Reviewing Updated Championship Odds for Every MLB Team

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IApril 25, 2021

Reviewing Updated Championship Odds for Every MLB Team

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Over three weeks have passed since the start of the 2021 MLB season. Fans have gotten early glances at their clubs. So, too, have bettors.

    There hasn't been a seismic change in World Series odds. It is April, after all. Still, there has been some interesting shifting.

    Let's break down the latest in terms of championship odds, from DraftKings. A number of teams were split into subsets for added clarity. We then dissected the top 10.

Forget About It

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press
    • Pittsburgh Pirates (+25000)
    • Texas Rangers (+15000)
    • Detroit Tigers (+15000)
    • Colorado Rockies (+10000)
    • Baltimore Orioles (+10000)
    • Arizona Diamondbacks (+10000)
    • Miami Marlins (+7500)

A Few Early Surprises

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    Seattle Mariners (+8000)

    The Mariners are making an early run at the top of the American League West. The bullpen—especially Kendall Graveman—has been terrific, and the rotation has upside with Marco Gonzales getting things together his last two times out.

    Can Seattle generate more offense? The good news is Kyle Lewis is back. Mitch Haniger has been a major run-producer in his return from injury, and Ty France is off to an excellent start. It's still possible Jarred Kelenic will be up before the All-Star break.


    San Francisco Giants (+8000)

    The San Francisco rotation ranks fifth in fWAR. That group is the reason for the team's fast start, especially considering the Giants rank 11th in the National League in runs.

    The good news? Vets Buster Posey and Evan Longoria are raking. San Francisco could be all the more dangerous if Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt and Alex Dickerson get going.


    Kansas City Royals (+7500)

    The Royals were expected to be more competitive this season. But did anyone see them leading the American League Central after nearly a month of action?

    Kansas City ranks fourth in the American League in slugging and first in stolen bases. It has more offensive potential if Jorge Soler finds his power stroke and Hunter Dozier frees himself from early-season woes.

    The pitching staff will need to improve. Brad Keller has been bad. Mike Minor hasn't been terrific, either. But Danny Duffy (expiring contract) is making himself into a trade asset. Plus, Brady Singer looked great for a third straight start Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.

Potential Value Picks to Monitor

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Cleveland (+4000)

    The Cleveland staff always gives it a chance to contend. The question, per usual, is offense.

    Cleveland ranks 14th in the AL in runs and 13th in on-base percentage. The lineup could stand for Jose Ramirez and Eddie Rosario to break out and produce consistently. But this team could be after a bat at the deadline.


    Los Angeles Angels (+2500)

    On the plus side, the Angels have one of the more dangerous lineups in baseball. The Halos rank second in the AL in OPS and first in home runs.

    But preseason concerns about the rotation loom large. Jose Quintana has been unimpressive. Homers have been an issue for Griffin Canning. Alex Cobb was roughed up his last time out.

    The bullpen has held together decently, though Raisel Iglesias has been disappointing in the closer role. Los Angeles needs quality starts from the rotation. A midseason trade is certainly possible.


    Milwaukee Brewers (+2200)

    The Brewers' outlook is similar to Cleveland's. The rotation ranks first in ERA and third in fWAR. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta form an elite top three. The bullpen is also strong despite slow starts by Drew Rasmussen and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams.

    But Milwaukee needs more production at the plate to be considered a contender. It ranks 13th in the NL in OPS.

Question Marks Abound

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    Washington Nationals (+5000)

    Can Patrick Corbin rebound? Will Stephen Strasburg ever be healthy? Are Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber going to be run producers, or are the early-season woes a sign of things to come?

    There has been plenty of reason for skepticism. With the pitching staff struggling, the Nationals need more from the lineup's supporting cast.


    Chicago Cubs (+5000)

    Cubs fans might hope a recent sweep of the New York Mets is a sign the offense is back. The North Siders scored a combined 23 runs and have had outbursts of 13, 16 and 15 since April 17.

    The hitters are too talented for Chicago not to score some runs. But the pitching staff is suspect. Zach Davies has struggled. Trevor Williams and Jake Arrieta are giving up hard contact. Even Kyle Hendricks has been shaky. The starters rank 29th in xFIP.

