It’s not hyperbole to say that 2017 may have yielded the greatest World Series of all time: two 100-win teams; two of the greatest pitchers of this generation; lead-changes galore, and even more home runs. It was so thrilling that we’re starting an official petition to rename the World Series the Hyper Bowl.
The end result was that the Astros just ended their 55-year/eternal World Series drought. To which we say a hearty congrats! But quickly follow with an ungrateful: what have you done for me lately?
When it comes to betting on baseball (betting on anything, really) sic transit gloria is more than just a saying, it’s an aphorism that pros live by. There’s no time to revel in victory. To paraphrase the X-Files, “the value is out there,” and ever vigilant bettors must remain.
So, to now paraphrase Bill Belichick, “we’re onto 2018.” (Repeat 12 times for dramatic effect.)
Will the Astros and Dodgers get back to the 2018 World Series (and inaugural Hyper Bowl)? Will the Yankees, under new management, take the next step and win the AL crown? Who will be the 2018 version of the 2017 Twins, shocking the baseball world with an unforeseeable playoff berth? We have the earliest of early looks at the 2018 MLB futures. Don’t scoff. It’s only 103 days until pitchers and catchers report.
NB: scroll to the bottom for the entire list sans verbiage.
2018 World Series Futures
Los Angeles Dodgers: 13/2
We like math around here. Let’s turn the Dodgers into an equation: the best pitcher in the world (Clayton Kershaw) + the best (regular-season) closer in the world (Kenley Jansen) + a lineup full of still-improving superstars-in-the-making (Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig) + a deep rotation of quality starters (Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda) + a massive bankroll to lure quality free agents = a foolproof recipe for 90-plus wins. The fact that manager Dave Roberts isn’t a fool is gravy on top. So is their status as a front-runner for Shohei Otani.
Houston Astros: 15/2
Houston won 101 games in 2017 and led the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and runs. As good as they were, their best may be yet to come. The team’s talented young sluggers are all under contract for next season and the Astros are expected to be a major player in free agency as well. Add a couple of live arms to the bullpen and you could have the making of a new baseball dynasty.
Chicago Cubs: 14/1
It took Chicago longer than expected to shake off their 2016 championship hangover, but once they did, they were one of baseball’s best teams. The Cubbies went 49-25 following the All-Star break and captured their second consecutive Central Division title. They’ll need to address the free agency of pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis this winter, but expect them to be back in the thick of things in 2018.
Cleveland Indians: 15/1
Last year was a tale of two seasons for the Indians. Cleveland posted an underwhelming 47-40 record in the first half before going on a historic tear in August and September. Their 55-20 post-All-Star break record was the best in baseball and they captivated the nation with a dazzling 22-game win streak during the dog days of summer. The Yankees ultimately exposed their poor defense and lack of plate discipline in the playoffs, but the Tribe are still a formidable team with a great rotation, even greater bullpen, and ample power in the lineup. Expect them to be back in the playoffs for the third straight season in 2018, especially with the state of the rest of the Central.
New York Yankees: 16/1
Nobody expected the Baby Bombers to be playing in October when the 2017 season began, and yet there they were, knocking off the Twins and Indians, and taking the Astros to a highly-charged seventh game in the ALCS. The Yankees should be even better in 2018 thanks to the maturation of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Luis Severino, all of whom are just 25 years old or younger.
Boston Red Sox: 17/1
The Yankees’ tantalizing young core may have gotten most of the attention last season, but Boston has young guns of its own who are primed for big breakouts in 2018. Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers played beyond their years during their rookie campaigns, and the club has high hopes that Xander Bogaerts, who’s still just 24 years old, will bounce back after seeing his stats drop across the board in his fourth full season. The Sox have made it to the postseason in nine of the last 15 years, and there’s no reason to think they’ll begin slipping in 2018. Look for Boston to add power to its lineup in free agency, potentially targeting JD Martinez or Carlos Santana
Washington Nationals: 18/1
Baseball is increasingly becoming a young man’s game. That’s bad news for the Nationals, who had the oldest roster in the Majors last season. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, and Tanner Roark are all on the wrong side of 30, and it’s only a matter of time before they break down or begin to regress. Washington already lost ground last season due to a freak injury to Bryce Harper and can ill afford more breakdowns. The rest of the NL East won’t be as deplorable as it was last year.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 20/1
It’s not often that you can win 93 games, post a +153 run differential, and finish a distant second in your division. That was the fate of the Diamondbacks, who ended the season 11 games behind the Dodgers. They’ll likely face a similar scenario in 2018 as L.A. brings back the band for another championship run. On the bright side, most of their key contributors are either under contract or arbitration eligible. Closer Fernando Rodney and 2017 deadline acquisition JD Martinez are headed for free agency though.
