The Best Early Bets to Win the 2019 World Series
Spring training is less than a month away, which means it’s a great time to examine World Series odds. The reigning champion Red Sox have the best odds to win, unsurprisingly, and the loaded Astros are right behind them. Destinations for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado could significantly change the betting landscape, but here are the current World Series odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Let's take a look at some ways you could capitalize on these odds.
|Boston Red Sox||+550|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+700|
|New York Yankees||+700|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1600|
|New York Mets||+2200|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+4100|
|Los Angeles Angels||+5000|
|Chicago White Sox||+6700|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+7700|
|Kansas City Royals||+10000|
|San Diego Padres||+10000|
|San Francisco Giants||+10000|
Best Value: Houston Astros +600
Last season, the Astros got burned in the ALCS, losing to the Red Sox in five games. Even though, they lost that series and finished five games behind Boston in the regular season, the case can be made that the Astros were the most talented team in 2018.
According to Baseball Reference, Houston had an MLB-best Pythagorean win total of 109 victories in 2018, which is the expected win total based on run differential, as opposed to 103 actual wins. The Astros had one of the best lineups last season, with both Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman having outstanding years at the plate. Houston adds 2018 All-Star Michael Brantley to the equation from Cleveland, and a full season of a healthy Carlos Correa will make a difference, too.
Brantley will likely replace Marwin Gonzalez, who remains unsigned, in left field. Gonzalez had 1.6 wins above replacement (WAR) and 104 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) last season. Brantley is projected for 1.9 WAR, per Steamer projections from FanGraphs, and he projects to be a solid upgrade at the plate even though he'll almost certainly be a worse defender than Gonzalez.
Houston’s lineup should be even better in 2019, but their rotation, which was best in the majors last season by fielding independent pitching (FIP), may be missing some key components. Charlie Morton, who was an All-Star last year, signed with the Rays, and former Cy Young-winner Dallas Keuchel is still on the market. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will be back to build on their dominant 2018 seasons, and the Astros have Forrest Whitley, the top pitching prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
Whitley is currently in Double-A and may not start the season on the Astros’ roster, but Houston has another top young pitcher in Josh James, who will likely start in the Astros’ rotation this season. James is projected to amass 2.0 WAR, per Steamer, with a solid 3.96 FIP and should step up to be a major contributor for Houston in 2019.
The Astros’ outlook for 2019 is a strong one, thanks to what should be an improved offense, driven by the acquisition of Brantley and the return of a healthy Correa. If Houston’s young pitchers can step up to replace the loss of Morton and potentially Keuchel, the Astros should be the best team in baseball once again in 2019. Even if they cannot replace last year's stellar rotation, they can have enough young talent in their farm system to make some noise at the trade deadline. Houston is in a great position to make a run at their second title in three seasons.
Long Shot Value: Washington Nationals +2000
The rationale behind betting the Washington Nationals at these current odds may seem counterintuitive, but the reason that the odds are so high is because Harper is still on the market. He was an impact bat for Washington, so they’re perceived as far less likely to win the World Series than they were a year ago.
Washington had a mediocre season in 2018 and missed the playoffs with an 82-80 record. However, they earned 90 Pythagorean wins and finished the season amongst our models' top-10 teams. Despite the potential loss of Harper, they still have one of the most dynamic lineups in baseball, led by Anthony Rendon, who was Washington’s best hitter last season with a whopping 140 wRC+.
The Nationals have plenty of young talent to continue their run without Harper, including shortstop Trea Turner, who is a true five-tool player, and outfielder Juan Soto, who started 2018 in the minors only to hit 22 homers in 116 games in the big leagues. Victor Robles, who is currently the starting center fielder on Washington’s depth chart, is one of the top prospects in the game and projects to make a solid contribution (2.0 WAR, per Steamer) in 2019.
Last year, the Nationals’ starting rotation was top heavy, with Max Scherzer finishing second in the Cy Young race (for what would’ve been his fourth). Stephen Strasburg pitched well but didn’t pitch a full season; he struck out 156 batters in 130 innings pitched. Beyond that, Washington didn’t have much firepower. However, they’ve signed away Patrick Corbin from the Diamondbacks, and Corbin was a breakout start in 2018 who struck out 246 batters in 200 innings and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting. If Strasburg stays healthy for a full season, the Nationals’ rotation should be much improved with the addition of Corbin.
Washington was a major disappointment last year and may
have blown their chance at keeping Harper, one of the most exciting
players in baseball. That doesn’t mean they’re done competing for a title,
though. They have plenty of young talent and dominant arms to push division
rivals Philadelphia and Atlanta to the limit. Bettors would be wise to take a
chance on Washington, who still has one of the better rosters in baseball.