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Cubs leading, Giants gaining on the updated World Series odds

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Where once 29 other teams were looking up, way up, at the Chicago Cubs on the 2016 World Series champion betting lines, surges by several other contenders have led to some revisions by the oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Cubs retain top odds at +375 at the sportsbooks in spite of a recent stretch when they dropped 15 out of 22 games to fall into a three-way race with the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals for the National League’s best record.

Chicago, which has been coping while leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler spends a spell on the disabled list, has two of the game’s finest young hitters in the corner-infield combo of 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo. All five starting pitchers have been durable.

Now might be a good time to place a bet on the outcome in October, since the board will change again once the dust settles after the July 31 trade deadline.

San Francisco, which has built a cushion against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead, has seen their odds improve to +550 after being listed at +900 in late May.

San Francisco’s front-end starters, LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Johnny Cueto, are as good of a 1-2 combo as any other in Major League Baseball. San Francisco, under manager Bruce Bochy, also has their playoff pedigree established during World Series triumphs in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

In terms of being a riser on the World Series odds, the Giants have nothing on either the Texas Rangers at +700 or Cleveland Indians at +750. Texas’ odds have dropped by half since May, as the Rangers have taken the AL West lead on the strength of a balanced lineup and a deep bullpen that eases the burden on LHP Cole Hamels and the starting rotation.

Cleveland’s odds were three times higher in May. The Indians have a solid starting and relief corps with the likes of RHP Corey Kluber and closer Cody Allen. Terry Francona, a former World Series-winning manager, is also getting better than league-average hitting from most of his everyday players, including the solid up-the-middle combo of 2B Jason Kipnis and SS Francisco Lindor.

The Washington Nationals’ odds have fallen to +900. The Nationals’ record and their numbers have been somewhat goosed by being in the thin NL East, but a team with reigning MVP Bryce Harper and RHP Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg could be dangerous in October.

The AL East has a legit three-team race, and the Toronto Blue Jays have the top odds within the division at +1000, with the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox at +1400. Of the three, Toronto has the most motivation to trade for short-term gain with DH Edwin Encarnacion and RF Jose Bautista both in their walk years.

Superstar LHP Clayton Kershaw’s stint on the disabled list has led to the Dodgers’ odds rising to +2000. The New York Yankees have also dropped out of sight to +6600, since the game’s richest franchise is set to be a seller during the next two weeks.

MLB 2017 betting props roundup: Home run leader, Cy Young Award odds

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Some long-term trends, one individual and one historical, work against the favorites in two of the big Major League Baseball season props.

Miami Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton is established as the +750 favorite on the MLB home run leader odds for 2017 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. And on the Cy Young Award winner odds, Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox is the +200 favorite on the American League board while a fellow left-hander, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, is the +100 favorite on the National League board.

Stanton’s slugging prowess speaks for itself, but staying in the lineup has been an issue for him. The Marlins star has reached 500 at-bats only once in the past five seasons, so it is buyer beware when it comes to betting on Stanton to stay healthy enough to mash 40-some big flies.

The Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (+1250) is coming off consecutive 40-homer years in the high altitude of Denver. Reigning champ Mark Trumbo (+2000) is not the first Baltimore Orioles slugger you will find on the board, with corner infielders Chris Davis (+1500) and Manny Machado (+1500) each higher. Machado is entering his age-25 season and is nearing his peak years as a power hitter. He has already had two 35-homer seasons.

One player who might fill a need for deep value is Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (+5000), who hit 42 homers last season.

On the AL Cy Young odds board, the aforementioned Sale (+200) had some regression late last season that should give bettors pause. As well, no Red Sox left-hander has ever won the award, which might be a reason to strike David Price (+550). It’s doubtful that their teammate Rick Porcello (+3300) will win again after his controversial victory against the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander (+1000), who received more first-place votes.

The recent pattern with the AL Cy Young winners has been that it goes to a young star. That might make it worthwhile to throw a dart at the board with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez (+2000) or Cleveland Indians’ Danny Salazar (+4000).

The NL Cy Young odds board is top-heavy, with Kershaw (+100) joined by the reigning honoree, the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer (+300) and the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (+800). Kershaw’s odds may offer too small a payout to back him when he’s coming off a year when he made only 22 starts due to a back injury.

Scherzer has been indomitable for four seasons and his odds make him worth being a safe pick. But Syndergaard winning a Cy Young might just be a matter of when.

Farther down the board, the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks (+3300) is probably the pitcher to back from the defending World Series champions. Rotation mate Jake Arrieta (+1200) had some regression in 2016 after his 2015 Cy Young season, and voters sometimes tend to turn to a more recently established star.

Cubs top World Series futures, but early favorites seldom win

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Neither their price nor recent history makes the Chicago Cubs an enticing play on the latest 2017 World Series champion futures board.

As teams begin spring training in Arizona and Florida, the defending champion Cubs are the +450 favorite on the odds to win the World Series this fall, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Boston Red Sox are close behind at +500, which is also on the low side compared to the prices for other recent World Series-winning champions in mid-February.

It is true that the 2016 Cubs, with their 20-something core led by 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo and SS Addison Russell, practically went wire-to-wire as the favorite. The only time they were not at the time was when they were a loss from elimination against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

The Cubs, however, were listed at +750 at the outset of spring training last season, and a price in that range would make the current version a much more worthwhile play.

All of the prior six champions had a price ranging from +1600 (the 2015 Kansas City Royals) to +3000 (2013 Boston Red Sox) in the middle of winter. The Cubs’ price is the lowest seen at this point since 2010, when the New York Yankees were at +300. Those Yankees lost in the ALCS to the Texas Rangers, who in turn were defeated by the San Francisco Giants — a one-time +2500 preseason underdog.

If that is any rule of thumb, then the value is in the middle of the board. Considering that they each pushed the Cubs during the playoffs, the San Francisco Giants (+1200) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+1400) are both underrated at this point.

A fast start from the Giants and their starting pitching trio of LHP Madison Bumgarner, RHP Johnny Cueto and RHP Jeff Samardzija would cause their odds to move due to their status as a three-time World Series-winning team. The Dodgers also stack up well, considering that they won 91 games last season even though franchise LHP Clayton Kershaw missed about 10 starts.

With their trade for LHP Chris Sale and the Killer B’s on the field — RF Mookie Betts, SS Xander Bogaerts and CF Jackie Bradley Jr. — the Red Sox deserve the preseason hype. Cleveland (+800) is the third AL champion in a row, after the 2014-15 Kansas City Royals, to win a pennant on pitching and situational hitting, and that can have a shelf life.

One AL team that profiles similarly is the Houston Astros (+1400), who have spent years amassing young talent. With an excellent infield of 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman and SS Carlos Correa, the Astros’ have a fairly wide window to become the first Texas team to win it all.

No team has won back-to-back World Series since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees three-peated. The MLB regular season begins on April 2.