Major League Baseball's Wide Open Season: No Dominant Team So Far, in 2021

MLB May 17, 2021

This Major League Baseball season appears to be a wide open race.  No team is dominant, right now.  That leaves every division race up in the air.  Perhaps half the teams in the majors could – with improved pitching and a few breaks – reach the World Series fall classic.

This packed field of contenders is quite a change from most years when only a few teams have dominated the baseball landscape.  Most recently, it's been the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers.  But they're currently in third-place in the NL West.

The so-called "big market" teams are just as mediocre as everyone else.  The storied NY Yankees are in third place.  The tainted Houston Astros are in second place.  The big-payrolled LA Angels are in fourth place.  The fading Chicago Cubs are in fourth place.  The offensively-inept NY Mets are jammed into a tough race in the NL East.  Oh, but the Chicago White Sox are in first place in the pathetic AL Central, so there's that.

Oh, and let's give the nomads, the Toronto Blue Jays a shout out.  At 22-17, the "Buffalo" Jays are in second place and very much alive in a division with four bona fide playoff contenders (Boston, Toronto, New York, and Tampa Bay).

As for 100-win teams, that might not happen at all this year.  That's a huge departure from recent seasons.  For instance, there have been only eight seasons in history with at least three teams to reaching 100 wins.  But three of them came in the last three full seasons (2017, 2018, and 2019).  Moreoever, three teams reached 37 wins last year and that was a 100-win pace.  This has been the era for dominant baseball teams.

This season, we might not see any dominant winners.  As W-L records currently stand, there are zero teams playing at a 100-win pace.  And there are statistical abnormalities, as well.  The Oakland A's have been hot the last month and are now in first place with a 25-17 record, yet they also have a negative run differential.  Strange to be 8 games above .500 yet also surrender more runs than they've scored.

For baseball bettors, what's really strange is – sports markets appear slow to react to this new reality.

Consider the futures odds at SPREADS.CA which shows the usual suspects at favourites.  You know the names, the faces, and the teams – the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Astros, and Red Sox.  Those are five of the top seven teams according to futures odds.  Prices range from 4-1 on the LA Dodgers to 17-1 on the Boston Red Sox.

Here's a detailed look at the MLB team TOP-10 rankings, according to CBS Sports (Monday, 17 May):