2024 MLB Futures Bets

by Mark Strausberg
2024 MLB Futures Bets

As the season approaches I present to you my 2024 MLB Futures Bets. As a mostly Fantasy Sports site, these bets can also give you some insight into the Fantasy Baseball season. This is the case whether it is picking to win the World Series, American League/National League MVPs and Cy Young Award Winners or Win Total Over/Unders.

Let's look at a couple of examples. If I like a pitcher to win the Cy Young, for example, I strongly suspect that I like his ERA, WHIP, K, Wins, etc., to be among the best in the league.

Or, if I like Team X to hit their Wins Over or to win their league, there's a good chance that some of the hitters on their team will be good fantasy picks as well - or at least exceed their value. Perhaps both.

Those who have read me know I typically try to avoid the chalk, but I usually mix it up with many long shots in addition to those I have confidence in hitting. And this year's futures bets are no different.

As always, bet within your means, which is part of the reason I talk about "units" rather than actual dollar figures. And never forget that even the best bets can be derailed by injuries or fluke occurrences.

*Note that unless otherwise noted, all these props come from the DraftKings Sportsbook.

2024 MLB Futures Bets

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Team Futures

Los Angeles Dodgers to Win the World Series +1000 (1 unit)

We start with one of the chalkiest picks on the board.

And those who have checked out the markets are probably looking at the +1000 above and thinking I got it wrong. And they're right....kind of.

Most books currently have the Dodgers as prohibitive favorites to win it all, but in that +250 to +400 range. But I grabbed this bet during this offseason when DraftKings had a promotion for this prop, and we didn't know what would happen during the offseason. And while I don't love the value currently on the Dodgers to double up on my previous bet, I do like the Dodgers to win it all, especially at +1000!

But even without the promotion, LAD was listed at over +500 before Spring Training opened. Yes, Tony Gonsolin, Clayton Kershaw, and Dustin May will start the season on the 60-day DL, but imagine what happens when the Dodgers get those guys back before the summer? Even the top of the rotation of Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Bobby Miller should help the Dodgers get off to a good start.

Not that Freeman, Betts, and the rest of the Dodgers lineup aren't the envy of most teams in the league. This team is just oozing with talent. It has so much depth than even a couple of huge key injuries and this team is still a World Series-caliber team. I'll gladly take the chalk.

And the team that will oppose them is...

Baltimore Orioles to win the AL +550 (1 unit)

The Astros are still the team to beat and you can never count out the Yankees. But I love Baltimore to make a run this year, again. And they certainly pushed in with the Corbin Burnes signing. Burnes is a legitimate ace. Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer, and Cole Irvin don't have universal name recognition, but I like each to take another positive step forward in their development this season.

The Orioles pitching staff might not be as strong as the Dodgers, but I like the Orioles hitters even more. Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson lead one of the better young cores on the hitting side. But even the three or four players not in the Opening Day starting lineup could easily be starting hitters on other teams. Baltimore's lineup is even deeper than that of the Dodgers, and I see this team leading the league in double-digit run nights.

I have Baltimore with at least a 25% chance of winning the American League, giving us spectacular +EV at +550. Unsurprisingly, the toughest part might be contending with the rest of the AL East, which brings us to our next bet.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays to Make the Playoffs +120 (1+ unit)

Because I like the AL East to put three teams into the playoffs. Again. Which is part of the reason why I like this bet.

But that's not the only reason. There is a reason I suggest betting at least one unit, if not more. Of all the team futures bets I discuss here, this is the one I would most strongly recommend, as the value on this is ridiculous.

Some of it is history. I've been betting on baseball for more than 20 years. (I know, it's amazing I could place bets at just five years old!) And I have won more money betting on the Rays than any other team. They constantly exceed their projections. It would take more research than I feel like doing to go back over everything since I started betting, but it certainly feels like they exceed their projections more than any other team.

Although what happened two decades ago doesn't mean diddly. Yet over the last three years, the Rays have seen industry projections to win about 86 games, plus or minus one or two. During that time, they have won 100, 86, and 99 games. See where I am going here?

And guess what, the Rays are projected to win around 86 again this year. Our friends over at FanGraphs for example have them at 85+ wins and a 59% chance of making the playoffs.  The implied line should be around -140. Even if you think those odds are overly optimistic, sure, let's lower the line to about -110.

At +120, you're getting an insane amount of value. Make this bet now before it jumps as the season starts.

OVER 77.5 wins Milwaukee Brewers -105 (1 unit)

Here is another one where the odds and the projections don't align. Most of the industry is projecting the Brewers to win between 79 and 81 wins this year. And we are getting pretty much even money for them to fall short a win or two of that lower number.

I like Milwaukee to do well again this year. They have probably the best bullpen in the league, and they also have one of the best defenses, which you could argue is a chicken-egg scenario with their bullpen.

