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MLB: 2020 Best Bets And Long Shots

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole in the process of throwing the ball

On the eve of the delayed Opening Day to the MLB season, Odds Shark writers have sifted through the giant list of prop bets for the shortened campaign and found their favorite plays. Each writer has chosen a best bet as well as a long shot providing more value.

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Odds Shark Staff MLB Best Bets & Long Shots

Joe Osborne 

Has been passed on in the MLB draft by 30 teams every year since 2005. Lost a fight to Don Zimmer and Tony Lasorda after a heated game of cards. 

Best Bet: Astros OVER 35 Wins (-120)

You can hate the Astros all you want entering the 2020 season, but fading them would be a mistake. This is a team that won 107 games last season despite the fact that Altuve, Springer and Correa combined to miss 165 games.

Another factor is that they’re coming off a season when they dominated the AL West, going 56-20. Yes, Oakland looks like they’ll be back in the mix, but the Angels pitching is a disaster, the Rangers will be lucky to get to .500 and the Mariners will compete for the worst record in the game. They also have the geographical luck of being paired with the NL West, which features no serious contenders outside of the Dodgers.

The offseason was a complete embarrassment for the Astros, but expect their 2020 regular season to be the complete opposite.

Long Shot: Phillies To Win World Series (+3000)

Bryce Harper’s first year in Philly failed to live up to expectations, but the Phillies restocked the cupboards in the offseason and look primed to make a big run. Despite all the obvious talent, oddsmakers are treating them like the red-headed stepchild of the NL East as they have the fourth-best odds to win the World Series among their divisional counterparts.

They should get a big boost from Zack Wheeler, who makes for a great one-two punch with Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation, and Didi Gregorius should give them some serious pop in the heart of the batting order.

The biggest upgrade for the Phillies, however, is at manager with Joe Girardi taking over. With a pennant race beginning essentially on Day 1 of the season, he’ll have his team ready to play every day while his World Series-winning experience will go a long way come playoff time.

Scott Hastings

Once got tossed from a baseball game for beaning his mom in the stands. Thought “Breaking Bad” was a documentary on the art of the breaking ball.

Best Bet: Gerrit Cole Most Wins in AL (+225)

Coming off a season in which he had a career high in wins (20), a career low in ERA (2.50) and finished second in the AL Cy Young voting, Gerrit Cole signed a massive ticket in the offseason with the most storied franchise in baseball, the New York Yankees.

The Yanks are tied with the LA Dodgers for the highest wins total and the best odds to win the 2020 World Series. Cole is the ace of the Bronx Bombers staff and will have ample opportunity to score wins over AL East foes in Boston, Toronto and Baltimore. At +225, he is a steal to cruise to the most wins in the AL.

Long Shot: Mike Soroka: NL Cy Young Award (+1800)

During the 1990s it was extremely rare for an Atlanta Braves pitcher not to win the NL Cy Young Award. Over the decade, that stout rotation collected six of the coveted awards, Tom Glavine with two, John Smoltz with one and Greg Maddux grabbing three.

Mike Soroka will be the youngest-ever Opening Day starter for the Braves at just 22 years old. In his rookie campaign in 2019, the Canadian was an all-star, finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in NL Cy Young voting. He will have to lower his WHIP from 1.11 last year and perhaps increase his K/9, which was 7.3, but after going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA, Soroka is definitely worth a flyer at 18:1.

Gilles Gallant

Played third base in high school but now calls the “hot corner” the last bite of a Pizza Pop. Has an undefeated record in the game of “Pop-up 500”.

Best Bet: Toronto Blue Jays UNDER 28 Wins (-120)

The Blue Jays are going to be an exciting team in a couple of years but to seriously think they will win 29 or more games in 2020 in this 60-game landscape? Not a chance. Not only are they the fourth-best team in their own division (AL East) but they will also be playing teams in the NL East that can all either outpitch or outhit them. If you took all 10 teams within those divisions and ranked them, the Blue Jays would be seventh at best.

