It's that time of the year again when I pull out my crystal ball to select a team to win this year's World Series. And my success the last several years with Futures wagers is likely unparalleled. Here's a quick review for newcomers. In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title. Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds. This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds. And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017. In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds. And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA. Our preseason pick on the Baylor Bears (12-1 odds) in College Basketball will also have a decent shot to cash in the upcoming March Madness tournament.
Let's take a look at the upcoming 2021 baseball season. It's my belief that the two best teams (Los Angeles Dodgers; San Diego Padres) reside in the National League West division. But having the best team is not the same thing as winning the Championship. In 2019, for example, we went with the Nationals who weren't the best team, but (at 18-1 odds) I believed they would always have a puncher's chance (or, more specifically, a "Pitcher's chance") with the 1-2 combination of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. For this 2021 season, I don't believe there's enough value for me to take either the Dodgers (+370) or the Padres (8-1 odds). So, instead, I will look at backing an American League team. And the Minnesota Twins stand out to me as having the best value. Currently, the odds on the Twins to win the World Series are 22-1. And the odds on the Twins to win the American League pennant are 9-1. In contrast, the World Series odds have the New York Yankees at +625 and the Chicago White Sox at +1000. By my numbers, neither the Yankees nor White Sox rate better than Minnesota, so it's an easy decision for me to go with the Twins as the best value play.
There's no doubt that the White Sox are everyone's darlings in the AL Central division. Last season, the division title went to the Twins, who went 24-7 at home, which was the best home record in baseball. But they faltered at home in the playoffs against the Houston Astros. So, perhaps due to last season's flame-out, a lot of pundits are looking past Minnesota. But not me, as I believe this will be the year that the Twins finally back up a strong regular season with some success in October. Chicago does have a lot of talent, but it might be a year away from being post-season contenders. And if Chicago stumbles, the division is clearly Minnesota's to lose. But regardless of whether the Twins win the division, it should make the post-season.
The Twins' line-up is a solid collection of mostly veterans (Kepler, Cruz, Buxton, Donaldson, Polanco, Sano) with a very talented rookie outfielder in Alex Kirilloff ready to step up. But it's the pitching that will tell the story for this team. The top three starters of Maeta, Berrios, and Pineda are sneaky good. And the Twins addressed their bullpen issues with a huge Free Agent signing which not only should help them immensely, but also hurt their main competitor. Somehow, the White Sox let veteran closer Alex Colome get away, only to sign with their division rivals after arguably his best season (2-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 12 saves). Even if Colome isn't the Twins' go-to man in the 9th inning, he will still be a big boost to their bullpen. Don't be surprised when the Twins finally come together this October. Take Minnesota at 22-1 odds to win the World Series and 9-1 odds to win the American League pennant. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.