By Bill Speros | | 7 mins
5 Huge MLB Opening Day 2021 Value Bets Poised to Pay Off
The 2021 MLB season has reached its halfway point and the starters for the All-Star Game have been selected, but baseball’s so-called “return to normal” this year has been anything but routine.
The first three months of the season were dominated by pitching and the overall batting average in the majors hit an all-time low of .237 (tied with 1968) at the start of June. A record seven no-hitters have been tossed before the All-Star Game, including a group effort by the Cubs just last week. Strikeouts were soaring. Hitters were forced to swing for the fences instead of merely trying to make contact. Sportsbooks and those engaged in MLB betting were left without any history of past performance to determine how these changes would impact MLB odds and outcomes.
Baseball’s decision to enforce its no sticky-substance policy starting last month pulled the game out of its offensive tailspin. Both overall batting averages and run production has begun to increase as pitchers adjust to a world without sunscreen or Spider Tack.
BASEBALL BEST BETS: MLB Expert Picks
The MLB standings entering the July 4 holiday weekend feature several first-place teams that received little notice nor support from oddsmakers before the season. The race for AL MVP has become a two-way battle featuring a star player for the Angels, just not the one you might have expected in March. Several statistical categories, too, feature surprises at the top.
Here are five 2021 Opening Day value bets on the MLB futures markets that are poised to pay off big if current trends hold:
2021 MLB Opening Day Value Bets Looking Strong
Boston Red Sox To Win AL East
Opening Day odds: +2200 at DraftKings
Boston entered the holiday weekend with 51 victories and the best record in American League. Before the season, the Red Sox were +5000 to win the World Series at PointsBet sportsbook and +2200 to win the American League at FanDuel sportsbook. Boston’s price to win the AL East was also +2200 on multiple sports betting apps.
That seemed like a terrible stretch for many at the time given the preseason hype surrounding the Yankees and AL champion Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees have self-immolated. The Rays remain tight with Boston but have begun to press the limits of their low-budget roster. The Red Sox have tightened up their defensive concerns in the past two weeks.
And Boston could easily pull away after Chris Sale comes back healthy and rested to lead the rotation down the stretch. Right now, winning the division seems like the better play because of the uncertainty that comes with the Divisional and League Championship series.
Shohei Ohtani AL MVP
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. AL MVP
Mike Trout entered the 2021 season at +200 at DraftKings sportsbook to win his fourth AL MVP award. Trout carried a 33.33% implied probability to win. Alex Bregman (+1000) was next closest at 9.1%. Meanwhile, the legend of Ohtani was just that, a legend. Trout was on his way to another spectacular season before a calf injury in May sidelined him for at least two months. Ohtani has impressed at the plate and on the mound (until his most recent start) and has emerged in a two-way race with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Ohtani is +110 while to be MVP, while Vlad Jr. sits at +100. The Angels and Blue Jays may not reach the playoffs. Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is third at +1000, but one could make a reasonable argument that he isn’t even the MVP of the Red Sox. It will come down to how much voters value Ohtani’s pitching and how well those pitching numbers hold up until October. Either way, you’re in a great spot if you backed either one of these players.
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San Francisco Giants Win National League Pennant
Opening Day odds: +4000 at DraftKings
San Francisco was the third choice to win the NL West before the season. Its price to win the division was lower (+5000) than it was to win the pennant (+4000). The Giants were +8000 to win the 2021 World Series. They hold the best record in baseball going into the holiday weekend despite a four-game losing streak. Their lead in the division was just a half-game over the Dodgers and 2.5 games over the Padres. So the NL West remains anyone’s call.
But the Giants don’t need to win their division to make the postseason. This Giants have the right combination of hitting (their run differential is +95) and pitching (they are second in the majors with a 3.19 team ERA) to make a playoff run. There is no dominant team in the NL and anyone who backed this play before the season has many reasons to smile.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Most HRs
Opening Day odds: +4000 at William Hill
The major-league home run race remains tight. Shohei Ohatni leads the majors with 28 dingers, with three other sluggers (Fernando Tatis Jr., Kyle Schwarber and Guerrero) are within three home runs of the lead. Among those four hitters, only Tatis Jr. at +1500 was among the top 20 choices among oddsmakers win the MLB home run title on Opening Day. Guerrero was +4000 at BetMGM sportsbook. Schwarber was +10000. Ohtani was nowhere to be found among the preseason projected home run leaders. Any price you may have gotten on him could prove to be the play of the year. Guerrero continues to rake and has protection in the lineup; he will be the best value bet that was available.
Rafael Devers Most RBI
Opening Day odds: +4000 at William Hill
Boston’s 2021 All-Star third-baseman leads the majors in RBI for the red-hot Red Sox and has 24 doubles. Devers bats fifth in Boston’s lineup and comes to the plate with runners on base 51.6% of the time. He is slashing .365/.429/.740 with runners in scoring position.
As the weather heats up in New England (see this past homestand), look for Boston to keep up its offensive assault and Devers to plate runners at a torrid pace. This price was a huge oversight by oddsmakers at sports betting sites and a gift to those to grabbed it before the season.