The 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs begin on Tuesday with 16 teams getting ready to battle it out to the finish. It is the largest number of teams that have ever been invited the postseason, almost guaranteeing unpredictable results. We’ll help get you set for it all with this in-depth betting preview of all 16 teams still standing.
2020 will go down as the oddest season in the history of Major League Baseball. Because of the shutdown of all sports in America in the spring, the league could only manage to squeeze in a 60-game schedule starting in July. The league’s powers-that-be decided that such an unusual regular season called for an unusual playoff format as well.
As a result, 16 teams have been invited to the postseason, compared to the normal total of 10. All teams start dead even in tournament-style play, with seedings based on regular-season records in each league determining the matchups. It all begins with best-of-three Wild Card series this week that will winnow the field down to eight for the divisional round.
In addition, there will be neutral sites for the later rounds of the playoffs. At that point, those teams still left in the postseason will enter into a bubble-style atmosphere much like the one that the NBA has been using. It will certainly be a bizarre time for baseball fans used to the traditional October theatrics.
But as unusual as this Major League Postseason will be, one thing that won’t change is the fact that people will be betting on the outcome. And this is the perfect time to take advantage of World Series futures odds at top gambling websites. After all, once you get deeper into the playoffs, your odds won’t be quite as beneficial as they are right not.
With that in mind, we’re here to take a look at the 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs from a betting perspective. We’ll take you team by team through the 16 teams with a chance to win it all. At the end of the article, we’ll give you some of our favorites and value picks so you can have a good head start on all the action.
The MLB Playoff Teams – American League
#1 Tampa Bay Rays
40-20, 1st in AL East, Wild Card Opponent: Toronto, Championship Odds: +600
If any team was constructed for a crazy season like this, it’s the Rays. The mad-scientist ways of manager Kevin Cash and his forward-thinking organization seemed to have just the right answer for every quandary this bizarre season threw at them. Which is why they ended up with the best record in the American League.
One other thing that bodes well is that they were as good on the road as they were at home, which means the neutral environment in later rounds could work to their advantage. Not to mention they are headed into the playoffs on a hot streak. If they can shake off some injury woes, with key pieces like Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz and Jose Alvarado all ailing and possibly missing time.
#2 Oakland Athletics
36-24, 1st in AL West, Wild Card opponent: Chicago White Sox, Championship Odds: +1000
Oakland would like to put some of its postseason woes behind them. But they already facing a bit of a bad beat with the matchup against the White Sox in round 1. Here they are, as they #2 seed, facing a #7 seed whose record is just a game worse than theirs.
The A’s benefitted greatly from a pitching staff that did an excellent job of keeping the ball in the park.
Their offense is old-style Moneyball, with a poor batting average but guys who can hit home runs and draw walks. If they can just get the ball in the hands of lights-out closer, they could be tough.
#3 Minnesota Twins
36-24, 1st in AL Central, Wild Card opponent: Houston, Championship Odds: +1000
The Twins are another team that relies heavily on the long ball, as they boast four players who had at least 13 homers. One of those players, Byron Buxton, comes into the postseason banged up (what else is new?) Minnesota needs him in the lineup if they are going to make a deep run.
Kenta Maeda, who turned into an ace in his first season with the team, leads the rotation. The hope is that Rich Hill can turn in some key innings to help a staff that isn’t all that deep. If their power wanes, they could be in for a bit of a struggle.
#4 Cleveland Indians
35-25, 2nd in AL Central, Wild Card opponent: New York Yankees, Championship Odds: +1200
Cleveland has some interesting pieces in place as they return to the postseason. Their offense at times this year was pretty much Jose Ramirez and pray for rain. But it’s their pitching staff that is quite intriguing as the playoffs approach.
In Shane Bieber, they have the likely AL Cy Young award winner. Meanwhile, the bullpen comes at you with the 1-2 punch of closer Brad Hand and strikeout machine James Karinchak. I’m not sure the Yankees are too happy about having this matchup off the bat.
#5 New York Yankees
33-27, 2nd in AL East, Wild Card opponent: Cleveland, Championship Odds: +650
As you would expect, you have to pay the Yankee tax to bet on the Bronx bombers. Despite having the 6th-best record among American League playoff teams, Aaron Boone’s bunch has the second-lowest odds. Whether they can play to those expectations is the big mystery of the postseason.
Ideally, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would slide into the lineup and provide their special punch and intimidation after injury-filled seasons.
But the offense isn’t nearly as much of a concern as is what will happen if the Yanks have to go deep into their pitching staff. The stars are still there, but can they align?
#6 Houston Astros
29-31, 2nd in AL West, Wild Card opponent: Minnesota, Championship Odds: +2200
You could argue that the Astros should have benefitted from a crowd-less season, since it meant they didn’t have to hear the jeers about their cheating scandal. And yet Houston meandered through a listless season, looking nothing like the world-beaters of the past few years. Yet here they are, essentially on even footing with everybody else.
The big concern is where the Astros are going to go for starting pitching with Justin Verlander out and Zach Greinke showing signs of age. If Houston could somehow get top hitters like Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correia into gear, they could be dangerous. But that’s a big “if” considering how little like their former selves that trio has looked.
