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2018 World Series Odds: MLB Betting Favorites

When the Houston Astros won their first-ever World Series last year, it felt like the beginning of a dynasty. This team was built on a solid foundation of young talent, with a supporting cast of quality veterans putting them over the top. Indeed, the Astros were +425 favorites on the World Series odds board heading into the 2018 campaign, and after starting the year at 24-15, Houston is still the top favorite at press time.

But they’ve got some company. As well as the Astros have played, they’ve been passed in the standings by baseballs alpha teams: the New York Yankees (26-11) and the Boston Red Sox (26-11). As a result, Houston’s MLB odds have slipped to +500, with the Red Sox moving up from +1200 to +600 and the Yankees holding strong at +650. The Astros beat both those teams during last year’s playoffs to win the American League pennant. Can they run the gauntlet again this year?


Houston Losing Ground on MLB Baseball Odds

After finally winning their first World Series, the Astros were bound to encounter some turbulence on the MLB betting lines. They were plus-11.72 against the runline during the 2017 regular season, with a record of 101-61; now that the betting public has higher expectations, Houston is 2.26 in the red after six weeks of baseball. But some of that is just bad luck. They might not have the best record in the majors, but the Astros do have the best run differential at plus-82. They’ve also had the misfortune of going 4-6 in games decided by one run, and 1-2 in games that went to extra innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees (plus-65) and the Red Sox (plus-64) have been rather fortunate in these close situations. New York is 7-3 in one-run games and 1-2 in extra innings, while Boston is 11-4 and 2-2 respectively. As a result, not only do these two AL East rivals have the best records on the junior circuit, they’re also the most profitable; the Yankees are up 9.11 on the runline thus far, while the Sox are 9.87 in the black.

Given these numbers, and how many supporters both the Yankees and Red Sox have, it’s very likely that Houston will catch up over the coming months. You can’t pin this on the Astros bullpen, either; they lead the majors with a 2.60 ERA, and their advanced stats look just as impressive. New York and Boston also have strong relief pitching, so they’re in no imminent danger of collapse, but don’t be surprised if they come back down to earth a little.


Braves Shock the World, Crush MLB Lines

While these three power teams are battling for MLB supremacy, there’s another race going on: the race for the bottom of the standings. Several non-contending teams are trying to follow Houston’s blueprint for success by tanking the 2018 season. As expected, the Chicago White Sox (9-25, minus-14.82) are losing money hand over fist, as are the Cincinnati Reds (11-27, minus-14.61). The Baltimore Orioles (10-27, minus-16.41) had somewhat higher hopes in the AL East, but they’ve joined the tank parade, too. Only the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers (16-21, minus-20.10 units) have lost more money thus far.

The Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, have had enough of losing. They’re off to a hot start this year at 22-14, taking the lead in the National League East and racking up 11.24 in profit. Are the Braves for real, or is it smoke and mirrors? The numbers look promising: Atlanta (+1800 to win the World Series) leads the senior circuit with a plus-53 run differential, and there may even be some room for improvement, given their 5-3 record in one-run games and 1-5 record in extra innings.

The Philadelphia Phillies (22-15, plus-5.50) have also broken out of their extended funk. While the Braves haven’t had a winning season since 2013, Philadelphia’s streak dates back to 2011, covering two different GMs and five different managers. They may have finally found the winning formula; the Phillies (+3000 to win the World Series) have a plus-39 run differential, although they’ve also enjoyed some good fortune at 6-3 in one-run games and 4-1 in extra innings. The Braves have the edge for now, but both NL East franchises are heading in the right direction – and Houston showed them the way.


*Odds as of May 11, 2018