Last year, we were robbed of spring MLB due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year promises to be smoother sailing. Teams are slated to play the full 162-game slate in 2021. Here, we will examine 2021 World Series odds and the many different ways to bet on baseball.
The defending World Series champion LA Dodgers are heavy favorites to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy once again. FanDuel Sportsbook has them at +300 to take it home. The Yankees have the second lowest odds to win it all, coming in at +700. The Padres and Mets made moves up the odds boards with big off-season acquisitions. San Diego was +1300 at DraftKings right after the World Series concluded but is now +850. The Mets were +3300 at DK right after the 2020 Fall Classic but are now +900.
World Series odds
MLB Futures Report (April 30)
Los Angeles Dodgers (+300): The Dodgers have been just as advertised with a +29 run differential through their first 24 games. They have the best collective wOBA (.349) in the NL and their star-studded pitching staff is posting a collective 3.20 ERA. After winning seven straight against the rival Padres, the Dodgers have dropped four of their last five against San Diego, but their odds continue to climb from opening at +350 to win the World Series.
New York Yankees (+700): Currently tied for last place in the AL East at 10-13, the Yankees are still the favorites to win the American League by a wide margin. Their batters remain patient with a league-high 12.1% BB rate and their pitching is starting to come around with Domingo German and Corey Kluber showing signs of life.
San Diego Padres (+850): With Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Matt Strahm, Dinelson Lamet, and Chris Paddack all available, the Padres are tied with the Giants for the lowest collective ERA (2.93) thus far and they lead the Majors with a collective 11.22 K/9 ratio. Taking three out of four from the Dodgers in their latest series will be a huge confidence boost for this young club.
New York Mets (+900): Like the Yankees, the Mets have also struggled out of the gate. But with the rest of the NL East also hovering around or below .500, oddsmakers still have New York high on their boards. Jacob deGrom is quite clearly the best pitcher in baseball, but rotation depth has been an issue with the Mets choosing to ride with a four-man rotation for the next couple weeks.
Chicago White Sox (+1300): The White Sox saw their odds rise from +1500 to +850 this offseason and fall back to +1300 when Eloy Jimenez (pectoral) was lost for nearly half the season. They’ve stabilized with the second-best odds in the AL thanks to the emergence of Lucas Giolitio and Carlos Rodon as an elite 1-2 punch atop their rotation.
Atlanta Braves (+1500): Ronald Acuna Jr. is running away with the NL MVP race through the first month of the season with +275 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook. But the Braves pitching has been a massive disappointment with the third-worst ERA (4.67) and the highest HR/FB ratio (17.4%) allowed this season.
The Long shots
Houston Astros (+2000): The Astros have snapped out of a rough skid to climb above .500 and they’ve flashed serious potential on offense with the best run differential (+23) in the AL so far. But with Zack Greinke aging rapidly and Justin Verlander (elbow) out all year, they lack top end pitching. Cristian Javier has been promising as a potential ace.
Boston Red Sox (+2000): Chaim Bloom is getting some credit for Boston’s miraculous turnaround after a horrible 2020 campaign, but in reality the most effective players for the Red Sox – J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi – were already under contract when the new GM arrived.
Toronto Blue Jays (+2200): Steven Matz became the first AL pitcher to reach 4 wins this season and is looking like a steal for Toronto’s front office. With ample young talent sprinkled throughout their lineup, the Blue Jays should keep things interesting.
Minnesota Twins (+2000): This franchise has lost 18 straight postseason games and no amount of regular season success should convince bettors that the Twins can navigate a tough AL bracket in October.
Milwaukee Brewers (+2200): The Brewers were getting great value as the potential winner of the NL Central (+100) and the NL Pennant (+1100) but those odds have come down after a solid start thanks to a potent offense and a rising pitching staff led by CY Young candidate Corbin Burnes (+400).
Oakland Athletics (+2200): Despite going 14-2 during a red hot stretch to climb from last to first in the AL West, the A’s are still trailing the Astros in terms of World Series odds. Oakland consistently wins close to 100 games every year only to fall in the playoffs, including a 3-1 series loss to Houston last October.
Los Angeles Angels (+2400): Between Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have three MVP candidates for Joe Maddon to build around on a daily basis. But their pitching staff has been the worst in baseball yet again with a collective 5.22 ERA.
Tampa Bay Rays (+3000): The Rays struggled badly out of the gate with a -24 run differential through 13 games, but are turning things around with their new-age Moneyball approach and they even managed to cool off the red-hot Athletics in a recent series.
St. Louis Cardinals (+3800): Nolan Arenado has been underwhelming with a .256 batting average through his first 90 at-bats for St. Louis, and the Cardinals are middle of the pack in both hitting and pitching. But this stalwart franchise is always a good bet to make some noise in the playoffs and the rest of the NL Central is down.
Washington Nationals (+5500): It’s been a rocky start for the Nationals with COVID protocols leading to some early delays and perhaps that has to do with their pitching staff sputtering its way to a 4.79 ERA. Remember, they struggled for months in 2019 before a midseason turnaround led to a World Series title.
