The Red Sox are 2018 World Series champions, off a 108-win season and a playoff run that included beating the Yankees in the division series – and beating them badly.
As World Series betting for next season opens at the top MLB sportsbooks, the New York Yankees are the No. 3 choice on the board at 888Sport, with 7-1 odds, trailing the 6-1 co-favorite Red Sox and the 2017 champion/2018 American League runner-up Astros.
If the offseason plays out as expected, with the Yankees adding major players in a loaded free agent market, those odds are going to drop.
It’s pretty easy to see a world in which the Yankees sign Manny Machado and a free-agent pitcher, then use their surplus of young talent to acquire another frontline pitcher, making themselves the World Series favorites by the time spring rolls around.
The smart play, then, for MLB betting fans is to get in on the Yankees at 7-1, and if you like the Red Sox, wait for their odds to drop.
The Yankees’ odds can’t drop that much, though, not when Boston and Houston are going to be back with the same, if not better, rosters than they just squared off with in the ALCS. If you’re looking for a team to get in on early before roster additions change things for them, consider the Philadelphia Phillies, a 25-1 proposition here at the end of October.
The Phillies haven’t had a winning record since 2011, and endured a couple of years of outright tanking before popping back up into contention in 2018. That “winning record” bit is something of a red herring, because this is a Philadelphia team that was in first place at 65-51 on the morning of August 12, then went 15-31 the rest of the way.
The Phillies have plenty of money to spend at the right time to spend it, and should be able to add one or more marquee free agents to a team that already figured to be better in 2019 just as a result of the young core coming into its own more.
Far harder to handicap is a team like the Phillies’ division rival, the Nationals, who start with the same 25-1 odds at 888Sport but also don’t know if they’ll have Bryce Harper or have to scramble to replace him as a departed free agent.
That said, the Nationals are going to have a pair of budding superstars in the outfield with Juan Soto and Victor Robles, a rotation fronted by Max Scherzer, and a bullpen led by Sean Doolittle. The time to bet the Nats might be after Harper leaves, if he leaves, but before the Nationals do anything to make up for that loss.
What’s incredible about Soto and Robles is that they make the Nationals feel a lot more exciting than the teams in the National League with the shortest odds, the Cubs and Dodgers, both at 10-1 with Karamba, who feel somewhat stale.
That’s a lot truer of the Cubs, because the Dodgers are still watching Walker Buehler blossom and haven’t yet seen all that Julio Urias can give them. And don’t sleep on the narrative potential of Clayton Kershaw opting out and Los Angeles finally winning it all without him. Pretty far-fetched, and you’d want to see the number drop before jumping on the Dodgers.
With the Cubs, it’s weird that a team this young and talented feels so … meh. Maybe it’s the nagging feeling that they’re locked into a pitching staff with a lot of red flags when it comes to either age (Jon Lester) or slipping performance (Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood).
If you want a really young and fresh team, and longer odds than 10-1, look across Chicago to the White Sox, who at 100-1 with Karamba are the most appealing selection of a group of longshots that mainly features teams who will not be so much as even trying to win in 2019.
The Sox themselves may not be doing so, not while Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the AL Central is ripe for a surprise team, given that Cleveland’s window may be closing, and a team with Jose Abreu and a bunch of guys in their mid-20s, supplemented by a dynamite farm system … they just could be the surprise team.
They’d likely get slaughtered by the Yankees, Red Sox or Astros, but the White Sox at 100-1 still are a whole lot more exciting and enticing play than the Mets at 33-1. Seriously, the Mets are at 33-1. Do not bet on the Mets at 33-1. Just don’t.
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