Sites like WagerBop that cover Vegas odds and sports betting sometimes seem to include a distinct lack of baseball stories.
Is it because we hate hardball? Dislike the diamond? Scorn sunflower seeds?
Nope. It’s just that the day-to-day timing of Major League Baseball’s schedule makes it difficult to plan, draft, edit, publish, index, and promote a preview on the internet before the ballgame is over and the next day’s battles begin.
Futures to the rescue! BetOnline will likely “float” its World Series futures odds board throughout the early months of the 2019 MLB season, but the best time to pick a futures bet is before the Grapefruit League turns into ballgames for-keeps.
Adopt a ballclub and cheer them on to October!
Here’s a look at 8 of the shortest-odds contenders on the BetOnline board…and of course my opinion on which club is most worth a long-term investment.
But just as with finding out if a futures bet will pay off, you’ll have to wait until the end for that.
New York Yankees ((+700) Odds-to-Win the 2019 World Series)
The Yankees lived up to their ‘Bronx Bombers’ nickname in 2018 with the most deadly bats in the Major Leagues. Giancarlo Stanton led the charge with 38 home runs and 100 RBIs. Outfielder Aaron Judge posted a slugging percentage of .528.
The pitching rotation received a major push when the team traded for James Paxton, formerly a hurler for the Seattle Mariners, this offseason. The southpaw led the Mariners with 208 strikeouts, and will join Luis Severino who put up 19 wins a season ago.
But for a still relatively-untried Bronx team to reach the World Series, the club’s fielding must be straightened up. The Pinstripes ranked 20th in the Major League with 93 errors in 2018.
In spite of the sloppy defense, manager Aaron Boone led the Yankees to a 100-62 record and an appearance in the ALCS in his inaugural year on the job.
Bryce Harper is also whispered to potentially land in New York this season. That would be a shot in the arm to the club’s prospects for October.
Boston Red Sox (+750)
The defending World Series champs are fairly-heavy favorites to turn out to be the first team to repeat in nearly 2 decades. Manager Alex Cora defied expectations in his introductory season by dominating all of baseball with a 108-54 record.
Bats include the 1-2 punch of Andrew Benintendi and defending American League MVP Mookie Betts. Betts will aspire to increase his 80 RBIs from a season ago and improve on a blistering .346 batting average. All-Star J.D. Martinez returns after leading the team with 43 homers.
Center-field standout Jackie Bradley Jr. comes back after reeling-in his first career Golden Glove. Betts is a defensive dynamo as well. But managing the pitching rotation will remain a test for Cora. Chris Sale leads a 6-man rotation and is coming off a 12-win season with a 2.11 ERA.
Houston Astros (+800)
The past 2 seasons have been spectacular in Space City. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 and have nabbed 2 consecutive AL West pennants.
Key replacements need to be found to replenish the pitching rotation heading into 2019. Outside of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who had 31 wins between them, there are mostly question marks. Fielding has been immaculate, however, as the club committed the fewest errors in the league and had the top fielding percentage in 2018.
3rd baseman Alex Bregman was the leader of all Astro batters with 31 homers and 103 RBIs. Outfielder George Springer added 22 home runs on the way to an All-Star appearance.
Manager A.J. Hinch holds a record of 374-274 since coming on board in 2015.
Los Angeles Dodgers (+800)
Manager Dave Roberts has taken the Dodgers to the doorstep of a World Series in 2 successive seasons. The back-to-back National League champs have a record of 287-200 since Roberts took over in 2016 and an NL best +800 odds to win the 2019 title.
Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger lead the way for Dodger batting assault coming off a season with 60 combined home runs. The loss of the exciting Yasiel Puig and his 23 home runs will leave a hole in the lineup, and the Dodgers may not prove to be as dynamite without his bat.
Los Angeles has a youthful crop of talented pitchers in the rotation behind highly thought of starters Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, but the bullpen needs an improvement while primary closer Kenley Jansen recovers from heart surgery.
Chicago Cubs (+1200)
The Cubs were one of the steadiest offensive teams in the league in 2018 with a 4th-ranked team average of .258. Shortstop Javier Baez lit-up his opponents for 34 home runs and 111 RBIs, but it was not good enough to get the Cubs past the Wild Card game.
Star pitcher Yu Darvish had his season cut short from an injury, but Jon Lester had a wonderful summer with 18 wins and an ERA of 3.32. The club was 3rd in the Major League with an overall team ERA of 3.65.
After 10+ years as a manager with the Cubs and Rays, Joe Maddon grabbed his first World Series title with Chicago in 2016. Since he took over in 2015, the Cubs have amassed a record of 387-261.
Philadelphia Phillies (+1200)
New skipper Gabe Kapler led the Phillies to a great start out of the gate in 2018, but the team ultimately sputtered to an 80-82 finish and missed the playoffs. Despite the awful tailspin to end the season, the Phillies have the shortest futures odds of any NL East team at 12-to-1 payoff.
The Phillies were a bad batting team in 2018. The club’s offense finished last in the Major League with a team hitting percentage of .234. That stat could turn a 180 in 2019 as the Phillies are amongst the frontrunners to potentially sign Harper and/or Manny Machado.
Aaron Nola leads the pack in the pitching rotation, coming off a fine 17-win season with an ERA of 2.37.
St. Louis Cardinals (+1200)
The Cardinals made a splash in the offseason by nabbing Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks. The acquisition gives the batting lineup an enormous boost and could propel the Gateway City into another MLB fan-frenzy late this summer.
Nevertheless, the club has missed the playoffs 3 seasons in a row, which has worn on the patients of Redbird supporters. Mike Shildt went 40-28 as the temporary manager in 2018 and was awarded a 3-year contract to lead the club.
Shildt’s main concern will be the Cardinals’ terrible fielding. The team finished last in the majors in errors and fielding percentage in 2018, in spite of catcher Yadier Molina winning yet another Golden Glove (with that almost-petulant “I work with children’s charities and you don’t” look on his face the entire time).
The acquisition of veteran reliever Andrew Miller will aid the Cardinals’ bullpen.
Milwaukee Brewers (+1400)
The defending NL Central champs are at astoundingly long odds to prevail in autumn.
Manager Craig Counsell has posted a 316-308 record since taking over the club in 2015, but last season was the breakout year for the Brewers under Counsell’s leadership, as the squad won the division crown for the first time since 2011 and was a lone win away from the World Series.
Part of the formula was a consistent pitching rotation that finished 5th in the league with a collective ERA of 3.73. Jhoulys Chacin led the way with 15 wins and a 3.50 ERA, but the Brewers are still in search of a lefty to add.
The Brewers were among the most commanding hitting teams of ’18 with 218 home runs. The 3-headed monster of Aguilar, Christian Yelich, and Travis Shaw combined for 103 home runs and added 304 RBIs.
World Series Winner Prediction
I like long odds (with a nice potential payoff) in a futures pick. I also like complete teams that can look to get even better than they already have been.
Milwaukee offers both in a single package despite being only the 8th most highly-touted club in Las Vegas headed into the preseason.
The Brewers ding home runs left and right, could produce a terrific pitching staff with a few adjustments, and are only a fielding lesson or 2 away from becoming a dominant force in the National League.
Take the Milwaukee Brewers at 14-to-1 payoff odds.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.