MLB Futures Betting – 3 Teams That Can Win It All
The 2017 World Series was the most exciting Fall Classic I have witnessed to date. The back-and-forth action had fans all over the world glued to their seats, including myself. I have a funny feeling the 2018 season is going to produce even more unbelievable drama.
When I look at the betting sheet for the odds to win the 2018 World Series, “right off the bat” there are a number of teams that jump off the page. Sitting at the top at +450 is your defending champion, the Houston Astros. Manager A.J. Hinch has an absolute loaded lineup returning and has bolstered his rotation by adding Gerrit Cole.
Right behind the Astros at +480 is the New York Yankees. With the addition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton, they appear on paper to be the team best suited to challenge the Astros in the American League. Next, you have NLCS champs from a year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers, lurking at +500. No surprises here, as the team that won a league-high 104 games during the regular season a year ago returns essentially the same lineup.
But guess what, ladies and gentlemen? I haven’t even gotten to the three teams I think have the best shot at winning it all this season. That is what the rest of this blog is for!
Continue reading below to find out which three teams I believe have the best shot at spraying champagne bottles around in the locker room come the end of October. I’ll start with the team that I like the most and is my pick to win this year’s World Series.
The Washington Nationals (+800)
Why do I think a team with a first-year manager has what it takes to be the last team standing? Have you looked at the Nationals’ lineup and pitching rotation? All you have to do is take one peek, and you quickly realize that this team has everything it takes to host the Commissioner’s Trophy when it’s all said and done.
Saying they have a “loaded” lineup is actually quite the understatement. Left fielder Adam Eaton will likely return to the leadoff role he was supposed to assume last year before tearing his ACL and meniscus in his left knee just 23 games into the season. This will help set the table for their heart of the order, an absolute nightmare for any opposing pitcher.
Shortstop Trea Turner is the leading candidate to lead the Majors in steals and has shown he also has plenty of pop in his bat. Third basemen Anthony Rendon is coming off a year in which he was more reliable and more productive than Manny Machado and Kris Bryant.
I should probably mention their superstar right fielder Bryce Harper, who appears to be healthy and ready to “ball out.” If the Las Vegas native can stay in the lineup for 150 or more games, watch out for an MVP-like campaign like the one he had in 2015.
Oh yeah, and there’s Daniel Murphy. The ultra-consistent hitting second basemen is still nursing a sore right knee and may not be ready for opening day. Assuming he is ready to go by the second or third week of the season, it’ll be nearly impossible to tip-toe around this Washington lineup if you are the opposing pitcher.
Speaking of pitchers, the Nationals have a pair of aces that are two of the three favorites to win the Cy Young Award. Max Scherzer took home the honor last year for the second straight season and the third time in his career. The 33-year-old flamethrower seems to be settling into quite the groove in D.C. I expect more of the same in 2018.
Stephen Strasburg enters the year coming off a season in which he sported a 0.86 post-All-Star break ERA, topping all starters in Major League Baseball. The 29-year-old San Diego State University product went 15-4 for the second consecutive year while striking out 204 batters in 175.1 innings.
If Strasburg can eclipse the 200-inning mark this year, don’t be surprised if the Cy Young Award stays in the nation’s capital. Gio Gonzalez finished 6th in the 2017 NL Cy Young Award voting after compiling his best season since his 21-victory year in 2012. Having this left-hander as your third option means your rotation is officially stacked. Both Tanner Roark and A.J. Cole have shown flashes of brilliance at the Major League level and look to provide solid depth at the back end.
Rookie manager Davey Martinez might be in his first year at the helm, but this roster of talent should make the job a lot easier than most first-year skippers have it. Don’t forget; this guy spent the past three seasons under the tutelage of Joe Maddon in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout. Something tells me Martinez is more than prepared to tackle the task at hand.
Can you believe we made it this far and I didn’t even bring up a guy who hit .303 and clubbed 36 homers while playing stellar defense at first base? Yeah, Ryan Zimmerman drove in 108 runs last year and is hardly mentioned – that’s how scary-good this lineup is looking.
With much of the focus in the National League on the Dodgers and Cubs, I’m looking for the red and white uniforms in Washington to be the team that’s representing the National League in the World Series.
And who do I think they will play?
The Boston Red Sox (+1000)
I know what you are thinking. The Astros won it all and brought everyone back, plus added a legitimate right-handed stud. Their opponent in the ALCS last year was the New York Yankees, and all they did was bring in the guy who smashed a league-leading 59 dingers.
So why I am picking the Boston Red Sox, who at 10:1 aren’t even one of the three favorites to win the American League pennant? Really, another team with a clubhouse skipper who’s in his first year managing in the Bigs?
Yes, I am picking the Boston Red Sox to capture the Championship Series in the American League. Let me tell you why.
First and foremost, I believe they have the best starting pitcher in baseball. Corey Kluber fans might argue, and they absolutely have a case, but give me Chris Sale all day long. The dude struck out 308 batters last season, 40 more than any other pitcher. He’s never won more than 17 games in a season, although he has been in the situation and had the lineup around him that he will have in Boston this upcoming year.
In his most recent Cactus-League start in preparation for the 2018 campaign, all he did was throw five scoreless innings, while striking out seven. I not only look for Sale to break through the 20-win mark, but I look for him to absolutely dominate batters throughout the year and coast to his first career Cy Young Award.
The rest of their rotation is a bit up in the air. We don’t know what we are going to get from David Price. Eduardo Rodriguez looks to be starting the year on the disabled list, so they will need to call up some young arms to eat up some innings. However, Rick Porcello won the Cy Young in 2016, and southpaw Drew Pomeranz won 17 games in 2017 in his first year as a full-time starter in the AL.
