Opening-Season World Series Odds for Every MLB Team
World Series odds come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate leading into MLB’s opening day, Thursday, March 29th. Be sure to continue checking these lines as the season chugs along. They will change. It’s important to stay on top of them earlier in the year specifically, as sportsbooks will shift the odds as they get a feel for the biggest surprises and disappointments.
Also: Teams will be presented in order of increasing opening-day World Serieslines, so please do not view this as an official power rankings exercise.
These odds need no introduction or background.
The Miami Marlins deliberately took a stick of dynamite to their roster over the offseason under the cash-conscious eyes of new ownership. They showed no mercy, no discrimination. Their two best players, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, are long gone. They’re going nowhere this season, and they don’t just know it. Rather, it’s by design.
It’s actually low-key surprising they’re not laying something worse than a +50,000. Because, after all, they’d deserve it.
Here’s the good news, Cincinnati Reds fans: Your team is poised to improve upon its 68-94 record from last season. They have a nice bundle of quality youngsters who should continue developing nicely. They might, if they’re lucky, have a troika of 30 home-run hitters with Scott Schebler, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez.
Here’s the bad news: They’re still rebuilding. They’re not primed to make the playoffs. Getting to 75 wins, or anywhere near .500, for the end of the season would be a huge accomplishment.
Detroit Tigers (+30000)
Get ready to watch a tough season from the Detroit Tigers. They enter 2018 stocked with a bunch of no-names and prospects in the infancy of their development. Their pitching staff in particular will be shaky at best.
If this squad hits the 70-win plateau, something went right—someone became a household name, their pitching staff was better than expected, they scrapped together more offense than anyone could have ever imagined, etc.
San Diego Padres(+30000)
The San Diego Padres should be marginally better than they were last season—which isn’t saying much. They won just 71 games and finished with the worst run differential in the league.
But their pitching staff should be better. Keep an eye on Dinelson Lamet there. Just don’t expect this group to rattle off more than a mid-70s win total.
Lateral movement may be in store this year for the Atlanta Braves. If a few of their key players—Brandon McCarthy especially—stay healthy, they might be able to go places. In this instance, though, “go places” refers to the 80ish-win benchmark.
Someone to watch: Second basemen Ozzie Albies. Many have the 21-year-old contending for an All-Star spot.
Most projection systems consider the Oakland Athletics decidedly mediocre. This would actually represent a massive improvement over last year, when they pieced together 75 wins on a minus-87 run differential.
FanGraphs has the A’s on course for an 81-81 record right now, with a near-even run differential. They’ll take it.
Put the Pittsburgh Pirates in the same boat as the Athletics. It’s actually kind of weird they’re laying better odds than Oakland.
Given that the Pirates placed third to last in runs per game last year and didn’t noticeably approve the bats on hand leading into this season, they’re in line, as of now, for something like 75, maybe 78, victories. That’s not worth a +15,000 gamble. They’re more likely to finish under .500 than the Athletics—and maybe even the Braves.
Tampa Bay Rays(+15000)
Having a healthy Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon headline the pitching rotation would work wonders for the Tampa Bay Rays. They were justabove the league average in runs allowed per game last season and, with two durable studs, have the capacity to make a huge leap.
That’s not going to happen.
De Leon is already flirting with the disabled list, and the Rays don’t have the bats to float anything close to an above-.500 record. Consider them the Pirates of the American League, in that they’re currently overrated long shots.
Chicago White Sox(+12500)
The Chicago White Sox aren’t going anywhere this year without a more potent exhibitions from their pitching staff or their offense. They finished in the bottom 10 of both runs scored and allowed per game.
Bank on any demonstrative surge coming from their guns on the mound. They don’t have enough reliable bats in the order right now.
Not that it matters. This team, even with a shocking performance from its pitching staff, doesn’t have the juice to enter the playoff discussion.
These odds feel inflated by the arrival of Japanese phenomShohei Ohtani. The Texas Rangers plan to use the multifaceted star as a pitcher and designated hitter. While that will make for an interesting experiment, rookies are seldom dominant in this sport right from the jump.
Ohtani seems even less likely to strike gold on an immediate breakout, because the manner in which he’s being used, relative to expectations, is largely unprecedented. And although the Rangers have the offense to overcome any struggles he’ll endure at the plate, their pitching staff desperately needs an ace after allowing more than five runs per game last year.
If Ohtani isn’t it, they have no other real candidates, and thus no real chance at markedly improving upon last season’s 78-win total.
The Baltimore Orioles posted the fourth-worst earned run average in MLB last season. If they get standout performances, as expected, from Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, with each tossing well into 350 innings, they should be able to drastically up that rank.
That, in turn, makes them a team to watch. They finished at right about the league average in runs per game for 2017, and FanGraphs has them boosting those numbers by a considerable margin this time around.
