MLB Championship 2020 Season Prop Bets: The best bets in the American League & National League to place right now

Kevin Davis previews the upcoming MLB season and picks out the best teams to bet on in the American League, National League and World Series.

What is a Season Prop?

A season proposition or futures wager is a wager on the outcome of a future sporting event. It could be anything from how many games a team will win in a season, which team will win the championship, or a player related proposition. It typically means placing a wager and waiting for the season to end to get paid but compared to single game wagers it results in keeping you interested for a longer period of time.

MLB Championship Prop Bets

Houston Astros to win AL Championship (+500)

Los Angeles Dodgers to win NL Championship (+170)

Houston Astros to win World Series (+1100)

Houston Astros to win AL Championship (+500)

Houston Astros to win World Series (+1100)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-8-1024x633.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-9-1024x633.png

Over the last two years the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have dominated the American League. For the shortened 2020 season, the Astros and the Yankees are the two favorites to win the league. But there is a difference between both of those teams from a sports betting perspective.

Based on the chart above the colored bars represent the probability of each team winning the AL Championship based on projections from the Baseball prediction webpage FanGraphs. The dotted line represents the implied probability of each team winning based on the best odds from all the legal sportsbooks.

What I found when comparing the FanGraphs odds to the betting odds is that the Astros are undervalued by the betting markets, and the Yankees are overvalued. The +600 odds on the Astros imply that they only have a 16.7% chance of winning the American League, but according to FanGraphs the Astros have a 24.8% chance of winning the league championship.  As a result, I am betting on the Houston Astros winning the American League at +600 odds. I am also betting on the Astros winning the World Series at +1100 odds.

Pick: Houston Astros to win the AL and the World Series

One reason why I am betting on the Houston Astros to win the American League Pennant and the World Series is because their lineup is loaded. Last season the Houston Astros were 3rd out of all 30 MLB teams in runs scored. The only reason why much of the betting public is discounting the Houston Astros is because of their cheating scandal. However, I believe much of that scandal is hype and when looking at the talent of the Houston Astros they would have won those games even without cheating.

My model predicts the Houston Astros to score the 3rd most runs in the MLB again, and that is because their lineup is a well-oiled machine. Other than Catcher Martin Maldonado, every position player in the Houston Astros starting lineup is projected to have a dRC+ of at least 100. This includes 3B Alex Bregman, OF George Springer, and DH Yordan Alvarez who Baseball Prospectus projects to be in the top 11 in the MLB in the amount of runs that each player creates.

Besides having a loaded lineup, the Astros also have great pitching. My model projects the Astros to rank 5th in the MLB in runs allowed. One reason why is because of their starting rotation which is still in good shape despite losing Gerrit Cole to free agency. Their starting rotation consists of Justin Verlander, Zach Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy, and Josh James. All five of those starting pitchers are projected to have a FIP of 4.00 or lower.

In addition to having a strong starting rotation, the Astros also have a great bullpen. Among all MLB teams, my model projects the Astros bullpen to have the 4th lowest FIP. When you account for every aspect of this year’s Astros team, the most rational thing you can do as a sports bettor is to the bet that the Astros win the American League at +600 odds and World Series at +1100 odds.

Bet on the Houston Astros to win the AL (+600) at DraftKings

Bet on the Astros to win the World Series (+1100) at FanDuel

Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL

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The 2017 World Series resulted in the Houston Astros beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. In my opinion, the 2020 World Series is likely to have the same result. That is why in addition to betting on the Astros to win the American League and World Series, I am also betting on the Dodgers winning the National League.

As you can see from my chart comparing the probabilities of National League teams winning the pennant to the implied probability of the odds, the odds are efficient. This means that other than the Philadelphia Phillies, every team is priced in a way where no bet is bad, but no bet is great. I am betting on the Dodgers because they are clearly the best team in the National League and their odds of winning the NL Championship are going to be less than +170 as the season progresses.

One reason why I am betting on the Dodgers winning the National League is because of their hitting. Last year the Dodgers led the national league in runs scored, and they found a way to significantly improve this offseason. In a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers acquired OF Mookie Betts. When the Dodgers acquired Betts this winter, it was an example of the rich getting richer. Betts has made the all-star game and won a gold glove in each the last four seasons. Most notably Betts won the AL MVP in 2018.

With the addition of a universal DH in the National League, my model projects every starting position player on the Dodgers to be above-average offensively. With such a well-rounded lineup with potent weapons such as Mookie Betts, and Cody Bellinger, it is a no-brainer to pick the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League.

Besides hitting, the Dodgers also have a loaded starting rotation led by Clayton Kershaw. Whenever Kershaw pitches, the Dodgers are usually -200 moneyline favorites or better. This is for good reason as the southpaw has 3 CY Young Awards and is one of the most consistent pitchers in the game. Kershaw is so good that last season can be considered a down year for him despite having a 3.03 ERA. Rounding out the Dodgers starting rotation is Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Julio Urias, and Alex Wood.

When you factor in all the pitching staff including the bullpen, my model projects the Los Angeles Dodgers to give up the 4th fewest runs in the MLB, and the 2nd fewest in the National League. Based on the Los Angeles Dodgers being the best National League team in all areas of the game, I am betting on them winning the National League at +170 odds.

Bet on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL (+170) at DraftKings

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