With Craig Kimbrel at the back end of the bullpen closing out games, the Red Sox have a chance to be really solid this year. Especially when you account for the young, fresh faces that are littered throughout their batting order.
You know about Mookie Betts. The right fielder is an MVP candidate and will be for years to come. They added J.D. Martinez to the middle of their lineup, a guy who is projected to hit 40 bombs and drive in well over 100 runs.
The crazy thing is – I actually like this Benintendi kid even better! Anytime a rookie hits more than 20 homers and steals more than 20 bases, I am going to take a liking. When he plays stout defense in left field and is sandwiched in a lineup of a bunch of studs, I like him even more. If you are looking for a young player to take that next step and join the upper echelon of MLB outfielders, look no further than Andrew Benintendi.
Now I need to throw Boston’s 21-year-old sensation third baseman Rafael Devers into the mix. A lot of people in Boston are super excited about this kid’s future. What he showed in a small sample size towards the end of last season gives them that hope. He batted .284 and hit 10 jacks in just 222 at-bats. Give him another year to adjust to big league pitching and 500+ at-bats, and you are looking at a rockstar at the hot corner position.
That should be enough for a playoff spot, and with a lineup like that and Chris Sale leading the rotation, I’ll take their chances. In fact, I’ll go bet on them.
The Cleveland Indians (+600)
I told you I am predicting a Nationals/Red Sox World Series. If there is one team waiting in the wings that nobody seems to be talking about, it’s the Cleveland Indians. Despite winning an American League-high 102 games last season, everyone seems to think the Astros and Yankees are teams to beat. I actually think it might be the Indians who have the leg up. At 6:1, we can get a better price, and there is nothing to suggest that Cleveland won’t be in the thick of things coming down the wire.
Corey Kluber is coming off a Cy Young award-winning season in which he was flat-out better than every other pitcher from top to bottom. In just 29 starts, Kluber was able to go 18-4 with an MLB-leading 2.25 ERA. Carlos Carrasco was no slouch, as he finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. In terms of really good pitchers who I think will be considered “aces” this time next season, Carrasco tops my list.
For the first time in his career, Carlos was able to sustain his health, topping the 200-inning mark for the first time. This led to 18 wins and 226 strikeouts for the Venezuelan-born right-hander. Don’t be surprised if this 1-2 punch of Kluber and Carrasco is enough to carry this team well into the postseason.
Don’t think it’s all about the top two guys, either. Cleveland’s 3-5 pitchers are no joke. I like Mike Clevinger as a “sleeper” this season in fantasy baseball. With Danny Salazar likely on the shelf for opening day, Clevinger vaults into a pitching rotation that arguably boasts the best staff in baseball. The combination of Clevinger’s massive upside along with Trevor Bauer’s surge late last season makes for a more than formidable 1-4. Josh Tomlin is somewhat dependable, but look for Salazar to take that spot once the inflammation in his right shoulder subsides.
Now that I dove into their “arms,” allow me to brag about their batters a little bit. Jose Ramirez proved last season that his batting surge in 2016 was not a fluke. Ramirez backed up his mini-breakout with an outstanding year at the plate in 2017.
Only Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge received more American League MVP votes than Jose did a season ago. You know how many players batted at least .318 with 29 homers and 17 steals? One – Jose Ramirez. Enough said on the 25-year-old hardworking third baseman.
You got Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion – two proven All Stars in this league. I am hoping outfielder Michael Brantley can finally regain his health that has been absent the past two seasons. When Brantley is healthy, he is as patient and as solid of a contact hitter as we have in the league. The guy I really like in Cleveland and who I think will be talked about as a top-20 outfielder by season’s end is Bradley Zimmer.
The La Jolla, California, native was in and out of the lineup as a rookie last season but has been given the keys to the center field position for the 2018 campaign thanks to catches like this one.
The left-handed-hitting first-round draft pick from 2014 stole 18 bases in just 299 at-bats last year as a part-time player. For a monster who is 6’5” and 220 pounds with the potential to smack 30+ homers, we are talking about a rare talent.
I know veteran skipper Terry “Tito” Francona has more than enough around him to get back to the World Series. In the end, I still think the Red Sox get in their way of getting there, but once October baseball arrives – anything can happen.
Putting It All Together
Don’t be so quick to run to the online sites and throw all your money on the Astros and Dodgers. I know the Yankees added Stanton and everyone is enamored with the idea that he and Judge could each hit 50 home runs.
I think the best bets to win the American League crown are actually the Red Sox and Indians. At 10:1, you can profit a thousand bucks by laying a $100 on Boston. The addition of J.D. Martinez to an already-stacked lineup that features some young superstars in the making makes for an intriguing “1 through 9” in Beantown. If they aren’t able to push through the loaded American League, I think it’ll be the Indians who make it to the Fall Classic. The combination of their amazing pitching staff and highly-skilled batters makes Cleveland a daunting opponent for any team who has to face them down the stretch.
Regardless of who can escape the brutal American League, I think it’s the Washington Nationals who will be World Series Champs in 2018. I think Stephen Strasburg picks up where he left off and battles teammate Max Scherzer for the Cy Young Award. I think Daniel Murphy gets healthy and does what Daniel Murphy does. Bryce Harper is as feared a batter as there is in the National League, and Adam Eaton is ready to go. In the end, I think it will be the lights-out play of Trea Turner that carries this team over the top.
Just get your bets on the Nationals, Red Sox, and Indians in now. I don’t think these odds will last for long, as it’s only a matter of time before they’re on top of their respective divisions. Soon you’ll hear the “so-called touts” echoing my same sentiments.