The baseball gods must have been looking down from above, as management and labor settled their dispute surprisingly fast, and the season only suffered a minor delay. So, Opening Day is this week, and it's time for our annual MLB Futures prediction (which can't be any worse than last season's 22-1 pick on the Minnesota Twins).
Notwithstanding last year's stumble, faithful followers know that my futures predictions are among the best (if not THE BEST) in the business. Let's review some highlights just in the past few years. In 2021, both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets paid off handsomely. And, since we had no tournament in College Basketball in 2020, that was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my futures ticket, as I also had Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason (Virginia was my favorite Futures Wager of All-Time)! Also in 2019, I cashed a major longshot in Baseball on the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that World Series winner up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds). Among my other recent preseason winners were the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds), Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2017, -125 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).
This MLB season, we'll head north-of-the-border for our selection on Toronto at 9-1 odds. Last season, the Blue Jays had one of the most talented rosters in their history. It was a roster that included a Cy Young Award Winner and a young slugger who almost won the Triple Crown. And yet, the 2021 Blue Jays failed to make the post-season despite winning 91 games. They return this season with a team that is arguably even better -- one which is capable of the first 100-win season in franchise history. That Cy Young starter -- Robbie Ray -- has moved on to Seattle, but an equally talented arm has come in to replace him, in Kevin Gausman. The youngsters who drive much of the offense, namely Vlad Guerrero Jr, and Bo Bichette, are about to enter their prime. And the Jays upgraded the hot corner with the acquisition of Matt Chapman. Finally, their bullpen -- provided key pitchers don't suffer injuries -- shouldn't be an Achilles' heel this season. It's true that the AL East division is loaded. But the Yankees did not significantly improve an aging roster and are looking at a rotation which consists of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and then some combination of Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and Nestor Cortes. And the Red Sox didn't add any significant arms either. Indeed, that team just received bad news regarding ace Chris Sale and his ailing ribs. Of course, the Rays are always a threat, but it's hard to say exactly what their lineup or rotation will look like this spring -- let alone who will be left come August. So that leaves the Jays as strong favorites in the East and a likely club to go deep into the post-season in October. Take Toronto to win the 2022 World Series. They're currently +900 at DraftKings. As always, good luck...Al McMordie.