The 2023 MLB season was a busy one. It was full of rule changes, legendary performances and a shocking World Series matchup that left fans excited for underdogs on the MLB odds board to make more postseason noise.
With New Year’s Day right around the corner, let’s look back at some of the biggest stories of last season before we turn our attention to 2024 next week.
Rule Changes Divide Fans
At the onset of the 2023 MLB season, the major headlines revolved around the rule changes that went into effect. While you may be accustomed to the pitch clock, base sizes and other adjustments, they had a major impact on MLB betting we need to discuss.
The biggest change to the rules was a pitch clock aimed at shortening game times in order to make them more exciting. The average nine-inning game in 2023 was just 2 hours, 39 minutes – or 24 minutes shorter than that average game in 2022.
Bases were also made larger and pickoff attempts were limited. That meant a lot more stolen bases. Stolen base attempts rose from 1.4 to 1.8 per game, and the success rate shot from 75.4% to over 80% for the first time in 2023. That was noteworthy for beating Vegas betting odds on player props
Overall, the rule changes had the intended effects, with attendance up 9.6% from the previous season. It was the first time attendance was north of 70 million fans since 2017 and 26 of 30 ballparks saw an increase. The average attendance topped out at 29,295
Ohtani Dominates in LA
The biggest story in MLB regarding a single player has to be Shohei Ohtani becoming the second unanimous American League MVP winner. Forget that his season ended with a major surgery and subsequent free-agent signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto chose the Dodgers for the bag and the shorter travel. Enough with the gaslighting from them about the Dodgers’ “winning culture” pic.twitter.com/qBEhXDlhUw
— EJ Stewart (@EJ_Stewart) December 23, 2023
What Ohtani did on the mound and at the plate was legendary and ranks among the best MLB seasons ever. Maybe the best. I really believe that.
Ohtani posted a fantastic slash line of .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, 102 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and a bonkers 6.0 WAR. Let’s not forget he went 10-5 on the mound with a 3.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.
Check what I said earlier. Ohtani had the best season in MLB history, and It wasn’t close.
He probably missed his last shot to win the Cy Young, but only time will tell. According to the MLB lines for National League MVP, Ohtani is among the favorites, along with Ronald Acuna Jr. and new teammate Mookie Betts.
An Unlikely World Series
Despite the New York Mets spending a record amount of money on their team, the Los Angeles Dodgers sporting future Hall of Famers all over the place and a slew of other worthy contenders, the 2023 World Series featured the unlikely duo of the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks. Teams who, had you been brave enough to trust and wager on their preseason MLB odds, could have made you a lot of money in futures betting.
I predicted the Diamondbacks would take a step forward, but I never imagined it would be such leaps and bounds.
It wasn’t just these teams who seriously overachieved in 2023. Underdogs like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds looked good. The O’s made it all the way to the AL Division Series before losing to the Rangers.
It will be interesting to see if youth or payroll will reign supreme in 2024. The World Series odds suggest the latter, with the Dodgers +380 favorites to go all the way.