Michiganders are excited for the return of Detroit Tigers baseball odds and the resumption of Opening Day as an unofficial statewide holiday.
But nobody is under any impression the Tigers will be flying any pennants this season. Neither are bookmakers.
So Michigan sports bettors are looking west for their championship favorite, at a club the Tigers prevented from winning a World Series during the last Detroit title in 1984.
Yes, the San Diego Padres are being backed in Michigan like no other team in any other state, according to information from DraftKings.
1 of 3 Michigan dollars on San Diego Padres to win World Series
With the Tigers such an MLB championship longshot at +10000, Michigan baseball bettors are gravitating toward the Padres.
According to DraftKings, 33% of the World Series futures handle in Michigan is on San Diego to win its first World Series.
That percentage is the most for any non-home-state team in all 11 states with DraftKings mobile wagering. Nationally, the Padres are getting the fifth-most handle in MLB at 11%.
Why all the Michigan love? Well, consider the alternatives, said DraftKings head of race and sportsbook Johnny Avello.
“The first thing that came to mind is that they figured out they can’t bet the Tigers,” he said. “So, now where do you go? Well, Michigan fans are probably not (New York) Yankees fans, probably not (Los Angeles) Dodgers fans, either.
“I mean they could go to, you would think maybe the (Chicago) White Sox, maybe the (Chicago) Cubs. But the Padres are a team that made the playoffs and now have all the pieces in place, including the pitching staff. So not a bad way to go.”
Padres have made big offseason improvements
After making the playoffs last season, San Diego made seismic moves this offseason, acquiring two aces on consecutive days.
The Padres picked up Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays and Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs, adding them to Dinelson Lamet for one of baseball’s strongest starting staffs.
Then, San Diego signaled it was in for the long haul, re-upping phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. for 14 seasons. That contract will expire six months shy of new reliever Mark Melancon’s 50th birthday.
San Diego has +800 odds to win the World Series, third behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+350) and New York Yankees (+550).
“The Padres give you such a good value at +800,” said Steve Buchanan, lead MLB analyst for DraftKings. “Any other division, if the Padres were in, they’d be a shoo-in to win that division.
“Unfortunately, they are in the NL West with the Dodgers, who have done anything and everything to improve their team. But the Padres are a very realistic contender to win the World Series.
“So it makes sense because the odds are over double what the Dodgers have. Personally, I think the Padres have a better team than the Dodgers, and I don’t think that’s really like a hot take. When you go from top to bottom, the Padres’ rotation is almost unbeatable.”
San Diego also has a little local Michigan flavor, as Jake Cronenworth of St. Clair is a Michigan alumnus. The versatile infielder was third in National League Rookie of the Year voting last year.
Rookie pitcher Casey Mize only Tigers player drawing wagers
Tigers right-hander Casey Mize is still eligible for rookie status, despite pitching in seven games last season.
The team’s No. 1 prospect is appearing on AL Rookie of the Year boards, tied for seventh on the DraftKings list at +1500. He’s getting 2% of the national handle to win the award.
Buchanan said the key for Mize is regain his command he showed while coming up in the minors and shaking off the rough 4.1 walks-per-nine-innings clip he threw last year.
“We all can kind of crumble up 2020 and just say, ‘Let’s just start fresh, let’s not put too much stock into what we saw last year,’” Buchanan said. “We didn’t get a huge sample.”
Buchanan said Mize at 15-to-1 could be decent odds because he should be up in the majors all season, while others, such as Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic (+1000), Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco (+1000) and Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman (+1200), are headed to the minors to begin the year.
Mize is also garnering 2% of AL Cy Young bets at +5000.
Manning, Skubal, Torkelson also on Rookie of the Year board
Detroit right-hander Matt Manning has +3000 odds for Rookie of the Year, while lefty Tarik Skubal and infielder Spencer Torkelson are both at +5000.
Torkelson, last season’s No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, will start in the minors and may not play in Detroit this season. Manning will also start in the minors.
Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn has had odds shift from +1500 to +1250, Buchanan said, in part because of the injury to Eloy Jimenez that will keep the White Sox slugger out a while. Vaughn is getting 44% of the handle to lead the AL candidates.
Hometown Tigers still generating dark-horse MI handle
As for the Detroit Tigers’ baseball odds, they are still getting some hometown love with Michigan bettors, generating the third-most handle as 10% of in-state handle is on them at +10000.
There is still money on the Dodgers, the odds-on favorite to win, as 15% of MI money is on them. The Yankees are fourth in Michigan handle at 7%, and Houston is fifth at 6%.
The Yankees lead MI handle for American League champs at 71%, while the Dodgers are far outpacing the field in NL title bets, generating 74% of handle.
The Padres, despite the World Series push, are only fifth in NL championship bets at 4% handle (+390).
Finally, in terms of Detroit Tigers baseball odds, the over/under wins total is set at 68.5 at DraftKings, with the over at +101 and under priced at -125. Nationally, 65% of handle is on the Tigers to fall short, while 35% of wagered money likes 69 wins or more.
But for the more than 8,000 baseball fans who will be at Comerica Park on Thursday, an afternoon at the ballpark after more more than a year away should be enough of a win to start 2021.