The Major League Baseball Playoffs can be a great time to bet on sports while grinding poker for rakeback as you can make a bet now and see how it turns out by the end of October or early November, meaning a short turn around unlike many sports that see their playoffs drag on for nearly two months. If you want to know the best value picks for this October, or get access to the great sportsbook promotions you only need to continue reading yourMLB Playoffs Betting Preview!
While the NFL has overtaken MLB in the past few decades as the most watched sport in America, the MLB playoffs still garner a lot of interest both on the TV and in the betting arena. With another October upon us, this particular iteration of the playoffs is particularly interesting as many of the most popular teams in the nation find themselves playing for the World Series Championship. Both New York teams, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and last year’s Cinderella team, the Kansas City Royals, will all be attempting to entertain fans and bettors for weeks to come. In reality this is essentially the best outcome for the MLB as many of the largest markets have teams and the teams with the largest international followings find themselves on center stage for the next month. Without further ado, let’s look at the best and worst bets for the upcoming MLB playoffs.
This year is a bit of an interesting case, because there is one clear favorite on most betting sites, and then a whole group of teams that fit into that second tier. The favorite with a +300 line on the major US-friendly betting sites is the Toronto Blue Jays. This is a team that was right around the middle of the pack in the middle of July and then made some trades and just caught fire. While one of the major players they acquired is out, Troy Tulowitzki, they are still a very good team and the addition of David Price really helps their rotation for the playoffs. Since being acquired by the Blue Jays David Price is 9-1 with a 2.22 FIP, 174 ERA+, has 87 SO and only 18 walks in 74.1 innings of work. As last year proved, a dominate pitcher really can propel you to the World Series. Their hitting is not bad either with a great lineup from top to bottom and a ton of home run power. The problem they face is that at +300 they are not great value when you consider the other teams in the league are still very good. The Blue Jays being twice as good as the Royals, Cardinals or Dodgers is maybe a bit of a stretch, but it is what you will have to be okay with if you want to bet on them.
As mentioned the next set of contenders: Royals, Cardinals and Dodgers, are all right around the same from +550-+750 depending on what site and what team you want to root for. Of this group the Royals look like a good bet if you think that their bullpen really is as good as it appears. Last year they dominated in October by shutting teams down late. This year, the starting pitching is once again a question though, and the addition of Johnny Cueto has done little to improve that as he has been pretty middle of the road in the 81 innings he has pitched since the trade with a 4.08 FIP, more walks than you would like to see and not as many strikeouts as one would hope for. The Dodgers could be a good bet as well, if you think that their offense can stay consistent during the postseason. One of the biggest knocks against the Dodgers all year was the back of the rotation, but that problem is rectified with the shorter rotations needed in October. With Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke, two of the top 3 contenders for the Cy Young award meaning we can’t sing their praises enough in this article, likely starting 60%-80% of your games, you are going to be in very good shape. The Cardinals are a perennial favorites that have looked good lately, but not great. The lineup has some major injuries it is dealing with and the bullpen is strong, but thin. They also are going to have the toughest challenge in the 1st round as they have to face either the Pirates or Cubs.
Suggestions: BetOnline has the best price on the Cardinals at +650, Bovada has the best price on the Dodgers at +600 and BetOnline also has the Royals at +550. From a pure value perspective the Dodgers are the most intriguing bet for the best payoff from a group of teams that are truly pretty even. The Dodgers also have the best pitching out of this group of teams, and are thus, our smart bet.
These teams naturally become the longest odds teams as they have to win an extra game to even advance to the next round. This year is interesting, because in the National League the two teams that are playing in the game actually are not the two teams with the worst records. The three best teams, in terms of records, in all of baseball came from the NL Central division. This means that by the end of the first round only 1 of the 3 teams with the best record in baseball will be left standing. The Pirates and Cubs have varying odds, but most seem them at around +1200 to win the World Series. This could be a great opportunity to bet on both of them to win the World Series, as they both are very strong teams and have very favorable odds. If the Cubs offense can perform at a high level like it has most of the season then they are probably the slightly better team as Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta make up a great 1-2 pitching frontline. The bullpen is the major question for the Cubs, but if the game can be shortened to only 2-3 innings for that bullpen the extra off days could mean the Cubs can rely more on the good arms they have. The offense is young though and has been known to slump for long periods of time during the season. The Cubs would be a very high variance pick, but variance is the name of the game in October.
In the American League, the Rangers, not a wild card team, actually has the best looking odds to win the World Series, as you can pick them up at +1200. They have been playing well of late and with the trade for Cole Hamels they have a top of the rotation guy to lead them to the Series. The rest of the rotation is still a question, and the offense has been inconsistent, but at +1200 they are a great bet. The two wild card teams in the American League are not nearly as strong and really shouldn’t be taken that seriously in betting circles as they are going to be extreme long shots. If you want a fun bet though, taking the Houston Astros at +1400 could provide a fun sweat on a team that no one had even close to the playoffs.
Suggestions: Bovada has the Cubs and Pirates at +1400 and the Astros at +1800. BetOnline, Intertops and Bovada all have the Texas Rangers at +1200. We think the best course of action is betting on the Pirates and Cubs at +1400 and the Rangers at +1200 if you want a fun longshot bet.
The betting market for the MLB playoffs is much harder to parse through than many other sports, because favorites have far less of an advantage than you see in the NBA or NHL. Baseball is such a high variance sport that betting on the long shots can have a lot more value as evidenced last year with both of the teams in the World Series coming from the Wild Card game. The Cubs and Pirates provide a great opportunity for that kind of bet this year with two very strong teams being relegated to that Wild Card game. The Dodgers are also really good value as a team that has slightly longer odds than others, but maybe the best pitching going into the playoffs. The Blue Jays are the strongest team, and very easily could win it all, but at +300 they are not really a compelling bet to take home the championship when it is all said and done. Who are you betting on this October? Tell us on Twitter and Facebook!