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Our MLB futures page is designed to direct you to the best bets and odds available across all the major sportsbooks. If it's unclear as to what a futures bet is, don't worry. All futures means is you're betting on an outcome that won't pay off until a while in the future.
This guide serves to help you understand what futures are, how to read the odds and to clearly distinguish between the various types of futures wagers we have available for you on this hub by way of the best legal online sportsbooks in the US.
All odds are in relation to bets of $100. If it helps to think of it in slightly smaller terms in the event your sports betting bankroll isn't that high, you can also do the math with hypothetical $10 bets.
Let's walk through an example. After winning the 2020 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers had +500 odds to win the Fall Classic again in 2021, opening as preseason favorites. If you were to bet $100 on the Dodgers and they won the championship, you'd win $500; if you wagered $10, it'd be a $50 payout.
Apply this math to every odds listing, and you'll have no problem figuring out what the potential payout will be on the team you want to wager on. What's more, at abe and any other sports betting site, you'll have the payout calculated for you.
As opposed to betting on basic lines such as a run line, moneyline, or Over/Under or Total, MLB futures have much more of delayed gratification and require bettors to have a far longer-ranging view of the season. This is part of the beauty — and, perhaps, frustration — that comes with this form of sports betting in general.
At least when it comes to MLB — as opposed to, say, the NFL — it's more clear-cut as to who the contenders and pretenders are thanks to how top-heavy and star-laden most rosters have to be in order to compete for a title. Although there can be night-to-night parity, the playoffs are the real measure of a team's true identity.
The odds to win are long because, well, the MLB season is a lengthy, 162-game grind not for the faint of heart. Single games are easier to predict than which team will win the championship — or even a division, although, with 162 of them, there's going to be more variance than other major sports.
When there are lines for single games, you have a series of bets. You even have the aid of a run line to increase your margin for error. Futures don't require any sort of points differential or even so-called style points. Scores don't matter. It's all about who gets it done, and who's left standing at the end of the World Series.
The challenge for a bettor is undeniable, but in MLB, future forecasting can be a lucrative business for the keenest bettors. Continue reading as we break down the biggest types of MLB futures bets you'll see.
When it comes to futures, bettors are most commonly going to bet on the team they think will win the World Series.
Whether you go with the loaded L.A. Dodgers roster, another high-priced club such as the New York Yankees, or this year's AL champion Tampa Bay Rays — who sported a low payroll and great pitching from Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and others — you can wager on a team to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy throughout most of the MLB season.
The only time you can't bet on an MLB futures lines is when they're eliminated from championship contention. This means they're out of the playoff picture and won't qualify for the postseason, thus rendering it illogical to list them as a contender; they have no chance to win the World Series.
There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, and all of them need to be assigned championship odds, so even the prohibitive favorites will have betting lines that are fairly high.
Nearly every sportsbook features futures bets on the World Series as a central pillar on their main pages before the season tips off. MLB championship odds are posted prior to the start of the regular season, so the earlier you jump on just about any team, the longer your odds tend to be, and that increases your profit ceiling. Unless a team makes a midseason rally after a slow start or wins the championship as a massive underdog, most futures betting odds will reward you for betting on a winner earlier rather than later.
Odds fluctuate throughout the season, and the opening lines on the MLB futures market are a great spot to land a bargain deal.
Injuries to key players can often tank a season for any sports franchise, and that applies to MLB due to the star-driven nature of the league. Thus, bettors who take the plunge early must be mindful of that. Free agency must be taken into account prior to a new baseball season beginning, and even during the year, the trade deadline alone can cause oddsmakers to drastically change World Series in a drastic fashion.
The San Diego Padres were historically active at the 2020 MLB trade deadline, making an all-in World Series push by fast-track building around superstars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. They ultimately got swept by the even more loaded Dodgers in the Divisional Series.
It's almost as tough to pick an AL and NL winner as it is to predict who will win the World Series, but the task is at least slightly less daunting. One important fact that you must know before jumping into AL and NL championship futures: there can be confusion as to whether this means the regular-season winner — aka the No. 1 playoff seed — or whether it's the eventual World Series participant.
