MLB Futures: Best Bets to Win the AL Pennant (2021)

The 2021 MLB season is more than a third of the way through, and the American League standings are taking shape. The Chicago White Sox hold the biggest division lead in the AL; they’re four games up on the Cleveland Indians in the Central Division.  Only four teams trail their division leader by 10 or more games. Below, we’ll look for value and highlight the best bets to win the American League Pennant.

The Oakland Athletics used a 13-game winning streak in April to fly into first place in the AL West after a 1-7 start. They’ve held that lead every day but one since Tuesday, April 20. Still, they’re just an honorable mention here with +800 odds due to a wholly unimpressive plus-6 run differential and a plus-4 luck factor at Baseball-Reference.

Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for the American League Champion >>

*Odds, stats, and records as of Monday, June 7.

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2021 American League Pennant Best Bets

Chicago White Sox (+300 on BetMGM Sportsbook)

The White Sox began the 2021 MLB season with +900 odds of winning the World Series at BetMGM. They’re down to +700 and are second by the odds behind the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They lead the AL Central at 36-23 despite losing star OFs Eloy Jimenez (pectoral) and Luis Robert (hip) until September. Should Chicago be able to stay afloat in the interim, they’ll be getting two key reinforcements just in time to make a deep postseason run.

Breakout DH Yermin Mercedes has helped make up for those losses. Defending AL MVP 1B Jose Abreu leads the team with 11 home runs through 54 games, and 2B/3B Yoan Moncada has a team-high .382 wOBA and 149 wRC+. Chicago leads baseball with a .826 team OPS against left-handed pitching and is 11th with a .724 figure against righties.

The pitching staff has the third-best ERA and fourth-best xFIP in MLB. LHP Carlos Rodon is an AL Cy Young candidate with a career-best 2.67 xFIP and 13.17 K/9. The bullpen is the best in baseball with a 3.52 xFIP but has just a 10-11 record to suggest better days could still be ahead for ChiSox.

Toronto Blue Jays (+1100 on FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Blue Jays have scored 282 runs and have a plus-36 run differential through 57 games despite star offseason addition OF George Springer being limited to just four games and 18 plate appearances due to a lingering quadriceps injury suffered in Spring Training. Third-year 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has compensated for that absence with a league-leading 18 home runs and third-ranked 47 RBI through 57 games. 2B Marcus Semien has also been an early star with a .294/.365/.531 slash line through 57 games.

Pitching is the biggest question mark for the Blue Jays behind LHP Hyun Jin Ryu and his 3.55 xFIP. Top prospect RHP Nate Pearson lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his one start after returning from a Spring Training injury; RHP Alek Manoah seems capable of filling that void after pitching six scoreless innings in his MLB debut against the New York Yankees on May 27. Injuries have ravaged the bullpen, but Toronto’s relief corps has still managed to combine for a 13-12 record and 3.59 ERA.

The 11/1 odds make the Blue Jays the most appealing bet in the crowded AL East. They’re likely to need to make a trade or two at the deadline to bolster the pitching staff, but there are still plenty of prospects in the farm system sure to draw interest from other teams.

Los Angeles Angels (+3300 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

It has been another disappointing season for the Halos despite dual-threat RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani emerging as the AL MVP favorite. He has hit 16 homers off of a .332 ISO through 223 plate appearances while pitching to a 2.76 ERA and 3.43 xFIP across eight starts spanning 42 1/3 innings. 1B Jared Walsh and OF Justin Upton each have 13 homers, but few others have stepped up to help replace injured star OF Mike Trout (calf). Trout isn’t expected back for another month.

Starting pitchers have combined for a woeful 5.10 ERA. An eighth-ranked 3.68 xFIP inspires hope for a run over the final two-thirds of the season. Halos starters have been hurt by a .315 BABIP and 17.9 percent home run to fly-ball rate.

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Esten McLaren is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Esten, check out his archive and follow him @EstenMclaren.

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