2023 World Series best bets: Astros rightfully favored
Opening day of the 2023 Major League Baseball season is less than three weeks away. With regular-season action just around the corner, we'll spend plenty of time in this space previewing what's to come.
We'll start by taking a look at the World Series market and a few teams that stand out.
|New York Mets||+700|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+800|
|New York Yankees||+800|
|San Diego Padres||+900|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+1200|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+2000|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2000|
|Chicago White Sox||+2500|
|Boston Red Sox||+5000|
|Los Angeles Angels||+5000|
|San Francisco Giants||+5000|
|Kansas City Royals||+10000|
Houston Astros (+550)
The defending champions are favored to win the World Series again in 2023, and for good reason. Not many teams could lose a top-of-the-rotation arm like Justin Verlander and be expected to win the division, let alone threaten for a title. But this Astros team is a different breed. Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Alvarez headline what will once again be a lethal attack. The addition of Jose Abreu figures to add even more pop to their lineup. I have no doubt the Astros will extract more power from him than he showed a year ago.
This is not just a bet on offense, however. Houston's rotation remains very good - and deep - even without Verlander. With a fantastic bullpen, there are no real holes on this roster. I see value on the Astros, even favored at +550.
Atlanta Braves (+1000)
As a New York Mets fan, it pains me to say this, but I think the Atlanta Braves are a little undervalued right now. Their offense is so, so, good, and the power on this roster might be unmatched.
The Braves absolutely mashed baseballs a season ago. They didn't rely on stringing together hits; they lived and died with hard contact and the long ball. I think the shift changes in MLB this year will really benefit them.
Obviously, they have power from top to bottom, but they also have the ability to do real damage within the park, especially now. Opponents won't be able to shift into their hot spots, which will make it very difficult for defenses to make up ground and get to all those hard-hit balls.
With so much talent in the lineup and a ban on shifts, this team has a real chance to lead the majors in homers and runs scored per game.
Given that the rotation features Max Fried, super sophomore Spencer Strider, and savvy veteran Charlie Morton, among others, the sky is the limit for Atlanta. So long as the Braves stay relatively healthy, they'll win a ton of games and be a big threat come October.
St. Louis Cardinals (+2000)
I also considered the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays for this spot - defense and baserunning will be big this year - but ultimately decided to go with the Cardinals.
First and foremost, the Cardinals have a ton of power. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O'Neill, and newcomer Willson Contreras offer the ability to go yard in any given at-bat.
There is also a lot of speed. O'Neill and Tommy Edman, in particular, can really threaten on the basepaths and help the Cardinals manufacture some extra runs in a season where stolen bases are expected to rise.
While I don't love the rotation, a couple of things help mitigate my concerns about its lack of star power. The Cardinals are very good at limiting home runs, which helps prevent clusters of runs being scored. The bullpen is also strong, so it's not as imperative for their starters to work deep into games as it is for other teams.
The division is also quite bad. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and even Chicago Cubs should be nonfactors. Outside of a mid-tier Milwaukee Brewers team, the Cardinals don't really have any competition in the NL Central.
They're very likely going to be a playoff team and will no doubt try to add a piece or two at the deadline. If they can make the postseason, which is likely, I'll be more than happy to hold a 20-1 ticket given the Cardinals' firepower, baserunning ability, and bullpen.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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