It took 108 years for the Chicago Cubs to win their third World Series in franchise history. How long will they have to wait for No. 4? Maybe not too long. The Cubs entered spring training as +450 co-favorites on the 2017 World Series futures market, tied with another famous curse-breaking team: the Boston Red Sox.

Theo Epstein did a fine job pulling both the Cubs and the Red Sox out of the MLB mire, using the Moneyball approach to rebuild their rosters and make them champions. But it isn’t just Epstein’s work that has these teams at the top of the World Series odds list. Chicago and Boston are two of the largest markets in baseball, and they both enjoy an international fanbase that keeps the money flowing and their payrolls high. The Red Sox were third in the majors in team salaries last year at $215.4 million; the Cubs were fifth at $188.4 million.


You’re Hired

Then again, money doesn’t always buy championships. The Los Angeles Dodgers spent more than anyone last year at $279.1 million, and they’re projected to outspend everyone again this year by a wide margin. The Dodgers had to settle for the National League West title in 2016. Can they go all the way in 2017 and pay out at +1000 on the MLB baseball odds list?

They might be in better shape to win the World Series than anyone else. After adding 2B Logan Forsythe (.778 OPS last year) from the Tampa Bay Rays and reliever Sergio Romo (3.80 FIP) from the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers have enough support for their dominant starting rotation to chase down 100 wins. If anyone’s going to stop the Cubs in the National League, it should be LA.

Meanwhile, the reigning American League pennant winners aren’t about to hand the keys over to the Red Sox. Cleveland sits at third on the World Series betting market at +800, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Tribe will win the watered-down AL Central. They came achingly close to beating the Cubs last year and breaking their own championship drought, which stretches back to 1948. Adding slugger Edwin Encarnacion (.886 OPS) to their roster could be the final piece of their puzzle.


Western Promises

These are four outstanding teams on paper, but it’s still almost a coin flip that one of the other 26 MLB clubs will win the 2017 World Series instead. The Giants and the Washington Nationals are tied at +1200 on the senior circuit, just behind the Dodgers, and the New York Mets aren’t much farther behind at +1400. Some good health in the pitching department might be all the Mets need to get over the hump.

The second tier of AL contenders looks even more competitive. The Houston Astros (+1400) are poised to give the Red Sox a run for their money, and out West, the Seattle Mariners (+3300) offer ample betting value after missing the playoffs despite a strong plus-61 run differential in 2016. If Boston gets off to another slow start like they did last year, there might not be any catching up this time around.


*Odds as of March 10, 2017