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MLB Futures: Best Division Bets at All-Star Break (2019)

by July 10, 2019

The MLB All-Star break is upon us, which means we are more than halfway done with the 2019 season. This is a great opportunity to analyze the large sample of baseball already played and make predictions on how the rest of the regular season will unfold. At least half of MLB’s division races look like runaways, already rendering many teams to jockey for wild-card berths. The Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers are in full control of their respective divisions and will look to get even stronger before the July 31 trade deadline. Here is a closer look at betting advice for every other division race.

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Updated MLB Odds to Win Division

AL East
New York Yankees -1200
Tampa Bay Rays +1000
Boston Red Sox +1400
Baltimore Orioles +25000
Toronto Blue Jays +25000

AL Central
Minnesota Twins -2000
Cleveland Indians +850
Chicago White Sox +10000
Detroit Tigers +35000
Kansas City Royals +35000

AL West
Houston Astros -5000
Oakland Athletics +1400
Texas Rangers +1700
Los Angeles Angels +4500
Seattle Mariners +30000

NL East
Atlanta Braves -600
Philadelphia Phillies +750
Washington Nationals +750
New York Mets +10000
Miami Marlins +50000

NL Central
Chicago Cubs +140
Milwaukee Brewers +160
St. Louis Cardinals +380
Pittsburgh Pirates +1100
Cincinnati Reds +1300

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers -9000
Colorado Rockies +3400
Arizona Diamondbacks +5000
San Diego Padres +5500
San Francisco Giants +25000

Best Bets

AL Central: Indians +850
If this article was written three weeks ago, the Twins would have joined the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers as a team that had its division locked up. However, the Indians have found life recently with a 22-9 record since June 1. Cleveland currently holds the second wild-card spot and closed the gap in the AL Central to 5.5 games.

Betting the Indians at this point still comes with some risk. Their front office is weighing the options of buying or selling at the trade deadline. They know how much they could overhaul their farm system by trading top-of-the-rotation starters Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Kluber will still be out for quite some time as he recovers from a broken arm, and the team received more devastating news after Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia.

However, the Indians have more than enough arms in Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber. Look for their front office to be aggressive at the trade deadline and add a middle-of-the-order bat to help Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and Jose Ramirez. Cleveland gets Minnesota at home for three games right after the All-Star break. Winning that series will give their front office the confidence to “go for it” and catch the Twins for the AL Central crown.

NL East: Nationals +750
The Nationals were another team buried in their own division race early in the season. However, they own an MLB-best 28-11 record since May 24 and have closed Atlanta’s NL East to six games. The biggest reasons for their early-season struggles were injuries and a historically bad bullpen. Their spark plug and leadoff man, Trea Turner, missed 39 games while recovering from a broken finger while Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Matt Adams also spent time on the IL. Their bullpen has pitched better of late, especially after adding Fernando Rodney, who will lighten the load for closer Sean Doolittle.

Look for GM Mike Rizzo to be aggressive at the trade deadline, knowing that his window for contention is closing quickly. The Nationals trot out Cy Young candidates Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg every two out of five days while Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez offer great depth at the back of their rotation. With a deeper bullpen and the lineup being the healthiest it has been all season, the Nationals are a great bet to keep their positive momentum going and chase down the Braves for the NL East title.

NL Central: Cubs +140
The NL Central is either a bettor’s paradise or nightmare. The 4.5 games that separate the first-place Cubs from the last-place Reds is smaller than the lead between any other division’s first and second-place teams. The tight race is the reason why all teams can currently be bet at plus money.

Although this race feels like it will come down to the last day, the Cubs could create some breathing room earlier. Theo Epstein has looked like a genius at past trade deadlines, and he will aim to add to the club’s starting pitching and bullpen depth. No other team in the division has the trade pieces or payroll that the Cubs do, which is a significant advantage when trying to upgrade rosters. While the Brewers won the NL Central last year in a one-game playoff against the Cubs, this year’s team has sputtered for the last month or so. Milwaukee is way too reliant on MVP candidate Christian Yelich and has gotten little production from multiple lineup spots all year.

Both the Brewers and Cardinals have serious pitching issues that will limit their success going forward. The Pirates and Reds, meanwhile, have played over their heads to this point in the season. The Pirates seem content to build for the future and not go all in this year, and the Reds are not consistent enough to surpass the other four teams. Getting the Cubs at plus money seems like a steal, even considering how tight the race currently is. Look for them to rely on the championship pedigree and experience of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez to wrap up the division before the last week of the season.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive.