2019 World Series Odds for Every MLB Contender with Trade-Season Dust Settled
The hunt for the 2019 World Series championship looks a little different now that the trade deadline has come and gone.
What's say we put some numbers to it?
We've updated our odds for each MLB contender to ultimately win the World Series. The list covers a handful of teams on the bubble but mainly focuses on 14 clubs that are absolutely in the running. Our assessments consider not only the quality of each team but also the difficulty of their paths to the postseason.
We'll go in order from worst odds to best odds.
On the Bubble
Los Angeles Angels (56-58, fourth in AL West)
In keeping with their recent tradition, the Angels are neither really in the American League playoff race nor really out of it. But while Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani should do their part in the middle of the club's lineup, it's hard to see any light for a decimated starting rotation with a 5.40 ERA.
Texas Rangers (58-54, third in AL West)
Rather than trade Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Hunter Pence, the Rangers effectively committed to staying in the AL wild-card race by keeping all three. Yet they still face a six-game deficit in that race, and Joey Gallo's broken wrist and the Rangers' thin pitching are just two of many obstacles that stand in their way.
San Francisco Giants (56-57, T-second in NL West)
Perhaps the real Giants are the ones that went 17-3 between June 30 and July 23, thereby putting themselves in a wide-open National League wild-card race and convincing themselves to keep Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith. What's more likely, however, is that the real Giants are the aggressively mediocre club that's gone 39-54 on either side of that hot stretch.
Arizona Diamondbacks (56-57, T-second in NL West)
The Diamondbacks seemed to punt on 2019 when they traded staff ace Zack Greinke, yet the additions of Mike Leake and Zac Gallen to their pitching staff shouldn't be written off. Meanwhile, this is still a pretty good offensive team. The D-backs may yet sneak into the playoffs and hope to make some magic once they're there.
New York Mets (57-56, fourth in NL East)
The Mets were supposed to be one of the deadline's biggest sellers. Instead, they added Marcus Stroman and kept Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. Between them and reigning Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, the Mets have a rotation that might lead the way to the NL Wild Card Game and beyond.
Record: 59-53, T-second in NL East
The Atlanta Braves have established a safe lead in the NL East race, so it's probably wild card or bust for the Philadelphia Phillies.
This would explain why the club's front office played it cool at the deadline. Rather than pursue any high-risk deals, it settled for low-risk trades for Corey Dickerson and Jason Vargas. Otherwise, it was scrapheap shopping for Drew Smyly, Blake Parker and Dan Straily.
These deals should allow the Phillies to at least tread water, but the task of elevating the team will ultimately fall to its incumbents. That's where there's some hope.
After all, it's not out of the question that Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto will revert to their respective All-Star forms and finally make the Phillies offense the juggernaut it was supposed to be. Despite a lingering elbow injury, Jake Arrieta may yet recapture his Cy Young-caliber ability.
But as dangerous as the Phillies would be if these notions became reality, there are few signs to expect as much. Mediocrity may be all this particular team is capable of.
Record: 58-56, third in NL Central
With Brandon Woodruff (oblique), Jhoulys Chacin (lat), Jimmy Nelson (elbow) and Corbin Burnes (shoulder) all on the injured list, the Milwaukee Brewers went into the trade deadline in dire needs of arms.
The Brewers front office's response was to pass on the market's big names in favor of Jordan Lyles, Drew Pomeranz, Ray Black and Jake Faria. The added depth is nice, but whether there's enough talent here to reverse the club's diminishing pitching returns is debatable.
The Brewers' playoff hopes are more so tied to whether their injured pitchers get healthy and if the rest of their offense rallies around reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, who has a 1.133 OPS and 39 home runs.
The uncertainty surrounding both scenarios can't be ignored. Woodruff, specifically, isn't expected to return to his post atop the Brewers rotation until September. And while there are plenty of big names around Yelich, Milwaukee's offense hasn't been able to catch fire this season.
The bright side is that paths through both the NL Central and the NL wild card remain open to the Brewers. But at present, they don't look like the championship-caliber contender they were in 2018.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 60-55, third in AL East
Perhaps there's a correlation between the inaction of the Boston Red Sox's front office at the trade deadline and the team's recent eight-game losing streak.
The Red Sox did acquire Andrew Cashner for their starting rotation, so it can't be said that their front office did nothing. Yet it had been painfully obvious how badly the club needed help in its bullpen—which has a 4.49 ERA overall—so it was a letdown when the front office failed to acquire any.
"If we were closer to first place, I would've been more open-minded with some of the other things," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters.
Granted, the defending World Series champs can't be written off just yet. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts lead one of baseball's best offenses. Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello are at least healthy and therefore potentially capable of carrying Boston's thin pitching staff.
But at this point, anything less than the best-case scenario for these Red Sox won't cut it. The AL East lead is unattainable, and even the AL's second wild card is 5.5 games out of reach.
