The American League is supposed to be dominating the National League. They’ve had the designated hitter for over 40 years, and that extra bit of job specialization has allowed AL pitchers to get really good at what they do best. But who won 103 games and the World Series last year? The Chicago Cubs. The senior circuit has won five of the last seven World Series, and judging by this year’s MLB futures, they’re significantly better than a coin flip to do it again in 2017.

Cub Scout

It all begins with the Cubs, who start their title defense as +450 co-favorites with the Boston Red Sox – but don’t let that fool you: Nobody has a higher regular-season win total on the MLB props market than the Cubs. Chicago is pegged at 95.5 wins this year, three more than the Red Sox and two more than their closest rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

You’ll also find the same “hidden” gap between LA and Cleveland, who are tied at +900 to win the World Series. Again, it’s the National League team on top of the win totals, with the Dodgers checking in at 93.5 victories and the Tribe one game behind at 92.5. And that might be selling the Dodgers short; PECOTA and other computer-based projections have Los Angeles winning 94 games or more this year.

Washington Heights

Once you get into the second tier of World Series contenders, it’s almost all National League. The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants are next on the MLB odds list at +1100, then you have the New York Mets and the NL-refugee Houston Astros at +1400. Fittingly, it’s the Nationals with the highest win total of the bunch at 90.5, right in line with their projections.

You have to reach a little deeper into the barrel before you get to the American League. The Toronto Blue Jays (+2200) have a puncher’s chance despite losing DH Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland in free agency, but 84.5 wins might not be enough to get them into the playoffs - it wouldn’t have last year. The St. Louis Cardinals have the same win total (84.5) and are tied with the New York Yankees at +2500. The Cards’ win total is two better than the Yankees.

Then you have the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers at +2800. Texas was one of last year’s luckiest teams. They got to the playoffs at 95-67 with a run differential of plus-8, while the 86-75 Tigers had to go golfing despite their plus-29 differential. If they can squeak into the AL playoffs with a Wild Card, anything can happen, but would you bet on either team to beat the Cubs in the World Series? The Dodgers? The Giants? How about the Nationals? Okay, maybe the Nationals.



*Odds as of March 30, 2017