MLB Futures: 6 bold American League Predictions & Awards picks
Chris Sheridan gives his best MLB American League futures bets including picks to win American League, AL East, AL Central, AL West, AL ROY, and AL MVP.
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What? Do you think we are going to pick against the Houston Astros, who have played in the World Series four times in six years and have won it twice? As everyone in New York knows, they have the Yankees’ number, and it is tough to wager against an annual favorite.
Betway has the Astros not only as the +250 favorite to win the American League pennant, but also the +600 favorite to win it all. The Dodgers are second at +650, and the Atlanta Braves are third at +700.
2023 MLB American League MVP Odds & Predictions: Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge Current Favorites to win this season
Adding Jacob DeGrom from the Mets allowed Houston to replace the departed Justin Verlander. DeGrom, who won the Cy Young Award in both 2018 and 2019 while playing for the New York Mets, is on Betway’s board at +10000. That puts him just ahead of Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (+15000), who struck out 11 in six innings during the Yanks’ opener on Thursday.
One longshot to watch is Seattle Mariners starter Chris Flexen, who had three spring-training victories -- the most among any AL starter. He is not yet on the board at Betway, but that should change if he has one or two good starts.
Remember something when wagering futures, whether in Major League Baseball or other sports: The books are often slow to adjust on player award futures, so use that to your advantage.
No American League MVP betting preview would be complete without mentioning the name Aaron Judge, who broke the American League home run record last year and is now the captain of the Yankees. He was the +500 third choice behind Ohtani and Mike Trout for AL Most Valuable player on opening day, and if he is flirting with a home run total in the 50s or 60s again, we like that wager.
All MLB awards predictions are tricky because there are so many unknowns, especially injuries. But Judge had such a fantastic season a year ago for the Yankees that he became a larger-than-life figure around the majors. Guys like that draw votes like overripe fruit draws flies. If he starts the season strong, then +500 is probably the highest price you will see on him.
Ohtani is the favorite because he is the Babe Ruth of his generation, playing regularly as a designated hitter when he is not pitching. That carries a lot of weight with voters, and we saw it in 2021 when he won the award. As for the 2020 winner, Jose Abreu, Betway has him on the board at +10000. After spending eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Abreu is the Houston Astros’ other prized acquisition along with DeGrom. So, while Judge homered in his very first at-bat of the season on Thursday – blasting a 422-foot shot to center field -- Abreu is now surrounded by a team full of winners. If we had to choose between all of the players listed above, we would go with the young man from Cuba, simply because of the price.
2023 MLB American League Rookie of the Year Odds & Predictions: Gunnar Henderson and Masataka Yoshida Current Favorites to win this season
The American League Rookie of the Year odds are tricky, unless you spend your days following minor-league baseball. The favorite on Betway’s board is 21-year-old Baltimore Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson. Second is Japanese import Masataka Yoshida, who batted 350, .339, and .335 over the past three seasons for the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese baseball league. Yoshida signed a five-year, $105 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, and if he can hit in Fenway as well as he did in Japan, he might just be wager-worthy at +500. That is 50 less than Anthony Volpe, the kid who won the Yankees shortstop job.
Most players who have made the move from Japan to the majors have had great success. Baseball might be America’s pastime, but it is huge in Japan, too. Keep that in mind when assessing AL Rookie of the Year Odds.
Luis Arraez won the AL batting title with the Minnesota Twins last season by hitting .316. With the rules changes that prevent infield shifts, we should see several more players hit above .300. Last season, only eight players did it, one of whom was Yordan Alvarez of the Astros, who is not all that bad an MVP bet at +1100, especially with Abreu alongside him in the batting order.
2023 Odds to win the American League Divisions: Predictions & Picks
So, yes, the Astros are a beast, and we like them to win the AL West, where they are -200 favorites for obvious reasons. The AL East should go to the wire between the Yankees (+100) and the Tampa Bay Rays (+375), but if you want a flyer with legs, keep a close eye on the Red Sox while they are still priced at +2200. Hey, LeBron James owns a piece of that team, and you never really want to bet against LeBron James.
In the AL Central, the Cleveland Guardians are favored at +140 after winning their division by 11 games last season. Nobody is touting anyone else from the AL Central, so we would advise watching whether Cleveland stumbles out of the gate and responding accordingly. Out of the White Sox, Twins, Tigers, and Royals, somebody could come out of the gate strong, but none of them was above .500 a year ago. Kansas City and Detroit begin the season at +3000 on Betway’s board.
MLB futures odds would not be complete without divisional predictions, and the following are the teams we like.