Record: 59-53, T-second in NL East
In theory, the Washington Nationals are a potential nightmare postseason matchup.
Their attack would be led by the top of their starting rotation, which has a trio of aces in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The Nats also deepened their bullpen with trades for Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias on deadline day.
The Nats offense, meanwhile, has holes, but also a good mix of power and speed. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto (45 combined homers) for the former. Trea Turner and Victor Robles (40 combined stolen bases) for the latter.
The hard part, however, will be for the Nationals to even get into the postseason.
Although they righted their ship with a 30-11 run between May 24 and July 13, it's begun taking on water again amid a 10-11 record since July 14. Further, it seems to be anyone's guess as to when Scherzer will recover from a bad back, and Elias (hamstring) has already joined him on the injured list.
At this rate, the Nats will have issues gaining ground in the NL East and keeping up in the NL wild-card race.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 58-53, second in NL Central
The St. Louis Cardinals have won 14 of 23 since the All-Star break. And if they can't retake the lead in the NL Central, they stand to fall back on the NL's top wild-card spot.
In light of all this, it's not the biggest upset that the Cardinals effectively sat out the deadline. Their only trade was one that sent infielder Jedd Gyorko to the Los Angeles Dodgers for left-hander Tony Cingrani.
Based on its reputation, the Cardinals pitching staff arguably needed more than Cingrani. However, negative perspectives on St. Louis pitchers are a bit dated by now. They rank third in MLB with a 3.85 ERA since the first of June.
Now the question is when the Cardinals offense will finally hit its stride. Paul Goldschmidt has heated up with 11 homers in his last 26 games, yet the offense as a whole has retained a generally bland flavor as the months go by. To this end, a renaissance by Matt Carpenter is sorely needed.
If things don't change, the Cardinals offense will remain an Achilles' heel for the rest of the season and (assuming they get there) into October.
Record: 64-49, second in AL West
The slog that defined the early portion of the Oakland Athletics' season has long since given way to a 45-24 romp that dates back to May 16.
Said romp has largely been driven by an offense that's churned out 5.5 runs and 1.7 home runs per game. Certainly, Oakland's lineup will be even scarier if Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty can get hot and take pressure off Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien.
All the A's would need to do then is pitch just well enough. They've been doing that for much of the season, and recent trades for Tanner Roark, Homer Bailey and Jake Diekman and the eventual return of Sean Manaea (shoulder) should help keep it up. Likewise, it helps to have such an outstanding defense.
As good as all this sounds, the A's still invite some skepticism.
For one thing, they're basically out of the AL West race and presently a half-game out in the race for the AL's second wild card. For another, their lack of even one ace-type starter would figure to be a far bigger issue in October than it's been thus far in the regular season.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 65-49, second in AL East
The Tampa Bay Rays hit a wall with a 16-23 stretch between June 11 and July 23, during which both their offense and their pitching were on the fritz.
The Rays have since rebounded with eight wins in their last 10 games, and in the middle of this came one of the more underrated deadline hauls. They added much-needed bats with deals for Eric Sogard and Jesus Aguilar as well as pitching depth in Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards.
The Rays now have the depth to maintain their usual formula for winning games. As in, a never-ending parade of talented pitchers, good defense and just enough offense.
Yet the hitch in this plan are the injury absences of reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (elbow) and fellow ace Tyler Glasnow (forearm). The former probably won't return until September. The latter might not return at all.
This hitch won't make it easy for the Rays to hold on to the AL's second wild-card spot. And in the event that neither makes a full recovery, Charlie Morton will be the only ace the Rays can throw at the competition. That plus the shortage of power in their offense would make life difficult.
Record: 61-51, first in NL Central
Although they lead the NL Central, it still requires a bit of faith to see the Chicago Cubs as legitimate World Series contenders.
Indeed, their season has mostly been a study in disappointment. They haven't been especially good on either side of a 26-10 run between April 11 and May 22. The blame for that is shared roughly equally between their feast-or-famine offense, good-not-great rotation and generally vulnerable bullpen.
But if nothing else, the Cubs still have the foundation for an overwhelming offense. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and (when healthy) Willson Contreras are as talented as offensive foursomes come. Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and the newly acquired Nicholas Castellanos make for pretty good depth.
If the club's offense were to catch fire in October, Cubs pitchers wouldn't need to do too much. Certainly, it would help to sideline Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana in favor of Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks, who have a 3.27 ERA between them.
If this is how things come together, the 2016 champs will be able to downplay their Craig Kimbrel-led bullpen and possibly return to the World Series.
Record: 66-46, second in AL Central
From one perspective, the Cleveland Indians are a mere wild-card contender that just screwed themselves by trading their best starting pitcher.
From another, they're nonetheless one of the more dangerous teams in baseball right now.
Yes, ace right-hander Trevor Bauer is gone by way of a three-team deal that sent him to the Cincinnati Reds. But that deal netted Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes, who brought 49 combined home runs with them to Cleveland. With them now aboard, Cleveland's offense should sustain its steady upward trajectory.
