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Top 10 2022 Major League Baseball future bets

28 March 2022

Major League Baseball’s 2022 season is upon us after a lengthy lockout, which means we once again get to enjoy betting on a 162-game season, beginning 7 April. With slow negotiation tactics and a pandemic still lurking, that was not a given! While this is exciting, don’t forget the golden rule: Do not bet more than you can afford.

A little about me: I create player and team projections primarily for fantasy baseball purposes, but it’s easily translated to identifying value on the MLB Futures board. This makes for plenty of more granular plays, such as Kyle Schwarber’s home run line sitting around 31.5 despite all major projection systems giving him a range of 36-40 home runs. That said, I’ll try to touch on the high-level plays here and you can always reach out on Twitter for additional wagers!

Without further ado, let’s look at my top 10 favorite MLB Futures bets for the 2022 season, with the hopes we can cash in like we did last year when we suggested a wager on Shohei Ohtani to win American League Most Valuable Player at 33-to-1. The below odds were gathered as of 28 March.

Play ball!

10. San Francisco Giants Over 85.5 Wins
Why bet so hard against the Giants to repeat their 2021 performance? I know Buster Posey’s loss behind the dish is worth a few wins, but their rotation is stronger and now oft-injured stud Brandon Belt can DH if needed. Ideally, the recently-acquired Joc Pederson can occupy that spot and provide another left-handed bat to further enhance San Francisco’s sharp platoon approach.

Bookmakers et al may not like how efficiently the Giants have become a sum greater than their parts, but this is achievable if you commit to analytics. If a right-hander is on the bump, then Pederson, LaMonte Wade Jr., Tommy La Stella and Steven Duggar will play. When facing a southpaw, expect to see Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, and Austin Slater hop in. These are not household names, with bettors and books alike disrespecting their potential, so take advantage of that.

There is more than enough offense here to support a burgeoning ace Logan Webb, who had a 2.63 ERA with a dazzling 104/19 K/BB in 17 starts following a July return from injury. Oh, and he allowed one run with a 17/1 K/BB in two postseason starts as well. Ace material!

Webb is joined by a 2021 breakout in Carlos Rodón, who had a 2.37 ERA for the White Sox and will further benefit from San Francisco’s pitcher-friendly park. Then you have Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, and Alex Cobb, all of whom had an ERA below 3.85 last year. San Francisco may not go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers again, but they’re far better than 85.5 wins.

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9. Tigers Over 78.5 wins
Detroit is a .500 ballclub for the upcoming season, with the potential to surprise for a Wild Card berth if health holds up.

The savvy move last offseason to bring in Robbie Grossman resulted in a .357 OBP and a 20/20 season from the two-hole. He’ll find an upstart power-speed threat in Akil Baddoo ahead of him, at least against right-handers, with the magical Javier Baez behind him, all while we look towards top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene to hit the ground running. Luckily, we shouldn’t sweat service-time manipulation by Detroit with those two.

The offense is now league-average and can hang around in ballgames, while Eduardo Rodriguez was signed to anchor a young rotation looking for stability. He stands to gain plenty from this move. According to EV Analytics’ Park Factors, which charts how each ballpark influences certain aspects of the game, Fenway Park elevated batting average by 7% over the league average. Not only that, but it bumped home runs up by 4%. Meanwhile, Detroit’s Comerica Park was even on batting average while suppressing home runs by 15%!

Rodriguez just had a 4.74 ERA despite a 3.32 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and 3.65 SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA). Luck was not on his side, and Comerica can see that pendulum swing the other direction. Especially with a new slider he found at the end of 2021.

If two of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning can take a step forward behind him then we’re cooking. Mix in a healthy Michael Fulmer out of the bullpen next to a pair of solid lefties in Gregory Soto and Andrew Chafin and we have an 80-win squad.

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8. Athletics Under 71.5 wins
Oakland’s rebuild is underway once again, as both Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are off to contenders, as well as a key rotation piece in Chris Bassitt. Even if Frankie Montas and/or Sean Manaea are A’s in April, they are strong candidates to be moved by the trade deadline.

The bullpen has little ahead of closer Lou Trivino, who had poor peripherals underneath last season’s 3.18 ERA. His 4.48 xFIP (FIP with a league-average home run rate) and 4.36 SIERA indicate his ERA was lucky by about a run.

In its current state, Oakland has only one player in the starting lineup who is projected to hit above .250. The best offensive player is Ramon Laureano, who is finishing the 27-game remainder of his 80-game PED suspension. James Kaprielian, an intriguing pitcher with a checkered durability ledger, is already dealing with AC joint irritation. While the farm system holds potential for the future, I don’t expect 2022 impact from Nick Allen, Luis Barrera, or Shea Langeliers. This Moneyball sequel has a much steeper uphill climb to legitimacy.

