MLB Betting: Back the Los Angeles Dodgers to Win the World Series
The baseball season is now past the All-Star Game and the first half has given fans an ample idea of which teams are contenders for the World Series.
The Dodgers seem unbeatable behind Cody Bellinger’s meteoric rise and arguably the best rotation in the majors. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been undeterred throughout an injury-riddled start; Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both landed on the injury list for part of the season, but Gary Sanchez and DJ LeMahieu have kept the team on course to win their division. Houston remains one of baseball’s best squads and Minnesota has surprised experts and fans alike with their catapult to the top of their division. Despite the Cubs sitting atop the National League Central, the division has been the most competitive in the league, as all five teams are within five games of each other. All that to say that this season has been competitive throughout with loads of exciting storylines.
Now that our model has a half season of data to work with, bettors can take stock and make informed bets on how the season will play out. Here are the current odds to win the World Series according to the FanDuel Sportsbook, only including teams with odds under 50-to-1:
|Team||Odds||Implied Probability||numberFire Probability|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+280||26.3%||30.2%|
|New York Yankees||+350||22.2%||10.7%|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2400||4.0%||5.6%|
|Boston Red Sox||+3200||3.0%||1.9%|
According to our model, there is one team that stands above the rest as the World Series bet with the best value. It might be the boring pick, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have already won 60 games and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. While the implied odds according to FanDuel come around 26.3%, our model gives Los Angeles a 30.2% probability to win the World Series -- a solid 4% edge.
The obvious story of the Dodgers’ success has been Cody Bellinger, who has been crushing baseballs to the tune of 30 home runs, second in the majors behind Christian Yelich. There’s more to Bellinger’s MVP candidacy than just his power, which has obviously been outstanding. The third-year outfielder has considerably reduced his number of strikeouts while ramping up his number of walks, making him one of the most disciplined hitters in the game. Bellinger ended last season with an on-base percentage (OBP) of .343 but has improved that number to .432 as a result of his adjustments at the plate.
While Bellinger has amazed fans with his bat, his defense has been just as good. According to FanGraphs, Bellinger leads major league outfielders with 18 defensive runs saved (DRS). He’s not the rangiest outfielder in the league, but he has the best arm in the game besides Ramon Laureano.
Cody Bellinger has been the National League MVP in the first half of the season, and he embodies the rest of his team in the sense that the Dodgers are simply good at everything. Alex Verdugo has been a solid replacement for the injured A.J. Pollock in centerfield and has 10 DRS of his own thus far. The outfield duo has been one of the main reasons that the Dodgers lead the league with 93 DRS, a full 25 of the next best team, the Diamondbacks, with 68.
Max Muncy has showcased another great rise to success on this team, with his versatility as a utility infielder that pairs with his powerful bat. He is among the three Dodgers that already have belted 20 homers along with Bellinger and Joc Pederson. The heart of the order -- Bellinger, Muncy, and recent playoff hero Justin Turner -- has been one of the best in the bigs, but the Dodgers’ main strength is that they don’t play any bad hitters with the exception of Austin Barnes, who counteracts his poor hitting with above average defense at catcher.
Even if Los Angeles had lackluster pitching, they’d still likely be a playoff contender. Instead, their starting rotation is second in wins above replacement (WAR) behind the Nationals. Clayton Kershaw is no longer the holder of the title of the best pitcher in the world, but he’s still an All-Star caliber player. However, the real story is the emergence of veteran Hyun-jin Ryu and up-and-comer Walker Buehler. Ryu leads the majors with an astounding ERA of just 1.73, while Buehler has built upon his 2018 playoff success with 113 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched this year. These three anchor the Dodgers' rotation and should pave the way for another deep playoff run this year.
Another factor working in the Dodgers’ favor is their path back to the World Series. Los Angeles has won two National League Pennants in a row, and they aren’t threatened by a particularly daunting opponent as opposed to the contenders in American League. The team closest in talent to the Dodgers is the Houston Astros, but they’re stuck in a league with the next five (!) best teams according to our numbers: Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Oakland, New York, and Boston.
So far this season, the Dodgers have been in a tier of their own at the top. Our model has projected them to win the World Series with absurd probability in a game with as variable outcomes as baseball. Los Angeles isn’t a bold pick and a winning World Series ticket isn’t going to make you seem like a gambling genius to the guys at the office, but it’s the best bet for the second half of the season.