidate.

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NL MVP

NL MVP

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NL MVP

Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres (+1750)

I gushed about Tatis’ skillset in my reasoning for a Padres World Series bet. That sentence has never been muttered before. Let’s double-down anyway and place some action on the 21-year-old phenom to take over and take home MVP.

In his first major league rodeo, Tatis played approximately half the season and registered a nifty .317/.379/.590 slash line. He also topped 60 runs scored and was nearly a 20/20 man — again, in half a season. Tatis continuing to wreak havoc on boxscores combined with team success makes him an enticing choice.

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AL Cy Young

AL Cy Young

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AL Cy Young

Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels (+10000)

It’s just criminal how underrated Heandog is. Unfortunately, the left-hander has dealt with a load of bad luck up to this point, whether it be related to injuries or the unfair .294 batting average on balls put in play against him for his career. Only three times in six years did Heaney take the hill for more than 10 assignments in a season.

When healthy, he’s proven he can play the role of frontline starter with a penchant for punch-outs. Just last year, Heaney garnered 11.14 K/9, which would have ranked ninth in baseball had he pitched enough innings to qualify. Let him survive a 12-start workload and you will see the former first-round pick put up dominant stats with an eye-opening strikeout rate.

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NL Cy Young

NL Cy Young

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NL Cy Young

Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs (+1050)

If awards were given out for performances before and after the All-Star break, Darvish might have been the recipient of some hardware for his incredible work following last year’s Midsummer Classic. It was at this time when the 33-year-old proceeded to hold opposing batters to a sub-.200 average while notching a mesmerizing 118:7 K/BB ratio across his 81.2 innings.

Previously, Darvish was underachieving to begin his Cubs tenure but that was solely due to injury. What we saw a season ago after the break — when he was at full strength — is the real Darvish; the one that was an ace-caliber pitcher for years as a Ranger and a Dodger who would routinely work the strike zone with precision like a surgeon. When he’s on his game, Darvish is one of the best to do it.

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Most Home Runs

Most Home Runs

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Most Home Runs

Hunter Renfroe, Tampa Bay Rays (+10000)

A shortened season is the perfect avenue to cash long-shot player props. Latch onto a guy, hope he gets hot for two months and maybe reap the rewards after. Hunter Renfroe realistically offers such visions.

Prior to being dealt to Tampa Bay, Renfroe showcased his power in San Diego, which isn’t easy to do in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Regardless, Renfroe’s strength was undeniable. It’s also worth noting he registered one of the higher fly-ball percentages (47.9 percent) last year.

The Mississippi State product has established himself as a streaky hitter, but one of his hot runs could vault him to the top of the dinger leaderboard. In each of the last two seasons, Renfroe did take part in back-to-back month stretches where he totaled 18 bombs. Such production translates to more than a 50-homer pace for a typical regular season, so let’s hope we’re tailing the behemoth during one of his scorching runs.

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