World Series contenders? Definitely not. Well, definitely probably not.
Kansas City Royals(+8000)
Um, so, yeah: The Kansas City Royals are being overrated here.
FanGraphs has them finishing with the sixth-worst record in baseball this season. The nuance doesn’t matter. They shouldn’t be laying a +8,000 when their pitching staff is unimpressive and their offense figures to rank among the five or seven worst in the league.
The Philadelphia Phillies are either a quality dark horse or an expensive gambling trap.
Their front office handed out nearly $170 million in contracts to Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter over the offseason. They’re serious about moving up the ranks in the National League East.
But will they? They do, remember, have a lot of ground to make up. Their offense was among the most anemic around last year, finishing inside the bottom four of runs scored per game. It’ll take a complete about-face for them to toe the line around .500.
It’s been almost 20 years since the Seattle Mariners last appeared in the playoffs. They made it in 2001 and haven’t been back since.
It doesn’t look as if that drought will end this year. They have an outside chance of entering the Wild Card discussion, but they’re overwhelmingly average. They staved off bottom-10 status in both offense and earned run average last year, yet also failed to eclipse the top 15 of either category.
Feel free to show the Colorado Rockies a little bit of love. They appear bent on cannonballing into 90-win territory.
Signing Wade Davis in freeagency proved that much. Their pitching staff hovered around 20th in earned run average, and adding him to the fold ensures they’ll have a chance toclimb into the top 14 or 12—or if they’re lucky, into the top 10.
Toronto Blue Jays(+3500)
Yet another quality long-shot option.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ pitching staff laid down a solid effort last year. That’s expected to continue heading into 2018. Expect them to once again hover around the league average in that department.
Beefing up their run total will be the key to their season. They were 26th in scoring per game last yearand didn’t really do much to address the need for an offensive uptick.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to enjoy a repeat of their 93-win 2017, they’ll need better play from their bullpen.
Free-agency pickup Yoshihisa Hirano is the player to watch here. If he, along with Archie Bradley, proved to be a collective upgrade over departed closer Fernando Rodney, they should be sitting pretty. Heck, with their offense expected to put out over five runs per game for a second consecutive year, they might even sniff 100-win territory.
San Francisco Giants(+3300)
This is what it looks like when a popular team from a popular market is wildly overrated.
The San Francisco Giants are clearly invested in making the playoffs this year. They got older over the offseason,reeling in Matt Moore and Evan Longoria. Both are solid additions. But the Giants finish tied for the worst record in baseball last year. Teams don’t just typically stage instant turnarounds after a season like that.
Injuries played a part in their demise. There’s no doubt about that. A few good breaks in the health department, and this team could be…en route to 83 wins. And that’s just not enticing enough to view them as a threat to do anything special in the National League.
Raise your hand if you had the Milwaukee Brewers winning 86 games last year.
Anyone with their limbs in the air, congratulations. You’re all liars.
This number accounts for that success, perhaps a little unjustifiably. The Brewers are young. And youth breeds turbulence. They certainly appear to be on an upward trajectory, and their pitching staff is, by and large, established enough for us to believe it can replicate last year’s success. But +2,500 implies fringe contention. Milwaukee isn’t yet offering that.
St. Louis Cardinals(+2000)
There’s only one word to describe the St. Louis Cardinals: Solid.
Solid pitching. Solid hitting. Solid awareness on the base paths. Solid adjusting slugging percentage. Solid mix of youth and veteran leadership up and down the depth chart.
Solid, solid, solid.
Unfortunately for them, merely decent teams don’t tend to win championships—which is why they’re striving to be more than that. Picking up Marcell Ozuna alone should vault them past 85-win territory. He gives them a legitimate All-Star in the outfield and should tip the scales just enough on the offensive side for them to grind out a few extra victories.
If the Cardinals stay healthy, 90-plus wins and a playoff appearance is not out of the question.
Los AngelesAngels (+2000)
Are you ready for the Los Angeles Angels to underachieve, yet again, for what seems like the umpteenth time?
Well, brace yourself: They’re looking pretty damn good.
Extending Justin Upton ensures Mike Trout will have adequate help in the batting order. They improved a great deal in the infield as well, picking up second baseman Ian Kinsler and third baseman Zack Cozart.
Indeed, it appears genuine life has been injected into a team that finished 27th in slugging percentage last year, despite employing perhaps one of the greatest hitters of all time, in Mr. Trout. Predicting 90-something wins and a playoff berth for the Angelsis notoffthe table.
New York Mets(+2000)
Remember in 2015, when the New York Mets’ pitching staff ferried them all the way to the World Series? Here’s a scary thought: Though they are now more than two seasons removed from that upswing, the Mets’ pitching cast is still the third youngest baseball.
