The All-Star break is a great time of year for baseball bettors. For me, it gave me time to update my models and take a much-needed mental break from betting on baseball every day.
It also gave me a chance to look at the best MLB futures. While I made a few World Series futures bets, my favorite futures to bet on are MLB Division Futures.
For me, making MLB Division Winner predictions are straightforward. If a team is in first place in their division at the end of the season, they win. For World Series futures, teams have to essentially win a three- or four-leg parlay. They must win the Division Series, Championship Series, World Series, and possibly a Wild Card game to go all the way.
Based on the current standings and each team’s strength, I’ll go through each division and see where there is value in MLB Division Futures. Please note that all standings and records are current through Thursday, July 15th.
MLB Division Winner Predictions 2021: Betting Playoff Teams At All-Star Break
All MLB Division Winner Predictions 2021 odds, lines, and bets are courtesy of DraftKings. DraftKings offers a deposit bonus of up to $1,000 with your first deposit. to place your 2021 MLB Futures Bets.
AL East Winner 2021 Odds
- Boston Red Sox (-110)
- Tampa Bay Rays (+175)
- New York Yankees (+700)
- Toronto Blue Jays (+1000)
- Baltimore Orioles (+100000)
There are three tiers in the AL East. The top tier is occupied by the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, who are only 1.5 games apart in the standings. The second tier includes the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, who have strong rosters but are only three games above .500. The bottom tier is represented by the lowly Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees and Blue Jays received heavy preseason action, so as a result their futures have not been worth betting on all season. Additionally, both New York and Toronto are eight games behind the first-place Red Sox, which is a lot of ground to make up in the second half.
Accordingly, the AL East will likely be a two-horse race between Boston and Tampa Bay. The Red Sox hold the slight lead at the moment, but the Rays are the better team in my opinion. It’ll probably go down to the wire, but I think Tampa Bay will surpass Boston by season’s end.
AL East Winner 2021 Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays (+175)
AL Central Winner 2021 Odds
- Chicago White Sox (-2000)
- Cleveland Indians (+800)
- Minnesota Twins (+7500)
- Kansas City Royals (+13000)
- Detroit Tigers (+13000)
Unless Willie Mays Hayes or Ricky Vaughn return to the Cleveland Indians, chances are that the Chicago White Sox are going to win the AL Central. Despite losing several key players to injury, the Chi Sox are currently leading their division with a 54-35 record and are on pace to win 98.3 games.
The closest team to Chicago in the standings is Cleveland, who is eight games out. The Tribe have a strong starting rotation but struggle to score runs — something that hasn’t been a problem for the White Sox this year. The Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Kansas City Royals are all double-digit games below .500, so they’re not much of a threat at this point.
With Chicago as a heavy favorite to win the AL Central, no bets are worth making at this time.
AL Central Winner 2021 Prediction: No Lean
AL West Winner 2021 Odds
- Houston Astros (-550)
- Oakland Athletics (+400)
- LA Angels (+2500)
- Seattle Mariners (+3500)
- Texas Rangers (+100000)
Before the season started, my model loved the Houston Astros to win the division. The Astros may not have the best pitching, but they clearly have one of the best lineups in baseball. Even though Houston is only 3.5 games ahead of the Oakland A’s, they should easily win the division as their +136 run differential is the best in the American League.
Oakland has a 52-40 record, but they only have a +32 run differential, which is the 10th-best in MLB. The Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners both have winning records despite negative run differentials, so they’re likely headed for regression in the second half.
Sadly, at -550 the Astros are not worth betting on, nor is the rest of their division.
AL West Winner 2021 Prediction: No Lean
NL East Winner 2021 Odds
- New York Mets (-300)
- Philadelphia Phillies (+600)
- Atlanta Braves (+650)
- Washington Nationals (+1200)
- Miami Marlins (+10000)
The New York Mets are a heavy favorite to win the NL East, but there is much more parity in this division than meets the eye.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a strong rotation, a decent lineup, and are loaded with stars, so it feels like they haven’t played up to their potential yet. The Atlanta Braves may have a losing record, but even with the season-ending injury to Ronald Acuña Jr. they still have the best lineup in the division.
The Washington Nationals have struggled this season, but with Juan Soto and Trea Turner leading the lineup and Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin anchoring the rotation, they are a dangerous team. Even the Miami Marlins, who are in last place, have had a positive run differential this season and could turn things around in the second half.
As a result, my recommendation is to bet against the New York Mets to win the division by betting on every single other team.
NL East Winner 2021 Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies (+600), Atlanta Braves (+650), Washington Nationals (+1200), & Miami Marlins (+10000)
NL Central Winner 2021 Odds
- Milwaukee Brewers (-390)
- Cincinnati Reds (+450)
- Chicago Cubs (+1300)
- St. Louis Cardinals (+1400)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (+100000)
Going into the season, I liked the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central. After the All-Star break, the division is Milwaukee’s to lose.
The Brewers have the best starting rotation in the division, and only the Cincinnati Reds have a plausible path to dethroning them. However, based on Cincy’s starting rotation, I do not think they have the chops to win the division.
Accordingly, I have no lean in the NL Central divisional race.
NL Central Winner 2021 Prediction: No Lean
NL West Winner 2021 Odds
- Los Angeles Dodgers (-285)
- San Francisco Giants (+425)
- San Diego Padres (+450)
- Colorado Rockies (+100000)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (+100000)
Going into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres were the heavy favorites to win the NL West. Shockingly, the race is now a three-headed dragon that includes the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers are only two games behind the first-place Giants, and they have the talent to win the division. Even though Los Angeles should be a favorite, their odds at -285 are not worth taking based on how well San Francisco has played.
With a lineup and starting rotation rounded out by players that have all exceeded their preseason expectations, the Giants still are not getting enough respect from the betting markets. With San Francisco on track to win 103.7 games, at +425 they are a steal to win the NL West.
NL West Winner 2021 Prediction: San Francisco Giants (+425)