The Boston Red Sox managed to take their league-leading 108 wins and turn it into a World Series. The Red Sox roster was extremely good and any deficiencies they had were hidden by their strengths. Their pitching may not have been great but they were able to hit enough that it did no matter. They defeated some really good teams to get there as well. The Yankees (NLDS) and Astros (NLDS) both won 100 games and the Dodgers had one of the best pitching staffs in the majors. However, with 2018 out of the way it is time to take a very early look at the World Series 2019 odds. Can the Red Sox repeat? Will the Dodgers make it third time lucky? Is there are team slightly below the radar who might surprise?
Boston Red Sox & Los Angeles Dodgers @ 6/1
No surprise that the two World Series teams from this year open as the favorites. Starting with the champions, they have a real shot of repeating. Their key free agents are Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, Nathan Eovaldi, Drew Pomeranz and Steve Pearce. Of those the least replaceable is Kimbrel, especially given they do not have much in their bullpen right now. The rest of the roster will likely return, barring trades, and most importantly that outfield defense and strong lineup will largely remain intact. It is boring but they are probably worth a bet.
As for the Dodgers things look a little ropey. This team had to make a ton of short-term moves to even make the playoffs this year. Now they face the prospect of losing Manny Machado, Brian Dozier, Hyun-Jin Ryu and potentially even Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers rotation does have strength in depth but the loss of Ryu and Kershaw will be major. Machado’s loss is tempered by the return of Corey Seager at some point next year and they have the depth to make up for Dozier’s departure. Right now I would look to stay away from betting the Dodgers this year.
The Near Favorites
New York Yankees & Houston Astros @ 7/1 & Chicago Cubs @ 10/1
This is an interesting group for sure. The Yankees value depends on their offseason moves. They desperately need pitching with Lance Lynn, J.A. Happ and Luis Severino as free agents. If they sign a good third option to set them up with Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka then they look good. Their hitters are generally young and they will likely add some more experience a power to bolster that area. If they do sign a good pitcher it is likely these odds drop so if you like them now is the time to jump on them.
I expect the Astros to be there or there or there about. They need to deal with the free agency of Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Marwin Gonzalez. However, they have depth in the minor leagues still and their division should mean they have a good shot at making the playoffs without having to massively over stretch themselves.
The Cubs are going to return a bulk of their young core. Their biggest headache as always will be keeping them all on the field and getting them all playing time. Hopefully they get a full season from Yu Darvish which should bolster their rotation. I really like this team at 10/1. They are my favorite bet right now.
In the hunt
Cleveland Indians @ 10/1 Milwaukee Brewers & Atlanta Braves @ 12/1
The Indians division is likely to remain a joke in 2019 so playoffs should be a breeze for them. However, hether they will have the firepower for the other American League teams is debatable. Stay clear of this one.
The Brewers are returning much of their 2018 team next year. They have pieces to their rotation but they need to splash the cash this year on at least one pitcher. My feeling is that the Cubs get close to winning 100 games this year and the Brewers will likely therefore have to settle for a wildcard spot. At 12/1 I do not want to bet on a team I think could be in the wildcard game.
The Braves have a superb young core that should only get better. Ronald Acuna could easily be the National League MVP next year. I think this team is set to be an NL East power house for the next few years and that means they should avoid the wildcard game. 12/1 is an interesting price and if it drifts then you should jump on it.
Fun Long Shots
Outside of those top eight teams you are essentially looking for good value and fun bets. So who are those teams this year and are they worth a risk?
Colorado Rockies @ 30/1
The Rockies pushed the Dodgers all the way in the NL West. You could make the case that this was their window but with some smart free agent additions they could be a threat. Their young rotation will have ups-and-downs but if they can improve their offense they can hit through that in the regular season. My concern is if they made the playoffs can they pitch well enough to win series. At 30/1 it is worth a bet because the Rockies are a fun team to follow.
Tampa Bay Rays @ 40/1
The Rays became my baseball darlings last year. My heart started with the Brewers but the Rays seemingly blowing it up and still winning 90 games is an incredible story. They have some great young pieces and they do things differently. Their use of the opener was forward thinking and it would be great to see that rewarded. They are going to be sledding uphill all season in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees but they are the good guys facing off against the evil empire. The David facing the Goliaths. Who doesn’t love those narratives?
Serious bet: Chicago Cubs @ 10/1
Fun bet: Tampa Bay Rays @ 40/1