MLB betting, odds: Who will win the World Series? Best win total? Our top team futures
Last season, the Houston Astros won the World Series, which of course wasn't popular with anyone outside Houston ... unless you had a betting ticket on them.
The Astros start the defense of their World Series on Thursday, and they're favored to win it all again. At BetMGM, they're +600 to win this season's World Series.
To kick off the season, Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg, Scott Pianowski, Zach Crizer and Frank Schwab shared their best team-based future bets, such as win totals and World Series picks, after taking on player props and futures earlier this week.
Which win totals are your favorites?
Nick Bromberg: I’m really bullish on the Kansas City Royals making a significant leap this year despite not adding much to the team from a year ago. Bobby Witt Jr. and M.J. Melendez should get better, and I think Vinnie Pasquantino will keep mashing. But I also think the biggest improvement will come from the pitching staff and the organization’s open embrace of a more data-based approach. The pitching last year was abysmal under former pitching coach Cal Eldred, and the Royals walked far too many. A focus on throwing first-pitch strikes will be huge and a big reason the Royals go over their win total of 69.5 (+100).
Scott Pianowski: The White Sox over 82.5 feels like a gift to me. Everything went wrong last year, with injuries and mishaps, even the wrong manager. There are plausible MVP and Cy Young candidates — plural — on this roster. And the division has two rebuilding teams (Kansas City, Detroit) and two other teams (Cleveland, Minnesota) that are merely good, not great. If Chicago gets a fair runout this year, they beat this number. If they get a break or two, we’re talking about a sleeper World Series candidate.
On the other end, bad teams generally get worse midseason, as they look to discard anything tradable of value. The Tigers actually outkicked their pythagorean last year and still won a piddly 66 games. I don’t see how they improve and beat the market price of 69.5.
Zach Crizer: Like anyone else, I have personal hunches for who will beat expectations (the Arizona Diamondbacks, 75.5) and who will fall short (the Texas Rangers, 81.5), but the biggest value play you'll find in the projections isn't very flashy.
Vegas (understandably) underestimates rebuilds on the cusp of bearing fruit. So my favorite win total bet is ... stay with me ... the Pittsburgh Pirates. They already have a few core pieces adjusting to the majors in Oneil Cruz and Ke'Bryan Hayes. They loaded up on some competent veterans for at least the first half, and they're likely to have real burgeoning talents in the lineup in the second half. The major projection systems have them beating their over/under (67.5) by four to six wins. Sign me up.
Frank Schwab: The one that stands out to me is Washington Nationals under 59.5. I usually don’t bet unders on win totals that low, but this Nats team is going to be bad. Really bad. And anyone playing remotely well will likely be traded in July.
Let’s go to SoCal for my other two. I’ll fade the Los Angeles Dodgers this year and go under 96.5. There are a few holes in this roster (outfield, shortstop, bullpen), and 97 wins is a lot. Then a bit south, I like the Los Angeles Angels over 82.5. The fear is the Angels trading Shohei Ohtani. I don’t think they will if they’re in playoff contention, though, and the Angels look a little deeper than the past couple of years. Having two of the greatest players ever should help, too. Oh, and let's add on the Reds over 65.5.
How about division bets?
Nick Bromberg: According to BetMGM, the AL Central is the most wide-open division in baseball, with the top three teams at +250 or better to win it. I am not as big of a fan of Chicago’s odds as others appear to be at +250, though I do think Pedro Grifol will be worth a few more wins than Tony La Russa was. So for me, it’s between the Twins and the Guardians, and I’m going to go with the favorite. Cleveland’s contact-based approach at the plate was a relative outlier in 2022, and I’m intrigued to see if others mimic it in 2023. Give me the Guardians at +125.
Scott Pianowski: As you’d expect from above, I’m eager to punch the White Sox at +250 to win the AL Central. And I’m intrigued by the Mariners at +300 to take the AL West. The three teams below Seattle aren’t poised to challenge. And Houston has already had a ton of bad injury luck this spring. Heck, maybe the Mariners have the better rotation to begin with, with four quasi-aces that all muddle together (making all of them excellent fantasy values). There’s a nice mix of established veterans and rising young talent in the Seattle lineup, too.
Zach Crizer: It's a struggle to summon enthusiasm for any division dark horses this year. The solution? Go for a team that isn't really a dark horse but has the odds of one. The NL East is loaded, which means the Phillies have +300 odds of dethroning the Mets and Braves. Yes, they'll be missing Bryce Harper for a while, and no, they weren't even close last year. But their lineup got more balanced, and their aces stack up well. Far crazier things have happened.
Frank Schwab: If I’m fading the Dodgers, I have to be on the Padres to win the NL West at +115. I also like the odds on the Blue Jays and Twins, both at +200 (between Nick on the Guardians, Scott on the White Sox and me on the Twins one of us has to cash a ticket ... hopefully). And just in case, a little bit on Angels +800.
Who’s your World Series champ?
Nick Bromberg: With six teams at +900 or better to win the title, it seems pretty clear that one of those will win the World Series, right? Among long shots, I like the Cardinals and Rays at +2000, and the Phillies at +1600 with Trea Turner is also an appealing bet. But it’s hard not to stare at the Astros (+600) and Braves (+750) and think the two favorites will meet each other for the title. I’ll go with the Astros to go back-to-back, but I also have a nagging feeling the Dodgers (+800) could win it all.
Scott Pianowski: The Braves have the deepest lineup in baseball and a ton of players who are still in favorable age pockets. If they get one surprise thing to go right in the rotation, this is the best team in baseball. Heck, maybe an average runout is enough to get the money. It’s not a juicy long-shot play at +750, but let’s get them to the playoffs, and then maybe we can fool around with hedges.
Zach Crizer: My World Series pick? The Braves, who are +750 to win it all for the second time in three years. But let's be honest, the postseason is a (very entertaining) crapshoot. What's not a crapshoot (and might not be very entertaining, either) is the NL Central race. The Cardinals are favored, and while they have some competition in the Brewers, their clear path to a playoff berth makes +2000 World Series odds pretty appealing.
Frank Schwab: This is a tough one because no team really stands out to me. I’ll probably take a World Series future or two during the season, but for now, the only team I’m on is the Atlanta Braves at +750. It’s remarkable how many impact rookies they had last season, and guys such as Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II could be even better this season. I’m not crazy about the Braves at the current odds, but that’s my pick.