#7 Chicago White Sox
35-25, 3rd in AL West, Wild Card opponent: Oakland, Championship Odds: +1200
Chicago was done no favors by the MLB’s insistence on seeding teams based on division standings. Hence, they end up as the #7 seed despite having a run differential that matched Tampa Bay’s for best in the league. But hey, you have to beat everybody in front of you anyway.
If Eloy Jimenez can shake off some bumps and bruises and join Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson, the offense should be trouble for opposing teams. There are some issues behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel in the rotation, which could hurt if they get to longer series. Still, this is a talented team that nobody wants to play so look to bet on them when betting on this postseason.
#8 Toronto Blue Jays
32-28, 3rd in AL East, Wild Card opponent: Tampa Bay, Championship Odds: +2800
With a negative run differential, it is tempting to throw Toronto out of the mix when it comes to possible first-round upsets. The key for them will be getting some semblance of starting pitching beyond Hyun Jin Ryu. Taijuan Walker has shown promise, but asking a lot of innings from him seems risky.
On offense, the Jays have table-setters like Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. getting on for bashers Lourdes Gurriel and Teoscar Hernandez. It is not a fun gauntlet for an opposing pitcher to have to run. It will be interesting to see if Toronto can shake any glad-to-be-here tendencies.
The Dodgers are favored to win it all after their unsurprisingly dominant regular season. Their run differential dwarfs everybody else in the playoffs. You’ll look long and hard to find a weakness.
If anything, they’ll be playing against the ghosts of postseason past more than anything else. These guys have seen it go wrong in just about every way possible the last few years. Barring that, they are, on paper, the best team here by a wide margin.
Some issues with his wrist kept Ronald Acuna out of the regular season finale. But reports seem to agree that he will be in the lineup for Game 1 against Cincinnati. That would keep the big 3 of Acuna, Marcel Ozuna and Freddie Freeman intact.
Can the Braves find enough pitching?
Their young starters will have to rise the occasion in the glare of the spotlight. And their bullpen still lacks consistency from the guys who will be tasked with getting the key late-inning outs.
The Cubs certainly seem vulnerable if you look at the raw numbers. Their run differential suggested a team more mediocre than their record. And the nightmarish offensive seasons of Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have left them scuffling to score runs.
At the top of the rotation, Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish have kept them afloat, and would seem to have the potential to overwhelm the Marlins in round 1. What happens beyond that, in both, the rotation and the bullpen, is anybody’s guess. David Ross’ first year at the helm hasn’t been easy, but maybe their experience will carry the day.
#4 San Diego Padres
37-23, 2nd in NL West, Wild Card opponent: St. Louis, Championship Odds: +1000
The Padres were struggling in the final two weeks before righting the ship by winning their last three games. Now we’ll find out if their young superstars can make it happen in the postseason. It will fun watching guys like Fernando Tatis Jr. Chris Paddack and Dhinelson Lamet in the bright postseason glare.
As has been the case all season long, the big concern is the bullpen, which never adequately replaced Kirby Yates. If the Padres can find some outs at the end of ball games, they can go as far as anyone. Look for this team in a colossal second-round matchup with the Dodgers.
#5 St. Louis Cardinals
30-28, 2nd in NL Central, Wild Card opponent: San Diego, Championship Odds: +3300
That the Cardinals made the postseason at all is a testament to their guts and grit. After so many postponements at the beginning of the season and the double-headers that helped to make it up, they easily could have folded it in. Instead, they get the chance to be one of the best stories of the MLB postseason.
Do they have anything left in the tank? Can they get Jack Flaherty in gear for a key effort against San Diego? These are the questions they’ll need to address to have any chance of advancing.
#6 Miami Marlins
31-29, 2nd in NL East, Wild Card opponent: Chicago Cubs, Championship Odds: +2500
The Marlins have the worst run differential of any team left in the post season, and it isn’t really close. Something like that can be overcome in the small sample of a three-game set. But as the postseason advances, it might not be so easily managed.
They’ll be relying heavily on their young starting rotation to carry them as far as they can. The offense just doesn’t have anybody that will throw a scare into you. It’s a great story that they’re here, but they likely won’t be here long.
What the Reds have going for them is the outstanding 1-2-3 rotation punch of Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. You can make an argument that their they have the best top three in the entire game. Will that be enough to overcome other shortcomings in their makeup?
Their team batting average is terrible, and the bullpen has been shaky. But Archie Bradley coming aboard helped the latter, and they can overcome the former if they can get on a home-run streak.
Watch out for this team as a possible sleeper at long odds, especially when you consider that they finished the season Red-hot.
#8 Milwaukee Brewers
29-31, 4th in NL Central, Wild Card opponent: Los Angeles Dodgers, Championship Odds: +3500
For the first time in a few years, Milwaukee seemed to have their rotation on solid ground heading into the postseason. Then injuries to Corbin Burnes and Brett Anderson struck. As a result, Craig Counsell might have to go back to their old tactics of long innings from the bullpen (watch out for budding superstar Devin Williams.)
The Brewers have been waiting all summer for Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura to heat up but it hasn’t come close to happening. If they can’t figure it out quick, this offense will struggle to score. And that could sound the death knell when you also take into account the pitcher energies.
Best Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers
Best Mid-Priced Team: Chicago White Sox
Best Long Shot: Cincinnati Reds
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs betting preview. And we hope that you can now make your wagers at top MLB betting websites with confidence. If only you could bet somehow that these playoffs will be wild and woolly, because that seems like the surest thing of all.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h …