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2018 MLB Betting Preview: Best Bets for Every Team

Perhaps more so than any other sport, baseball is a game deeply rooted in sentimental traditions that are forever ingrained in its fans. For some, it’s singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch, while for others it’s as simple as the smell of freshly cut outfield grass or the sound of the bat and ball connecting on a home run.

But for me, and probably you too if you’re reading this article, one of the sport’s greatest traditions is betting and that often begins with getting some preseason futures bets in.

For the record, I also enjoy bench-clearing brawls, when umpires are humiliated, and eating hotdogs while drinking cold beer (this is more of an everyday tradition), but enough about me.

Let’s get down to the business of my best bets for every single team. Keep in mind that betting value is a big consideration for each of these wagers. For example, the Astros to win the AL West looks like an obvious lock, but it’s barely worth betting at -500. You’ll also notice a few long-shot bets in here that are 100 percent worth the gamble (a small gamble).

Odds courtesy of Bovada, BetOnline and MyBookie.

All right, let’s get to the action! Here’s the best bets for every Major League Baseball team for the 2018 season:

Boston Red Sox

OVER 92 wins (-110)

Thanks to the addition of J.D. Martinez, who will join an extremely talented group of young hitters and a great bullpen, this is the best Red Sox roster since they won the 2013 World Series. Boston has won 93 games in each of the past two seasons and it would be a massive disappointment if the team doesn’t at least match that number in 2018. Expect the Red Sox to be in contention for the American League’s best record.

New York Yankees

OVER 36.5 Home Runs for Aaron Judge (-115)

Will he hit 52 home runs like he did in his rookie season? Probably not, but you can save the crappy sophomore slump cliché. Yes, teams have a full season of Judge at-bats to study, but they also had 452 at-bats to study going into September last season and he went off for 15 home runs — easily his highest of any month of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays

Chris Archer UNDER 11.5 wins (-115)

The Rays ace has topped this number a grand total of one time in his career. That’s one factor in taking the UNDER. The other two are that he might be in decline and the Rays suck and won’t provide him with enough run support. Archer has now posted an ERA over four in two straight seasons and the Rays have once again entered tank mode. His only chance of going OVER will be if he gets traded to a contender.

Toronto Blue Jays

To Make the Playoffs (+260)

The Blue Jays certainly look like they’re trending in the wrong direction after a lackluster offseason, but let’s consider that 2017 was a season where everything that could have gone wrong did. Aaron Sanchez was expected to take the next step in his progression but instead was limited to just eight starts. This highlighted an avalanche of injury issues for Toronto in 2017, but the Jays are not far removed from back-to-back ALCS appearances and their roster still features some high-level talent.

Baltimore Orioles

OVER 33.5 Home Runs for Manny Machado (-115)

In what will be a down year for the O’s, expect a big year for Machado, who could possibly be on another team at some point in the season as he’s in a contract year and reports indicate Baltimore isn’t interested in paying up. The 25-year-old has averaged 35 home runs over the past three seasons and a career year could be on the horizon.

Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber OVER 16.5 wins (-105)

This one is easy. Kluber has reached 18 wins in three of the last four seasons. Coming off his second Cy Young Award, Kluber will have lots of W’s served up on a silver platter thanks to playing in baseball’s weakest division.

Minnesota Twins

To make the playoffs (+165)

What gives with the disrespect for the Twinkies? Minnesota earned a wild-card spot last season with 85 wins and got better in the offseason by adding Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi and Logan Morrison. Add burgeoning stars Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios to the mix and we’ve got a great candidate for 2018’s most improved team, which is strange to say about a playoff team. Don’t sleep on the Twinkies!

Kansas City Royals

OVER 71.5 wins (+120)

There’s something about the Royals that I hate, probably the fact that they started this trend of having the bullpen pitch half of the game, but they’re good enough to win at least 72 games. They’re likely getting devalued because Eric Hosmer bolted in free agency, but he only had a WAR of 4.0 last season, which is pretty decent, but far from elite. Only seven teams won fewer than 72 games last season, and while Kansas City will get worse than last season’s 80 wins, I wouldn’t rank them in the bottom tier of teams for 2018.

Chicago White Sox

Under 68 wins (+185)

OddsShark’s Andrew Avery is all-in on the OVER for this win total, but like many of society’s complex issues, this is an area where we disagree. The White Sox are rebuilding the right way, but a rebuild in the big leagues is a long game. Chicago won 67 games last season and might improve faster than expected, but at +185 I’ll happily bet that they won’t.

