Best bets to win the World Series ahead of MLB postseason
Postseason baseball is finally here, and we have you covered with the latest World Series odds and our favorite bet in each league - including one dark horse worth backing at long odds.
World Series odds (as of Oct. 4)
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+300|
|San Francisco Giants||+500|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+500|
|Chicago White Sox||+700|
|Boston Red Sox||+1200|
|New York Yankees||+1200|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1500|
Best bet from the American League
Chicago White Sox (+700)
I gushed about the White Sox a little over a week ago when they were +700 to win the whole thing. Since then, they've won eight of their last 12 games - including six of seven to close the season - and look to finally be hitting their stride ahead of the postseason. Despite that, the line has stayed put.
There isn't a team in the AL with the upside of this club, which owns MLB's fourth-highest wOBA (.329) despite slumps and injuries taking a toll on this lineup. That hasn't been the case as of late: Chicago's order features five of the top 26 AL hitters per fWAR since Sept. 1, including top-10 bats Luis Robert (.343/.379/.611) and Yasmani Grandal (.310/.459/.548).
The White Sox rotation has looked like the best in the majors at times this season, and while injuries have complicated that heading into the playoffs, this is still a dangerous group. Lance Lynn was briefly the Cy Young front-runner and owns a 2.72 ERA on the year, while Dylan Cease (2.2) and Lucas Giolito (1.9) rank third and fifth in the AL, respectively, in fWAR since the All-Star break.
The X-factor is Carlos Rodon, who seemed on track for hardware before injuries reared their ugly head in August and September. He didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday but still threw five shutout innings with one hit allowed against the Reds, bringing his ERA to 1.93 since the start of August. If he's healthy, he has series-changing upside as a No. 4 arm.
Even if he isn't, Chicago boasts arguably the best rotation in the AL to complement MLB's best bullpen and one of its hottest (and most potent) lineups. There's simply too much talent in this dugout not to take a shot on Tony La Russa's club snapping its 16-year title spell.
Best bet from the National League
Milwaukee Brewers (+800)
The Brewers were my World Series pick way back in March when they were still dealing at 50-1. That was before the general betting public learned just how filthy the trio of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta can be.
Those three have combined for a whopping 15.2 wins this season, per Fangraphs, spearheading the Brewers' 95-win season and vaulting them to the No. 2 seed in the NL. That earned the club a cushy NLDS matchup with the Braves, who are tied for the worst mark against teams with winning records (36-36) of any club in the postseason field.
Assuming Milwaukee survives that, it has the high-end pitching to compete with any team in MLB. The Brewers are one of only two teams (Dodgers) to rank in the top three in ERA (3.50), FIP (3.72), K/9 (10.14), hard-hit rate (36.2%), and xwOBA allowed (.291), which is both a testament to their elite upside and to their consistent floor behind three elite ace-level starters.
The Brewers' lineup is the weaker link in the team's title profile, but it's still posted top-10 numbers over the second half of the season behind surprise standouts. Willy Adames has been one of baseball's most productive hitters over the back half of the year, while red-hot Luis Urias ranks 21st in the NL in wOBA (.377) since the start of September.
If recent seasons tell us anything, I'd much rather bet on the Brewers' bats to heat up while trusting their elite pitching than rely on a shoddy staff and established lineup at this point in the season. There isn't a better three-man rotation in the entire majors, which should be enough to carry it to the end.
Best dark horse bet to win the World Series
Boston Red Sox (+1200)
This is less a bet in favor of the Red Sox - who I do like as a World Series dark horse - and more a bet against the Rays, a team I have little faith in surviving beyond the first round of the postseason.
Tampa Bay has been lauded for its pitching depth during the regular season, and deservedly so. During the postseason, though? This team simply doesn't have a one-two-three punch to trust in October. Tampa Bay's only starters with playoff experience - Ryan Yarbrough (5.11 ERA) and Michael Wacha (5.05) - have been dreadful during the regular season. Shane McClanahan has been the Rays' best arm since Tyler Glasnow went down, but he owns a career 8.31 ERA in just 4 1/3 playoff innings.
The Rays' young rotation is ripe for exploitation in the playoffs, especially against arguably the best lineup in MLB. The Red Sox finished the year ranked third in wOBA (.332) and are the only team to rank in the top two in xwOBA (.333), xSLG (.443), exit velocity (89.9 MPH), barrel rate (9.9%), and hard-hit rate (42.4%).
Any way you slice it, Boston's bats are among the most dangerous in the majors, while wild-card starter Nathan Eovaldi quietly leads all qualified AL starters in FIP (2.79) and fWAR (5.6). There's a path to contention for this group if it can survive the wild-card game vs. the Yankees - who would also make a decent long shot bet if they're the ones opposite the Rays in the divisional series.
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