Ah, the Fall Classic. There’s nothing quite like it. It is the most exciting event to wager on, in my opinion, as every pitch feels like it’s a make-or-break moment. Let’s look at a few of the contenders and then the two teams I feel are worth a gamble at this early juncture. And remember, this article is about the Best Bets to win the World Series, not necessarily who I think has the best chance to win!
(Odds taken from DraftKings unless labeled otherwise.)
If the Dodgers (+450) play like this in October, it’ll be over before it starts. They look unbeatable, but everyone knows a hot start doesn’t mean a great finish. The Dodgers are built to win it all and do have some nice depth waiting in the minor leagues, but they’re such an obvious choice, and their payout is so low, I’m not going to waste readers’ time writing about them.
The second-best team has been the Yankees (+650). The Bronx Bombers have won 15 of their last 18, and they too look quite unstoppable at the moment. Is this the year baseball fans finally get a Yankees/Dodgers World Series? The networks and MLB would undoubtedly be happy about it, but the odds won’t likely get any lower than they are now, so it’s best to hold off on them.
The Mets (+750) are another team that looks as though they could contend in October. Their roster is certainly built for it, and on paper, they may be the most impressive. Mets owner Steve Cohen opened up his pocketbooks in the offseason and is all-in on bringing another championship back to Queens. But again, +800 just isn’t significant enough for me to want to jump on board.
The Brewers (+1100) are probably the fourth-best team, as they arguably boast the league’s best starting rotation. Plus, their lineup can scratch out runs with the best of them, and Christian Yelich seems to have found his way again at the plate. They aren’t a bad pick, but they’ll probably fall even further if the Cardinals can pass them in the standings later in the year.
The Blue Jays (+750) also make a strong case with their stellar lineup full of players who can go yard at any time. Their improved pitching staff and bullpen also appear to be a solid unit. Having a healthy Nate Pearson in the second half could do wonders for them. But they have looked beatable at times, and I’m not sure how far they would get with so little playoff experience.
A Few Other Contenders
• Rays: Their staff has too many question marks and it just doesn’t feel like this is their year.
• Astros: Houston is pitching extremely well, but their lineup doesn’t scream World Series champs.
• Twins: Minnesota’s probably my pick for the most exciting team, but clubs full of youth don’t usually win it all, and their peak is perhaps a few years away.
• Cardinals: Nolan Arenado is doing everything he can to will his team to the promised land, but their staff is hardly one that looks like it could contend in October (and there’s no telling when Jack Flaherty will return or how well he’ll do when he does).
• White Sox: Chicago will make a run as they get healthy later in the year, and their odds are highly favorable right now, but they feel too problematic in many aspects of the game to choose them as a winner.
• Braves: And finally, that brings me to Atlanta to repeat as champions. The Braves could make a solid push with a healthy Ronald Acuna back atop the lineup, but this team doesn’t feel like it’s capable of repeating, and no one has done it since the 2000 Yankees.
Whew! That was a lot to get through. While I may put down a few hard-earned dollars on both New York teams to win it all (and while I’m at it, even though it’s not exciting, the Dodgers), I’m not going to advise you to take either of those teams at the moment.
For one, their payouts aren’t that great, and two, with such a deep playoff system this year and baseball being so random, nearly half the teams could win it all. When selecting a winner this early in the season, you’re better off taking a bit of a long shot or at least a team somewhere in the mid-range of payouts. As the season wears on, the favorites will likely remain at nearly the same odds or even improve, while those mid-range teams or underdogs (who are winning) will see their odds significantly drop.
Last year, although they didn’t win, I was able to snag the Giants and Mariners both at +8000 in early May. While both teams made a dramatic push but came up short, I could still hedge against them in October (mainly the Giants) and pocket a decent amount of cash.
The Safer Route
If I had to pick a winner and payouts didn’t matter, I’d probably go with a subway series in New York.
The Yankees (+650) draw all the attention for their powerful lineup, including a few sluggers who have yet to get things going. They also sport a rotation headed by one of the league’s best starters, but it’s their bullpen that has impressed me the most. Some of the numbers those players are putting up in the early weeks are phenomenal.
The Mets (+750) are also deep from top to bottom, and with all their upgrades (including their manager), they feel like a winner. They’ll likely get the best pitcher in baseball back (Jacob deGrom) in the second half of the season, although there’s no telling how long he’ll last or how close he’ll be to 100 percent. Also, it’s great to see Francisco Lindor’s return to stardom, although he too comes with a bit of a caveat as he has slowed down this month. Their owner will also play a big part because when the trade deadline approaches, Cohen will do everything he can to win it all; luxury tax be damned.
The only thing holding me back from declaring them a clear-cut winner (other than the Yankees and Dodgers) is, well, they are the Mets after all, and things seem not to go their way. They’re like the modern-day Chicago Cubs.
Who I am advising readers to bet on at this moment are two teams most enthusiasts aren’t taking very seriously. Yes, there is a bit of buzz around them, but their odds are still highly favorable, creating great value early on.