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera UNDER 95.5 RBI (-115)

Miggy is one of this generation’s greatest hitters but he’s on a sinking ship in Detroit. Actually, the ship is already at the bottom of the ocean. Leonys Martin and a guy named Jeimer Candelario are projected to hit in front of Cabrera and I don’t trust them to get on base enough to give him enough RBI opportunities. I also don’t trust Cabrera to stay healthy enough to get at least 500 at-bats.

Houston Astros

Dallas Keuchel to win Cy Young (+2000)

Right in the thick of his prime and already having a Cy Young Award on his resume, the Astros lefty will be extra motivated in 2018 as he’s in a contract year. Combine all this with the run support he’ll receive from the best offense in the game and I’m envisioning 20-plus wins and an ERA well under three. Keuchel had a 1.67 ERA going into the all-star break in 2017 and very well could have won the award had injuries not limited him to just 23 starts.

Los Angeles Angels

to not make the playoffs (-155)

Many have the Angels penciled in as a surprise contender this season, but I have them Sharpied in as a team that will lose many high-scoring games. They made some excellent additions this offseason, but their pitching is still godawful. As for their prized offseason acquisition, Shohei Ohtani, remember that he’s still just 23, so let’s pump the brakes before we anoint him the next Pedro Martinez/Vladimir Guerrero.

Seattle Mariners

OVER 167.5 hits for Dee Gordon (-115)

I think the oddsmakers were half asleep, or stoned, or a combination of the two, when they set this total. Or possibly drunk. Gordon has easily topped this mark in three of the last four seasons and would have gone OVER that number again in 2016 if it weren’t for a PED suspension (he had 87 hits in 79 games that season, which works out to 178.4 hits over 162 games.) Say NO to drugs unless you have a prescription from a licensed doctor. 

Texas Rangers

Joey Gallo to lead league in Home Runs (+2200)

Gallo finished fifth with 41 home runs last season, but most notably, he had a 107.61 mph speed off the bat, which was more than the two favorites in this category, Judge and Stanton. He will need to improve his contact rate, as evidenced by his embarrassing all-time record for the lowest qualified contact rate (56.3 percent), but at just 24 years old, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve that area of his game.

Oakland Athletics

UNDER 74.5 wins (+130)

The A’s barely topped this number in 2017, finishing at 75-87, and they didn’t do much this offseason to improve the roster. The odds on this should be much closer to EVEN, making this an excellent value bet.

Washington Nationals

To win NL Pennant (+375)

Can the Nats finally break through and make some noise in the playoffs? Whether they’ll choke again is unpredictable, but this is a nice price for a top contender considering they have the easiest path to the playoffs of any team in the National League thanks to playing in the NL East. From top to bottom, they have a more talented roster than the Dodgers, whom oddsmakers have as the favorite to win the NL pennant.

Miami Marlins

Derek Jeter is involved in a scandal that costs him his fortune, which forces him to sell the team to his nemesis and new American sweetheart Alex Rodriguez for a fraction of what he bought the team for. Rodriguez then moves the team to Montreal and renames them the Expos (+100,000,000)

Surprisingly, no sportsbook is actually offering this bet, but I’m allowed to dream. I HATE this franchise. Their ridiculous history of fire sales is awful for the sport and the fact that Jeter gave the reigning NL MVP to his former team is an absolute embarrassment. With that said, I’ll take the UNDER on their 64.5 win total at -140 as they should have no problem achieving their goal of being the worst team in the league with the worst attendance and worst owner.

Atlanta Braves

UNDER 74.5 wins (+125)

Besides dumping the dynamic duo of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, the Braves didn’t do anything to upgrade in the offseason, so I’ll happily take the plus-money here, as I don’t see them topping last season’s 72 wins. Yes, they have a fantastic farm system, but that won’t equal more wins in 2018.

New York Mets

OVER 12.5 wins for Jacob deGrom (-125)

It seems inconvenient having a last name that begins with a lower-case letter. Anyways, that total is too low – deGrom is coming off a 15-win season, is one of the most underrated aces in the bigs (11 starts with 10 or more Ks in 2017) and pitches in a light-hitting division. Expect deGrom to have a similar performance to his 2017 campaign.

Philadelphia Phillies

To make the playoffs (+425)

Last season was a super chalky year that saw all six preseason division futures favorites win their divisions. However, we did see a few surprises with the wild cards as three of the four wild-card teams were well below .500 in 2016, most notably the Twins, who rebounded from a 59-103 season. The Phillies are a team on the rise who play in an awful division, and they have the assets to make a big deal at the trade deadline if they’re in contention. Philadelphia is a great sleeper bet in 2018 to grab a wild-card spot.

Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish UNDER 16.5 Wins (-115)

I can’t make sense of why the Cubs chose Darvish over Jake Arrieta. If you can, please explain in the comments section below. Anyways, somewhat surprisingly, Darvish has averaged just 11.2 wins per season. While still an above-average starter, his days as an ace are in the past and this will go down as a bad signing. Not David Price bad, but it won’t be good.

Milwaukee Brewers

To NOT make the playoffs (-175)

The Brewers certainly have become a trendy pick to make the postseason after acquiring Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Even Gilles Gallant of the OddsShark editorial department is backing them, but I’m not buying it. Milwaukee had the worst offense in the National League in the second half last season and I don’t think the addition of the two outfielders will help them break through as a serious contender.

St. Louis Cardinals

Marcel Ozuna OVER 28.5 Home Runs (-115)

Fresh off a breakout season in which he hit 37 home runs, I really like Ozuna to reach the 30-home run mark again this season. He took a gigantic leap from 2016 to 2017 and there’s no reason to assume he can’t maintain that production, especially in an improved setting.

Pittsburgh Pirates

UNDER 73 wins (-110)

Pittsburgh threw in the towel when it traded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole and the Pirates appear to be on their way to embracing the awful extreme tanking trend. They won 75 games last season and they’ll likely offload more talent if the opportunity presents itself. This is an easy bet.

Cincinnati Reds

Luis Castillo to win Cy Young (+20000)

Is he my top pick to win NL Cy Young? Absolutely not, but he has a better chance of winning it than half the guys ahead of him on the oddsboard. He was electric in his rookie season, posting a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts with 98 Ks. If he can maintain that pace over the course of an entire season and be given a longer leash to pitch deeper into games, that would put him in the conversation for the award. On a related note, don’t hesitate to reach for him a few rounds early in your fantasy drafts.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw to win MVP (+3000)

This is the best value bet in MVP futures betting. Kershaw has won the award before, he’s still in the middle of his prime at 30 years old, plus he should have a little extra motivation as he’ll enter free agency at the end of the season. He’s an all-time great and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him have an all-time great season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

OVER 13.5 wins for Robbie Ray (+105)

Ray was one of the difference-makers for Arizona during its surprise 93-win 2017. He racked up 15 wins in 28 starts and finished with the fourth-best ERA (2.89) in the NL. He was oddly more effective on the road, where he had a 1.86 ERA, and if he can improve at home, he should have no problem reaching 14 wins.

Colorado Rockies

To win the World Series (+4000)

This is my favorite long-shot bet to win the whole damn thing. Colorado will return all the key pieces that made up the best offense in the National League last season and has made some additions to the bullpen that could make it one of the league’s best. The Rockies easily have the worst odds of any of last season’s playoff teams and let’s not forget that they spent 59 days in first place last season before their young pitching staff broke down. If they’re in the mix near the trade deadline, look for them to pull the trigger on a front-of-the-rotation starter who can help them make a run in the playoffs.

San Diego Padres

Eric Hosmer UNDER 23.5 Home Runs (-115)

Moving from Kansas City to San Diego is a nice upgrade, but Petco Park is a pitchers paradise — ranked 29th among all ballparks for home runs in 2017. He’s hit 25 home runs in each of the past two seasons, but Hosmer shouldn’t be mistaken for a power hitter. Having a nice chunk of ABs at Coors Field will give his power numbers a bit of a boost, but I think he ends up close to his career average of 18.1 homers per season.

San Francisco Giants

Evan Longoria under .270 batting average (-115)

There’s lots of people on the Giants comeback-team-of-the-year train, but I’m not one of them. Bringing in Longoria to give a boost to an offense that scored the second-fewest runs in the league last season will help, but playing at AT&T Park — one of baseball’s least hitter-friendly fields — won’t help him improve upon his career .270 average. 

Bonus 2018 MLB Predictions:

  • Astros to win World Series (+500)
  • Dodgers UNDER 96.5 wins (-140)
  • OVER .290 batting average for Trea Turner (-115)
  • Rockies OVER 82 wins (-120)
  • Giancarlo Stanton OVER 43.5 home runs (-115)
  • Reds UNDER 73.5 wins (+105)
  • UNDER .285 batting average for Josh Donaldson (-115)
  • Giants UNDER 81.5 wins (+145)
  • OVER 23.5 home runs for Anthony Rendon (-115)
  • Red Sox to win AL East (+150)

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know how much you love or hate these picks in the comments section below. Follow me on Twitter throughout the season for stats, trends and picks!

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