Now that baseball is officially back, it's time to chuck out our old full-season projections and, instead, focus on which teams can get off to a hot start, break ahead of the pack early, and hold on for dear life. Bettors must adapt to the new 60-game season as well.
After breaking down several notable longshots at 20/1 or higher as World Series contenders, let’s focus our attention on the two top betting favorites to take home the 2020 Fall Classic, as non-classic as this season may be.
SI Gambling encourages players to shop around for the best lines available, but once again, for this breakdown, we'll work off the World Series odds available at PointsBet Sportsbook.
MLB World Series Odds
Los Angeles Dodgers (+375)
The Dodgers continue to build a powerhouse club, but continue to have no World Series titles to show for it. They won the most games in team history last season (106), but ended up losing to the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals in the first round. They’ve made the postseason seven consecutive seasons, have seven straight division titles, two World Series appearances, and still come up short.
The Dodgers took the sting of their divisional round playoff exit by acquiring Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts via trade. As Joe Sheehan points out in the Dodgers season preview, the acquisition of the 27-year old Betts gives the Dodgers a third MVP winner on their roster with Clayton Kershaw and last year’s winner, 24-year old Cody Bellinger.
Betts' addition is another embarrassment of riches for a team that finished top-five in on-base percentage (OBP), on-base + slugging (OPS), runs, and home runs in 2019 with a mostly unchanged roster. Betts will help in the stolen base department and batting average, where the Dodgers finished 10th and 21st, respectively.
Nobody pitched better than the Dodgers last year. They ranked first in ERA, WHIP, and walks/nine innings, seventh in strikeouts while giving up the second-fewest hits/nine innings in baseball. They've replaced 39-year old Rich Hill with 34-year-old David Price and took a one-year, $10 million flier on Blake Treinen, who was the league's best closer in 2018 before getting hurt in 2019.
The SI MLB team projected the Dodgers for 107 wins in 2020. It won’t happen with the 60-game schedule, but a .660 winning percentage translates to just under 40 victories.
The Dodgers haven't been able to get over the hump over 162, but maybe a shortened season is just the right amount for them to hit their stride in October. However, keep in mind that over the last eight years, the Dodgers would not have made the playoffs three times had the schedule been 60 games to get in.
The number at +375 feels fair for LA, but it doesn’t feel like great value. I’ll personally hold off and hope they get off to a slow start and jump on something a little bit higher.
READ MORE: 2020 New York Yankees Fantasy Team Preview
New York Yankees: (+400 or 4/1)
The Yankees are typically one of the most bet teams each season, and 2020 is no different.
Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Yankees come in at the same odds as PointsBet and have received 17% of the money from sports bettors. They also have received the most amount of bets, with the Mets coming in second place for both the handle and bets placed.
You don't have to look too hard into the numbers to determine why the Yankees are the American League favorite. They have the best pitcher in baseball, a seasoned lineup, and if they can stay healthy, they should run away with the division.
Let’s start with health. D.J. LeMathieu played the most games for the Yankees last year at 145. Aaron Judge got through 102 with a few trips on the injured list, Didi Gregorious only got through half a season with 82, and Giancarlo Stanton played in just 18 games! On the pitching side, Luis Severino only pitched in three games after winning 19 games the season before and is now set to have Tommy John surgery in 2020.
Yet the Yankees still found a way to win 103 games last year. Were the Orioles and Blue Jays terrible? Absolutely, but it still is impressive how they never seemed to falter despite the circumstances.
The Yankees offense mashed the baseball in 2019, and with essentially the same lineup for 2020, there's little reason to think they can't do it again with a healthy version. They ranked first in runs scored, second in home runs, third in OPS, and fourth in batting average and OBP.
As for their pitching, the addition of Gerrit Cole to the rotation is an absolute game-changer for the Yankees.
SI Fantasy analyst Shawn Childs wrote about Cole as the likely top pitcher again in baseball for 2020:
“(Cole is a) workhorse type who continues to be tougher to hit. A move to the AL East should lead to some regression in his ERA, but Cole will still be the top pitcher drafted in 2020. A high scoring offense and good bullpen should lead to 20-plus wins with a top ERA and another run at 300 Ks.”
Cole now slides in with Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton as the leaders of the starting staff. The Yankees with Cole anchoring the rotation will likely bring their 28th ranking of HR/9 way down.
Their bullpen should continue to impress led by Aroldis Chapman and his 36.2% K-rate. Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton both pitched to sub-2.00 ERAs a season ago and should provide strong support behind Chapman in the 7th and 8th innings.
As SI’s Joe Sheehan pointed out in SI’s Yankees preview, this year’s squad is in its best shape to win a title since their last championship in 2009.
"The Yankees enter the season with the same dominant offense and shutdown bullpen that nearly got them to the World Series. With Houston, the team that stood in the way of the Yankees' winning the AL pennant in '17 and '19, now diminished because of Cole's departure, the Yankees are better positioned than they have been in years to win title number 28."
Similar to that of the Dodgers, a 4/1 value in a wacky, shortened season doesn't feel like worthwhile value. If I had to pick between the two squads, I'd lean Dodgers, but it's more of a fade on the Yankees' massive public appeal.
READ MORE: 2020 New York Yankees Fantasy Team Preview