St. Louis Cardinals: 22/1
Don’t be deceived by St. Louis’ pedestrian 83-79 record in 2017. The new-look Cards are a top-flight team with plenty of A-plus prospects. Leading the way are middle infielder Paul DeJong, who arguably had the best rookie season of anyone in the NL outside of Cody Bellinger, and outfielder Tommy Pham, who became the first Cardinals player since Reggie Sanders to record a 20/20 season. The Cards are also high on outfielder Jose Martinez, who hit .309 with 14 home runs after being called up from Triple-A. Toss in another bat (or two) and St. Louis could be headed back to the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years.
Toronto Blue Jays: 24/1
The Blue Jays could look considerably different in 2018. The club will likely be without Jose Bautista for the first time in ten years, and may unload third baseman Josh Donaldson despite his stated desire to stay with the club. That’s a whole lot of power gone from the middle of the line-up, and the Jays will have to hope for a return to form from Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki, both of whom missed significant time due to injury. Given their deficiencies, the prospects aren’t good for the team’s first trip to the World Series since 1993. Their other kind of prospects are a little better, especially one name you may recognize.
Colorado Rockies: 25/1
On the face of their stats, Colorado continued its run of dominant batting and lackluster pitching in 2017. The Rockies led the National League in runs, hits, and batting average, and finished ninth in team ERA and 12th in BAA. In reality, they don’t have that great a lineup or that poor a staff; Coors Field inflates all the numbers. But they still need to add top-end starting pitching — or see Jon Gray turn into a bona fide ace — to challenge the likes of the Dodgers over the long-haul.
Milwaukee Brewers: 30/1
The Brewers came up just short of the playoffs in 2017, but vastly exceeded expectations and the franchise is clearly heading in the right direction. Milwaukee improved by 13 wins from 2016 to 2017 and picked up victories in 18 of their final 30 games. First baseman Eric Thames, third baseman Travis Shaw, and right fielder Domingo Santana are all in their primes and could lead the Brew Crew to another season of highly competitive, if not World Series-caliber, baseball next year.
Los Angeles Angels: 33/1
It seems hard to believe, but the Angels have only been to the playoffs once during Mike Trout’s tenure, losing to the Royals in the 2014 ALDS. Sadly, L.A. will likely come up again short again in 2018. The club needs to address its shaky starting pitching and strengthen its bullpen before it can have a legitimate shot at competing with the big boys.
San Francisco Giants: 33/1
The 2017 season was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for the Giants. Madison Bumgarner sprained his left shoulder in a dirt-bike accident, the team’s bus caught on fire, and virtually all of their young stars regressed. And yet, as awful as 2017 was, there’s reason for some optimism in the Bay Area. This is largely the same team that won three World Series titles from 2010 to 2014, and their core is far from washed up. They could be playoff bound again with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of good health.
Texas Rangers: 35/1
The Rangers can really rake. Texas was third in the Majors in homers last season, and had nine players with 17 or more dingers. They should hit a whole lot more in 2018, but until their pitching is on par with their hitting, the Rangers will continue to be a middling squad. Unfortunately, there aren’t many avenues open for the team to drastically improve its rotation and bullpen.
Minnesota Twins: 40/1
The Twins shocked the world this past season when they became the first team to make the playoffs one year after losing 100 games. They won’t make that kind of historic leap again in 2018, but they’ll remain in the Wild Card conversation thanks to an offense that ranked fourth in the AL in run production and fifth in batting average.
