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2018 World Series Odds: MLB Betting Favorites 

All year long, there’s been a dogfight over the No. 1 spot on the World Series odds list. The Houston Astros were top dogs early in the 2018 MLB regular season, riding high after their first-ever championship. Then the Boston Red Sox took over with the best record in baseball. Now, with less than two weeks remaining until the playoffs, these two juggernauts find themselves dead even at +350 on the MLB odds.

It’s a tough choice. The Red Sox (104-49) have clinched the American League East title, but the Astros (95-57) have the best run differential in the majors at plus-242. Boston has the most potent hitting in the majors with a .786 team OPS; Houston has the best pitching with a 3.15 ERA. Both teams are reasonably healthy heading into the postseason, so with any luck, we’ll see them settle things in October.

 

Yankees Still Alive on MLB Betting Lines

Even though Boston sealed their AL East title Thursday night with an 11-6 road win over the New York Yankees (93-59), New York are still on the verge of clinching a Wild Card berth, and at press time, the MLB baseball odds have the Yankees at +950 to win the World Series. Health has been an issue in the Bronx, but OF Aaron Judge (.933 OPS) has just returned to active duty after getting hit on the right wrist in late July, so the Bombers should be at close to full power for their Wild Card match – if they make it in.

Their opponents will almost certainly be the Oakland Athletics (92-61), who have overtaken Boston as the most profitable team in baseball betting after a remarkable second-half surge. The Athletics are 1.5 games behind New York for the first AL Wild Card berth and home-field advantage in that critical play-in game. While Oakland’s pitching isn’t remarkable, they make up for it on defense, and the A’s have hit the cover off the ball this year. Expect a steady barrage of homeruns from both teams if they end up playing the Wild Card Game in Yankee Stadium.

There’s still a chance that Oakland will make up the 3.5-game deficit between themselves and the Astros in the AL West standings, but they won’t face each other again during the regular season, so it won’t be easy. Meanwhile, Cleveland (85-67) have already clinched the disappointingly soft AL Central, so they’re well ahead of the Yankees at +750 odds to win the World Series. The Tribe can afford to focus on getting healthy for the postseason; they’ll have Trevor Bauer (2.22 ERA) back in the rotation on Friday after six weeks on the DL with a broken leg.

 

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MLB Odds Not Looking Good for NL

The playoff situation is a lot murkier in the National League. The Atlanta Braves (85-68) are the closest team to clinching a spot, as they hold a 6.5-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies (78-74) in the NL East. But the Braves are sport only +1600 odds to win the World Series; their run differential of plus-97 would be the smallest of all the division winners if the regular season ended today. The Phillies aren’t dead yet, but their playoff chances are so slim, they’ve been taken off the MLB odds board.

The best run differential on the senior circuit belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers (85-68) at plus-156, but the Dodgers had trouble converting that performance into wins until they finally caught fire in late August. Their recent three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies (82-70) has the Dodgers 2.5 games ahead of Colorado in the NL West, pushing LA to +600 on the World Series futures market and leaving the Rockies, who’ve made it this far despite a run differential of minus-9, scrambling at +2600.

There’s also a 2.5-game difference in the NL Central race between the Chicago Cubs (89-63) and the Milwaukee Brewers (87-66). Chances are both teams will make it into the playoffs; the Cubs are near the top of the MLB futures at +700, while the Brewers have some MLB betting value at +2000. The third-place team in the NL West, the St. Louis Cardinals (84-69), have a 1.5-game lead on Colorado for the second and final NL Wild Card berth, so if the Cardinals (+2800) can hang on, they could end up paying big dividends in October – just like they did when the won the World Series in 2011 as a Wild Card team.

 

 

*Odds as of September 21, 2018