MLB Futures Predictions

MLB Futures Predictions

MLB Futures Predictions
by Robert Ferringo

Baseball is a game of nuance. It's a game of minutia. It's a game of infinite mathematical permutations acting themselves out, precisely, in the beauty of a natural environment. It's a sport so finely spun and so carefully crafted that each separate game is a symphony of subtlety.

And when you consider that there are 162 games played by 30 individual teams each season the specifics and the nuance of the sport become overwhelming.

However, in order to make money betting on Major League Baseball you have to be able to see above the delicate particulars of each separate situation. You need to be able to see the forest for the trees, so to speak, and be able to take a macro-view of the sport. And the best gambling manifestation of this is betting on Major League Baseball futures.

The fact that the ump missed an obvious strike and now Albert Pujols is hitting with a 3-and-1 count instead of a 2-2 count two-on and one-out in the seventh inning of a one-run game with the Cubs in July doesn't matter when you have a long-term investment locked in on one of the teams. It's easy to drive yourself nuts trying to break down stats, matchups, and getting caught up in the day-to-day bustling of Major League Baseball. But when you have an MLB futures wager you can sit back and enjoy the ups-and-downs of months of baseball, not minutes or innings of it.

Here is a breakdown of current odds for 2009 MLB futures, as well as my 2009 World Series predictions on which teams are value bets and which ones are sucker bets. Also, I will again be releasing a full compliment of 2009 MLB futures bets to my clients this year after hitting my 5.5-Unit top futures play on the Mets win total ('under' 94.0 wins) last year. But for now, these are the current odds and analysis:

FAVORITES

New York Yankees (2.5-to-1) -
As per usual the Yankees made a mockery of the free agent market by outspending just about every other team in the league - combined. They spent nearly a quarter-Billion dollars (I had to capitalize the "B" for emphasis) on two frontline starters, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, and they brought in stud first baseman Mark Teixeira. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years last season and are determined not to miss October for the second straight year. There are certainly issues with this team (on and off the field, as usual) but since they are THE public team in the Majors they will always be one of the odds-on favorites to win it all.

Chicago Cubs (5.5-to-1) - The Cubs are another team that will always have short odds in terms of winning the World Series. But that has less to do with their roster and more to do with the fact that they receive, by far, the highest number of bets to win it all. Everybody wants to hold a ticket the year the Cubs FINALLY win another World Series. So far those squares are 0-100. I thought last year the Cubs had the squad to get it done. And I do think they will be in the mix again this year. Their starters are solid and if Milton Bradley can stay healthy he'll bring some much-needed fire to this squad.

Boston (7.5-to-1) - These are decent odds for the 2007 champions. Boston was simply outplayed by Tampa Bay last October and they never really recovered from trading away Manny Ramirez. But this is a fresh season and a fresh start. You know they will be in the race, if not the front runners, late in the summer and you know they are going to make a move to add any pieces they need. Boston will be a decent futures play for the next decade.

Philadelphia (8.5-to-1) - The Phillies brought back most of the primaries from last year's title team, so it makes sense that they are one of the favorites. However, each of the last eight champs has failed to repeat. In fact, over the last 30 years there have only been two teams - the 1998-2000 Yankees that won three in a row and the 1992-93 Blue Jays - that have successfully defended their throne. The core is there for this team to be a player, but so much needs to go right in order for that to happen that it's always a tough bet.

CHALLENGERS

Los Angeles Dodgers (10-to-1) -
These odds are ridiculous. This team lost its two best pitchers (Brad Penny and Derek Lowe) and they still don't have their best player locked up (Manny Ramirez). The Dodgers' youngsters already have a reputation for being cocky. But I think even they would be surprised by these odds. If they don't resign Manny then the entire West is up for grabs. Even with him, they are short some arms to justify this number.

New York Mets (10-to-1) - New York was the best team in the National League in 2006. They were the best team in the National League in 2007. And they were one of the top three teams in theNL in 2008. They have come close, but have found a way to choke on the last day of their season each of the last three years. The foundation is definitely there, but they have to get over that HUGE mental block that has formed.

Tampa Bay (12-to-1) - Last season was a magical run. But talk to the Rockies about what happens the following season when you get hit with that World Series Runner-Up Hangover. There is not much not to like about this team. The nucleus is in place and they still have great arms at the front of the rotation. But, honestly, what are the odds of them toppling both the Red Sox and Yankees for a second year in a row? I'd say they were worse than 12-to-1.

