Play Ball!

March 29, 2023

On the eve of the Major League Baseball season starting, there are some future worth considering

American League Pennant

© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Best bet: Yankees (+325) 

As much as it pains everyone to say it, it feels like this is the year the Yankees finally break through. They are healthy, Aaron Judge is coming off the best year of any one player in the last decade and they have a slew of young prospects set to crack the big leagues, led by shortstop Anthony Vlope, who is second in AL Rookie of the Year odds at +500. 

Pitching is still a bit of a question, but the Yankees should clear the 90-win threshold with ease barring something catastrophic. Expect for them to win the AL East (+110) and make a move or two to bolster the team ahead of the postseason. They have been the bridesmaid for the last few years and have not made the World Series since they won it in 2009. 

The AL has some good teams, but the Yankees are the cream of the crop right now, especially with Jose Altuve sidelined for an extended period in Houston.

Options worth considering… 

Astros (+325) 

Houston is fresh off a World Series win and will probably be one of the top-three AL teams when it is all said and done. If they get off to a slow start, you may find better odds as the season goes along, but they are the second-best team on paper entering the season in the AL. 

Blue Jays (+500) 

The Blue Jays have a ton of talent and some good pitching. The American League is wide open after the Yankees and Astros, might not be bad to hold a Blue Jays ticket before the season.

National League Pennant

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Best bet: Padres (+450) 

The Padres are the team to beat in the National League. Atlanta will be very good and will likely win the NL East, assuming the Braves stay healthy. The Dodgers are ultra-talented, but they did not make many moves in the offseason. The Padres are the young, sexy team in the NL, featuring a dominant lineup with Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis upon his return from suspension. The new schedule means they won’t play the Dodgers as often, and they should clean up against the Rockies, Giants and Dbacks along the way in the NL West. It feels like things are falling into place for San Diego this season, so grab a NL Pennant ticket before the season starts and see if the Pads can live up to their potential. 

Options worth considering… 

Braves (+400) 

The Braves are the second-best team in the National League. The Dodgers will be in the mix, but I think they fall off at some point. The Mets are relying on two grandpas to spearhead the rotation and did not improve their lineup. The Phillies are all banged up, which clears the path for Atlanta in the NL East and potentially the rest of the league.

American League MVP

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Best bet: Shohei Ohtani (+225) 

If it weren’t for Aaron Judge having a historic season in 2022, Shohei Ohtani would have won MVP last year. This award is his to lose for the foreseeable future, as his value is unmatched. It’s funny because he and teammate Mike Trout are the top-two favorites to win the award, yet they have never been to the postseason together. 

This is a short price for a season-long award, but you might as well grab him before the season before the odds shrink, He has the buzz, the numbers and the market to win the award, again.

For Ohtani, it’s simply a matter of staying healthy. For a player in the prime of his career, it’s easy to see why he is the favorite 

Options worth considering… 

Julio Rodriguez (+1200)

J-Rod burst on the scene last year to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Now, he finds himself in the thick of the AL MVP odds. Rodriqguez hit /.284/.345/.509 with 28 home runs and 75 RBIs with a WAR of 6.2 in 2022. He was a stud that catapulted the Mariners back to the postseason last year, and now the face of the young Mariners franchise. He is primed for another breakout season and could be among the top MVP candidates when it’s all said and done.

National League MVP

© Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Best bet: Juan Soto (+500) 

At 24 years old, Juan Soto is entering the prime of his career and had ample time to adjust to the Padres organization after a midseason trade. It’s wild that Soto has not won an MVP yet, with injuries are partly to blame. This season is setting up well for him, however. He is the feature bat in a stacked Padres lineup and is one of the best players in the sport. The Padres should be a unit this season and Soto will be a big reason why. Grab him at a good number while you can. 

Options worth considering… 

Ronald Acuna Jr. (+600) 

Acuna is the perceived second-best player in the NL and grabbing him before the year is not a bad idea. The Braves are one of the three-best teams in the NL and Acuna is primed for another huge season for the former No. 1 prospect.

American League Cy Young

© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Best bet: Gerrit Cole (+700) 

Gerrit Cole has yet to have a monster season since joining the Yankees. In three seasons, he’s been a steady 36-19, with a 3.28 ERA. Two years ago, however, he did rack up an AL-best 16 wins, good enough to earn him a second-place finish in the Cy Young voting. He’s also been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons.

This feels like the year when it all finally comes together. The righthander is the leader of a staff in New York that will ultimately be the difference maker in determining how far the high-powered Yankees go. If he puts up great numbers, the attention and votes will follow.

During his last season in Houston, Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA. He finished second that season for the Cy Young, as well. Expect similar numbers this year, with some hardware finally coming his way at season’s end.

Options worth considering… 

Shohei Ohtani (+1200) 

Last season, the game’s most-versatile player was a 15-game winner on the bump. He finished the season with an eye-popping 2.33 ERA, good enough for a fourth-place finish in the Cy Young race. If he can better those numbers, especially the win total, he’ll be right in the mix again this season. And his story isn’t slowing down in terms of hype, something that will help his candidacy. There’s great value in this number.

National League Cy Young

© Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Best bet: Justin Verlander (+700) 

One would think that age would eventually catch up to the righthander, but Father Time is still in the rearview mirror for Justin Verlander. At 40 years old, the righthander is pitching as well as he ever has during as he enters his 18th big-league season.

In two of the last three seasons, Verlander won the American League Cy Young while pitching for the Astros. Last season, he walked away with the hardware after going 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA. Those are Bob Gibson-like numbers.

Now, he’s in the National League for the first time, pitching for the Mets. If he’s able to pitch well against new foes, while making New York a contender, he’ll win back-to-back Cy Youngs in two different leagues, a historic accomplishment.

Options worth considering… 

Joe Musgrove (+3000) 

The 2022 campaign was a tale of two seasons for Joe Musgrove. In the first half, he was dominate, starting the season 8-0 and earning an All-Star invite. From there, it was all downhill, however, as he lost six straight games and finished the season just 10-7. If he can find his early season magic, pitching for a Padres team that will give him a lot of run support, Musgrove could put up some monster numbers. He’s a solid long-shot option.