MLB odds: Breaking down teams’ postseason chances

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By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

Welcome back, class! Today’s lecture is about a new futures bet available on FOX Bet: Will a team make the MLB postseason? It’s a simple “Yes” or “No” answer with different odds attached.

I’ll go over a few key bets I like, but first, here are some ground rules and key resources to help you.

As I’ve detailed before, this postseason is different: 12 teams will advance (six division winners and three wild cards from each league). There are no additional games; instead, tiebreakers are decided by head-to-head record, record within the division, record outside the division, etc.

What’s also relevant involves remaining strength of schedule. Because we are more than two-thirds through the season, some ballclubs will have easier slates than others, and we need to factor that information into current division standings to place our bets.

Fortunately, we have two resources to help. FanGraphs lists its Strength of Schedule numbers next to its other playoff projections, but instead of simply looking at opponent winning percentage, it adjusts for the opponents’ strengths of schedule. If a ballclub is weaker than its record suggests, the adjustment will catch it. Also, Baseball Reference uses its Simple Rating System, which takes into account run differential and previous strength of schedule, and calculates remaining schedules, called rSOS.

Lastly, it’s worth remembering the lineups each ballclub is now fielding because of the trade deadline and health. Acquiring Juan Soto makes the Padres more dangerous now than they were a few weeks ago.

Without further ado, here are some bets I like (all odds at FOX Bet):

Mets are World Series Contenders: deGrom, Scherzer and Edwin Diaz’s excellence | Flippin’ Bats

Ben Verlander breaks down the three reasons why the New York Mets are a World Series caliber team. Verlander explains why the return of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer’s continued dominance on the mound has such a huge impact for the New York team. Next, Ben discusses their offensive depth with Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, and finally … the best closer in baseball, Edwin Diaz!

Milwaukee Brewers (No: +150, bet $10 to win $25 total)

I’ll begin by choosing violence. For both the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, the outs are clear: win the division or capture a wild-card spot.

I do not have Milwaukee accomplishing either.

Not only are the Brewers already trailing in the standings, their schedule is substantially tougher, with seven games against the Dodgers, three against the Yankees and three against the Mets (Cardinals only have three against the Dodgers and don’t face either New York team).

Their activity at the trade deadline was also flabbergasting. Milwaukee needed to improve offensively. While the Brew Crew does impressively rank fifth in isolated power (.176), they also rank 19th in expected batting average (.237), suggesting if Christian Yelich, Rowdy Tellez & Co. are not making solid contact, they might struggle. 

Their front office supplemented the bullpen while trading closer Josh Hader to San Diego. Nearly everyone else the Brewers are fighting with for playoff positioning have better bats. I do not have Milwaukee in the postseason.

Note: Because I am a “no” on Milwaukee, one alternative way to bet this advice is taking St. Louis as a “yes,” though I would recommend taking them to win the division instead with a larger payout (-227, bet $10 to win $14.41 total).

Tampa Bay Rays (No: -110, bet $10 to win $19.09 total)

Arguably no ballclub is more difficult to discern using statistics than the Rays over the past several years, defying projections as well as anyone. However, 2022 seems different.

This season, Tampa Bay ranks 20th in xBA, 26th in xwOBA and have several hitters on the injured list, notably Kevin Kiermaier for the rest of the season. They also have, easily, the toughest remaining schedule in the American League.

Where they often shine can be overlooked areas: bullpen and defense. But in 2022, relief pitching ranks 18th per FanGraphs WAR (2.1) with one of the more volatile situations at closer. Also, Outs Above Average, a Statcast defensive metric that assigns probabilities to difficulty of plays and credits fielders with those difficult plays, says the Rays rank 12th in overall defense. 

With a crowded American League and so many contenders with easier schedules and better offensive firepower, this season may be the first since 2018 the Rays cannot put it all together.

Chicago White Sox (Yes: -130, bet $10 to win $17.69 total)

While the AL Central remains the most exciting division race left, second place could still make the postseason because of the Rays’ health concerns and brutal schedule. The Southsiders could be that group.

First, there’s nothing wrong with clinging to your priors, even in August. Virtually all of us expected the White Sox to win the division and be a serious contender for the pennant. While they have been a disappointment compared with preseason expectations, there’s still time to salvage a run, like with A.J. Pollock taking over for the absences of Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, or pitcher Lance Lynn returning to form.

Chicago has the easiest remaining schedule in its division, though by only a few percentage points. They also have a drastically better xBA and xwOBA than the division-leading Guardians. Losing Anderson for significant time does sting, but José Abreu, Andrew Vaughn & Co. have proven more than formidable to keep this offense alive and well.

Being creative with this bet will help you. For instance, if a ballclub loses a significant pitcher for the rest of the season, the line for its postseason result may be sharp, but that move has consequences for who could get a playoff spot instead and who is scheduled to face that injured ballclub. 

Charting domino effects, as well as the resources provided, will go a long way to making money here.

Class dismissed!

Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, a sports betting analyst, a data scientist and an adjunct professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become a cold brew aficionado. Edward previously worked in local television, notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football.  Follow him on Twitter @EdWithSports.


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