- Sitting down with DraftKings’ MLB expert Steve Buchanan to hear his insight on the top teams in World Series contention, as well as his surprise dark horse teams in 2021.
BOSTON – Heading into the upcoming MLB season, bettors across the country are putting together their gameplan for another year of baseball.
When it comes to betting analysis, few have more cutting-edge insight than DraftKings’ lead MLB analyst Steve Buchanan.
A Boston native, Buchanan has been leading the charge for DraftKings’ fantasy platform since 2015. Buchanan sat down with the Legal Sports Betting team to share his outlook on the 2021 MLB season.
Looking at the odds for the World Series, there are some familiar names atop the oddsboard, with plenty of value in the middle of the pack. Full MLB futures and more will be available all season at the top legal online sportsbooks.
Current 2021 MLB World Series Odds
- Los Angeles Dodgers +350
- New York Yankees +550
- San Diego Padres +800
- Chicago White Sox +850
- Atlanta Braves +1000
- New York Mets +1100
- Toronto Blue Jays +1600
- Minnesota Twins +2000
- St. Louis Cardinals +2500
- Houston Astros +2500
- Oakland Athletics +2800
- Tampa Bay Rays +3000
- Washington Nationals +3300
- Los Angeles Angels +3500
- Chicago Cubs +4000
- Boston Red Sox +4000
- Philadelphia Phillies +4500
- Cincinnati Reds +5000
- Cleveland Indians +5000
- Milwaukee Brewers +5000
- Miami Marlins +8000
Top Teams For The 2021 MLB Season
DraftKings is reporting that 14% of all World Series betting action has already been placed on the Los Angeles Dodgers, with another 14% also coming in on the New York Yankees.
For the Dodgers, Buchanan believes there are few holes in their starting lineup even after losing Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez to free agency.
“For bettors, we have to start with looking at the Dodgers from a World Series perspective…they are still a complete team and have someone like Edwin Rios sitting on their bench to start the year. Every other team would kill for the chance to have someone like Rios in the middle of their lineup,” said Buchanan.
According to Buchanan, the acquisition of Trevor Bauer might not be as valuable as the public perceives.
“People are so excited about the Trevor Bauer move, but if you look at the schedule he had last year, you couldn’t have come up with a more cupcake schedule. He was consistently facing teams that finished under .500, and now faces much stiffer competition in the NL West. There are a lot of good teams in that realm. I don’t know if we are going to see that kind of Trevor Bauer again.”
When it comes to betting on the Dodgers to win the World Series, the expert recommends holding out until a better offer is available.
“You can pounce on the Dodgers if maybe they have a four-game losing streak and the odds start to shift a bit…At +350, you aren’t getting the best number on them.”
In the American League, it is the Yankees once again receiving their natural level of preseason hype. The biggest question for most will be the health of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who have so far only played 14% of possible games in the same lineup.
However, Buchanan believes the Yankees have a bigger problem on their hands this season.
“You mention the hitters, but I am looking at the pitchers. After Gerrit Cole, who do [the Yankees] really feel good about? It’s hard to really pinpoint that. Can Cory Kluber stay healthy? Jameson Taillon, after two Tommy John surgeries, can he stay healthy? They don’t have the pitching depth that we have known them to have for years.”
The Yankees currently sit at +230 odds to win the American League, the shortest of any team.
They have already amassed 57% of the total action to win the AL, but Buchanan sees them having a tough time getting out of their own division.
“In a division where the Toronto Blue Jays have gotten a lot better, and the Boston Red Sox still have a decent lineup, the Yankees probably have one of the worst rotations in that division.”
Analyzing The American League
Currently with the second-best odds to win the AL is the Chicago White Sox, sitting at +380.
In terms of the World Series, many will be surprised to hear that the White Sox have amassed 21% of the total betting handle to win the championship, the most of any team.
Unfortunately, much of that action likely came before the enormous injury to outfielder Eloy Jiménez just one week before opening day.
