We are three weeks away from the official start of MLB spring training. Pitchers and catchers will report, followed by the position players a couple of days after. The offseason has been a tumultuous one, with almost all of the news centered around the cheating scandal. This is something that will be talked about and revisited the entire season. The news of the scandal clouded what was a busy offseason, with many big names on the move. Those who paid more attention to what happened via trades and free agency will have a leg up betting-wise over those who focused on the other news.
Throughout the rest of the winter, a series of articles will focus on best bets to win each pennant, likeliest division winners, and will dissect a number of teams’ season win totals. There will also be plenty of team previews that will analyze both their offseason acquisitions and futures odds. We begin by looking at the best bets to win this year’s World Series.
Here are the best bets to win the 2020 World Series (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
New York Yankees (+375)
The Yankees have the shortest odds on the board, but they are not too short for me. In the last three years, the Yankees have lost two devastating game sevens to the Houston Astros for a shot at playing for a World Series Championship. Now, the Yankees plucked one of the Astros’ top-two aces and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball from right underneath them. New York won 103 games last year, even though their lineup was a revolving door and continuously sending players to the injured list. As it was, the Yankees were able to overcome all those injuries and finish just four games shy of the best record in the league. Had they had a healthier team, they would have pushed for home-field advantage and the ALCS against the Astros may have played out entirely different.
Notice how I have not even brought up the cheating scandal yet? I will not begin to speculate how much of an unfair advantage the Astros may have had in the playoffs. However, the fact that the Yankees were able to push the Astros to the brink in 2017 and 2019 with all Houston is being accused of is remarkable in its own right. In addition, the media whirlwind surrounding the Astros this year is going to wear on them. Players and coaches will likely have to answer a never-ending tirade of questions.
The Yankees have established themselves as the clear favorites in the American League. Clearly their front office knows the time is now to win a championship, thus justifying the exorbitant contract they gave Gerritt Cole to get them over the edge. Outside of Houston, there are not many teams who should push the Yankees for the pennant. Though the odds are short, they are the most likely team from either league to make the World Series. The Yankees brass believes this is their year, and so do I.
Washington Nationals (+1400)
Since the Yankees are such big favorites in the American League, it makes sense for the next selections to come from the National League. History is not on the Nationals’ side, as no one since the 2000 New York Yankees have repeated as champions. However, any rotation whose top three consists of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin is automatically a contender. Scherzer’s health is somewhat of a concern, although he says the neck issue which kept him out of multiple starts last year will not be an issue this season.
The most glaring and impactful loss is that of Anthony Rendon to the Angels. While there is no replacing his productivity with one man, the Nationals added Starlin Castro to help offset the loss. However, the loss of Rendon should create a sense of urgency from their front office to pursue a guy like Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado should they become available. The bullpen (which couldn’t have been any worse) should also be better with the additions of Will Harris and Daniel Hudson. The Nationals were able to go from a wild card team to World Series champion a year ago. However, the Braves took a big hit to their lineup after losing Josh Donaldson to the Twins. With the division seeming very winnable, that only adds to an easier playoff path.
Philadelphia Phillies (+1800)
A bet on the Phillies is essentially “doubling down” on the NL East champion. One of the biggest offseason additions to any team was the Phillies hiring Joe Girardi as their manager. A former Manager of the Year, Girardi will bring a no-nonsense approach to a clubhouse that has had its share of friction. On the field, the Phillies added shortstop Didi Gregorious and starting pitcher Zach Wheeler to fill needed holes. The Phillies have an ace in Aaron Nola and talented young relievers in the bullpen.
The thing that is most appealing about the Phillies is their willingness to spend. The first half of the year will be very important for Phillies backers. If they are in contention early, they are the likeliest of any NL East team to make a splash at the trade deadline. They have the offense to be able to compete with a frontrunner like the Dodgers. However, the appeal of what their roster “might look like” makes them even more intriguing at these odds.