    Additionally, while Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Chafin have been excellent, a number of relievers have poor FIP marks and could be due for regression.


    St. Louis Cardinals (+3000)

    The Cardinals rotation ranks 27th in xFIP. The relievers rank 29th in that department.

    Pitching has traditionally been a strength for St. Louis. But it has been a major issue this season. Maybe a young arm such as Johan Oviedo will get more opportunities. Regardless, the Redbirds need a spark, especially since Miles Mikolas does not appear close to returning.

    The good news is the offense ranks eighth in the NL in OPS despite a slow start by Paul Goldschmidt.


    Toronto Blue Jays (+2500)

    The Blue Jays have been a big disappointment from an offensive standpoint. But things should improve once Teoscar Hernandez and George Springer return.

    The bigger question is the rotation. Hyun Jin Ryu is a frontline guy. Left-hander Steven Matz has been a pleasant surprise. But there is reason for skepticism elsewhere. Robbie Ray is still having command issues, and Ross Stripling and T.J. Zeuch are injured. Can Nate Pearson provide a spark when he returns?


    Tampa Bay Rays (+2200)

    The Rays are finding a way to scratch out runs. They need more from the bullpen especially.

    Injuries have been a major detriment. Nick Anderson will be out through the All-Star break, and Pete Fairbanks has yet to resume throwing following a strained right rotator cuff. Tampa Bay needs to make up for it in the aggregate. More young arms might follow Brent Honeywell Jr. and Josh Fleming to the bigs.

Slippin', Fallin'—Can They Get Up?

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Phillies (+4000)

    The Phillies seized an early lead in the National League East. Their starters looked strong, and the bullpen was surprisingly terrific.

    However, Philadelphia has gone just 5-9 since April 7. The bullpen is depleted as a result of injuries to Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley. The Phils also rank just 11th in the NL in runs.

    The previous statement is the biggest issue. This lineup needs to score runs and take some pressure off the pitching staff for Philly to stay among the top teams in the division.


    Cincinnati Reds (+2500)

    Unlike the Phillies, the Reds practically cannot stop scoring runs. The starting rotation has been strong despite Luis Castillo's struggles. Sonny Gray is back in the mix, though he has not been great (seven earned runs in eight innings).

    But the bullpen has been a disaster. Cincy ranks 27th in xFIP and 29th in ERA. The Reds already have four blown saves, and Tejay Antone has been about the only dependable arm for manager David Bell.

    Cincinnati is not always going to score at such a torrid pace. Even if it does, it needs better pitching performances in the middle and late innings.

10. Oakland Athletics (+2000)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Talk about a turnaround.

    The Oakland Athletics have won 13 straight following a 1-7 start. The lineup has come alive, over six per game during the winning streak.

    Matt Olson ranks seventh in MLB in wRC+. Jed Lowrie has been a revelation, ranking 30th in that department. Mark Canha has a .414 OBP and four stolen bases, setting things in motion at the top of the order.

    This is the A's team fans are accustomed to. The lineup is finding its power stroke, and the bullpen has rebounded, ranking 14th in xFIP.

    Much of the success will continue to hinge on the starters. Of import: Sean Manaea has been terrific since a poor debut, and Jesus Luzardo showed signs of breaking out of his slump in his last outing (5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K) against the Minnesota Twins.

    Oakland is in a groove. Let's see how far it can ride the momentum.

9. Minnesota Twins (+2000)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Where would the Minnesota Twins be without Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz?

    Buxton owns a share of the MLB lead in fWAR (minimum 50 plate appearances) despite playing four fewer games than Mike Trout. Cruz, meanwhile, ranks sixth among qualified hitters in wRC+.

    Otherwise, there has been a lot of disappointment outside of Luis Arraez. Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler are injured. Miguel Sano, Jake Cave and Mitch Garver are striking out a lot. Jorge Polanco has a .510 OPS. Josh Donaldson, though, has looked strong in his return from a hamstring injury.