Los Angeles Angels (13-to-1) -
The Angels lost two of their best players - K-Rod and Mark Teixeira - in the offseason so it's tough to think that they can be better this time around. The loss of K-Rod is especially crippling because he was such a stud and such a proven commodity in pressure situations. However, this is another team that battled injuries all year long. Their owner is more than willing to spend money to improve this team. That's tremendous. So just because they have some holes now that doesn't mean they won't be filled by October. Having one of the best managers in the biz doesn't hurt either.

DARK HORSES

Arizona (14-to-1) -
This team completely flaked out on us after a superb start to the season. I attribute it to a sophomore slump after this team of young studs burst onto the scene in 2007. They still have the horses at the top of the rotation, and they play in one of the weakest and most unpredictable divisions in baseball so if the D-Backs can get their bats going they could be another surprise team.

St. Louis (18-to-1) - I can't stress to you enough that the Cardinals were by far the team with the most missed opportunities last year. This club really played great baseball from start to finish - except when it came to knocking in runs in critical situations. They have the tools on this team. There is youth, athleticism, Pujols, and a huge X-factor of a rotation. They will be Chicago's top competition in the Central and I don't see a huge divide in their rosters. So you could get the Cards for triple the payoff.

Minnesota (20-to-1) - I loved this team last year and I think they have an opportunity to be even better this time around. The Twins play a very deliberate, specific style of baseball that is meant to succeed year-in, and year-out. And over the last decade it has worked. They have the eighth-best record in the entire league over the last 10 years and right now I think they are the best team in the Central. They can't win a title as is, but if they are in first place later in the year I could see them opening the vaults to get a player to push them over the edge.

Cleveland (22-to-1) - A few nominal moves to bolster the staff and the bullpen were nice, but this team still has a long, long way to go before they are in the top tier. This is a young team with some unpredictable players, and just a couple years ago they were making moves in October. But these odds should be at least 35-to-1.

Chicago White Sox (25-to-1) - It's kind of odd to see a team that played as well as the White Sox did last year in the third tier. Obviously the oddsmakers don't think that the Sox's psyche will hold up for a full season to defend their Central title. I don't know if I agree with them. I think this could be a really strong value play.

LONG SHOTS

Atlanta (35-to-1) - I actually don't think that this team's odds are nearly long enough considering that they are undermanned compared to the rest of the division. Their starting rotation actually might be the best in the NL East even without Tim Hudson. And when he comes back in the middle of the year he could give them a boost. But they could only win if they made a move and I'm pretty confident that their stingy owners won't open up the wallet.

Colorado (40-to-1) - This team is just 15 months removed from a shot at the World Series so I guess it isn't that ridiculous to opine about. The Rockies underwent as many injuries and strokes of bad luck as any team in the Majors last year. Maybe more. Their staff is as talented and confident as any in the team's history, but I don't even know if those arms can make up for losing their leader, former NLCS MVP and best player (Matt Holliday).

Florida (40-to-1) - The Marlins competed until September last year with a team of young upstarts. Most of that crew - sans some journeymen pitchers - is still on the bench for the young Fish. This is a Florida team that has pulled rabbits out of hats before. They won in 1997, went five years with nothing, and then won in 2003. Well, it's been five years. I wouldn't take them for less than 45- or 50-to-1 though.

Texas (70-to-1) - Considering that each of the last two years there has been a team in the World Series that started the season at odds 150-to-1 or better, this isn't so absurd. They have one of the best lineups in baseball and they poached exceptional pitching coach Mike Maddux from Milwaukee to work with the staff. They are a few arms away, to say the least, but stranger things have happened.

SUCKER BETS

Yankees - You can't buy a title. This team is still a hodgepodge of overpriced veterans, unproven youngsters, and drama queens. I don't like their defense or their bullpen and they don't have the speed to catch up with the two teams that finished ahead of them last year.

Cubs - Even if you think this is The Year you still can't take these guys for less than 10-to-1. Don't bet against The Streak, and the Cubs are on a 100-year run.

Dodgers - If they don't resign Manny they aren't even going to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay - Last year was fun, but it ain't happening two years in a row.

BEST BETS

Boston -
They beat the team with the best record in the A.L. last October and then were just one bad series away from their third World Series in five seasons. Great talent, excellent organization, and at nearly 8-to-1 they are a solid value play.

L.A. Angels - Playing in their division the Angels are virtually guaranteed a spot in October. That's a huge plus. Then they just need to get hot for a few weeks and they are hoisting the crown. And they worked a trade for Tex last year so don't rule out them making another blockbuster this summer.

St. Louis - They just need a break. Just like they did in 2006. I don't think this team will win the World Series. But if you can get them at 20-to-1 or better they are solid value play.

Minnesota - They are one or two arms away. But, again, there is nothing about this team that doesn't compare favorably to the Tampa Bay team that was just a few games away from a crown last year.

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