Bet $110 to win $100 at bet365 Sportsbook

7. Milwaukee Brewers to win NL Central
The Brew Crew is in a strong position to take the Central yet again thanks to a three-headed dragon at starting pitcher, two of the best relievers in the game, and a heart of the order that is more than capable of supporting the arms. We’ve seen the Reds become sellers, joining the Cubs and Pirates on the subpar side of things, which shortens this to Milwaukee against St. Louis.

We’ll start with a bit more detail in support of Milwaukee’s offense, since Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Josh Hader and Devin Williams have established themselves as elite hurlers. Christian Yelich is capable of top-five offense himself but you must risk that he can re-establish his launch angle. Signing Andrew McCutchen gives them a great cleanup hitter against lefties. But their best bat is likely Willy Adames, who hated hitting at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Stadium. Adames is a career .300 hitter on the road and hit .285 with 20 home runs in only 99 games following his trade to Milwaukee.

While the Cardinals boast more offensive firepower, their order is extremely top-heavy. That said, feel free to throw a few bucks on Juan Yepez for NL Rookie of the Year!

Still, the issue with the Red Birds is on the bump. Jack Flaherty is shut down with shoulder bursitis that required a PRP injection that Flaherty links to last year’s oblique injury. So now their rotation hinges on 40-year-old Adam Wainwright, with injury-prone Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz as their No. 2 and 3 starters. Alex Reyes is also shut down indefinitely, leaving the bullpen rather shallow beyond Giovanny Gallegos.

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6. Bobby Witt Jr. to win AL Rookie of the Year
I have no issue going for a bit more juice with Torkelson, who is +450 at bet365 Sportsbook, but I already talked about Detroit so let me hammer home Witt’s chances to win. We don’t have a layup bet like last year’s Randy Arozarena wager but Witt’s blend of power and speed do remind me of ol’ Randy.

You probably want some numbers, so how about Witt combining for 33 home runs and 29 steals with a .290/.361/.576 slash line over 124 Double- and Triple-A games last year.

There wasn’t much rust after 2020’s minor-league season was cut due to the pandemic, and now Witt should slot in as Kansas City’s starting shortstop or third baseman. The Royals also don’t have a strong DH candidate that demands playing time, so Witt should be able to play as long as management doesn’t bury him for service-time manipulation. His swing sure looks ready to go!

With Adley Rutschman dealing with a triceps injury and Shane Baz undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery, Witt’s odds against the field are trending positively. If you need longer odds then I’d look at Houston’s Jeremy Pena (+1100 at bet365), who will be trusted at shortstop after the Astros failed to sign any of the marquee free agents. And if you want simultaneous action in the National League then I’d take Seiya Suzuki with the Cubs at 5-to-1 odds, especially with Oneil Cruz possibly starting the season in the minors.

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5. Trea Turner to lead MLB in hits at 14-to-1
Turner is my repeat to lead the league in hits as the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter with an order that should generate plate appearances like few others. The addition of the designated hitter only helps bridge the gap between an order like LA’s and an AL option such as Toronto. What you may miss on some leaderboards is that Turner only played in 148 games last year and still topped the league.

He boasts plus power and elite speed, giving him every avenue possible to safely reach first base. Whether it’s beating out a slow dribbler to the third baseman or leisurely trotting around on a home run, Turner should vie for 700 PAs as he pushes for a third straight year of batting above .325. The NL West also has lesser pitching competition compared to the AL East, with trips to Colorado and Arizona akin to glorified batting practice at times. You can dig deeper into the player pool if you’d like, but I see no reason to go beyond Turner.

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4. Luis Robert to win American League MVP at 35-to-1
Robert tore his hip flexor in early May after opening 2021 batting .316, which sounds good but he still displayed warning signs such as a 27.2% strikeout rate and only one home run. I had no fears the power was coming, especially with nine doubles to his name, but the K’s after his 32.2% strikeout rate as a rookie in 2020 was worrisome.

But then Robert reset during his lengthy rehab, making slight tweaks to his stance (now a bit more open) and being mindful of the two-strike approach. It appears to have worked, as his final 43 games of 2021 yielded a .350/.389/.622 triple slash with 12 home runs and an impressive 17.1% strikeout rate. His exit velocity climbed. He obliterated fastballs, a good signal that one’s swing is compact, hitting over .400 against them down the stretch. If that hitting form maintains next to speed capable of 20 steals and fantastic outfield defense then we could have an MVP campaign on our hands.

I’ve seen a wide range of odds on Robert, with books such as DraftKings sitting at 22-to-1 instead, so certainly do your homework. FanDuel had the best odds that I saw at the time of publication. Just be sure you’re ready for him to truly unleash the power.

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3. Toronto Blue Jays to win American League +500
Toronto boasts stellar offense, defense, and pitching in a potent AL East, so if you buy into them winning the division then you might as well go for value with the pennant. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took a monstrous step forward and showed why he was a top prospect for many years. He and Bo Bichette are a second-generation duo that will run this division for the next decade and then some, but that’s not all.

