Betting opens on MLB’s shortened 2020 season, bookmakers get creative with props

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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We are on for a 60-game MLB season, and bookmakers around the country are hard at work posting futures odds, win totals and props for bettors to play.

Opening Day for the Covid-delayed 2020 campaign is set for either July 23 or 24. The regular season is scheduled to conclude September 27, with 10 teams advancing to the playoffs under the format that’s been in place since 2012. 

The Dodgers and Yankees sit atop betting boards, with PointsBet dealing both teams at win totals of 38.5 and odds to win the World Series at +375. The Astros are the only other team with World Series odds in the single digits (7/1 or +700).

There are several teams of regional interest clustered in the middle of the futures market pack, with the Cubs, Cardinals and Indians all priced at 22/1 odds to be crowned 2020 champions, and the White Sox and Reds at 33/1.

From an overall win totals market perspective, the OVERs are overvalued. While the sum of the win totals at PointsBet is 915, the 30 teams will combine to win only 900 games in this 60-game season.  Three MLB analysts at ESPN project the team with the best record to accumulate wins in the low 40s, but there is more value to be found with the UNDERs.

Win total handicappers, as always, should give a hard look at the schedule, which has teams playing their four divisional opponents 10 times each, with the remaining 20 games against interleague opponents in the same geographic region (AL East teams will play teams from the NL East, etc).

Props time

Oddsmakers are enticing bettors with creative props based around the notion that the truncated season will produce statistical anomalies. SuperBook USA, for example, opened betting on whether any player will bat .400.  The ‘Yes’ side of the .400 prop took early money, as it opened +800 and has been bet down to +700, with ‘No’ priced at -1100.

While the chances of batting .400 increase in a significantly shortened season, there’s still plenty of doubt it will happen. The three ESPN experts are unanimous in their skepticism, and history doesn’t bode well for ‘No’ bettors to cash at long odds, even over just 60 games.

Station Casinos, meanwhile, is offering a prop on most home runs hit by any player (h/t David Purdum), opening wagering at 20. That’s about right, per the ESPN analysts.  

“I would say 20 home runs is the league-leading figure to aim for,” David Schoenfield says. Adds Sam Miller, “In the past four juiced-ball seasons, there have been three 50-homer seasons, and there have been five 20-homer hitters in the season’s first 60 games. They’re not flukes: Yelich, Bellinger, Judge, Alonso, Trumbo. Twenty should lead the league, and a worthy-enough, round number.”

2020 MLB win totals and World Series odds

These numbers are from PointsBet as of Thursday morning.

Teamwin totalWS odds
Los Angeles Dodgers38.5+375
New York Yankees38.5 +375
Houston Astros35.5 +700
Atlanta Braves34.5 +1200
Minnesota Twins34.5 +1600
Tampa Bay Rays34.5 +1800
Cleveland Indians33.5 +2200
Oakland Athletics33.5 +2500
Washington Nationals33.5 +1600
Boston Red Sox32.5 +3000
Chicago Cubs32.5 +2200
St. Louis Cardinals32.5 +2200
Chicago White Sox31.5 +3300
Cincinnati Reds31.5 +3300
Los Angeles Angels31.5 +3300
Milwaukee Brewers31.5 +3000
New York Mets31.5 +2200
Philadelphia Phillies31.5 +2200
San Diego Padres31.5 +4000
Arizona Diamondbacks30.5 +5000
Texas Rangers29.5 +8000
Colorado Rockies27.5 +10000
Toronto Blue Jays26.5 +8000
Pittsburgh Pirates25.5 +20000
San Francisco Giants25.5 +20000
Kansas City Royals24.5 +30000
Miami Marlins24.5 +30000
Seattle Mariners24.5 +30000
Detroit Tigers21.5 +30000
Baltimore Orioles 20.5 +30000