Nothing is sadder than watching a professional baseball player who’s paid millions of dollars a year let a routine ground ball go right through his legs in a playoff game. Even though these adult men are at the top of the baseball food chain, they still make the simplest mistakes at terrible times.
Human error reminds us that baseball is just a game, and like any other game, a team winning or losing should never be the end of the world. But still in a tightly contested playoff game with thousands of screaming fans, it’s hard for players to not let emotions run away from them.
Betting on baseball can be just as exhilarating, and winning a big bet you’ve invested a good amount of your bankroll in makes memories you’ll never forget. Even though you’re watching the game from the bleachers or your home, you’ll feel like you’re celebrating right alongside the players.
Just like players can make embarrassing mental errors in front of their teammates and millions of fans around the world, you can make mental errors when you’re making baseball futures wagers.
Some of these mental errors are based on cognitive biases like the recency biases, which is expecting something to happen again because it just happened. Other issues can arise because many baseball fans aren’t aware of all the great predictive stats available to anyone with an internet connection.
Betting on baseball is hard enough already since there are so many factors like injuries and divisional opponents to keep track of. Do yourself a favor and try to take some of the guesswork out of making baseball futures wagers by avoiding common betting mistakes.
What Are Futures Bets?
When it’s only March, the World Series is probably the last thing on your mind. Birds are chirping and bees are buzzing as players perform hitting and pitching drills in the backfields of Arizona or Florida to prepare for a long, grueling season.
But just because you have to wait all the way until late October to watch the champion of each league face off in the World Series, doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about which teams you expect to be there, and placing some futures bets.
The World Series is not only the most watched tournament of the baseball season, it also draws more gambling action than any other part of the year.
The best time to make a futures bet is before the season has begun because payouts on futures bets decrease once the season starts. Payouts will be even lower just before the World Series when 28 other teams have been eliminated so it’s best to place your bets as soon as possible.
Of course, the earlier you place the bet, the more risk you assume that the team you’re betting on won’t even make it to the World Series. Before the season starts, it’s obviously a lot harder to predict who’s going to win the World Series than it is in September when 20 or so teams have already been eliminated and divisions are starting to take shape.
In addition to futures bets on World Series winners, bets are also available for the pennant champs and the division champs of each league. If you’re gonna bet on a team to win the World Series, a pennant bet should be a given.
You can also make futures bets based on individual awards like the Cy Young and the MVP.
Lastly, futures bets are available for win totals of MLB clubs. You’ll make an over-under bet when betting on win totals.
While these bets aren’t as exciting as betting on the World Series winner, betting on win totals takes the random element of a 7 game playoff out of the equation and lets you bet on which team will have the best 162 game regular season.
How to Make Baseball Futures Bets
Also known as an odds to win wager, future bets are any bets made on baseball that happen before the day of the game. The bets are made at fixed odds that are locked in place until the start of the event.
Future bets can be made at sportsbooks at any time of the year, whether it’s the off-season, regular season, or postseason, and most sportsbooks update futures odds on a weekly basis.
1- Betting on Last Years Winners
Recency bias is a phenomenon that occurs when people remember things that happened recently more strongly than things that have happened further in the past. It’s a powerful influence that many people experience without even realizing it and it leads to poor betting practice.
No one is immune to recency bias and many wagers are made based on whichever team or player was successful last year because some people assume that success is guaranteed to continue.
The sad reality is that success is fleeting and it’s rare for a team to repeat a World Series win or for a player to repeat an incredible performance.
No World Series team has won back to back World Series since the Yankees won 3 in a row from 1998 to 2000.
Even though World Series teams are stacked with great players and often have great seasons after their World Series victory, it’s still extremely rare for a team to repeat winning the sport’s highest honor.
Many World Series winners don’t repeat and succumb to fatigue from the long grueling season.
Winning the World Series can make a team play up to 21 additional games compared to the 162 games every team plays in the regular season and pitchers and players often sacrifice their bodies to help their teams attain the ultimate goal.
In the same way that the World Series is the ultimate team victory, the Cy Young is the ultimate pitcher victory.
The Cy Young is named after a Hall of Fame pitcher and represents the highest honor a pitcher can receive for regular-season performance. Many futures bets are placed on the winner of the previous Cy Young award, but the Cy Young is just as difficult to predict as the World Series.
While Jacob DeGrom has won the last 2 Cy Young awards in the National League, it’s rare for players to win back to back Cy Young awards.
Many pitchers get fatigued from their Cy Young season so you may want to evaluate a pitcher with fewer innings pitched the season before when making a Cy Young futures bet. Look for a dark horse candidate with a strikeout rate over 10.0 or a pitcher with a FIP(Fielding Independent Pitching) stat that’s 1 or 2 runs lower than his ERA.
We’re starting to see a trend here, we think. Winning any major award in baseball back to back is a daunting task, and the MVP is no exception.
Since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) began handing out MVP awards, only 13 players have won one back to back.
They’ve been handing out the award for almost 100 years including 2 extra MVP awards per year, one for each league. Almost 200 of the awards have been handed out and only 13 players have won back to back awards so be leery when making a futures bet on a current MVP.
2- Betting on Older Teams
While many bettors assume that great playoff teams need a veteran leader, oftentimes the veterans are simply overpaid, less productive players.
Young players often produce more value than veteran players in baseball as a team of young players will be faster, stronger, and pitch harder than a team of more experienced veterans.
For example, Mike Trout has been one of the best players in the league since he was 20 and is only just now 28 years old. His best years may even be ahead of him.
Many older players are overpaid and while they may be great leaders, their on the field performance is often lacking.
Like Trout, Albert Pujols also plays for the Angels. Pujols is signed through 2021 and he’s 41 years old. Owner of the Anaheim Angels, Arte Moreno, wanted the big star power of Pujols when he signed him from the Cardinals but Pujols has had heel injuries and his performance has suffered.
Miguel Cabrera is another example of a player to avoid making an MVP futures bet on despite his star status and history of MVP awards. His OPS+ was only 96 in 2019 and he, like Albert Pujols, is also signed to a mammoth contract.
The Angels have not been to the playoffs since 2014 despite the stellar performance of Mike Trout, in part due to Pujols slowing the team down. Identifying lagging veterans can help you avoid win totals futures bets on teams like the Angels who continually underperform even with Mike Trout playing for them.
What is your favorite futures bet? Let us know in the comments.