Teoscar Hernandez proved 2020’s short season was no fluke, as he once again hit above .285 with 32 home runs, 12 steals, and 116 RBI in this stacked order. The Jays traded for Matt Chapman’s elite glove and hope he can rebound at the dish another year removed from major hip surgery. They have a trio of tantalizing backstops in Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno. Perhaps they trade one or two for added depth.

And then we hit the pitching rotation, which has an AL Cy Young favorite for me in Jose Berrios leading the way. Kevin Gausman polished his splitter in San Francisco last year and looks to bury his AL East memories from Baltimore in the past. Hyun Jin Ryu remains a steady maestro of command. Alek Manoah was MLB-ready out of the gate and could be the best of the bunch with his fastball-slider punch. Yusei Kikuchi will hope pitching coach Pete Walker and the humidor at Rogers Centre can help his homer woes, but Nate Pearson and Ross Stripling are ready to step in if needed. If they trade for Craig Kimbrel or another bullpen piece to complement Jordan Romano then I might run out of superlatives for this squad.

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2. Tyler O’Neill to hit over 35.5 home runs
Buzz about the baseball being deadened going into 2022 has some fearing a power dip across the game, but O’Neill doesn’t hit cheapies. The 26-year-old has long been a “toolsy” player with potential but far too many whiffs to earn consistent playing time. But O’Neill broke out in 2021, finally getting everyday play in left field as the midseason rolled around. He started with 12 home runs in 34 games across April and May, endured a chess match of adjustments with MLB pitchers in June-August, and then caught fire with 13 home runs in his final 32 games.

Out of 261 hitters with at least 200 batted-ball events in 2021, O’Neill’s 17.9% barrel-per-BBE rate was eighth-best. If you want to bake in the high strikeout rate (31.3%) and move to Barrels per Plate Appearance, he’s still 12th at 10.6%. There’s no power metric that doesn’t highlight his power. His raw average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives was 98.2 MPH, another top-10 mark on the leaderboard.

Even if you don’t buy him hitting .286 again thanks to the contact profile, when he does square up the ball then it goes boom. His 34 HRs in just 138 games last year, with the early parts spent in a part-time role, nearly won this line. Now entering 2022 able to prepare as a full-timer, O’Neill should flirt with slugging 40. And if we see growth in plate discipline then perhaps he’ll jump last season’s eighth-place finish in NL MVP voting.

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1. Atlanta Braves to win the World Series at 13-to-1
That’s right, Atlanta has a great chance at repeating as world champs. The Bravos blindsided many by making a deep run, knocking off the perennially-favored Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros en route to the title. Now what if I told you that defending champs had improved in the offseason and yet were pushed down with only the sixth-shortest odds to win the World Series?

Perhaps it is the expectation of parity or simple champion’s fatigue, but I can assure you that losing Freddie Freeman is not that big of a deal to their on-field product. If you want to fade because you worry he was the captain of the clubhouse then so be it. But please consider the man brought in to replace Freeman, Matt Olson, just cracked 39 home runs with 212 R+RBI and a .911 OPS. For context, Freeman had 34 HRs, 203 R+RBI, and a .896 OPS following a slow start. Freeman is 32 years old and Olson turns 28 in late March, while Olson goes from a pitcher-friendly park in Oakland to a hitter-friendly venue in Atlanta. He may eclipse 40 home runs with ease down south.

Oh, and they’ll get superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. back from his ACL injury and can ease him in with the addition of designated hitters to the National League. They also have a budding ace in Max Fried, a reliable veteran in Charlie Morton, and an absolute Super Pen to lean on. The playoffs have become bullpen battles and the Braves plucked Kenley Jansen from LAD to anchor a ‘pen that supports him with Will Smith (37 Saves in ‘21), A.J. Minter (18 K’s in 12 IP last playoffs), Tyler Matzek (101 K’s in 78.2 IP across ‘21), Luke Jackson (1.98 ERA in ‘21), and Collin McHugh (1.55 ERA in ‘21). Three from the left side, three from the right. Powerful stuff!

Bet $100 to win $1,300 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Top 10 2022 Major League Baseball future bets is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Nick Mariano

Nick serves as a Senior Editor at Casino City and is also an integral part of the Online Casino City content team. He has written about fantasy sports, sports betting and iGaming for five years. Alongside working at Casino City, he is currently a lead fantasy sports columnist for RotoBaller, having written for FantasyPros and MLB.com as well.

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Nick was rated the most accurate fantasy baseball expert of 2018 via FantasyPros Accuracy Competition. He also scored top 12 finishes in football for both 2017 and 2018.

Follow Nick on Twitter at @NMariano53
Nick Mariano
Nick serves as a Senior Editor at Casino City and is also an integral part of the Online Casino City content team. He has written about fantasy sports, sports betting and iGaming for five years. Alongside working at Casino City, he is currently a lead fantasy sports columnist for RotoBaller, having written for FantasyPros and MLB.com as well.

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Nick was rated the most accurate fantasy baseball expert of 2018 via FantasyPros Accuracy Competition. He also scored top 12 finishes in football for both 2017 and 2018.

Follow Nick on Twitter at @NMariano53