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Dan Podheiser

Dan  Podheiser

Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

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Top 10 future bets for the 2016 Major League Baseball season

28 Mar 2016

By Dan Podheiser
The 2016 Major League Baseball season gets underway Sunday, which means we have 2,430 games to bet on over the next six months.

But before we get into the daily grind of analyzing pitching matchups and ballpark splits, it's now time to invest a little time and money into our futures. MLB betting futures, that is.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm quite fond of preseason props, because they make for a guaranteed sweat throughout the entire season (or at least most of it). They're a great bang for your buck, even if they're almost always horrible financial investments.

Still, I can't pass up a good "proportunity," and with several online sportsbooks to choose from in Online Casino City's database, I'm confident I've found the best odds on the Internet to make money this baseball season.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 prop bets for the 2016 MLB season.

10. No pitcher records 50 saves (-140) – bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook

I made this exact bet two years ago – albeit with better odds – and secured a win as Fernando Rodney led the league with 48 saves in 2014. Last year, Pittsburgh's Mark Melancon notched 51 saves, meaning I would have lost this bet. But MLB teams overall are moving toward a less traditional approach to bullpen usage, not being tied down to having a "ninth inning guy" and so forth.

As I noted in my prop bets column two years ago, there were only five 50-save seasons from 2004-2013, and there have now been six such seasons in the past 12 years. I think the 50-save trend is going to become even more obsolete as the years progress, and so I feel confident being on the "under" side of this bet.

Our man Dan Podheiser is hoping for a big season for Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. (photo by Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

Our man Dan Podheiser is hoping for a big season for Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. (photo by Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

9. Most stolen bases by any player under 61.5 (+105) – Ladbrokes Sportsbook & Racebook

This is another instance where I'm going to abide by recent trends. Teams have realized that stolen bases, while exciting and potentially valuable, also provide a lot of risk that might not be worth taking. Think about it: Is it worth risking an out just to pick up one more base? Sabermetricians have figured out that a base stealer needs to be successful roughly 80% of the time in order to "break even," or create a situation with neutral expected value for his team. Most base stealers are not that successful.

Last year, speedster Dee Gordon led the majors with 58 steals. He had 64 steals the year prior, but that's the only instance since 2012 in which a player eclipsed 60 steals in a season. And only Gordon and Billy Hamilton (57 steals) were within striking distance of 60 steals in 2015. This seems like a good bet given the odds.

8. Kris Bryant to win home run title (+2500) – Paddy Power Sportsbook

Bryant, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, is the prime power bat in a Cubs offense that should be among the league leaders in runs scored this season. He's just 24 years old, but he has already shown a propensity for the longball. His 26 home runs led all rookies last season, and hit a whopping 43 in the minor leagues in 2014.

And when you watch Bryant swing, his strength is palpable; the bat looks like a toothpick as he flicks it through the hitting zone, and then the ball travels 400 feet to the opposite field. He has true raw power, and a keen eye that is rare on a player so young. He's still a long shot to win the home run title with goliaths like Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis in the field, but playing in a hitter's ballpark at Wrigley Field, I like his chances.

7. Detroit Tigers to win over 81.5 games (-105) – Winner UK Sportsbook

The Tigers' bullpen is in flux, and the health of No. 1 starter Justin Verlander is always a concern. But Detroit's positional players, both at the plate and in the field, rival any team in baseball.

Even as he enters his age 33 season, Miguel Cabrera is still one of the top five hitters in the league. The Tigers went out this offseason and signed Justin Upton, who should provide good protection for Cabrera, and Victor Martinez at DH rounds out a potent middle of the order for Detroit. The fielding has been revamped thanks to the addition of Cameron Maybin in center field and a full season of slick-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias.

The Tigers will be in the thick of the wild-card race all season long, and I see plenty of reason to think they'll be an above .500 ball club.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers to win over 88.5 games (-130) – Bovada Sportsbook

The Dodgers have won no fewer than 92 games in each of the past three seasons, and I see no reason they won't continue that trend in 2016. Yes, co-ace Zack Greinke is now in Arizona, but the Dodgers still boast one of the most potent lineups in the National League and a young core of rising stars that will only get better. Oh, and they still have Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher of his generation.

Dodgers fans have plenty of reason to be disappointed in their team's playoff failures over the past decade, but the fact remains that they have been, along with the St. Louis Cardinals, the most consistent regular season team in baseball during that time. Chalk up another 90-win season for the boys in blue.

5. Felix Hernandez to win AL Cy Young (+750) – Paddy Power Sportsbook

As I was researching this column Monday morning, I came across this sad realization:

At just 29 years old, it's hard to argue that Hernandez doesn't already have a plaque with his name on it waiting for him in Cooperstown. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has been the best pitcher in his league for a decade now, and has still never made the postseason or won 20 games in a season (pitcher wins are meaningless, but still). To sum it up, Hernandez has been one of the most underappreciated players of the past 10 years, simply because of the team and market in which he plays.

And though Hernandez had a "rough" season by his standards in 2015, posting a 3.53 ERA, he's just two years removed from leading the AL with a 2.14 ERA. He'll turn 30 years old next week, but I think he has a few more runs at some pitching hardware over the next half-decade.

4. Paul Goldschmidt to win NL MVP (+600) – Ladbrokes

There has not been a more consistent hitter in the National League since Paul Goldschmidt's first full season with the Diamondbacks in 2012. The 28-year-old first baseman has gotten better every year he's been in the big leagues, and put it all together with an outstanding 2015 campaign, in which he hit .321 with 33 homers, 38 doubles, 110 RBIs and 118 walks. He also stole 21 bases, which is insane for a first baseman.

Goldschmidt putting up another superb offensive campaign is as sure a bet as there is in sports, but the MVP is a bit more questionable. Still, I like the odds presented here, and I think if he can maintain his batting average and ascend into the 40-home run club, he has a great shot to take home the hardware.

3. Detroit Tigers to win AL Central (+500) – Ladbrokes

For all the reasons outlined previously about the Tigers having a winning record in 2015, I think they'll compete for the division title as well. Tigers owner Mike Illitch is no stranger to buying at the trade deadline, so look for Detroit to go "all in" on making the playoffs if they're in the hunt come July 31. The AL Central may belong to the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals for now, but look for the Tigers to give them a good run throughout the season.

2. St. Louis Cardinals to win NL pennant (+1100) – Bovada Sportsbook

The St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs. That's just what they do – it's a simple truth. And they generally win a series or two when they get there; St. Louis has appeared in seven of the past 12 National League Championship Series, and four of the past 12 World Series.

I'm just not going to count out the Cardinals until I know they're dead. At 11-to-1, those odds are just mocking a team that is going to win 90 games in its sleep. Lock it up!

1. Toronto Blue Jays to win World Series (+1400) – Ladbrokes

The Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball and a pitching staff good enough to stay afloat for seven months. Toronto will, mark my words, go out and acquire an ace starting pitcher this season, too.

Expect Blue Jays games to be rockin' at the Rogers Centre (always Skydome to me) this season after the team's 2015 success, and for the Jays to have the best home record in the league. I think this will be a magical season for Toronto, and at 14-to-1, someone was asleep at the wheel at Ladbrokes when they printed these odds.
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