As the 2021 MLB season rounds the three-quarters pole, we need to take stock of the futures discussion. That will ultimately end with a World Series debate, but we first have to analyze the pennant races in both the National League and American League.
Thus, we bring you our 2021 MLB AL and NL Championship odds and picks. Here are the latest lines for the American League champion from BetOnline:
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+145|
|San Francisco Giants||+290|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1000|
And here are the latest odds for the National League champion:
|Tampa Bay Rays||+290|
|Chicago White Sox||+310|
|New York Yankees||+650|
|Boston Red Sox||+1000|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+1500|
Most teams still have nearly 50 games left on their schedule for the year, so these MLB odds will shift at BetOnline and other top online sportsbooks. As such, make sure you're double-checking all MLB futures before committing yourself to any one wager.
2021 MLB Pennant Race Breakdown
You'll notice when looking at all MLB pennant odds that not every team is currently laying lines. This is because enough of the season has unfolded to weed out the true non-contenders.
That, in turn, makes it easier to identify which squads actually have a chance to reach the World Series. But there's still the matter of, you know, actually making those predictions. The picks that follow will be based off our research into team schedules, metrics, health and anything else you can think of.
Let's begin with the American League and then move on to the National League.
American League Prediction
As a brief refresher, here are the teams laying the five best odds to win the American League championship
- Houston Astros (+210)
- Chicago White Sox (+260)
- Tampa Bay Rays (+360)
- Oakland Athletics (+1000)
- Toronto Blue Jays/New York Yankees (+1100)
Should the Astros Really be Favorites?
There are some who think the Astros (+155) are being overvalued. They seem to think the offense isn't powerful enough.
We disagree. Houston is second in the league in on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, trailing only the Blue Jays (+1100). On top of all that, they are also fourth in earned run average, making them one of MLB's better forces on both sides of the plate.
Better Bet: Blue Jays or Yankees?
After a slow start to the year, the Yankees (+1100) have really started to find their groove. They can still be wild cards at the plate, but the defense has come into its own. They have a top-10 ERA, and their fielding independent of pitching scores are through the roof.
The Blue Jays (+1100), who lead MLB in slugging percentage by a fairly large margin, continue to set the world on fire when batting. But the pitching is shaky, they've allowed a lot of home runs and they don't have the best position players on defense.
New York wins this debate by a hair.
AL Championship Pick
The Red Sox (+1200) are tempting here, given their elite slugging percentage. But they've suddenly struggled to put people on base.
In the end, we're most intrigued by the White Sox (+260) and Astros. Given how middle-of-the-road Chicago's offense has been lately, we have no choice but to lean toward the latter—though this choice is subject to change.
OSB Prediction: Houston Astros (+210)
National League Prediction
As a brief refresher, here are the five teams laying the best odds to win the National League championship:
- Los Angeles Dodgers (+155)
- San Francisco Giants (+360)
- Milwaukee Brewers (+1000)
- Philadelphia Phillies (+1100)
- San Diego Padres/Atlanta Braves (+1200)
Should the Dodgers Really be Favorites?
We discussed the glamour-market phenomenon before: It's when a team in a big city is treated like a heavy favorite by oddsmakers because of their popularity and the influx of betting action it brings.
That seems to be at play for the Dodgers (+155). They remain a real threat to win it all; they rank second in on-base percentage and have a terrifying pitching staff on paper. But their overall batting average has underperformed relative to their talent.
In fact, by the metrics, they're not even truly the best team in the NL. That honor belongs to the Giants (+360).
Better Bet: Padres or Braves?
Despite losing one of their best players, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a torn ACL, the Braves (+1200) have become trendy pennant picks. We get the appeal. They belt home runs and continue to catch people off-guard with scrappy defense behind their pitching.
Still, their actual pitching isn't all that great, and we question whether they have enough non-power hitters to get on base during the postseason. While the Padres (+1200) have underachieved, they continue to boast the more balanced roster, not to mention an MVP candidate in Fernando Tatis Jr.
National League Championship Pick
Rolling with the Padres given their struggles—which have included injuries—might seem controversial. But we just can't abandon them.
San Diego has cobbled together a rock-solid pitching staff and is hovering around the top five in on-base percentage. If this is what they look like while battling absences and protracted ruts on offense, imagine what they'll be like when they invariably hit their stride.
OSB Prediction: San Diego Padres (+1200)
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your MLB betting: