Cubs Clear Favorite on Odds to Win World Series as MLB Playoffs Begin

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The way the end of the Major League Baseball regular season played out has caused some shuffling on the 2016 World Series champion futures board.

The Chicago Cubs retain the +225 top odds that they possessed entering the last week of the season, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cubs, who led all of baseball with 103 wins, have had weeks to set up their rotation for a NLDS matchup between the  winner of Wednesday’s wild card game between the New York Mets (+1600) and San Francisco Giants (+2000).

Chicago also has a 27.6 percent chance of winning the World Series, tops in the league, entering the playoffs according to the simulations run by website PredictionMachine.com.

The Texas Rangers, who have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, are the second favorite at +500. The Rangers are an astounding 36-11 in one-run games, which could be their hole card in the postseason. Texas awaits the wild card game winner, either the Baltimore Orioles (+2000) or Toronto Blue Jays (+1200).

The Boston Red Sox are listed at +600 while the Cleveland Indians are at +800 in spite of having a potential extra home game in their ALDS showdown. The Red Sox went 19-10 after August 31 to win the AL East, while Cleveland went 16-13 in that span.

The set NLDS foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals, are also listed at +600. Two aces, Washington’s Max Scherzer and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, will likely go head-to-head in Game 1 and in a potential Game 5.

The Blue Jays are a -150 favorite against the +135 underdog Orioles in the AL wild card game on Tuesday. The total is 8.5. Toronto is 12-7 at home against Baltimore over the last two seasons. The total went over in 11 of those 19 games.

The Blue Jays are starting RHP Marcus Stroman, even though he has a 7.04 ERA in four starts this season vs. Baltimore, with a .344 opponents’ batting average. Toronto has LHP Nelson Liriano and RHP Marco Estrada available. Baltimore is throwing RHP Chris Tillman, who had a 3.63 ERA and .250 opponents’ average in four starts vs. Toronto.

The Orioles also have a near-untouchable closer with LHP Zach Britton.

The NL wild card game is a toss-up befitting a pitching showdown between LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner’s San Francisco Giants are listed at -103, with Syndergaard’s New York Mets a razor-thin -107 favorite. The total is 6.0.

The Giants are 6-4 on the road against the Mets at Citi Field since 2014. The Giants are 5-1 against the Mets in Bumgarner starts. The lefty has handcuffed the Mets to the count of a 1.80 ERA and .189 batting average in those six starts. Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA and .243 opponents’ average in three career starts against the Giants.

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.