The 2023 MLB season is only a little a month and a half old, but the futures market is already beginning to take shape. A few things have surprised people—the entire NL Central, for instance—but the thing to remember is that there are still some excellent value to be had. The World Series Winner market is where it all begins.
The NL Central
The St. Louis Cardinals were predicted to once again dominate the NL Central. Five of the last 10 division titles have been won by the Cards, including last year. Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning NL MVP, perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado, and a handful of others give St. Louis a solid lineup.
Somehow, St. Louis was 10-24 and in last place in the division at the start of May. The Cards are currently in last place, but as of May 18, they had won nine of their previous 11 games. The Cardinals’ dismal start has resulted in their current World Series being set at +4000.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are the biggest story in the division. The Bucs had a scorching start to the season, going 20-8 in their first 28 games. After that, they turned back into the old Pirates, losing 11 of their following 12. Pittsburgh is still second in the division, though. The Pirates’ World Series chances haven’t changed much and are currently at +10000. That’s likely due to their lack of pitching.
Milwaukee is where the value is in the NL Central. The Brewers have taken the lead in the division as of May 18 after winning two of the previous five division championships. The Brewers’ pitching is excellent. Brandon Woodruff, a two-time All-Star, has been out of the lineup. Watch out when he returns. That’s why the Brewers are a great deal at +2000.
More World Series Value
Other top picks in the World Series futures market include Philadelphia and the Texas Rangers, both priced at +2200. The Phillies won last year’s NL pennant and started this season with some injuries. Bryce Harper is back and Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler give Philly a strong one-two punch in the pitching rotation.
Throughout most of the new season, the Rangers have held the NL West lead. They average 6.19 runs per game, the best in the majors and they have done most of it without SS Corey Seager who has played only 12 games. Ace pitcher Jacob deGrom has also been out and likely won’t return until June or July.
NL Cy Young Race
Spencer Strider of Atlanta is beginning to distinguish himself after nine starts. He has a record of 4-1 and just recently experienced his first loss. Even in defeat, he was outstanding, striking out 12 while allowing just one earned run in a 3-0 loss to Toronto. Strider has the most strikeouts in the majors with 86. He has at least seven Ks in every start this season.
Strider is given +225 odds to win the award, but watch out for LA’s Clayton Kershaw. He’s won the award three times already. He’s 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA and is proving that, even though he is 35, he’s still got it. He’s a great longshot bet here at +1000.
National League MVP
Ronald Acuna Jr. of Atlanta is the favorite at +125, and it is easy to understand why. He bats .345 (second in MLB) and has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. He is on pace to hit 41 home runs and drive in 102 runs.
Although Acuna is still available at a premium, his teammate C Sean Murphy may offer better value. Murphy hits .268 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs. He’s on pace to hit 38 homers and drive in 128 runs. He’s a longshot at +1800.
At +1200, former NL ROTY Pete Alonso of the Mets provides a ton of value as well. With 16 home runs, he leads the majors and is on pace to hit 58 for the year.
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