A futures wager of this variety is indeed for which team will win their league's Championship Series (the ALCS and NLCS). The regular-season outcomes are completely separate from this, so if the team you bet on ends up earning the top playoff seed, don't count on seeing that prize money right away. They still have to win multiple postseason series to validate your winning betting ticket.
When it comes to betting American League odds and National League pennant odds, it's almost always an excellent idea to reassess where you want to bet once the postseason rolls around. Although MLB often has a considerable gap between the best and the worst, there's plenty of parity when it comes to the playoffs.
Look at the amazing run the 2019 Washington Nationals made as a prime example. They needed three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in their Wild Card Game against Milwaukee to win 4-3 and advance to the next playoff round. Washington then lost three straight to Houston in the World Series to trail 3-2 before rattling off back-to-back victories and finishing the job.
This year, even when the playoffs began, the Dodgers were up around +350 to win the championship. They then trailed 3-1 in the National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves, only to roar back and advance to MLB's grand finale in a stunning comeback.
Unlike the last futures odds section, this particular type of bet doesn't pertain to the playoffs. You'll get paid out for a successful wager once the grueling 162-game slate finishes off. So, what to consider when making predictions for MLB division winners?
Organizational stability, a winning culture, managerial prowess, and star power in some combination often determine who wins a division. There's no salary cap in baseball, which innately gives a massive edge to big-market teams such as the Dodgers and Yankees. However, as we've seen in 2020 with the Oakland Athletics and Rays, a lower payroll can get it done if you have enough talent and great coaching, as both clubs did.
It often pays to wager on MLB futures favorites if you can get them at any sort of bargain. However, certain teams are such perpetual contenders or winners of their respective divisions that their odds aren't even worth betting on due to the lack of return on investment. Such was the case with the Dodgers in the NL West, which they've won for the past eight years running.
With the core the Dodgers have in place, it'd be difficult to garner decent odds for them to win their division in 2021. They'll be something like -1000 odds, so it's not worth the risk to throw down any money — unless you really believe in the Padres putting it all together
Taking a flier on MLB futures bet just because the odds are good basically amounts to throwing money away.
Watch out for any single one of the following elements as a red flag for a prospective bet: a team that's breaking in a new manager, an inexperienced or mediocre core of players, and a bad organizational culture.
Exhibit A of this phenomenon: Before 2020 began, in a loaded American League Central division, you wouldn't expect the Detroit Tigers to make a run to a division title. Entering their third season under then-manager Ron Gardenhire and without many star players to speak of, Detroit was coming off a 114-loss 2019 campaign and hadn't made the playoffs since 2014.
Due to their roster construction, lack of recent success, and the presence of the Indians, White Sox, and Twins in the division, you can see why a bet on the Tigers to win the AL Central would be a stretch in the first place. Just because sportsbooks list a team's futures doesn't mean you should bet on them.
Whichever type of MLB futures odds you place wagers on, whether it's what we have available here or player futures such as the Cy Young Award or MVP, the tactic of hedging is always recommended when making your final picks. If bettors are to heed any tips on MLB futures betting, this would probably be the top priority, as it mitigates some of the innate risks.
Hedging a bet means you're betting on a different outcome to guard against the potential that your initial bet doesn't hit. The benefits of this are harder to see when it comes to betting on a single game and is virtually nonexistent on binary Yes/No prop bets. This wouldn't work for team win totals, for instance. When it comes to the pure team or player futures, though, it's a no-brainer to hedge.
In our deeper, overall dive on futures betting, we discuss how you can view futures as building a daily fantasy lineup. That is, you'll probably want to pick a couple of heavier favorites, but the long shot a team is, the higher the potential payout is.
You can find tons of value on the futures market for World Series odds by unearthing dark-horse contenders. Take a favorite or even two or three of them, and hedge accordingly with long-shot teams you feel good about.
When it comes to MLB title odds or American League and National League futures, that's where you'll have the best luck with hedging. It doesn't pay off quite so well when it comes to division winners. Only in the event of a hotly contested division, like the aforementioned AL Central, would it be a more viable play.
For more guidance, tutorials, and betting tips about pro baseball and much more, visit abe's "How to Bet" page, where we provide plenty of tools for beginning bettors and even experienced players who want to sharpen their skills. Do make use of our odds comparison engine on our main odds page as well, so that you don't miss out on maximizing your payouts on every bet.