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    As we close the curtain on the NFL season and some winter doldrums set in, it’s a sad end to one season that fortunately yields the opening light of another. As videos of throwing sessions under palm trees emerge on social media, I’ve purchased my Red Sox Spring Training tickets so that means only one thing – pitchers and catchers have reported, and meaningless split squad matinees are at our doorstep. Baseball. Is. Back. 

    For the millionth season hope springs eternal for 30 big league clubs, who all have a shot at it in one way or another. February and March bring that rye grin of optimism to any baseball fan’s face, the sign of something brighter to come for our teams, and hopefully our wallets too. It’s that early season on the calendar for MLB sharps, and there are futures out for divisional crowns, MVP winners, and the eventual 2023 World Series Champion. It’s never too early to lock in a winner:


    It should come as little surprise to see the defending champion Astros (+600) as prohibitive favorites to win it all again…boy wouldn’t that be fun for everyone! A majority of their world series winning crew returns for more domination. They’re followed closely by the Dodgers (+750) who brought in JD Martinez and Noah Syndergaard to the fold, and the Yankees (+850) who gave every dollar you can imagine to Aaron Judge to lock him up in The Bronx. Looking a little further down the list, if you think the Phillies’ run last year was no fluke they’re going off at +1500. The longest long shot of them all? The Oakland A’s to win it all at +100000 – wowza.

    Alex’s Plays: Braves +750, Phillies +1500


    In my division, it’s a sad time to be a Red Sox Fan. The Sox face their longest odds to win a division title maybe EVER at +2000 sitting alongside the Orioles at the same odds. There’s a reality check as another quiet Cham Bloom offseason yields next to nothing. The Yankees (+130) are obviously nearly even money to get it done again in 2023, followed by the Blue Jays at +200 and those pesky Rays at +270. I’ll look there to keep my money away from the dreaded Yanks.

    Alex’s Plays: Rays +270, Red Sox +1800*


    AP Photo/Scott Audette, File


    It’s a three-horse race led by the Guardians who walked to this division title last season at +115. The White Sox are at about the same odds to win the AL Central after bolstering up their pitching staff this offseason, and the Twins +180 are lurking as the third favorite. Oddsmakers give absolutely no shot to the Tigers +3000 or the Royals +3500 so I’m riding the repeat this year, albeit by less than 11 wins this time around:

    Alex’s Play: Guardians +115


    This division has the defending champion Astros who I’m going to check out at Spring Training shortly. The -185 favorites to win the AL west won the division by 16 games last season, so it will take nothing short of a miracle for the Mariners (+360) or anyone to take this crown. While the Mariners are building with youth and a hell of a lot of fun to watch, the odds aren’t crazy enough on the Stros to keep me away from betting on them.

    Alex’s Play: Astros -185


    Here’s a predictable outcome that none of us should be surprised by in 2023 – a letdown season for the Mets (+155). The other NY ball club had a lighting rod 2022 campaign that cascaded them quickly into a first-round postseason exit. I’m betting against the idea that the Mets are here to stay and overspending on Edwin Diaz (who won’t be playing this season) and Verlander were good moves. Staying in line with my picks to win it all coming from this division, I like the upstart Braves to make waves to take the NL East this season.

    Alex’s Play: Braves +100


    In this NL division, I’m looking for a rebirth year for the Brew crew in Milwaukee. This is typically the Cardinals’ (-130) division to lose as the odds still indicate, but I like the value here on the Brewers (+165). They made a slew of off-season trades and brought in All-Stars William Contreras and Jesse Winker, and they weren’t as far away in the NL Central as we all remember, finishing second by 7 games. The price is right and though I would love to include the Cubs (+600) in this conversation, they’re still a year away from divisional contention. 

    Alex’s Play: Brewers +165


    When you look and see the Dodgers won this division by a whopping 22 games, and now are only a -125 favorite to repeat the feat, it makes you scratch your head. Why the change in vibe? The gap in the NL West has been shortened severely by a massive offseason for the Padres (+120) who brought in Xander Bogaerts, get back Fernando Tatis Jr., and still have Juan Soto from their 2022 trade deadline frenzy. Though this murderer’s row of fantasy baseball royalty is impressive, I’m not buying the offensive superteam being formed in Sunny San Diego.

    Alex’s Play: Dodgers -125


    Shohei Ohtani (+220) leads the way doing baseball from both the batter’s circle and the mound, so he’s going to have to be hurt or way less impressive to not win. If you are looking outside of Shohei for a play, I’m not feeling Mike Trout (+800) or Aaron Judge (+700) but I would take a flier on a young star in the making in the Pacific Northwest to make waves and a run at the title, especially if the Mariners are playing important games in September. 

    Alex’s Play: Julio Rodriguez +900


    The Padres hold two of the top 4 odds leaders for NL MVP with Juan Soto (+550) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (+1000). It shows you we should look out for bombs in San Diego nightly this season. For my play, I’ll go a step down towards the star in Atlanta that makes the Braves engine run all year long, as he figures to have a bigger impact over the course of a season.

    Alex’s Play: Ronald Acuna Jr. +1000

    All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

    MLB FAQs

    How do you play baseball survivor pool?

    In a MLB Survivor pool, players pick one MLB team every week that they think will win. Each team can only be picked one time per season. A player survives to the next week if their chosen team wins at least half of its games that week. Administrators can select how many incorrect picks (strikes) before a player is eliminated.

    What is a baseball survivor pool?

    In a MLB Survivor pool, players choose one pro team each week that they believe will win. They may only pick a team once per season. If their selected team wins 50% or more of its games for that week they survive until the next week. Pool commissioners may select how many 'strikes' (incorrect picks) before a player is eliminated.

    What is a 13-run baseball pool?

    A 13 Run Baseball pool is a simple but fun pool for Pro Baseball. Each member (maximum of 30) is assigned a professional team. The goal is to be the first member to have their team score every number of runs, from 0 to 13. In some pools the number of runs can be changed to be from 6 to 13.

    What are MLB props?

    Each game, MLB players have certain prop lines that are assigned to them. These can be for base hits, strikeouts, walks, and other stats. For example, Mike Trout could have a line of over 1.5 base hits for a game. If he has 2 base hits that game, his prop would go over.


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    About Author

    Alex Lauzon

    Lauzon is a podcast host, live broadcaster, analyst and betting extraordinaire for the Course of Life brand. After earning a degree in broadcast journalism at Quinnipiac University, he worked in ESPN and ESPN radio newsrooms. He has interviewed athletes and celebrities from all walks of life who often love to play golf. When he's not playing golf or talking about the game on Course of Life, Lauzon enjoys time with his wife and dog, checking off the next island vacation destination or counting down the days to the next Dell Match Play in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

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