MLB Baseball Betting

Astros Overtake Cubs as World Series Favorites

Is it going to be another 108 years before the Chicago Cubs win another title? After last year’s historic breakthrough, the Cubs opened as +375 favorites on the 2017 World Series futures market, then fell back a bit to +450 heading into the regular season, tied with the Boston Red Sox as co-favorites. Nothing wrong with that. Both teams are popular with the online betting public, and they’ve both stuck to the Moneyball path laid out by Theo Epstein, breaking their respective World Series curses.

Nobody’s talking about the Cubs (+575) or the Red Sox (+750) anymore. The Houston Astros (+425) are the new hotshots; they’ve got the best record in baseball at 45-22, raking in 14.83 units in profit with a massive run differential of +102. At this rate, Houston will finish the season with 109 wins and a +247 run differential. The 2016 Cubs went 103-58 at +252. They’re last year’s news.

 

Astro Physics

Maybe it’s just a bump in the road for the defending champions. The Cubs are off to a surprisingly mediocre start at 32-33 (–16.55 units), outscoring their opponents by a grand total of three runs thus far. That’s still good enough for second place in the watered-down National League Central; what hasn’t been so good is Chicago’s pitching, which ranks 12th in the majors at 4.18 FIP. And their hitting has been even worse at No. 17 overall (.739 OPS).

The Astros, meanwhile, have the fourth-best pitching staff in baseball at 3.71 FIP, and they’re second in hitting at .813 OPS. This is better on both counts than the Cubs did last season. Houston has been working very hard on the analytics side since Jeff Luhnow took over as GM before the 2012 campaign. While injuries and inconsistency kept the Astros from fulfilling their promise in 2016, nothing’s managed to slow them down this year.

But what if we told you the Astros aren’t even the best team in the American League, let alone the majors? The New York Yankees (+1000 to win the World Series) went into Thursday’s action with the best run differential in baseball at +114; however, at 38-25, they were only two games ahead of the Red Sox (+34) in the AL East. With that differential, the Yankees have a Pythagorean win record of 43-20, ahead of Houston at 44-23. And the Astros could be coming back down to earth after losing six of their last nine games. It’s been eight years since the Yankees won it all – that’s an epic drought in the Bronx. It might end later this fall, if the Cubs don’t hurry up and shake off their World Series hangover.

 

*Odds as of June 16, 2017