New York Mets: 45/1
Few teams (just one actually) were more ravaged by injuries in 2017 than the Mets, who lost 19 players for a combined 1,500 days. That’s something most teams simply aren’t equipped to overcome, and the Mets didn’t break the mold. Pitchers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steve Matz should all be healthy for the start of 2018, but how long will that last? Staying healthy is a skill, on some level, and most of the team’s starters don’t have it. On offense, the Mets will have to find replacements for Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, both of whom they shuttled off at the 2017 trade deadline. There’s only so much a new manager can do, and Mickey Calloway has his work cut out for him.
Baltimore Orioles: 45/1
This promises to be a pivotal offseason for the Orioles. Baltimore badly needs to address its starting pitching and do everything in its power to convince Manny Machado (who’s headed for arbitration) to stick around beyond 2018. The three-time All-Star topped 30 home runs and 90 RBIs for the second straight year and was one of their few bright spots. If Machado re-signs and left fielder Trey Mancini blossoms, the Orioles could become a winner. If the writing’s on the wall with Machado (i.e. he’s dead-set on testing free agency after 2018), the O’s should begin their rebuild pronto by dealing him, along with closer Zach Britton and potentially Adam Jones (both of whom are also slated for arbitration in 2018).
Seattle Mariners: 50/1
The Seattle Mariners were perfectly average in every way in 2017. Their batting average, OPS, run production, and RBI totals were all seventh or eighth-best in the American League. Ditto for their team ERA and BAA. That’s how you end up with a 78-84 record, and it’s likely to happen again in the most ho-hum kind of way. This team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001, and their 2018 season is headed for another September terminus.
Tampa Bay Rays: 50/1
The Rays finished the 2017 season with an 80-82 record, and it’s reasonable to think they could get a little better in 2018 and end the year above .500. Evan Longoria is still capable of mashing homers (and occasionally hitting for the cycle), Logan Morrison has been a revelation at first, and Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza can both hit the ball a country mile. There’s talent here, just not enough to help Tampa Bay sneak into the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 65/1
The last five years have been the best of times and the worst of times for the Pirates. Pittsburgh went to the NL Wild Card game for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15. But they didn’t manage to win advance any further and then lost 80-plus games in each of the last two years. Their downward spiral is likely to continue in 2018 as the club develops its young arms and awaits the return of hard-hitting infielder Jung Ho Kang.
Kansas City Royals: 65/1
The Royals are one of the hardest teams to peg because of the free-agent status of their top contributors. Third baseman Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain are all due for big pay raises, and left fielder Melky Cabrera, who chipped in 17 home runs and 85 RBIs while hitting .285, is also an impending FA.
The 2017 season was, by all accounts, the last kick at the can for the core of Moustakas, Hosmer, and Cain, who led the team to the 2015 World Series title, as there will be a number of deep-pocketed suitors vying for their services. KC will have to decide where to focus its more modest bankroll, and it’s likely that the 2018 roster bears significant differences to the 2017 version.
Atlanta Braves: 85/1
The 2018 season will mark the fourth year of Atlanta’s rebuild. It’s been a long and arduous process for a franchise used to churning out wins, but the Braves could finally start reaping some rewards in the year ahead. Pitchers Luiz Gohara, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb all appear ready for bigger roles, and Dansby Swanson still has the potential to be the team’s cornerstone for years to come, despite a hugely disappointing 2017 from the former first-overall pick. Atlanta is still years away from contending for a title, but the pieces could start falling into place as early as next year.
Philadelphia Phillies: 90/1
Philadelphia had the youngest roster in the Majors in 2017, and it showed on more than a few occasions as the Phillies bungled plays and whiffed their way to 96 losses. It wasn’t all bad news, as the club’s ineptitude led to the call up of Rhys Hoskins, who hit 18 home runs in his first 34 games and was named the NL Rookie of the Month for August. Philly will need a lot more from Hoskins as well as better production from first baseman Tommy Joseph, and third baseman Maikel Franco if they hope to climb out of the NL East’s cellar in 2018.
Miami Marlins: 90/1
Derek Jeter has his work cut out for him. The Marlins new minority owner will spend the next six months restructuring the team’s front office, deciding upon the future of Giancarlo Stanton, and whipping last year’s 77-win squad into shape. It’s a tall task, but if anyone can turn a franchise around, it’s Jeter. His influence and championship pedigree could transform the Marlins into championship contenders in another couple years.