    The bullpen has also been incredibly underwhelming. Alex Colome has blown three saves. Randy Dobnak has given up 14 hits and 11 earned runs in 9.1 innings.

    Kenta Maeda has also been very disappointing, posting a 6.11 ERA and 1.87 WHIP in four starts after a runner-up finish for the AL Cy Young Award.

    Minnesota still has plenty of slugging potential and good balance. The Twins need more stability in the bullpen and must get more from Sano and Polanco especially.

8. Houston Astros (+2000)

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Houston Astros have been the inverse of the Athletics in the AL West. Houston started the season 6-1 but has won just four of its last 13.

    Granted, assessing the slump is difficult because much of the lineup—including Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez—missed time because of health and safety protocols. But the struggles by the pitching staff are real.

    The Astros had pressing bullpen needs entering the campaign. That group hasn't gotten many great performances outside of Ryan Pressly, Ryne Stanek and Brandon Bielak. Manager Dusty Baker said April 17 the biggest signing of the offseason, Pedro Baez, is "still a ways off" from making his debut, per Jake Kaplan of The Athletic.

    The rotation has produced mixed results, as well. Houston has apparently lost Jake Odorizzi for some time, though Kent Emanuel could be an arm to watch after dazzling in relief of Odorizzi on Saturday.

    Another is Cristian Javier, who has been a swing-and-miss guy through three starts with 20 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.

7. Boston Red Sox (+2000)

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The Boston Red Sox, to little surprise, have not wasted time in exerting plenty of offensive firepower.

    J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo are off to terrific starts. Christian Arroyo has been a pleasant surprise at second base, slashing .333/.373/.479 in 51 plate appearances. Boston's depth has helped it lead the AL in runs and OPS.

    Speaking of pleasant surprises, the back end of the bullpen—Matt Barnes and Matt Andriese—has been good. Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock has also been terrific. The Red Sox could probably use more depth in the middle innings, though, particularly with Darwinzon Hernandez and Adam Ottavino having a hard time locating pitches.

    But the rotation continues to provide the most intrigue. Nathan Eovaldi is pitching like a top-end arm. Nick Pivetta (3.48 ERA in four starts) has been a capable arm, and Eduardo Rodriguez has ben effective in his return from myocarditis.

    However, Garrett Richards and Martin Perez haven't had good stuff. Richards in particular has had issues commanding his fastball.

    The Red Sox could take another long look at Tanner Houck for a rotation spot. Chris Sale's return still seems like a couple of months off, and Boston needs quality innings now.

6. Atlanta Braves (+1500)

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    What a strange season it's been for the Atlanta Braves.

    Ronald Acuna Jr. is off to an MVP start. Freddie Freeman has begun to overcome his early BABIP misfortune. The rest of the club...not as much.

    Atlanta ranks 26th in BABIP, and Cleveland and Houston are the only teams with smaller differences between their batting averages and BABIP. That's a short way of saying the luck should eventually turn, though Dansby Swanson, Travis d'Arnaud and Marcell Ozuna need to cut down on the punchouts.

    The rotation has mostly evened out, though injuries have played a role. Max Fried landed on the injured list after a poor start to the season (11.45 ERA in three starts). Fellow left-hander Drew Smyly is also on IL. Mike Soroka still hasn't thrown after being shut down with shoulder inflammation. Additionally, the bullpen has scuffled, ranking just 23rd in xFIP.

    Atlanta should still be there when the season ends. But it's already been a bit of an odyssey.

5. Chicago White Sox (+1400)

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Chicago White Sox appear to be gathering momentum. Chicago has hovered around the .500 mark all season, but the lineup is coming around in a hurry.

    Tim Anderson had 12 hits in six games since returning from the injured list. Luis Robert had 14 hits in his last eight games and was showing slightly better discipline. Jose Abreu had three hits and two homers in a win over Cleveland on Tuesday.

    The White Sox could stand for Yoan Moncada to find his power stroke. Maybe Friday's three-hit, three-RBI game will get him going. Of course, Yermin Mercedes has also been a godsend for the South Siders.

