With the MLB season winding down, now is the time to get those futures in before it’s too late. The World Series always offers some really great odds, but it comes with plenty of risks and is usually difficult to predict. It’ll be especially hard this season with 16 teams making the playoffs. Picking an AL or NL champ instead still offers great payouts while cutting out some of the guesswork. Matchups are easier to predict and because of the extra round of games, the odds are much higher than in past years.
Some major changes are in place for this year’s unique playoff format. Many of these changes were released weeks ago, expanding the playoffs to 8 teams from each league, but just recently the “bubble locations” for each round were announced.
The opening Wild Card round will be a best of three-game series, all taking place at the home field of the higher-seeded team. The ALDS will be played at Dodger Stadium and San Diego’s Petco Park, with the ALCS being played at Petco, as well. Both parks are historically known as pitchers parks, yet this season those two teams have practically lead the major leagues in home runs. The weather is still going to be warm in Southern California, so expect some high scoring affairs.
Another HUGE factor when predicting who will actually come out on top is that there will be no off days during a series. The three-game series will be played over three consecutive days, the 5 game series over 5 days, and the 7 over 7. This will have an enormous impact on teams, obviously giving the advantage to clubs with the deepest staff. While there may be some top aces who can pitch on 4 days rest, most teams will need to count on their fourth or even fifth starter to pitch in possibly deciding games. It’ll be interesting to see how teams deploy their starters and in what order. Either way, teams with the deepest staff will have the biggest advantage and that must be considered when choosing a winner.
Once the seeding is set the odds will drop limiting the value of the wagers, so act now! Here are the best values when it comes to picking the American League Champions for this strange 2020 season.
New York Yankees +360
First off, don’t sleep on the New York Yankees. They don’t have as deep of a starting staff as some of the other teams do, but their younger guys have stepped in and shown they are more than capable of getting the job done. They still, of course, have last year’s Cy Young runner up, Gerrit Cole, whose playoff ERA in Houston over the past two years was 2.17 in just under 50 innings. And the bullpen, while it’s had its troubles, is still a well above average group.
None of that may matter, however, when the lineup is consistently scoring over ten runs. The positional players are all FINALLY healthy, and if they can stay that way over the next few days, you have to believe the Yankees are the favorite to win the AL. To have DJ LeMahieu and his AL-leading .360 BA leading off, followed by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and MLB’s home run champ Luke Voit batting fourth, is an absurd murderers row for any opposing pitcher to have to face. That’s not to mention Clint Frazier and Gio Urshela, who are both destroying the ball as well.
The payout may be a bit low coming in just under 4 to 1, but in my mind, they are the favorites to make the World Series. Grab them now before the odds drop even further.
Chicago White Sox +500
The Chicago White Sox currently trail the Twins by half a game in the AL Central and have been atop the standings for most of the year, yet they are favored behind the Rays, Yankees, and even Oakland (in some places). This is due to a multitude of reasons, but mainly because most people out there simply don’t believe in them. Their lack of any playoff experience is a trending theme, but with this year’s strange format and no fans in attendance, throw experience right out the window because no one has ever played under such conditions.
The offense absolutely mashes. Tim Anderson leads the way with his .346 BA, while Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez bash home run after home run driving in a total of 98 RBI between them. Luis Robert has taken no time acclimating to major league pitching and currently has 11 home runs and 30 RBI to go along with 8 SB’s. He also plays stellar defense in center field.
The pitching is extremely solid, as well. The Chi-Sox currently rank 4th in ERA among all 30 teams and limit home runs remarkably well. They allow just barely over 1 per game ranking fourth overall, an attribute that should go a long way come playoff time. A big part of their success has been the reemergence of Dallas Keuchel. Looking like he did in his Cy Young season, Keuchel currently boasts the second-best ERA in the American League. He was placed on the IL briefly for back spasms, but it was more of a precautionary move and returned Saturday throwing 4 shutout innings, striking out 7. He hasn’t given up a run in September and has only allowed 3 runs once all season. Combining Keuchel with team ace Lucas Giolito atop the rotation followed by young studs Dane Dunning (3.19 ERA) and Dylan Cease (3.52 ERA), Chicago can match up with anyone. The bullpen has been a pleasant surprise as well, with five different guys producing an ERA under 2.50.
Make no mistake, the White Sox are going to be a tough draw for any opposing team, and with their youth and exuberance, the Sox could get hot at the right moment and tear through the competition. They definitely have the talent to do so and at 5 to 1 are worth the gamble.
Cleveland Indians +1300
The Indians possess the best pitching in the AL, but their hitting has taken a major step back this season. They currently only have one-hitter with an OPS above .800, with another barely missing the cut. That said, their starting staff along with a stellar bullpen could easily be enough to get it done.
Led by CY Young front runner Shane Bieber, the starting pitching boasts a deep squad that could start 5 different pitchers in a row and still hold the opponents to under 3 runs. With the emergence of young stars such as Triston McKenzie, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale the Indians are usually the favorites night in and night out. Carlos Carrasco is also having quietly a great year with an ERA of 2.90 and a 10.7 SO/9. The pen is also up for the challenge which can call upon 5 quality arms led by Brad Hand and James Karinchak, who basically strikes out half the batters he faces.
With a few timely hits from Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, or Franmil Reyes, who’s having a terrific season, the Indians could sneak by the heavy AL favorites and make it back to the World Series. They’re my favorite pick at 13 to 1.
Minnesota Twins +600
Sticking with the AL Central, we move onto the Minnesota Twins. They also have a very deep rotation that has playoff experience and would have no problem running out 5 different starters over 5 consecutive days. Odorizzi was placed back on the IL with a finger blister, but is said to be progressing well and should be ready for the Wild Card round. The 2019 All-Star returning would give them a nice option to replace Dobnak who has struggled lately. The pen is another strength for the club, including six different arms they can call upon all with ERA’s under 3.00.
The lineup led by MVP candidate Nelson Cruz continues to mash and with Josh Donaldson and Max Kepler now healthy, the Twins have one of the healthiest and most powerful lineups heading into the postseason. Byron Buxton has been on fire recently as well, increasing his home run total to 13 (in only 38 games) while playing his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense in center.
Minnesota currently owns the 3rd seed, but their remaining schedule isn’t too difficult. They could easily end up in second, rewarding them with a slightly easier opponent in the nail-biting first round. In my mind, the Twins are better than the Rays (who are currently the favorite to win the AL depending where you search) and at 6 to 1, they offer great value.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our Sports Betting 101 Section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced sports betting strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.