Cincinnati Reds: 100/1
The Reds are coming off another miserable season as the team lost 90-plus games for the third consecutive year. Don’t expect much better in 2018, even if the team gets another historically good year from Joey Votto, who led the National League in walks, OBP, and OPS, and is showing no signs of slowing down at 33. The remaining parts of Cincinnati’s silver lining is shaded in by second baseman Scooter Gennett, who had 97 RBIs and an .874 OPS in his breakout fifth season, and left fielder Adam Duvall, who was second on the team to Votta in both RBIs (99) and homers (31). If the Red can re-sign shortstop Zack Cozart then there’s a chance that Cincinnati can go from being miserable to mediocre.
Oakland Athletics: 150/1
Raise your hand if you can name five players on the A’s. Didn’t think so. Oakland’s mostly anonymous roster was a big reason the team finished 2017 buried beneath the Astros, Angels, Mariners, and Rangers at the bottom of the AL West. Oakland is set for another forgettable year now that other teams have caught up with their Moneyball approach and they no longer have the market cornered on low-risk, high-reward prospects.
Detroit Tigers: 150/1
Tiger fans will be spending the offseason trying to forget that 2017 ever happened. Detroit went 6-24 in their last 30 games and finished tied with the Giants for dead-last in the Majors. Adding insult to injury, castoffs JD Martinez and Justin Verlander both flourished after leaving the club and led their new teams (Arizona and Houston, respectively). Detroit received decent value for both players, but it will be years before they’re all on a Major League roster. This is the start of a long rebuild in Detroit.
Chicago White Sox: 200/1
Chicagoans will have at least one good team to cheer for in 2018, but it won’t be the White Sox. The South Siders lost 95 games last season and looked like a Triple-A squad throughout much of the summer. Their pitchers couldn’t throw strikes, their hitters couldn’t make contact, and their fielders looked like they were just happy to be on a big-league roster. The White Sox have amassed a stable of great prospects during their current rebuild, including pitcher Reynaldo Lopez and Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, but the club is still years away from contending.
San Diego Padres: 200/1
The Padres discovered the hard way last year that it’s hard to win major-league games with minor-league talent. The club decided to bend baseball’s rules (and test the patience of their fans) by calling up a trio of Rule 5 picks from Class A. The results were predictable, as all three struggled and the Padres finished 33 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Next season should follow a similar script as San Diego continues its long, painful rebuild.
2018 MLB Odds: Nuts & Bolts
2018 World Series Odds
Same as above, but less wordy.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 13/2
- Houston Astros: 15/2
- Chicago Cubs: 14/1
- Cleveland Indians: 15/1
- New York Yankees: 16/1
- Boston Red Sox: 17/1
- Washington Nationals: 18/1
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 20/1
- St. Louis Cardinals: 22/1
- Toronto Blue Jays: 24/1
- Colorado Rockies: 25/1
- Milwaukee Brewers: 30/1
- Los Angeles Angels: 33/1
- San Francisco Giants: 33/1
- Texas Rangers: 35/1
- Minnesota Twins: 40/1
- New York Mets: 45/1
- Baltimore Orioles: 45/1
- Seattle Mariners: 50/1
- Tampa Bay Rays: 50/1
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 65/1
- Kansas City Royals: 65/1
- Atlanta Braves: 85/1
- Philadelphia Phillies: 90/1
- Miami Marlins: 90/1
- Cincinnati Reds: 100/1
- Oakland Athletics: 150/1
- Detroit Tigers: 150/1
- Chicago White Sox: 200/1
- San Diego Padres: 200/1
2018 World Series Matchup Odds
- Dodgers vs Astros: 29/2 [2017 rematch]
- Dodgers vs Indians: 27/1
- Dodgers vs Yankees: 29/1
- Cubs vs Astros: 30/1
- Dodgers vs Red Sox: 33/1
- Astros vs Nationals: 39/1
- Cubs vs Indians: 61/1 [2016 rematch]
- Padres vs White Sox: 9999/1