Sports writer George Vecsey once quipped, “There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League.” Well, we’ve waited. Our armor is on, our TVs tuned, our beers chilled, our scorecards filled out. It’s been 155 days. That’s how many sunrises it’s been since a Major League Baseball starting pitcher threw a baseball over home plate in an official baseball game. Five months and four days since a major league player hit a home run (lookin’ at you, Mookie Betts). But starting on Thursday, WE ARE BACK.
Let’s recap the MLB offseason and see what DraftKings Sportsbook users think is going to happen in 2021.
Major League Baseball managed to squeeze in a 60-game season during 2020 which culminated in the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first World Series title since 1988, so of course, they opened as the favorites for 2021. However, things are starting to change on the West Coast. The San Diego Padres, a division mate of the Dodgers, are finally FED UP. They know their path to the World Series has to go straight through Dodger Stadium and they’ve come prepared. Their offseason acquisitions include perennial Cy Young contender Yu Darvish and former Rays ace Blake Snell, who will help round out their potent squad. Plus, they threw the entire GDP of the city of San Diego at their star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who is now tied to the team for 14 years. Meanwhile, the Yankees stayed the Yankees, the Mets added Francisco Lindor and his smile behind Jacob deGrom, and the Dodgers lost some pieces but are still a force to be reckoned with.
DraftKings Sportsbook users are excited about Chicago’s South Side squad, which is a fairly balanced, young, exciting team spearheaded by reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu and Cy Young contender Lucas Giolito.
Here’s a look at where the money is in our World Series market going into the season:
Here’s a look at the teams that had their World Series price move the most during the offseason:
Last season’s pennant races were half a surprise and half not. The Dodgers came out of the National League after cruising past Milwaukee, San Diego and Atlanta. But the Tampa Bay Rays made life interesting for the Yanks and the Astros, taking both teams to a deciding Game 5 and 7. So who will march their way through the postseason this year according to our users? Drumroll please…oh, the Dodgers and the Yankees. Sigh. What a World Series that would be. The ol’ Brooklyn Dodgers versus the Bronx Bombers? Let me leave an offering at Old Hoss Radbourn’s altar right now.
Here’s the splits for the AL and NL Pennant races:
As of right now, MLB is sticking with their old postseason format and leaving the pandemic season contingencies behind. So in that format, each division winner punches a ticket to the postseason, along with the winner of each league’s wild card game, which pits the two remaining best teams against each other in a one-game, winner-take-all clash. Which means winning your division is back to being one of the most important aspects of the season.
The fun part about operating a sportsbook in so many legal states is we can look at trends at the state level for some of these divisions. First up? The AL Central, which should come down to a battle between the White Sox and the Twins. DraftKings Sportsbook users are a bit split between the two front runners:
But Illinois users? Well, they’re all in on the South Siders.
And Michigan! Welcome to your first MLB season betting baseball! Way to stand behind your team!
And now the formidable AL East- which added George Springer in the offseason but lost Blake Snell. DraftKings Sportsbook users are riding with the Yanks:
However, Red Sox fans in New Hampshire remember what it’s like to lift that World Series trophy and they want it BACK.
Our other AL Division operates in states where DraftKings Sportsbook doesn’t, but the splits are still intriguing. Can Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani help the Angels to the postseason or will the Astros and A’s just bash it out for dominance all season again?
Onto the National League! The always competitive NL Central is up for grabs this season. The Cardinals may have added Nolan Arenado to their hot corner, but the Brewers, Reds and Cubs still have enough firepower and bat flips to make the season more than interesting. DraftKings Sportsbook users are riding with the Cardinals:
The NL East is easily the other most competitive division in MLB this year. The up-start Braves have the young studs and the seasoned vets, but can they keep deGrom, Scherzer, Harper and last season’s surprisingly fun team the Marlins in their rear view mirror? DraftKings Sportsbook users believe in the Mets:
But Pennsylvania bettors? All in on Harper and co.
Welcome to legalized baseball betting, Tennessee and Virginia! And good luck to your Braves.
Rewarding the Award Winners
But what about player level trends? DraftKings Sportsbook offers betting on most major MLB awards and the splits tell a story. First up? MVP. While last season was obviously a blip, the winners of the AL and NL MVP awards were not. Freddie Freeman, stalwart first baseman for the Atlanta Braves, and Jose Abreu, the power hitting first baseman for the White Sox, took home the honors last year but they do not open up as favorites this year. The longer season and large offseason changes have shaken the markets up a bit. In the NL, the favorite is Juan Soto, who already has a World Series Trophy, a silver slugger, a batting title and nothing but the sky as the limit. DraftKings Sportsbook users agree with our line makers but still see value in Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado and Francisco Lindor as well. So who will claim the title? The old guard? The new guard? A PITCHER!?
The AL is a fun different story. The entire baseball world is excited to see if pitcher by day, DH by night Shohei Ohtani can dominate the league from both sides of the field. And if he doesn’t? Well, his teammate Mike Trout probably will probably just walk away with his 4th MVP title instead. Here’s a look at the AL MVP splits:
Last season’s Cy Young awards came out of left field as well. The AL award went to Shane Bieber while the NL award landed in Trevor Bauer’s lap. Obviously, all starting pitchers will get a longer period of time to beef up their resume this season, but DraftKings Sportsbook users are convinced Shane will come out on top again in the field of AL pitchers:
And the National League Cy Young will continue to be Jacob deGrom’s to lose, especially since now he apparently throws 100+ mph. However, the splits are a bit surprising. Now that we’re live in Illinois, some Cubs bettors know the value of Kyle Hendricks and his sinker, changeup, and curveball arsenal that can confound even the best hitters:
—Written by Lindsay Pollock, DraftKings Sportsbook Operations Specialist
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.