    The loss of Lance Lynn was a bummer. He had been pitching wonderfully. That said, Carlos Rodon—he of the no-hit club—looks impressive. He is a major X-factor, particularly if Lucas Giolito finds a more happy medium and Dallas Keuchel becomes more effective.

    The early struggles by the bullpen are notable, but that group is too talented not to figure it out.

4. San Diego Padres (+900)

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Injuries in the San Diego Padres rotation might be cause for concern. But Joe Musgrove has been one of the best starters in baseball behind Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, ranking third in xFIP. Ryan Weathers is making a name for himself as well.

    San Diego also has depth in the bullpen. That group ranks fourth in ERA and first in xFIP. Mark Melancon has been a major source of comfort in the ninth inning.

    Surprisingly, it's the offense that has disappointed. Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers are off to decent starts, and Trent Grisham needed just 12 games to take the team lead in homers. But Tommy Pham (.473 OPS) is having a tough time getting going.

    Fernando Tatis Jr.'s swing-and-miss tendencies are a concern, but his batted ball numbers suggest he could get hot at any moment. Indeed, he clubbed a pair of homers off Clayton Kershaw on Friday. The same can be said for Manny Machado when it comes to hard contact.

    The Padres could go on a tear if their stars get hot.

3. New York Mets (+900)

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The New York Mets were in the driver's seat in the NL East prior to a sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs. Regression was always likely, though.

    The lineup is averaging just 3.4 runs per game and ranks 12th in the NL in slugging. The Mets cannot count on the rotation, as good as it has been, to carry them on a nightly basis.

    Brandon Nimmo has been New York's best hitter. No disrespect to Nimmo, but that's not a great sign. The big boppers—particularly Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil—need to pick up the pace for the Mets to get back on track.

    The offensive struggles have been so frustrating because the pitching staff has been so good. Jacob deGrom is living up to his status as the best pitcher in the game. Marcus Stroman had a bad start Saturday against the Washington Nationals but has displayed good stuff. Taijuan Walker is proving to be a capable No. 3. The bullpen has shaken off some of the unsavory outings of the last few years.

    There is more pitching help on the way, as both Carlos Carrasco and Seth Lugo are expected back in May. However, the Mets won't realize their potential as championship favorites until they start scoring runs.

2. New York Yankees (+750)

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees still have the second-best betting odds. It makes sense. A lot can happen between now and October. That doesn't mean there has been much reason for optimism in the Bronx.

    The bullpen has been nothing shy of fantastic. New York is easily pacing the majors in fWAR, also ranking first in ERA. The starters have not been nearly as good.

    Corey Kluber has a 1.93 WHIP and 11 walks in 15 innings. Domingo German rebounded from two bad outings to post a quality start Thursday against Cleveland. But he is giving up a lot of hard contact and not getting many whiffs.

    The Yankees on Friday watched free agent Anibal Sanchez work out. There is also the likelihood they pursue starting pitching at the deadline.

    Much like their neighbors in Queens, however, the Yankees need the bats to heat up. The offense has been apathetic, shockingly ranking last in the AL in slugging and 13th in runs. However, that offense has shown signs of life in Cleveland this weekend.

    This is a lineup that can put up runs in bunches. Manager Aaron Boone's guys need to start doing just that, especially with the question marks in the rotation.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (+325)

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    No surprise here.

    It would be shocking if the Los Angeles Dodgers fell out of the betting favorite spot. They handily own the best run differential, they boast an elite rotation, and they field a lineup full of players who get on base and slug.

    Los Angeles starters rank first in fWAR. All five have sub-3.00 ERAs and are capable of going deep into games. The bullpen has not been anything spectacular, but Kenley Jansen's stuff has been electric. That's good news going forward and could give manager Dave Roberts more confidence late in games.

    The lineup is producing as expected with Justin Turner off to a prolific start and new finds such as Zach McKinstry—though he landed on the injured list Friday—making their marks. Corey Seager and Mookie Betts have cooled, but the Dodgers are more than deep enough to endure some slumps.


    Stats via Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant or FanGraphs and accurate through Friday's games. Odds via DraftKings.


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