Typically, the World Series winner comes from the top-10 favorites. Last year was nearly a different story, as the Phillies’ preseason odds to win the World Series were +3500. The new MLB playoff format may open things up for a more longshot champion. Philadelphia wouldn’t have even qualified for the postseason in 2021 under the previous format.
That said, let’s find our favorite bets using this list of contenders.
Houston Astros (+650)
True, the Astros lost Justin Verlander this offseason. But after reaching the 2021 World Series and losing to Atlanta, the Astros lost Carlos Correa.
Houston replaced him with rookie Jeremy Pena. After hitting .253, slugging 22 home runs, and posting a 4.5 WAR, all Pena did in the postseason was hit .345 (.400 in the World Series). He became the first American League player to win ALCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same season. Additionally, he was the first rookie position player to be named World Series MVP.
With Verlander gone, the Astros still have plenty of depth in the rotation. Framber Valdez, Christian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia will be a formidable rotation. Their stellar bullpen also returns, and most of the offensive core remains intact. The Astros also have +300 odds to win the ALCS.
New York Mets (+800)
The New York Mets won 101 games in 2022, but a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves in the final week of the season cost them the National League East. They then bowed out to San Diego in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
It was a disappointing final two weeks to what was one of the best seasons in franchise history, otherwise. Jacob DeGrom left in free agency, as did pitchers Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker. They were replaced, however, by Verlander, Jose Quintana, and Japanese import Kodai Senga. Closer Edwin Diaz and setup man Adam Ottavino were re-signed, and lefty specialist David Robertson was added to the bullpen. Diaz went from an unpopular figure to one of the most captivating sights in the game in 2022.
Even though a long-term deal with Correa fell apart over his medical report, the Mets’ offense remains potent. Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo signed long-term extensions, and Brett Baty will likely play some third with veteran Eduardo Escobar. The team could still use another bat (left field and designated hitter), but that could be addressed at the trade deadline. In addition, Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos are viable additions through the minor league system.
Now that the Mets got to the postseason, expect veteran manager Buck Showalter to place more of an emphasis of getting his team to the finish line with an October run in mind. The Mets are also +420 to win the National League pennant.
It took until October, but the Padres lived up to the potential they’ve had since they started acquiring big-name talent in 2020. San Diego upset the Mets and the Dodgers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before falling to the Phillies in the NLCS.
The win over the Dodgers, however, was huge because it gave the Padres a jolt of confidence over its longtime rivals. In fact, some of the celebrations after the NLDS win rivaled what a World Series win might look like.
San Diego made a big splash at the trade deadline by acquiring Juan Soto from Washington, and he remains under Padres’ control for two more seasons. In addition, the team signed Boston shortstop Xander Boegarts, veteran DH Nelson Cruz, and outfielder Matt Carpenter. They will also get Fernando Tatis Jr. back from suspension on April 20.
The top-three members of their rotation also return with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. They’ll hope for a bounce-back year from closer Joe Hader, and Robert Suarez excelled in the set-up role in 2022.
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