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We are inside of one week until Opening Day, as April 1 will see all 30 teams throw their first pitches.
As such, it is time to mine FanDuel for future bets that we like. If you have yet to sign up for a FanDuel account and your state is legal, go ahead and do that.
Now… down to business as there are a lot of places to put your dollars to maximize returns. Some of our suggestions will be one-off bets and others will be tips on simply maximizing returns. Find what you like, bet what you can afford to lose, and if you seem like you are slipping into an issue, check out the responsible gambling resources.
THREE WIN TOTAL PLAYS:
Boston Red Sox: Under 79.5 (-110)
The Red Sox are getting a generous spot with this total because of the name on the front of the jersey and not because of the product on the field this season. The Red Sox are the fourth best team in the AL East and even if it wins every game against the Orioles, it will not be enough to salvage the fact that the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Indians, Twins, Sox, A’s and Angels are all better — at least on paper — than the Sox. Sure, Bobby Dalbec could win the AL Rookie of the Year; yes we expect Xander Bogaerts to maintain his play; for sure Rafael Devers cannot be as bad as last year, but that still leaves Marwin Gonzalez at second, doesn’t count that Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfore are penciled in for the corner outfield spots, and J.D Martinez looked every bit of his age last year. Also, go ahead and name one member of the starting rotation. (Hint: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Martín Pérez, and Nick Pivetta are projected to be there.) This team isn’t going to be a .500, and this under should not be close.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Under 58.5 (-110)
If you have been reading OutKick for over a year, then you might notice that this is sitting just as high this year as it was for Opening Day 2020. The Pirates are the worst team in baseball, and if they get any productivity out of a select group of folks that are slated to start Opening Day (Adam Frazier, Greg Polanco, Richard Rodriguez, among others), then they will be shipped out at or before the trade deadline. The NL Central certainly did not do much to get better as a whole this offseason, but the Pirates actively got worse than last year — when the team went 19-41. Setting a total under 60 games shows how bad everyone expects the team to be, and it should be an easy cash in. As a Pirate fan, I may have considered this as ‘the play’ if it were set at 54.5, that is how low the expectations are.
St. Louis Cardinals: Over 86 (-122)
It would be nice to get more value with this spot, but it is still a play to make. The Cardinals made the only splash move in the division this offseason by landing Nolan Arenado to play opposite Paul Goldschmidt. Assuming that Arenado still plays his brand of defense and even if he plays down to his road splits compared to Colorado inflation, it is a net-positive for the Red Birds. The question will be if the outfield group grows up and performs, but with so many games against the Pirates and Reds, as well as the stripped down Cubs, this team should be a threat to win the division and get to that over. How much the Brewers rebound will determine if this team goes over 90 wins.
NL MVP CHASES VALUE:
One thing that we often look at when it comes to the futures that are specific to players is finding more value than singular picks. Tossing out one future in the hopes of hitting it doesn’t give a big enough safety net to provide value versus adding a few people to the play and if one hits, it can cover the others and still turn a profit.
Additionally, it is a virtual lock that the MVP is coming from a playoff team and without an agreed upon expansion like last year, there are a lot of players that have odds that you can cross off.
In the NL, there are a lot of good players who have long enough odds that we can sprinkle some money all over the board and feel good about it.
As of this writing, there has not been anything really definitive surrounding Fernando Tatis and his ailing shoulder. One thing that has always pushed me from the stock of a player is an ailing shoulder, so even at (+700), we will let Tatis sit out of our plays here.
There are several players that we do like:
Juan Soto (+700) is a great place to start putting money down. Soto is the best hitter in the National League, and the Nationals loaded up some more talent around him. His spring training numbers suck right now (.182 [6-for-33] with zero extra-base hits and zero RBIs), and that is probably why his number is that high. With the plan to grab a few other folks, starting with a +700 is a great figure.
It is wild that Mookie Betts (+750) and Ronald Acuna Jr (+750) are also providing value like that. Betts is going to be close to a .300 hitter and play great defense for a team favored to win the World Series (again) and so he will certainly have plenty of media attention on him. He already has one 30/30 season on his resume and that could be made into a second this year, depending on how much he is allowed to run. Acuna is not going to have the batting average that Betts can put up, but he could legitimately be a 40/40 player this year (falling short with 41/37 in 2019) while playing great defense in his own right. Both are very exciting players that baseball would be wise to pay more marketing attention to. The media will play plenty of compliments to them and their constant highlights, so there is value and a boost here.
The Mets are the sexy team coming into the season with all of the offseason additions the team made, and Francisco Lindor (+1200) leads that charge. Lindor, like the other players ahead of him, has an impressive track record — three straight seasons over 30 homeruns, and two of the last three had 20+ stolen bases to go with two Gold Gloves. Hitting in the heart of an impressive Mets lineup and being the catalyst for that team to make a run to the postseason will make him a media darling for MVP consideration. He is also smoking the ball this Spring Training, and we like that to carry over.
So, with that, there are five players that we suggest provide value and will be leading contending teams – which makes for logical plays – but it also leaves one slot to still put money down and be able to add at least one unit to your overall deck. If you wanna sprinkle on Paul Goldschmidt (+5000), Freddie Freeman (+1500), or Javier Baez (+4000) regaining his form and leading the Cubs back to a division crown, there certainly could be arguments for all of them.
AL MVP PLAY IS A DART THROW:
So long as Mike Trout is in the AL and performing at the level that he does, it is hard to turn a blind eye to him. That said, his odds of being (+220) and the Angels figuring to be better this year, make it a tough spot to play in. In the exact opposite to the thought process that we applied in the NL, we are going to throw one value play at the American League and hope to land it.
Vlad Guerrero Jr (+3500) was a number we almost didn’t believe. Vlad has the 14th-longest odds in the American League and there are more players ahead of him that we would never put money down on — Judge, Stanton, Abreu, Torres, Springer, Anderson among a few others — than we would. Much has been made about Guerrero and his 40+ pound weight loss and there should be! He has massive talent. The Blue Jays have an insanely talented lineup. Toronto improved its staff. And, oh by the way, he is hitting .500 during spring training. If Vlad simply gets his average up to .280 (career .269), it will look like a 30 homer, 100 RBI effort that gives him an MVP nod as the Jays make it into the postseason.
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