Here comes the baseball season, which means, in more and more of the United States, here comes the baseball betting season.
In Europe, where sports betting thrives, wagering on N.F.L. and N.B.A. games has been fairly popular for years, but baseball, mostly unknown on the continent, has not made a huge impact. With the American market opening up after a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a gambling ban, baseball betting could be ready to take its place alongside hot dogs and apple pie.
So if sports betting is legal in your jurisdiction, peruse these odds and try to find a bet that will keep you in peanuts and Cracker Jack.
Sorry to bore you, but it’s the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees again. The Red Sox won 108 regular-season games and the World Series last year, losing only three postseason games. They are 6-to-1 favorites to repeat. Many bookmakers are putting the Yankees up at the same odds, and some are hedging even further by making the Houston Astros 6-1 as well. Just behind are the World Series runners-up, the Los Angeles Dodgers, at 7-1 or so.
Want to make the big bucks? The Baltimore Orioles were 47-115 last season. If you think that adding Nate Karns and Jesus Sucre will somehow allow them to emulate the Miracle Mets, you can get a price of as much as 500- or 600-1.
A couple of the races seem like locks. The Astros are 1-6 to win the American League West (that means you must put up $6 to win a buck). The Dodgers in the National League West and the Indians in the A.L. Central are 1-4. Not a lot of moneymaking opportunities there. The Red Sox and the Yankees should finish 1-2 in some order in the A.L. East.
But the two remaining races seem like barnburners. In the N.L. East, the Philadelphia Phillies and their big acquisition, Bryce Harper, are favorites along with the Washington Nationals at 2-1. The Atlanta Braves, the defending division champions, are getting a little less respect this year at 3-1. And the Mets, at 7-2, are far from out of the race. Only the Miami Marlins (150-1) are given no hope.
In the N.L. Central, it’s a three-way race, with the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers closely matched at 2-1 or slightly above. Depending on where you bet, any one of them might be a slight favorite.
Even if you don’t like to wager, the odds can be revealing about which teams have a good chance of surprising, or slumping, at least according to the prevailing wisdom.
It probably isn’t too shocking to see the Orioles and the Marlins as long shots. But three teams that had discouraging seasons last year seem to be attracting some betting interest. The Chicago White Sox (62-100) and the Cincinnati Reds (67-95) would seem to have a long way to go. But each is about 10-1 to win its division, a real puncher’s chance. So are the San Diego Padres (66-96), but the reason here is a lot clearer: the arrival of Manny Machado.
It’s unlikely that all three of these teams will turn it around this season, but the odds seem to be telling us that at least one will.
If betting on teams isn’t enough, most bookies are happy to take your action on the players as well.
The players expected to hit the most home runs this year are the Yankees sluggers Giancarlo Stanton (7-1) and Aaron Judge (8-1). That leaves last year’s home run king, Khris Davis of the Athletics, at 10-1.
Davis hit 48 homers last season, while Stanton had 38 and Judge 27 (in 112 games), so the odds might well be testament to the legion of Yankees fans eager to support their favorites.
Mookie Betts of the Red Sox and Jose Altuve of the Astros are favorites in the hits category, while last year’s leader, Whit Merrifield of the Royals, is given little chance of a repeat: 25-1.
The predicted runs batted in champ is J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox at 6-1 after a season with a major-league-leading 130.
Pitching wins can be an unpredictable category. No one has repeated as the majors’ leader since C.C. Sabathia in 2009 and 2010, and bettors have to weigh the quality of the pitcher and of his team. The odds reflect that. Chris Sale of the Red Sox is the favorite, but plenty of other aces — including Max Scherzer of the Nationals, Corey Kluber of the Indians and Justin Verlander of the Astros — are given a good shot.
Season-long bets are all well and good, but they certainly take time to resolve. Action-hungry gamblers will be heading for more traditional fare and betting on the opening day games.
The result of any single baseball game is unpredictable, of course, and many of the opening day contests seem like tossups.
Well, except one. The Yankees, playing at home behind Masahiro Tanaka, are 3½-1 favorites over, yes, the hapless Orioles.
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