This year is shaping up to be unlike any other in the history of sports, and you can use that uncertainty to your advantage in the sport that has the most uncertainty at the moment – Major League Baseball.
The owners and players union are going back and forth on proposals, so be sure to keep an eye on updates at sites like MLB.com in order to arm yourself with the latest information before placing your bets.
If there is a season, however, it will likely be at half the length (or less) of a normal season, and there is talk of 12 to 16 playoff teams, as opposed to the usual 10.
A shorter season and more playoff teams means more teams will have a better chance of winning the World Series than in a “normal” season.
But with those three teams having such low payouts, that means other good teams fall into the sleeper category and can earn you a big pay day. Here's a look at four teams easily capable of winning it all.
Washington Nationals (+1800)
There hasn't been a repeat baseball world champion in 20 years. One of the reasons for that – a shortened offseason – isn't the case this year, as Nats players have now had more than a full offseason to recover from their deep run into October. Offensive stars Juan Soto, Trea Taylor, and Victor Robles return, along with veterans Ryan Zimmerman, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Adam Eaton. And the lifeblood of this team – the pitching – also returns its core, namely starters Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. The bottom line is that a team that was talented enough to win the 2019 World Series has mostly been kept intact.
St. Louis Cardinals (+2000)
After a few down seasons, the Cardinals retooled and reached the NLCS a year ago. The only major departure from St. Louis was slugger Marcell Ozuna, but Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, and Matt Carpenter are all back, along with veterans Yadier Molina and Adam Wainright, who have already won two world titles with the Cards in 2006 and 2013. Wainright's rotation-mates Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and Carlos Martinez will mean that the Cards should have a chance to win just about every night they take the field, and they have enough depth to overcome an injury.
Tampa Bay Rays (+1800)
It's tough to pick a team that's in the same division as the Yankees, but a deep playoff field likely in 2020, the Rays should still make it. They qualified last year when only 10 teams were eligible, and they took Houston to the limit in the ALDS, losing a Game 5 in Houston that, looking back on it, may have been tainted given what we now know about the Astros' propensity to steal signs; Houston jumped on Rays starter Tyler Glasnow for four runs in the first inning of that deciding game. Glasnow returns to anchor the rotation with former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, veteran Charlie Morton, and opener-extraordinaire Ryan Yarbrough. The offense has up-and-coming stars like Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, and Willie Adames to go with perennial Gold Glover Kevin Kiermaier in centerfield. One more thing to consider? If the season is played with no fans in the stands, the Rays are used to that, as Tampa Bay ranked last in the American League in attendance despite the club winning over 90 games a year ago.
Cleveland Indians (+2200)
Perhaps no team has benefitted from a delayed start to the regular season like the Indians have. The Tribe also won 93 games in 2019 despite missing the playoffs, and some regression from first-place Minnesota (who broke an MLB record for home runs in a single season) isn't out of the question. Francisco Lindor likely won't be traded in a shortened season, and the break allows more time for starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco, who fought leukemia last year, and Mike Clevinger, who was going to miss March's Opening Day with a partially torn meniscus, to return to 100%. Shane Bieber (last year's All-Star Game MVP) returns, as do heavy hitters Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana, who had a career year in 2019 after returning to the Tribe following a one-year stint in in 2018. This could be the last year of this group's window to win a title, and with veteran manager Terry Francona familiar with winning championships, a veteran Cleveland team can't be counted out.