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MLB · 17 days ago

Sportsbooks are Getting Exposed in the MLB Futures Market

Grant White

Grant White

Sportsbooks are Getting Exposed in the MLB Futures Market

This time of year, it’s easy to lose sight of the MLB. The NFL re-captivates people’s attention, with college football and the eventual return of the NBA and NHL also acting as distractions. 

But baseball’s still got plenty to offer. 

Division races are tighter than ever this late in the season. The AL East, West, and NL Central are still up for grabs, with a handful of teams clamoring for position. Moreover, there are 18 squads in contention for a playoff berth, highlighting the parity and excitement across this season. 

As uncertain as the playoff picture remains, the polar opposite is true for the player awards futures market. The rest of the season appears nothing more than a formality, as most award winners have already been crowned. As it turns out, that’s not a good thing for sportsbooks. 


Ronald Acuna Jr. has been the presumptive National League MVP for most of the season. The Atlanta Braves slugger has set several previously unachieved plateaus this year, becoming the first player ever to record 60 stolen bases and 30 home runs in the same season. But his accomplishments don’t end there. Acuna Jr. also leads the league in hits, runs, total bases, and on-base percentage. 

With a resume like that, it’s no wonder Acuna Jr. has attracted the highest ticket count and most handle in the NL MVP futures market. Consequently, he’s the biggest liability to take home the first MVP award of his career. 

Granted, after a stellar summer, Mookie Betts has closed the gap on Acuna Jr.. Still, at -650, Acuna Jr. is exposing sportsbooks to unwanted liability. 


The same is true in the AL Rookie of the Year market. This season started out with a plethora of up-and-comers fighting for the distinction, but only one player was ever destined to claim the honor. As most bettors have supported, it could only be Gunnar Henderson. 

The Baltimore Orioles’ left-side infielder has been a primary contributor all year. Henderson has totaled 24 homers, 74 RBI, and 84 runs scored, remaining a fixture atop the O’s lineup. 

Not surprisingly, bettors have caught on to everything Henderson has to offer, piling money onto him in the futures market. The 22-year-old has accumulated over a third of the handle at some shops, representing the biggest liability. No one can catch Henderson at this point (he’s -2500 to win AL ROY), leaving sportsbooks to soak another big hit. 


One day, the AL MVP might be re-named the Shohei Ohtani Award. The pitcher/designated hitter is doing things that haven’t been seen in 100 years and is deservedly the frontrunner to earn his second trophy in three years. 

Before going down with a UCL injury, Ohtani did it all. The Los Angeles Angels dual-threat was 10-5 from the bump, with a sparkling 3.14 ERA and 11.4 K/9 rate. That alone made Ohtani the biggest liability for the AL Cy Young. For sportsbook’s sake, thankfully, he’s fallen out of contention, giving way to Gerrit Cole. However, when we factor in his MLB-best 1.066 OPS and 44 dongs, it’s no wonder Ohtani is driving ticket count and handle as the potential AL MVP.

A few big wagers on other top producers softens the blow for some sportsbooks. But with nearly half of the cash being put down on Ohtani, shops will be writing some hefty checks when winners are announced at the end of the season. 

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