Pre-season MLB odds vs. current odds
A look at pre-season World Series odds from FanDuel versus current odds.
|Team||March 29 odds||Current odds|
|Chicago White Sox||+850||+1200|
|New York Mets||+1000||+950|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+2200||+3500|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+2200||+2600|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2500||+3200|
|Boston Red Sox||+4500||+2000|
|San Francisco Giants||+11000||+7000|
|Kansas City Royals||+11000||+6500|
Basics of MLB Futures
Betting on the World Series is available all season long in the form of futures bets. It’s simple — find a team that you like and bet on them at their odds to win it all. For example, the Dodgers were +380 to win the World Series before the start of the 2020 season. If you bet $100 on LA to win it all before the season began, you would have won $380 with a total payout of $480. A $10 bet would have netted you $38.
Futures bets may also include the winner of the American League, National League, and each division. Some sportsbooks delve deeper with “prop bets” on individual achievements, such as who will lead the Majors in home runs, wins, strikeouts, etc.
Generally, books take bets on futures in between game action. When teams are competing on a full slate of night games, your sportsbook of choice might hold off on updating odds in the event there is a catastrophic injury or another event that might change the prospects of a contender.
Here is a quick summary of how the odds are displayed for MLB Futures bets:
- Some sportsbooks will use a system that shows the odds as 5/1, while some display them as +500. This is just semantics, as both systems indicate that a winning $100 bet on the team would cash out at 5x that amount ($500).
- Odds can also be split into fractions. A team may be listed as a 9/2 favorite on one book, which is the same as a +450 favorite, i.e. a winning ticket pays out 4.5x the amount of the bet.
History of MLB futures
Placing a long shot Futures bet on baseball is a very risky proposition. In the NBA, for one, it’s almost akin to throwing away your money. The NFL is a bit more unpredictable with its single-elimination postseason, and the MLB is somewhere in between.
Rarely has a team come out of “nowhere” to win the World Series over the past several years, but plenty of fringe contenders have started the season with long odds before getting hot at the right time. According to archives compiled by William Hill Sportsbook, the Kansas City Royals were listed with +3300 odds to win it all during the first month of the 2015 season. Those odds dropped to +1400 in May, +1000 in June, and were down to +550 by the time the playoffs began.
In 2014, the San Francisco Giants opened the season with +2500 World Series odds and went on to win it all. The Boston Red Sox were getting +2800 odds prior to the 2013 season, and the St. Louis Cardinals were getting +2500 odds prior to the 2011 season.
Hence, there is value in placing a small bet on an underdog early in the season. The Cardinals, Blue Jays, A’s and Rays come to mind as fringe contenders with long odds this year. There is a chance that an unexpected champion is crowned, but it is not guaranteed in today’s MLB due to the importance of pitching in the postseason.
Other ways to bet on the World Series
For those with wagering experience in other sports, much of the baseball terminology and concepts will be familiar. However, as with all sports, there are certain bet types and props that naturally are particular to the individual sport.
Here are the various ways to get a wager down on the World Series.
- Moneyline: As with other sports, the moneyline represents the odds of a team winning a game. A “minus” sign indicates the favorite. The number next to the minus sign represents the amount of money a bettor would need to wager to win a theoretical amount of $100. A “plus” sign indicates the underdog. The amount next to the plus sign represents the amount of money a bettor would win on a theoretical amount of $100.
- Runline: Typically set at either -1.5 or +1.5, the runline functions much like the point spread in other sports. In a conventional runline scenario, the favored team must win by two or more runs or the underdog must lose by two runs or less in order for the runline to be covered. Odds are assigned next to the favorite (which is designated with a runline of -1.5) and underdog (which is designated with a runline of +1.5).
- Total runs (over/under): The total combined number of runs projected to be scored in the game by both teams. As with other sports, bettors can place bets on the total either being exceeded or being greater than the amount of total runs scored.
- Series line: With baseball usually being played in multi-game series between two teams — three- or four-game series being the most common — wagers are also available on which team will emerge as the winner in each matchup.
- Player props: A variety of wagers based on individual players reaching certain benchmarks within a game or in a season. Seasonal examples include over/under wagers on the number of hits, extra-base hits or home runs a player might hit in a season. In-game examples include over/under wagers on the number of hits, walks or home runs a player might hit in a game.
- Team props: A variety of wagers based on teams reaching certain benchmarks within a game. Examples include over/under wagers on whether a team will score a team will score a certain amount of runs in a game. Or, how many runs a team will score by a certain inning within a game.
- Parlays: Parlay wagering is defined as a series of bets that must all be correct in order for a bettor to be paid. Parlay bets feature more favorable odds and payouts due to the increased difficulty involved in predicting multiple outcomes correctly.
MLB betting FAQ
Where can I bet on the World Series in the US?
Currently, there are 18 states that offer legal sports betting. Residents of those states can use top online sportsbooks (if available) or casino sportsbooks to place legal, real-money bets.
Who is the favorite to win the World Series in 2021?
After winning the 2020 World Series, the Dodgers are again the favorites to take it all in 2021. They were +400 at FanDuel Sportsbook to claim the trophy again right after the 2020 season ended and are now +350.
Where can I get MLB betting tips?
PlayPicks.com provides free updates on the movement of MLB Futures lines and offers up-to-date advice on the best bets for games and Futures. Those interested in Daily Fantasy Sports can also check out our free plays and picks each day with advice relevant for DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.