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MLB Playoff Odds Update – Yankees Favored to Overtake Athletics, Hold Off Blue Jays

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in MLB Baseball

Aug 4, 2021 · 11:47 AM PDT

Jameson Taillon throws pitch
New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
  • Roughly 55 games remain for each team in the 2021 MLB  regular season
  • The playoff odds have been updated accordingly
  • There are a some tight races in both the American League and National League

The 2021 MLB playoffs, which will go back to their standard ten-team format after a 16-team experiment last season, are set to begin on October 5th and 6th with the AL and NL Wild Card games.

All teams have between 54 and 57 games remaining in their 162-game schedule.

Here is how the yes/no playoff odds look at this stage. Underneath the odds table, see the AL and NL standings as of Wednesday morning (August 4th).

2021 MLB Make/Miss Playoff Odds

AL Teams Make/Miss Odds Make/Miss Odds NL Teams
White Sox -10000 / +2000 -5000 / +1500 Giants
Astros -5000 / +1500 OFF Dodgers
Rays -600 / +425 -1600 / +900 Brewers
Red Sox -425 / +330 -650 / +475 Padres
Yankees -135 / +110 -180 / +145 Mets
Athletics +130 / -160 +280 / -360 Phillies
Blue Jays +155 / -190 +310 / -400 Braves
Mariners +1300 / -3500 +380 / -500 Reds
Cleveland +1500 / -5000 +1500 / -5000 Cardinals
Angels +2000 / -10000 +2500 / -20000 Cubs
Tigers +5000 / -20000 +2500 / -20000 Nationals
Royals OFF OFF Rockies
Twins OFF OFF Marlins
Rangers OFF OFF Pirates
Orioles OFF OFF Diamondbacks

Odds as of 1:57 pm ET, August 4th.

Three division leaders have a cushion of 5.5 games or more: White Sox (9.5), Brewers (7.5), and Astros (5.5).

The Giants have a 3.5-game lead on the Dodgers in the NL West. The Rays are one game up on the Red Sox in the AL East. And the Mets lead in the NL East has been whittled to just 1.5 games by the Phillies and 2.5 by the Braves.

Updated MLB Standings

AL Teams Playoff Standing Playoff Standing NL Teams
White Sox +9.5 +11.0 Giants
Astros +7.5 +7.5 Dodgers
Rays +6.0 +7.5 Brewers
Red Sox +5.0 +5.0 Padres
Yankees -2.0 +1.5 Mets
Athletics +2.0 -1.5 Phillies
Blue Jays -3.0 -2.5 Braves
Mariners -2.0 -5.0 Reds
Cleveland -6.0 -7.5 Cardinals
Angels -6.5 -10.5 Cubs
Tigers -8.5 -12.0 Nationals
Royals -13.5 -14.0 Rockies
Twins -14.5 -15.0 Marlins
Rangers -20.5 -20.0 Pirates
Orioles -21.0 27.5 Diamondbacks

Standings current as of 1:57 pm ET, August 4th.

The numbers in the table above represent teams’ largest cushion or smallest deficit on any playoff spot. The Braves, for instance, are eight games behind the Padres for the second NL Wild Card, but only 2.5 games behind the Mets for the division lead. Since any postseason berth cashes this bet, 2.5 is the most-relevant number for the Braves.

The White Sox, on the other hand, are only four games better than the Athletics, who own the AL’s second Wild Card. But the second-best team in the AL Central, Cleveland, is 9.5 games back of Chicago; so the Chi-Sox playoff cushion is a whopping 9.5 games even though they are currently the third-best team in the AL, record-wise.

Best Bets

Many bettors will be tempted to parlay a bunch of teams that are near-locks, like Tampa to make it (-600), Milwaukee to make it (-1600), San Francisco to make it (-5000), Cleveland to miss (-5000), LA Angels to miss (-10000), and Detroit to miss (-20000).

That six-team parlay would come out at -324 … if you were allowed to make it. DraftKings is not allowing parlays in this market, which is understandable, since there is a massive amount of correlation between the outcomes (e.g. the Yankees qualifying strongly suggests the Athletics will not).

My favorite bet on the board is actually the Yankees to miss at plus-money. Yes, they are playing better since the All-Star break and have trimmed what was once a five-game deficit to just two in the Wild Card race. But they are still two games back of the A’s and in a dogfight with the Blue Jays and Mariners to hunt down Oakland.

The Blue Jays, in particular, are going to be a tough team to keep at bay, at least according to the stats. Toronto is sporting a +109 run differential, third-best in the AL and fifth-best in the majors. New York is at a miniscule +6.

The Yankees’ odds-on status to make the playoffs is based in part on name value and in part of FanGraphs projections, which give them a 52.3% chance to get in. But their team ERA of 3.78 is only 11th-best in the majors and opposing hitters only have a .277 average on balls in play (BABIP), which is the sixth-worst in baseball and is due for regression.

Their batting order has been anemic compared to expectations. As a team, they have a 99 wRC+, which is below league-average.

The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have the second-best wRC+ at +113, while their team ERA is just a shade behind New York’s at 3.90 (12th-best). They have also had worse luck so far on the mound. Their opponents’ BABIP is .282, which is still below average, but also higher than New York’s.

The teams’ records in one-run games is why New York is currently a game up on Toronto. The Pinstripes are 17-11 while the Jays are an AL-worst 6-12.

Toronto has three games in hand on New York and would leapfrog the Yankees in the standings if they win all three (big if). But still, the race between New York and Toronto looks like a virtual toss-up based on the current standings and underlying statistics.

And New York has to pass Oakland, too. Getting plus-money on New York to miss out is good value.

Pick: Yankees to Miss (+110)

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