The big concern is whether Cleveland's rotation will withstand the loss of Bauer. To this end, Shane Bieber has been the Indians' actual best pitcher all along. And in the next few weeks, two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (arm) should come return from the injured list.
Elsewhere, the Indians have one of the best bullpens and defenses in MLB. As long as their starting rotation doesn't crumble in Bauer's absence, they have the pieces to possibly reclaim the AL Central lead. If not, a deep postseason run will still be possible.
Record: 66-48, first in NL East
The Braves have gotten to the top of the NL East largely by clobbering the ball.
They boast one of the NL's top run-scoring and homer-hitting offenses. They mostly have Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuna Jr. to thank, but the sheer depth in their offense is not to be underrated. Atlanta's everyday lineup has few easy outs.
Which leads us to the obligatory "yeah, but..." that is the question of whether the Braves have enough pitching. Knowing that many of their hurlers have been somewhat disappointing, there is indeed a strong a case for the negative.
But it's not all bad. A bullpen that had already been cruising got extra depth at the deadline when Shane Greene, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon came aboard. It's been a struggle for the Braves to find a reliable No. 5 starter, but Dallas Keuchel, Julio Teheran, Mike Soroka and Max Fried are a quartet that that could do some damage in October.
Altogether, the Braves look like the second-best team in the National League.
Record: 70-42, first in AL Central
The Minnesota Twins went into the deadline in need of either an ace starter, an ace reliever or both.
They ended up with nothing of the sort. Although Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson joined their pen, neither can be described as overpowering. Minnesota's rotation, meanwhile, still features a drop-off in talent after staff ace Jose Berrios.
But will any of this matter as long as the Twins keep hitting?
They're effectively tied for the MLB lead in runs per game, and nobody is even close to matching their 217 home runs. They have an MLB-high 11 players with at least 10 home runs. Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz, who's hit three homers in a game twice since July 25, lead the way with 30 apiece.
The Twins may be a one-note team, but this one note has kept them atop the AL Central despite the Indians' recent assault. And given how much recent postseasons have been dominated (see here and here) by home runs, this one note may also be enough to carry the Twins to the World Series.
New York Yankees
Record: 73-39, first in AL East
The New York Yankees all but crushed the Red Sox's playoff hopes with a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium over the weekend. The Rays, meanwhile, are eight games back in the AL East race.
So why worry about the Yankees? A couple reasons.
The first is that the Yankees let the deadline pass without adding anything to a rotation that's struggled with a 5.80 ERA since June 1. Their best hope of a rescue may be Luis Severino, who's missed the whole season with a bad shoulder.
On that note, there are frankly too many names on the Yankees' injured list to cover. Certainly the big ones are Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, but it's notable that Edwin Encarnacion, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela were hurt in the Boston series.
But as bad as all this sounds, there should be enough time for everyone to get healthy between now and October. Assuming that happens—knock on wood—the Yankees will put all their playoff chips on their MLB-best offense and their bullpen, which is also arguably the best in the league.
That could be more than enough to overcome their weak rotation.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 75-40, first in NL West
The Dodgers didn't live up to expectations at the trade deadline. They needed at least one shutdown reliever and potentially an extra starter as well. What they got was a situational left-hander (Adam Kolarek) and a seemingly superfluous infielder (Gyorko).
Disappointing though the Dodgers' deadline haul may be, however, it doesn't mean that the team with both the best record and best run differential (plus-180) in baseball is doomed.
Led by Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Justin Turner, the Dodgers are speeding toward the postseason with the top run-scoring offense in the National League. The guys with the bats also wield pretty good gloves, as the Dodgers boast the NL's most efficient defense.
The Dodgers also have an MLB-low 3.40 ERA. They've thrived on a rotation headed by Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and (when healthy) Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill. That should continue into October, wherein the Dodgers can funnel the bulk of their relief innings to Julio Urias, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen.
Ultimately, the Dodgers have more than enough to at least get to a third straight World Series.
Record: 73-40, first in AL West
While other teams treated the trade deadline as if it was radioactive, the Houston Astros dove right in and came away with the best haul of any team.
The big prize was Greinke, who slots in behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole to form by far the best trio of starters in baseball today. Meanwhile, the Astros' other two pitching acquisitions (Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini) have already spearheaded a combined no-hitter.
"It's hard to come to a team and feel like you can contribute in a way when they're already so good," Sanchez said, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
The Astros also come with an elite offense headlined by Alex Bregman and George Springer, plus the most efficient defense in baseball. Their bullpen tends to get overlooked, yet it ranks third in MLB with a 3.76 ERA.
In short, there's nothing not to like about what the Astros have on paper. Factor in how much of their roster is battle-hardened by long stays in the 2017 (when they won the World Series) and 2018 playoffs, and there's ultimately few reasons they shouldn't be seen as the favorites to win it all this season.