MLB Betting: Mariners, Blue Jays Best Value in MLB Division Races
They haven’t officially clinched yet, but the Chicago Cubs are almost certainly going to win the NL Central Division. Same goes for the Washington Nationals in the NL East. The other four divisions in Major League Baseball are up for grabs, at least to some degree; there are some big favorites on the MLB betting futures market, like the Texas Rangers at –800 to win the AL West.
The Rangers (70-50, +24.45 betting units) may have finished the weekend up 5.5 games in their division, but if you’re looking for betting value, consider the next team below them in the standings. The Seattle Mariners (63-54, +3.57 units) have caught fire, winning nine of their past 10 games to make this a race again. The M’s are +1600 at press time to take the AL West, easily the best bargain on the MLB odds board – especially compared to the third-place Houston Astros (61-57, –9.77 units) at +500.
What makes Seattle such a great value? Timing is a big part of it; the Mariners entered their 2016 campaign with low expectations, fourth out of the five AL West teams at +400 to win the division. After starting the season cold at 2-6, Seattle found some traction and finished the month of May at 30-21. There was some buzz around the M’s at the time, but things got quiet again as the team fell back to .500 well before the All-Star break.
That’s the other thing about the Mariners – location. They’ve started August with an 11-3 record, but few people outside the Pacific Northwest have paid much attention, and the betting market hasn’t caught up with Seattle’s improved performance. On top of that, the Mariners have the best run differential in the AL West at plus-47; the Rangers are plus-2 after suffering two shut-out losses to the Detroit Tigers, followed by a 5-2 win over the Oakland Athletics.
There are some similarities between the Mariners and the other value team on the futures market, the Toronto Blue Jays (67-52, -0.61 units). The Blue Jays play to a regional fanbase, most of them Canadians, and they’ve also pulled themselves out of the midseason mire with a 24-14 record since the end of June. However, the Jays are tied with the Orioles for first place in the AL East at press time, so there isn’t as much upside at +150 to win the division as there is with the Mariners out West.