2021 MLB Mid-Season Check: Which Futures Bets And Win Totals Look Most Promising?

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on July 15, 2021
2021 mlb win totals

As MLB fans enjoy the All-Star festivities and most of the league’s players enjoy a break, bettors gain a convenient opportunity. The season has just passed its halfway point, and the rare respite represents a great time to check in on 2021 MLB win totals and futures.

The Lines will go team by team to check in on where each club stands in relation to preseason expectations. Additionally, we’ll look at how the futures market has changed and which futures bets the projections are most bullish on.

Note: All win totals and odds listed below come from DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Teams Heading Over Their 2021 MLB Win Totals

With about 55% of the games played in the 2021 MLB season, six teams look like relatively safe bets to surpass their preseason win totals. The Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants all satisfy two criteria: they’ve won at a pace at least five wins above their total, and the projections believe they’ll finish at least five wins above their total.

In other words, even building in some regression, these teams should clear the over with room to spare. In fact, the FanGraphs projections believe every single one of these teams will win at a lesser pace than they have thus far.

TeamWin TotalWin Pace At BreakProjected Total Wins
Houston Astros86.597.995.7
Tampa Bay Rays85.595.490.3
Milwaukee Brewers82.594.390.3
Boston Red Sox80.597.993.3
San Francisco Giants75.5103.792.7
Seattle Mariners72.585.479.9

OK, so the Rays received a little rounding help to sneak them in. Regardless, it’s the Rays, and if any team has earned the expectation to beat projections at this point, it’s probably them. In futures, Tampa Bay is now to win the World Series, to win the pennant and to capture the AL East crown.

As for the team most surpassing market expectations in 2021, that would be the Giants. They have adopted many of the same traits as the Rays with frequent platooning and the ability to coax effective play out of little-known relief pitchers. Perhaps bettors should circle these teams going forward when it’s time to look at win totals in forthcoming seasons.

Teams Heading Under Their 2021 MLB Win Totals

Now, for the disappointments. Seven teams are pacing toward at least five wins under both in terms of actual results and the projections: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.

With a couple of exceptions, most of these teams carried fairly high expectations into 2021. Again, the projections expect most to rebound, but it most likely won’t carry them past their win totals.

TeamWin TotalWin Pace At BreakProjected Total Wins
Baltimore Orioles64.55158.2
Arizona Diamondbacks74.545.856.6
Washington Nationals84.576.477.5
St. Louis Cardinals86.579.278.2
Minnesota Twins88.57177.1
Atlanta Braves91.580.179.9
New York Yankees95.583.787.2

The Cardinals have just performed all-around worse than expected. They were projected to be middling or better in position players, starting pitching and bullpen. Instead, all three groups have been below average. That has moved their NL Central futures odds to .

The Braves would have been projected for more of a rebound if they didn’t lose superstar OF Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season. In futures, they are now , a sizable longshot behind the Mets.

As for the team pacing furthest below their preseason number, the less said about the Arizona Diamondbacks, the better.

The Biggest Sweats

With the overachievers and underachievers out of the way, that leaves 17 teams right on pace or close to it. Bettors with over or under tickets on these teams still have a great sweat. One injury, trade or prolonged streak of winning or losing could decide the final result.

TeamWin TotalWin Pace At BreakProjected Total Wins
LA Dodgers102.599.798.3
San Diego Padres94.592.392.3
Chicago White Sox91.598.393.2
New York Mets90.587.488.2
Oakland A's87.591.588.1
Toronto Blue Jays86.583.786.5
LA Angels83.581.983.8
Cincinnati Reds82.586.484.4
Cleveland Indians81.583.781.2
Philadelphia Phillies80.58182.5
Chicago Cubs79.579.279.8
Kansas City Royals72.565.570.9
Miami Marlins70.57171.8
Detroit Tigers68.571.270.9
Texas Rangers66.56366.5
Colorado Rockies64.571.268.8
Pittsburgh Pirates58.561.264.7

White Sox bettors had to think they were either in the clear or drawing dead depending on which side they took. However, injury after injury to the lineup has piled up, and they’re now in danger of going under. Furthermore, they have little incentive to make a short-term trade because they’ve all but locked up the division (NL Central odds sit at ).

If you had told the projections that Vlad Guerrero Jr. would be the best hitter in the world and Robbie Ray would be healthy and pitch at a top-20 level, they’d have likely pegged the Jays as a World Series favorite. Alas, the rest of the pitching has tanked, especially the bullpen, and they’re just hoping to scrape into the playoffs (current AL East futures odds at ).

The Indians, Cubs and Royals all got off to blazing hot starts before the regression monster reared its ugly head and brought them crashing to earth. All three look like candidates to sell off pieces, especially the Cubs, so over bettors should be nervous.

It’s a similar story with the Angels given Shohei Ohtani’s otherworldly performance. If Mike Trout returns healthy and effective in a timely manner and Ohtani keeps this up, the over should come home. The Halos have some juicy futures prices:

MLB Futures Update — Which Prices Have Changed The Most?

As far as World Series odds go, four teams have seen by bar the biggest jumps in equity for preseason bettors: Boston, Houston, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Their prices ranged from +2500 (Houston) to +11000 (San Francisco) but all look like real contenders at the break.

TeamCurrent OddsPreseason OddsWorld Series Win Probability (FanGraphs)
Houston Astros+650+250016.4%
Boston Red Sox+900+450010.7%
Milwaukee Brewers+1300+45005.9%
San Francisco Giants+2000+110002.1%

The projections remain skeptical of the Giants in spite of their amazing run to MLB’s best record. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have turned back the clock with the latter giving them a career season at age 34. Can they keep this up, and can their motley crew of relievers and platoon bats remain this productive? The market is a bit more bullish but +2000 on the team with the best record indicates skepticism still abounds.

The other three look to be more realistic bets, especially the Red Sox and Astros. The Brewers have put together a sterling staff but their offense has produced a meager 90 wRC+, 22nd in the league. They also still have to make sure they hold off the Reds for the division, as a wild card berth would be a tough get.

According to the projections, the Astros trail only the Dodgers (17.2%) in World Series equity. Like Boston, they have the advantage of not facing the Dodgers until the World Series as well. Unlike Boston, they’re nearly a cinch to win the division at 87.1%.

Ultimately, futures bettors with tickets on all four of these teams should feel great. But Astros backers in particular find themselves in prime position to realize their equity as the second half of the season begins.

Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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