Who could offer value in the 2018 MLB odds?
Analysing potential favourites for 2018
Odds to Win 2018 World Series
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+550|
|New York Yankees||+650|
|Boston Red Sox||+1200|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+2000|
|Los Angeles Angels||+2500|
|San Francisco Giants||+3000|
|New York Mets||+3500|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+3500|
MLB’s long offseason is close to an end so it is time to look ahead to this year’s MLB futures market. Read on for an analysis of those who could offer value in the above 2018 MLB odds.
2017 finish: World Series Champions
2017 Reg. Season record: 101-61
Projected to win more games in 2018 than any other team, Houston’s 2017 success was built on a dynamo offence whose production ranked with the best historically.
While there is generally a sense that year-to-year offensive success offers more stability than pitching success, you only need to look at the twin collapses of 2015’s (Toronto) and 2016’s (Boston) best offences in the seasons that followed to see that there are no sure things.
That said, Houston certainly looks primed. That offence succeeded despite injuries to stars Carlos Correa and George Springer, whilst Alex Bregman was still improving.
Throw in a full year of Justin Verlander and you have a team that looks primed to make a run at a World Series repeat. Be careful to not pay too much attention to that World Series-earned reputation however.
Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 finish: World Series loser, NL West champion
2017 Reg. Season record: 104-58
Coming off a 104 win season, Los Angeles has all the pieces to make the run to first place once again. Don’t forget that the Dodgers entered the playoffs after an inexplicable 1-16 run near the end of the season, which is a massive statistical outlier that seems unlikely to happen again.
Cody Bellinger was a revelation with 39 HRs and 97 RBI in just 132 games with Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw is just over 30 years old and is still as good as ever. Kenley Jansen is probably the best closer in baseball.
While LA lost Darvish and setup man Brandon Morrow they may have full, healthy seasons from Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner. Cody Bellinger was a revelation with 39 HRs and 97 RBI in just 132 games with Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw is just over 30 years old and is still as good as ever. Kenley Jansen is probably the best closer in baseball.
It’s tough to upgrade on that strong team and LA has little potential to do so if they wish to avoid paying the 2018 luxury tax.
With major rivals the Astros’ and Indians’ likely to face each other, the Dodgers are probably the current World Series favourite.
2017 finish: ALDS loser, AL Central champion
2017 Reg. Season record: 102-60
Whilst the finish to Cleveland’s 2017 was disappointing, they surpassed expectations before losing to the Yankees.
Jose Ramirez’s emergence and the generally good health enjoyed by the roster were large factors in the team exceeding pre-season projections – they will be challenged to duplicate their 2017 success this time around.
Cleveland has lost middle-of-the-order threat Carlos Santana and replacing his bat will be a difficult task. You can expect the Indians to win the AL Central again. but this doesn’t speak much as it is the worst division in baseball this year. Indians potential for upgrades is limited compared to the rest of the American League teams that will be seen as World Series contenders. It appears that their their odds as fifth best contender are just at the right spot.
2017 finish: NLDS loser, NL East champion
2017 Reg. Season record: 97-65
There seems to be little standing between the Nationals and a repeat of 2017’s NL East crown. The question is whether the team will be able to improve to the point where it can overcome the Dodgers and Cubs.
In what is likely to be Bryce Harper’s last season in DC, bettors can expect the club to take an all-or-nothing approach. That, combined somewhat unwarranted suggestion that the team can’t get past the divisional series may leave the Nats underpriced in the betting market.
New York Yankees
2017 finish: ALCS loser, 2nd place, AL East
2017 Reg. Season record: 91-71
After acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, one of the premier talents in the game, the inclination in some corners is to hand the Yankees the championship now.
New York put up the second-most runs in MLB a year ago and adding Stanton to a lineup that includes Aaron Judge (52 HRs in 2017), Gary Sanchez (53 HRs in 756 career plate appearances) and a deep cast of solid to strong hitters that runs deep makes for a strong offence. Does it really make New York the presumptive favourite though?
The acquisitions of Sonny Grey, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson in 2017 bolstered the pitching staff, but the starting rotation is still a strong arm away from supremacy with the Yankees having little money left to spend.
That said, the Yankees have a lot of reason for optimism. The lineup was baseball’s second-most potent a year ago. This was despite being one of its youngest, suggesting further development is plausible.
While bettors shouldn’t expect improved numbers from Aaron Judge, his partner in crime Gary Sanchez can hope for a fully healthy season. Players like Aaron Hicks should also continue to improve behind a suddenly dangerous pitching staff.
2017 finish: NLCS loser, NL East champion
2017 Reg. Season record: 92-70
Chicago hopefully has finally recovered from the season-long World Series hangover that seemed to loom over the team last year. That should allow the Cubs to re-focus and fulfil their potential, which is another World Series title.
The lineup is the same (you know all the names) and absolutely loaded. The pitching staff lost starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis and did an OK job of replacing them with Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow. At +750, the Cubs currently have the fourth-best odds to win the World Series
Boston Red Sox
2017 finish: ALDS loser, AL East champion
2017 Reg. Season record: 93-69
Boston is rumoured to be in on just about every major bat available this offseason, thanks largely to the massive backwards step its offence took in 2017.
Like the Cubs, the Red Sox are priced to reputation more than its actual roster (as evidenced by Boston being the odds-on favourite heading into 2017) and bettors should be careful to price check before forecasting a championship. Especially after arrival of J. D. Martinez when odds have slightly dropped and anything below +1000 will probably does not worth a shot.
The New York Yankees’ improvement, however, hurts their chances for one simple reason. The potential for a wildcard spot instead of the security of a division win means progress is not guaranteed.
St. Louis Cardinals
2017 finish: 3rd place, NL East
2017 Reg. Season record: 83-79
The only team to fail to make the 2017 playoffs on this list, St. Louis is here because management is making it clear it’s looking to spend to return one of the NL’s most successful franchises to its past glory.
While the National League doesn’t look quite as bleak for those on the outside looking in (the LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals look poised to win their respective divisions, but the wildcards are murkier), St. Louis’ playoff chances were dealt a serious blow with Stanton’s rejection.
The Cardinals trade for Marcel Ozuna does cushion the blow somewhat though, and if they’re finally able to convince the Blue Jays to part with Josh Donaldson, St Louis will put itself in prime playoff position. Even then though, they will only be projected to claim a wildcard spot.