The 2020 MLB season wrapped up on Oct. 27 with the LA Dodgers hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy. Looking at World Series odds for 2021, the Dodgers are now +350 at DraftKings Sportsbook to win it all again after landing reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer in free agency.
The Yankees have the second lowest odds to win it all, coming in at +550. The Padres and Mets have 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 +800. The Mets were +3300 at DK right after the 2020 Fall Classic but are now +1000.
World Series odds 2021
MLB Futures Report (Feb. 11)
Los Angeles Dodgers (+350): The rich got richer on Feb. 5 with the signing of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer. Bauer will join a star-studded rotation that already features the likes of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.
New York Yankees (+550): The Yankees were outmaneuvered and out-managed in the ALDS by a Rays team that has the lowest payroll in baseball. They seem to be addressing those issues by turning to their farm system, and had no issues declining team options on veterans Brett Gardner and J.A. Happ. Losing flamethrowing reliever Tommy Kahnle could hurt their bullpen depth.
San Diego Padres (+800): The Padres front office continued its aggressive pursuit of a ring by trading for Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. They re-structured Mike Clevinger’s contract and retained promising LHP Matt Strahm, adding further depth to a rotation that will include Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack.
Chicago White Sox (+850): The White Sox have a promising future, but might be a few years away from competing for a World Series title. Their odds jumped from +1500 to +1000 after a mildly successful offseason in which they acquired Adam Eaton and 33-year-old RHP Lance Lynn.
Atlanta Braves (+1000): The Braves were a hair away from their first World Series appearance since 1999 and might have added the missing piece by signing veteran ace Charlie Morton to a one-year-deal. With Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. leading a fearsome lineup, they’re justifiable favorites in the loaded NL East.
New York Mets (+1000): New Mets owner Steve Cohen wanted to make a splash and he did just that by trading promising prospects for Franciso Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. If their starters stay healthy, the Mets should have the best rotation in the Majors, with Carrasco following Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Minnesota Twins (+2000): Every year, the Twins put together a marvelous regular season, only to get smoked in the playoffs. Minnesota has lost 18 straight postseason games, but maybe this is the year they find success.
Oakland Athletics (+2200): If you’re searching for a team that could replicate Tampa’s success with a new-age approach, the Athletics are the best candidate. They’ve yet to put it together in the postseason, but have earned a playoff berth in three straight seasons under Bob Melvin.
Houston Astros (+2500): The Astros lost George Springer to the Blue Jays, and their cheating scandal is going to hurt their free agency prospects for some time.
Tampa Bay Rays (+2500): Behind an incredible bullpen and advanced defensive strategies, the Rays won 68.9% of their close games last season. Then Kevin Cash made a boneheaded move by playing the numbers and yanked ace Blake Snell too early in the deciding game of the World Series. Now Snell and Charlie Morton are gone.
St. Louis Cardinals (+2500): The Cardinals re-signed the heart and soul of their team, bringing Yadier Molina back on a 1-year deal.
Cincinnati Reds (+3300): These odds are too high considering Trevor Bauer basically carried the Reds into the playoffs during a shortened 2020 season and he rejected their qualifying offer.
Washington Nationals (+3300): Howie Kendrick retired, Ryan Zimmerman is back but Asdrubal Cabrera remains a free agent. The Nationals are a great buy-low candidate since they have a studly rotation, but they need to find more offense.
Philadelphia Phillies (+4000): The Phillies are addressed their brutal bullpen by bringing in former Rays reliever Jose Alvarado. They also re-signed J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius.
Chicago Cubs (+4000): There is talk of the Cubs trading Kris Bryant in his contract year rather than losing him in free agency. That would be a sign of a potential rebuild rather than a team trying to win a title.
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 longshot 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 Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and even the slugging Colorado Rockies come to mind as fringe contenders with long odds this year. The past three years, the World Series crown has gone to one of the favored teams. The Cubs, Astros, and Red Sox paid off after opening the season with odds around +1000 or lower. 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.
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.