As the MLB season enters the final week of May, it has recently crossed over the quarter point of its 162-game schedule. Some of the preseason favorites have held their ground through their first 45-plus games, but a few contenders have fallen off the pace. Conversely, a few teams that were quickly written off as long shots before they even played their first game are making some early noise in the division standings.
Doc’s Sports has recently updated its MLB Futures Odds to win each division as well as the American and National League Pennant and the World Series. The following is a brief look at a few teams that currently offer the best value in their futures odds to win their division race or league pennant.
The Angels started the season as second or third-favorites to win the AL West behind Oakland and Texas, but through this past Sunday’s games, they are just a game and a half behind the Athletics in the standings with an overall record of 28-21. Texas has fallen five games off the pace, followed by Seattle (-5.5) and Houston (-11.5), so this appears to be turning into a two-team race for the division title.
Los Angeles’s current odds to win the AL West are 7-4 as opposed to Oakland’s odds of 2-3. The A’s do have the top team ERA in the American League at 2.90, but the Angels are currently ranked fourth with a team ERA of 3.61. When it comes to scoring runs, these two teams occupy the same exact ranking in the AL, with the A’s pounding out 248 runs so far and the Angels at 241 total runs. Given the difference in the odds, I am going with Los Angeles in terms of maximizing the value in the numbers.
Switching over to the National League West, the surprising San Francisco Giants have opened up a five-game lead over Colorado in the standings with an overall record of 32-18, which is the best in the majors. They started the season as distant second-favorites to win the division, well behind the heavily-favored Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are 5.5 games back at 27-24, followed by San Diego (-9.5) and Arizona (-13).
It’s hard to say whether or not the Giants can maintain this blistering pace over the next 110 games or so. This fast start now has them favored over the Dodgers to win the NL West, so some of that value has been drained, but there is some solid value in their current 9-2 odds to win the NL Pennant. San Francisco is ranked fourth in the NL in scoring with an average of 4.2 runs per game, and it is backing that up with a 3.05 team ERA that is ranked second.
Few baseball experts had the Brewers taking the early lead in the NL Central after last season’s three-way battle royal to the division title between St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Some of the bloom is off the rose with Milwaukee after struggling a bit the past few weeks, but it is still holding down the top spot over the Cardinals by a game and half with a record of 30-21. The Reds are 6.5 games back, followed by the Pirates at seven games back. The Chicago Cubs (-10.5) are once again bringing up the rear.
The Brewers’ current odds to keep this ride going all the way to a NL Central title are 7-4 as opposed to the Cardinals’ odds of 5-8 to come out on top again in this division. While I am not all that thrilled at betting against St. Louis and its ability to take control of this race, there is some definite value in Milwaukee’s odds. The Brewers have a respectable team ERA of 3.29, and they are banging out an average of 3.90 runs per game. If they can maintain these numbers as the season wears on, there is no reason they should not stay in the NL Central Division race until the last days of the season.