MLB Betting: 3 Teams That Have Drastically Improved Their World Series Odds

by Taylor Smith
on January 24, 2018

As recently as 3 years ago, most of Major League Baseball’s “elite” clubs finished the regular season with a few more than 90 wins. The San Francisco Giants, for example, didn’t win more than 94 games in any of their 3 World Series-winning seasons between 2010 and 2014.

Now, though, it looks as though we have a number of teams that have separated themselves from the pack. Last season alone, we had 8 teams win at least 90 games, and 3 (the Indians, Astros and Dodgers), won at least 101. The last time MLB saw even 2 teams win 100 or more games was way back in 2004 when the Yankees and Cardinals accomplished the feat. Strangely enough, neither team went on to win it all that year.

The Houston Astros were arguably the most consistent team of all in 2017, and they went on to win the franchise’s first-ever World Series title when they defeated the L.A. Dodgers in 7 games. The Dodgers and Astros are currently listed as the most likely teams to meet again in the ‘18 edition of the Fall Classic.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go. The offseason has been a slow burn for the most part, with a number of big-name free agents still available. Those players will find homes eventually, and it’ll be interesting to see how the odds are affected when those players do find new homes.

While Houston and Los Angeles are going to be favored again, there are other teams jockeying to get into the race. Below are 3 teams that have drastically improved their championship odds this winter.

Los Angeles Angels (+2500)

Following a solid-if-unspectacular second-place finish behind the Astros in the AL West last season, there has been arguably no team in the league more active this winter than the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels’ brass clearly knows that they have to make the most of Mike Trout’s prime, and they’ve not been shy about splashing the cash this offseason.

The Halos made the splashiest move of all by landing Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani met with a number of teams, including the Dodgers, Rangers and Cubs, but he chose to sign with the Angels for a number of reasons. Nearby Irvine has one of the largest Japanese communities in the United States, and you can certainly do worse than plying your craft in Southern California.

The Angels will allow Ohtani to log some plate appearances as a designated hitter, but he’ll be primarily used as a top-of-the-rotation starter. There may be some growing pains along the way as Ohtani acclimates to the rigors of Major League Baseball, but most expect his talents to translate almost immediately. That alone is a huge boost to the Angels’ overall talent, both on the mound and at the plate.

After landing Ohtani, L.A. general manager Billy Eppler quickly went out and plugged a couple of other holes.

Eppler acquired a pair of veteran infielders in Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. Second and third base were massive problem areas for this team last season, and Kinsler and Cozart provide instant upgrades.

The Angels also wasted little time in inking outfielder Justin Upton to a lucrative new deal. Upton, who was acquired on the August 31st deadline last season, was slated to hit the open market, but the Angels were quick to lock him up on a new contract. Suddenly, the Halos’ lineup beyond Trout is downright formidable.

Will it be enough to overtake the Astros in the division? Doubtful, but the Angels are pretty clearly the second-best team in this division now, at least on paper. They may have closed the gap, but they’ll still likely be looking up at Houston by the time the regular season comes to an end. Still, a Wild Card berth looks like a real possibility for Mike Scioscia’s squad. Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.

New York Yankees (+500)

2017 was pegged to be a rebuilding year for the Yankees, but they wound up winning 91 games and coming within one game of reaching the World Series. They ultimately fell short in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Astros, but this is clearly a team on the upswing. Despite that, however, the Yankee brass decided to part ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi. They hired Aaron Boone to take his place. Boone has zero previous managerial experience, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can bring to the table in such a high-profile job.

While the Boone hire was big news, it pales in comparison to New York’s shocking acquisition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton, who smacked a career-high 59 homers and won National League MVP last season with the Marlins, will see a massive park upgrade going from Marlins Park to Yankee Stadium. The ball flies out of his new home park, which means it’s entirely possible we see Stanton topping the 60-dinger plateau at some point.

Their work this offseason isn’t quite done, but no other team can match the unbelievable Stanton-Aaron Judge duo in the middle of the Yankee lineup.

They still need to figure out what to do at third base, however, as Chase Headley was dealt to the Padres. Todd Frazier could be brought back, or the Yankees could spend a little more money to bring in someone like Mike Moustakas. Still, one would imagine Brian Cashman will have that hole filled by the time spring training gets underway.

New York also brought back veteran left-hander CC Sabathia on a new one-year deal. Sabathia’s best days are clearly behind him, but he quietly put together a very solid 2017 campaign. There’s no telling how much the burly southpaw still has left in the tank, but he should provide some stability to the back of the rotation. New York also got a surprising boon when Masahiro Tanaka opted into his contract rather than testing the free agent market. Given the difficulty other big names are having finding new contracts, that looks like a wise move on his part.

This team was this close last season, and they appear to have gotten better. Some books even have the Yankees listed as the odds-on favorites to win it all this season. Boone is a wild card, but he has an incredibly talented roster at his disposal. The Bronx Bombers have as good a chance as anybody at winning it all this season.

Houston Astros (+600)

Yes, the Astros were the best team in baseball last season, but they sure appear to have gotten even better this year. They lost a few minor pieces like Luke Gregerson, Mike Fiers and Carlos Beltran, but GM Jeff Luhnow has done a marvelous job in continuing to fortify the roster.

The remaining talent is no secret. The Astros are going to win a lot of games again next season thanks in large part to the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and so on. That was always going to be the case regardless of which minor players left this offseason.

Luhnow still has some work left to do, but the moves he’s made to this point look promising.

One of the few weak spots with this club last season was the bullpen, which struggled a bit during the playoff run. However, Houston appears to have upgraded the ‘pen by adding Joe Smith and Hector Rondon. Neither is a huge name, but the Astros didn’t need to add one of the big names in order to remain relevant.

They still need a lefty reliever, as Tony Sipp is beyond unreliable in that role. Francisco Liriano could be brought back, but Luhnow would do well to kick the tires on a more proven name like Tony Watson. We’ll see how that shakes out.

The big move for the Astros this offseason was the trade that landed ex-Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. Cole, a former No. 1 overall pick, hasn’t looked like his true self over the last couple of seasons, but the Astros see that the talent is there. Now that he has the chance to work with one of the game’s best pitching coaches in Brent Strom, Houston should be able to tap back into Cole’s immense upside.

Not every team can plug a player of Cole’s caliber into their rotation as a No. 3 starter, but that’s just what the Astros will be doing. Cole figures to slide in there behind Verlander and Keuchel, and ahead of Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. If you can think of a more talented 5-man rotation, I’d love to hear it.

In order to repeat as champions, the Astros were going to have to keep up with the competition. So far, it appears as though they’ve done just that.

Houston is as strong a bet as anyone to raise the commissioner’s trophy once again in 2018.
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