Los Angeles Angels (+2000 DraftKings) (+2200 Caesars) (+2500 on FoxBet)
That’s right, the Angels. You didn’t misread that. Could this be the end of all the “they’re wasting Mike Trout’s best years” talk? I know most of you, probably all of you, are saying “no,” but hear me out.
First of all, the Angels can hit. They boast the highest run differential of any team in the AL outside of the Yankees, and they’ve also scored the most runs in all of baseball. While their pitching has been good, the bats have kept them in the win column 63% of the time. In the American League, the Angels are second in home runs (only one behind NY), second in OPS, first in RBIs, first in walks, and lead all of MLB in total bases by 10.
Besides the two MVPs and near MVP (Anthony Rendon almost won it in 2019) in their lineup, the Angeles have another trio of stars raking. Jarred Walsh (124 OPS+) has five homers and 19 RBIs, good for fifth in the American League. Brandon Marsh (125 OPS+) has 18 RBIs in just 77 at-bats with four homers and three steals. And the biggest difference-maker so far, Taylor Ward, has been otherworldly. His numbers are insane, but I’ll leave you with his 1.165 OPS and 246 OPS+, both of which are the highest in baseball.
The pitching staff has been an above-average group led by two-way star Shohei Ohtani who has produced a 3.08 ERA but maintains a much more impressive 1.52 FIP. Noah Syndergaard (2.63 ERA) has been surprisingly fantastic, and Patrick Sandoval (2.03 ERA) offers a changeup that has earned more whiffs than any other pitch in baseball.
The bullpen has been great as well, led by the steady presence of Raisel Iglesias, who is seven for seven in save opportunities. They also carry a handful of quality arms off to impressive starts and players who have done well in the past. Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup are two standouts that allowed only four earned runs and seven hits over 25.2 innings.
Their team defense has been above average as well, ranking in the top 10 of most metrics.
Los Angeles’ most significant problem in the past (besides pitching, which seems to have been remedied) was the injury bug. The Angels have suffered so many injuries throughout the past 10 years that it’s almost comical how many players don’t make it through an entire season. Not that injuries are ever a laughing matter, but you have to feel for a fan base that annually starts full of hope just to be left with half a squad by season’s end. It’s only mid-May, but thankfully the Halos have avoided any catastrophic breaks or tears so far.
At 25-1, you have to like the value you’re getting on a first-place team full of stars. Many are waiting for the other shoe to drop, but if the Angels can somehow maintain their health this year, they could go far in October. Head over to FoxBet now and wager a few bucks on the team that employs arguably the two best players in the world before their odds drop any further.
San Diego Padres (+1600 DraftKings) (+1700 FoxBet) (+1500 Caesars)
I’m not as high on the Padres as I am on the Angels because the Padres play in the Dodgers division, plus their payout isn’t as high. However, I like San Diego’s chances, with three Wild Card teams making the playoffs per league this year and each first-round series lasting three games.
The Padres are 19-10 to start the season, and they’ve done it minus their best player. Fernando Tatis’ return sometime in the middle of summer will be a massive boost for the club that has already shown it can win without him.
The starting staff has performed as an elite unit leading MLB with 17 quality starts (second place is Milwaukee with 13). Their ERA as a group barely touches 3.00, and they average only about seven hits given up per nine. They recently welcomed back Mike Clevinger to the group after a long rehab process. Clevinger has been one of the better pitchers in baseball dating back to 2017 and should fit nicely among the Padres’ talented staff. Blake Snell has yet to throw a pitch for the Friars, who just made his third rehab start today. The former Cy Young winner closed out last season with seven straight excellent starts where he only allowed a total of nine runs.
The bullpen has had its ups and downs, but it is anchored by the freshly acquired Taylor Rodgers, who has already earned 11 saves and has yet to give up a run. The pen is missing a plethora of players due to injury, but many could be back in the second half of the season, further strengthening the club.
The offensive has been extremely patient this season, leading the league in free passes. They’re fifth in scoring and near the middle when it comes to power numbers. But you have to believe that will improve once Tatis is back. Manny Machado has been on a mission and looks like an early MVP candidate. The former Oriole and Dodger is second in OPS in all of MLB, just behind Taylor Ward. He leads the league in hits, runs scored, and total bases. His BB/K is 0.68, and he places in the top 10 of both home runs and steals. Eric Hosmer’s been raking to the tune of .351/.427/.526 even though every Padre fan was calling for his departure. And Ha-Seong Kim has shown that he can be a solid contributor with regular playing time. A few of the Friars’ other big names have yet to get their bats going, but when they do, San Diego should be one of the best teams in baseball.
With Tatis on the horizon and the team already off to a hot start, a 17-1 payout feels like a steal. You rarely find odds this good with a team of this record (even this early), so place a few dollars on San Diego and maybe hedge against them if they face off against the Dodgers in the divisional round.
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Austin Lowell is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.