They don't have the lineup and rotation to match some of the heavies in MLB. But a losing season? Nope. Run with this and see if you can possibly tease it up into positive payouts.

Long Shot Special: KC Royals AL Central Division Winner +850 (half unit)

Take a look at this offseason. The only team in the AL Central who truly opened up their wallets this offseason was the Kansas City Royals (there's a Royal/Kings Ransom joke in there somewhere I won't make).  And it's not like this was a bad team.

The additions of Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha greatly improved a glaring need. Cole Ragans, who came over to KC in the Aroldis Chapman trade, notched a 2.64 ERA in 12 starts with 89 strikeouts over 71 2/3 innings for the Royals last season. That's a threesome that could easily see 45 wins combined, maybe more.

With 30+ HR players like Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez anchoring the lineup, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Royals win around 84 games. That would probably be fourth place in the AL East, but in the weak AL Central, that might be just enough to win it.

Individual Futures

Long Shot: NL ROY Award Winner Jordan Lawlar +2500 (quarter unit)

I wanted to begin with my long shot here because it almost completely missed the cut. I expect Yoshinobu Yamamoto to win this award, but I dislike that option at less than 3 to 1. His fellow international phenom Jung Hoo Lee, or even Shota Imanaga are looking as potential NLROY contenders, but Yamamoto's probability causes me to dislike the value on either of them to win. And the same is true for most of the NLROY candidates.

But I want something to root for, and I love the potential upside of former sixth-overall pick Jordan Lawlar. I will probably cash out if I get a decent offer around midseason. Lawlar's speed/power combo is hard to ignore, and he could easily hit 30/30 if he sees enough at-bats, which will certainly put him into the NL ROY discussion.

AL Rookie of the Year Award: Approximately 1.9 Units Split Five Ways

I see this as a three-horse race between Wyatt Langford (+225), Evan Carter (+310), and Jackson Holliday (+450). But those three are forcing some decent value down towards Colton Cowser and Ceddanne Rafaela, who might be fighting for playing time this season. If they get it, either can easily win the AL ROY, each at +1200, respectively.

So I am splitting this up where I am spending 1.9 units to make a minimum of 1.95 units back should any of these five win, with the potential to make over 2.6 units back. And as the season progresses, I will adjust accordingly. But I wanted to lock in now before the odds shift as certain rookies get off to hot starts.

Tarik Skubal American Cy Young Award Winner +900 (half unit)

The variable nature of pitching year over year makes predicting a Cy Young winner extremely hard. It's why I am betting less on Cy Young than some of the other 2024 MLB Futures Bets.

But let's not make this complicated. Skubal's stats were dominating. He had a 2.80 ERA, 2.28 xERA, and 2.56 xFIP. Even more eye-opening to me, though, he's my pick because in the second half of '23, Skubal led all pitchers in WAR (2.9).

Spencer Strider NL Cy Young +450 (half unit)

So I had Strider last year to win the Cy Young, amongst other honors. I feel like he got robbed, but I also feel like these things have a way of balancing out over time. So yes, I'm betting the chalk on this one.

Spencer Strider should be the favorite for the NL Cy Young. Strider is projected to be the league leader in both total WAR and average WAR per inning pitched, and with that should come the Cy Young.

NL MVP: Bryce Harper +1000 (quarter unit)

I admit it, I first made this bet for sentimental reasons. When Harper first came into the league, I thought he was too arrogant and too cocky. I know I'm not alone in that camp. But, like many, he matured and took on veteran wisdom. And he did end up winning his most recent MVP in 2021. I can't help it, but I do respect him now.

But as I dug into this, statistical evidence leads me to believe there is more than just sentiment to this pick. In the second half of last season, Harper posted a 166 wRC+ with 18 home runs in 296 plate appearances. That follows his MVP form and is shockingly ahead of his 2021 power pace.

Harper's 2024 projections across the industry are selling him short due to his stats from two injury-marred seasons.  Moving from OF to 1B should increase the probability that he plays 150 games. If he does, I love his chances to turn his twin MVP trophies into a triplet.

Julio Rodriguez AL MVP +600 (between half and one full unit)

And this is why you make your bets earlier in the preseason. JRod's odds opened up at four figures but have since dropped precipitously to the +600 and even +500 range.

And betting on Soto or Judge is boring. I'll take Julio Rodriguez. JRod had what many consider a disappointing season last year. However, I remind you that he smacked 60 home runs and swiped 62 bases across his first two MLB seasons. Both times, he started slowly.

However, if his spring is any indication, it won't be a slow start this year. JRod improved his walk rate and hit over .400 this spring. I don't think he will hit .400, however, a .330 30/30 season is quite envisionable.

If Seattle can remain competitive most of the season, JRod should win AL MVP this year over Soto and Judge.

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