Just picture what this team could do if Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey all stay healthy. The Mets collectively finished 28th in earned run average last year, and they’ve yet to be even close to full strength since their World Series push, but a little bit of luck would go a long way for them—particularly when you factor in how much better this season’s offense is compared to the group from 2015.
Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the Minnesota Twins’ center fielder Byron Buxton. Many have the 24-year-old tabbed for full-fledged superstardom this season, which is a scary proposition when you consider they’re working off a playoffberth from last year.
Questions still surround the pitching staff, but the Twins have some nice options coming out of the bullpen, and they were wise to take a flier on Michael Pineda. If Buxton winds up further weaponizing an offense that ranked in the top eight of runs scored for 2017, the Twins should find themselves hovering closer to 90 victories than not.
Boston Red Sox (+1000)
Certain people are still put off by the Boston Red Sox’s ratheruneventfuloffseason. They re-signed Mitch Moreland to play first base instead of trading for Eric Hosmer from the Kansas City Royals (who eventually sent him to the San Diego Padres). That’s it. And people are always turned off by relative inaction.
Yet, to the Red Sox’s credit, they didn’t need to do much. They won the American League East on the back of elite pitching options that remain intact now, and their offense should again be good enough to cobble together more than five runs, on average, per game.
We’re not promising another 93-win season. At the same time, we’re not saying the Red Sox won’t get there either. Even if the New York Yankees coming for them, they could feasibly go for 95 victories.
There’s no way the Cleveland Indians are over the 2-0 lead they blew in last year’s ALDS. It will haunt them deep into this season. But it won’t take much for this team to overshadow its checkered playoff performance.
Relative to expected contributions at every position in 2017, the Indians were actually Major League Baseball’s best team, according to Baseball-Reference. And they’re bringing pretty much all of their core pieces back. They should have little trouble continuing their half-decade run of superlative win-loss returns.
What could possibly make the Washington Nationals’ offense even scarier? How about the addition of Mike Trout?
This doesn’t have anything to do with this season. Trout won’t hit free agency until 2019. But the Nationals are already the odds-on favorites to land him, which is absolutely terrifying. They’re already equipped to place fifth or better in runs scored per game. Imagine what he would do to their lineup.
Anyway, the Nationals project to be one of the three or five best teams in baseball—the rare squad capable of finishing inside both the top five of earned run average and overall batting average. Treat them as a serious World Series option from the opening pitch.
The Chicago Cubs sent a message by making a series of mid-end moves over the winter: We don’t believe we need another star to get back over the World Series hump.
And theymight be right.
The Cubs finished inside the top seven of both on base percentage and slugging percentage last year, and they added a ton of arms to a pitching staff that threw too many wild pitches.
Fending off the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central will be tough, but the Cubs continue to have the personnel to do it.
New York Yankees(+600)
Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton being on the same team is a cheat code in action. The New York Yankees already boasted one of the four highest slugging percentages in baseball, and then they went out and traded for Stanton, an MVP home-run hitter.
Pitching continues to be touch and go for them. They ranked fifth in earned run average last year, but they never really felt like they deployed a dominant rotation. And they didn’t do anything over thewinter to push the bill. Re-signing the ever-steady C.C. Sabathia was their most noteworthy transaction on this front.
Still, we have to wonder whether this even matters. The Yankees finished within one win of a World Series cameo last season, and they only got better thereafter. Plus, there’s a real chance Judge, Sanchez and Stanton go for 130 or 140 homers between them.
Sometimes, the reigning World Series champs don’t deserve the best odds to open up the following season. This is not one of those instances.
Although the Houston Astros will probably forfeit their league-best slugging percentage to the absolutely stacked New York Yankees, they still project to have one of, if not the best, offense in the league. More than a few are bent out of shape that they didn’t do enough to deepen their bullpen, but they’ll be fine.
Last year’s pitching staff did a nice job limiting the home-run ball, and they didn’t lose anyone of note. On the contrary, they signed reliever Joe Smith to a two-year deal. He’s enough to buoy their bullpen appeal.
Look, maybe this team doesn’t leapfrog 100 wins again. But they don’t need to. They’re deep and versatile, and no major threat has presented itself in the American League West. The Astros are locks to make another playoff appearance.
Los Angeles Dodgers(+550)
Believe it or not, the Los Angeles Dodgers won’t have Major League Baseball’s highest payroll this year. Hoo-ray! And believe it or not once more, they’re actually better than they were last season, when they finished one win shy of a World Series title.
Acquiring Matt Kemp should do wonders for a squad looking to enter the top five of on base percentage and/or slugging percentage. The question for them, as always, comes back to their bullpen. They finished third in total saves for 2017, but they’re moving forward without both Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy.
No, this isn’t the end of the world. And the Dodgers, for their part, did sign right-hander Tom Koehler. Still,the state and effectiveness of their bullpen remains something to watch.
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