Outside of the Marlins and Orioles, wins will not be easy to come by and in this sprint of a season, it won’t be youth that propels teams but depth. Toronto is very top-heavy in talent and it’s a big drop-off in the rotation from Hyun-Jin Ryu to their second starter. Any injuries will be magnified and harder to overcome. Additionally, the bullpen ranked 21st in ERA last season and didn’t add anyone notable to close games. UNDER all day for the Toronto, I mean, Buffalo, I mean, Pittsburgh Blue Jays.

Long Shot: Pete Alonso To Win Home Run Title (+1000)

I wrote about “Pistol” Pete Alonso in my betting preview on which player will lead MLB in home runs and two of the main reasons I’m banking on Alonso in his second season is his hard contact rate and home runs per at-bat.

Alonso ranked fifth and fourth respectively in those categories in 2019 and led the majors with 53 dingers in his rookie year, an MLB record. He really showed his slugger chops last September when he mashed 11 homers in the final month and I think this is a great price at +1000 for the best power hitter in the state of New York (yeah, Giancarlo Stanton, I said it). If he has another electric season in 2020, you may never get him at this price again so jump on it before the hype train leaves the station.

Iain MacMillan

Isn’t scared to scold young kids who accidentally run onto the field during gameplay. Hurt his knee swiping second, now he swipes right on Tinder.

Best Bet: Christian Yelich to win NL MVP +700

First of all, Mookie Betts as the betting favorite at +285 is just ridiculous, in my opinion. How can you not take a shot at Christian Yelich at the attractive price of +700? The 28-year-old has already won the award in 2018, and he very well could have won it in 2019 as well if it weren’t for a couple of nagging injuries, including one that ended his season early in September.

He still finished second in NL MVP voting last season and won the National League batting title. To put this guy third on the odds list is ludicrous. I’ll take a shot at him to win the award for the second time in three years at 7/1 ALL DAMN DAY.

Long Shot: Atlanta Braves to win World Series +1200

Outside of the obvious choice of the Dodgers or Yankees, I can’t think of another team that’s better equipped to make a run at the World Series than the Braves. Is it just because I’m a Falcons fan so I want to see the city of Atlanta win something? Is it because I drafted Mike Soroka in my dynasty fantasy baseball league a couple of years ago? Maybe.

Or it might just be that their roster is loaded with talent from top to bottom led by first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., one of the best young hitters in the game. Also, don’t forget this is the team that finished with the second-most wins in the National League last season. As talented and young as their roster is, I see nowhere for the Braves to go but up this season and I love their price to win it all at +1200.

Andrew Avery

Can throw a baseball at 90 MPH but likes to take things slow with the ladies. Has gone as Steve Bartman on Halloween for the last 15 years.

Best Bet: Tampa Bay Rays OVER 34 Wins (-115)

A great starting rotation, an excellent bullpen, a fine manager and a very solid lineup make the Rays a team to watch in this weird 60-game season. Getting to 35 wins would put the Rays’ winning percentage a tick below their 2019 number of .593. The important thing here is going to be health, especially in that starting rotation of Morton, Snell, Glasnow, Yarbrough and Chirinos. If those five can stay on the bump in scheduled starts through 60 games, we should have a winner.

If you prefer a safer route, maybe take the Rays to make the playoffs at around -150 instead. With the unpredictability of the upcoming season and these win numbers, it could be a safety net for a club looking in great shape (on paper at least) to make the postseason for the second straight season.

Long Shot: Luis Arraez Most AL Hits (+1600)

I mean, we know the Twins are going to hit the ball. Literally everyone in the lineup. All of them. But Arraez could very well be the most enjoyable of the bunch to watch at the dish.

Considering the guy has just 366 plate appearances to his credit in The Show thus far, it’s a bit of a risk. But at +1600 and owning some really impressive numbers in that small MLB sample size (and in the minors, to be fair), I think it’s worth a shot.

He slashed .334/.399/.439 in 2019 and has a 93.3% contact rate which, per FanGraphs, led all players with 200 PAs, and with that lineup, no matter the hits, offering max protection, this has a great chance. Plus, you’d be hard pressed to find a more entertaining candidate to watch cash this wager for you.