2021 World Series odds update: Don't write off Cards, Nats after down 2020
It may not feel like it, but the MLB season is less than two months away, and we've already seen some teams' World Series odds shuffled after key offseason moves.
There's still time to find value on the oddsboard before the late rush of bettors. Here are the updated title odds and a few teams we're eyeing as the season nears:
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+350|
|New York Yankees||+500|
|San Diego Padres||+700|
|New York Mets||+1000|
|Chicago White Sox||+1200|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1500|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1800|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+2200|
|Los Angeles Angels||+4000|
|Boston Red Sox||+7000|
|San Francisco Giants||+9000|
|Kansas City Royals||+11000|
Los Angeles Dodgers (+350)
I'm typically an advocate for avoiding preseason favorites, especially at these odds. That being said, this may be the best price we get all year on the Dodgers, who were clearly the best team from first pitch to last in 2020.
They wasted no time building upon that title core, adding reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to an already filthy rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, who ended the year strong after a slow start. Don't forget about David Price - who opted out of the 2020 season - and young guns Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin.
Do you think that pitching staff is overkill? Just look at this lineup: Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger are perennial MVP candidates; Corey Seager has joined them after a stellar 2020; and Max Muncy belongs in that conversation, too. The worst part about buying early on a favorite is relying on good health, but it's hard to see one or even two untimely injuries derailing this year's super team.
Chicago White Sox (+1200)
The White Sox were everyone's trendy title pick a year ago - we liked their chances, too. They flashed that upside behind one of the major's most powerful lineups, but the team wasn't truly built to contend. Now it is, and the market hasn't caught up.
There's no questioning the pop in Chicago's bats. Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal are all priced 30-1 or shorter to win MVP - no other team can say that - and Robert and Moncada still have room to grow. The White Sox also finished sixth in team ERA (3.81) a season ago, though much of that was due to a strong year from Dallas Keuchel (1.99) and a stellar late-season run from Lucas Giolito (3.48).
All of those players are back in 2021, and they're joined by reinforcements. Chicago added former Rangers ace Lance Lynn - baseball's most overlooked starter - and former Athletics closer Liam Hendriks, who made his case as MLB's best closer a year ago. Dylan Cease is ripe for improvement, too. This is a top-five team with a price worth paying.
St. Louis Cardinals (+1800)
St. Louis played its final 30 games last season in a 24-day span. Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals ranked 28th in OPS (.647) during that stretch, though they still finished with top-10 pitching numbers despite a down campaign from ace Jack Flaherty.
Don't let a year marred by wacky scheduling sully your opinion of Flaherty, whose underlying numbers were remarkably similar to his breakout 2019 season. This lineup is due for positive regression, too, with Arenado flanked by a reborn Paul Goldschmidt and breakout candidate Dylan Carlson. There's a lot to like in a classic post-letdown spot for St. Louis.
Washington Nationals (+4500)
Have we already forgotten about the Nationals winning a World Series two seasons ago with a similar core?
Throw 2020 out the window - Stephen Strasburg pitched five innings before underdoing surgery on his wrist, while Juan Soto missed the first two weeks of the season while in COVID protocol. Both should be good to go for Opening Day, as is perennial stud Max Scherzer after an uncharacteristic 2020 slump.
Washington's rotation of Scherzer, Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and new addition Jon Lester is every bit as dangerous as the one that led this team to a championship in 2019. The Nationals' lineup - which was much-criticized for its lack of depth - still finished 10th in OPS (.769) in 2020, and that was before the team added high-upside sluggers Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber this winter.
Yes, this group is injury-prone, and it benefitted from some batted-ball luck in 2020. Do I care at this price? Not at all. There's no reason this nucleus should be getting 45-1 odds. I'll happily take that price and ride the wave of volatility.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.