PressBox fantasy baseball writer Phil Backert shares his top MLB futures bets for the 2021 season.

If you’re in a state that is able to place a sports bet, there are a couple of MLB wagers I like.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani is finally healthy and will have no restrictions this season. It appears the Angels will be more aggressive using him as a two-way player, which means he could hit on the same day as he pitches. Ohtani may also hit the day before and after he pitches. The organization knows they are a better team with Ohtani playing on a consistent basis and they are going to test to see the limits.

The 26-year-old had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and was still restricted as a pitcher in 2020. That won’t be the case this season, as Ohtani is locked into a rotation spot. Ohtani is also hitting leadoff or second for the Angels. He has arguably been the best player in baseball this spring, as he has dominated on the mound and at the plate.

The Angels are expected to be better this season, and if Ohtani stays healthy, the stats will follow. If that happens, there’s no doubt he is the Most Valuable Player in baseball. Right now, on DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, Ohtani’s odds to win the American League MVP are +2000. That ranks outside the top five, which gives us good value. If you’re not familiar with what that means, if you place a $100 bet, you would win $2,000. I like this bet a lot.

Full disclosure, I placed a bet on Ohtani a couple of weeks ago and the odds were +3300, so the betting market is starting to hop on board. However, I still believe +2000 is a strong bet.

My other bet is Baltimore Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle to win American League Rookie of the Year. The 24-year-old hit .333 in 35 games last season and still retained his rookie status. Mountcastle can flat-out hit and will bat in the middle of the Orioles’ lineup every day. The odds on DraftKings Sportsbook currently sit at +1200, which is outside the top three.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Phil Backert

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