White Sox OF Eloy Jiménez yesterday suffered a ruptured left pectoral tendon. The injury will require surgery and the expected recovery period is 5-6 months.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 25, 2021
Luckily, Buchanan sees a bright future in a new young star for the White Sox.
“It has taken years for the White Sox to come back into contention, and now they lose someone like Eloy Jimenez, which is a huge loss. But they have someone like Andrew Vaughn waiting in the wings, who has now quickly moved up in the odds for Rookie of the Year. The kid just has a beautiful swing, the power is there, the launch angle is what you want from him, and is in position to just step into left field and assume that role.”
During spring training, Vaughn hit .289/.396/.489 over 53 at-bats, knocking two homers, a triple, a double, and seven walks to nine K’s.
This injection of youth has the Sox in a terrific position to succeed in 2021.
In the eyes of Buchanan, the biggest issue for the team won’t be the players on the field, but the manager in the dugout.
“The White Sox have such a good team…the only thing I hate about their situation was the hiring of Tony La Russa. I thought that was the completely wrong move because you have such a young team, and you are bringing in someone with an old-school style of baseball…I felt like they were going in one direction and veered off in the fork in the road with the hiring of La Russa.”
Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf hired the 74-year-old La Russa back in October of 2020 following the abrupt firing of Rick Renteria.
The jury is still out on whether La Russa can connect with the modern path the game is traveling, and allow the White Sox to capitalize on all the hard work they have put in over the last five years.
National League Dark Horses
On the other side of town of the White Sox, Buchanan sees the Chicago Cubs as one of the more lopsided teams in the National League.
“The [Cubs] have a damn good lineup. That is a lineup that could realistically have four or five guys hit 25 home runs. Which is great, because they are probably going to need to score six or seven runs a game to keep up with all the runs their pitching staff is going to allow.”
The Cubs currently sit at +4000 odds to win the World Series, and +2200 to win the NL.
In terms of longshots, there is a certain NL East team making more noise on Buchanan’s radar than any other ballclub.
“One of the teams I am really high on is the Washington Nationals. They add Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, two guys that can hit over 30 home runs. You stick them in the middle of that lineup to go with the rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and you have so much power on a team in a division that is really wide open. After finishing last in the division last year, I think it is going to be a complete 180 for them.”
At DraftKings’ Virginia sportsbook, the Washington Nationals are earning 13% of the total betting handle. They currently sit at +3300 odds to win the World Series.
Will The New Baseball Affect Betting?
One of the biggest storyline heading into the season is the new baseball.
The MLB came out and officially announced that they would be deadening the ball in 2021 in an effort to cut back on the powerhouse numbers of recent years.
Ball manufacturers Rawlings have said they are loosening the tension on the first of three wool bindings inside the baseball.
While scoring is down in spring training, Buchanan is pumping the breaks on overreacting to the change.
“From what we are seeing so far, the new baseball shortens in travel once it reaches over 375 feet. Call me crazy, but if you are hitting a ball over 375 feet, in the majority of ballparks, that ball is gone already.”
The only real effect he sees could be in certain pitcher-friendly ballparks.
“I do think it could have a dip in home run futures, especially in Western parks like Angel Stadium or Dodger Stadium. But overall, I think we need to take a wait-and-see approach with this.”
Steve Buchanan is the lead MLB analyst for DraftKings and can be reached on Twitter @SBuchanan24, heard on the Unreasonable Odds podcast, and found throughout DK fantasy media.
News tags: Aaron Judge | Blue Jays | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | DraftKings | Giancarlo Stanton | Los Angeles Dodgers | MLB | New York Yankees | Steve Buchanan | Tampa Bay Rays | Tony La Russa | Trevor Bauer
Jimmy began his journalistic journey as a stat recorder and PA announcer for his middle school baseball team. Full of experience across print, broadcast, and sports radio, he brings his knowledge and toolkit to the LegalSportsBetting team. You can find him watching sports, making parlays, and listening to music on any day ending in Y.