Spring Training has not yet started, rosters are not yet complete, but major bookmakers have moved to price up the 2018 World Series odds for MLB sides. There is, of course, lots of things that could change in the coming weeks, but the start of the regular season is not far off, but a clearer picture of the contenders is emerging.
Predictions have been made for each side, alongside a few lines to detail their chances:
Houston Astros: +600 (6/1)
No team has won successive World Series since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000, yet the Astros will certainly believe in their chances this season. The offence was off the charts last year, in fact, it was the fourth best in MLB history. They will return this year with more or less the same group of players, which can only be counted as a good thing.
New York Yankees: +600 (6/1)
The Yankees scored 858 runs in the regular season last year, which was only marginally better by the record-setting Astros. How can they close the gap on Houston? Sign up Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs in the 2017 regular season. Pairing Stanton up with Aaron Judge (52HR) could be devastating.
Prediction: World Series (champions)
Los Angeles Dodgers: +650 (13/2)
It will now be 30 years since the Dodgers last won the World Series, with most fans believing the drought will end sooner rather than later. With the exception of Yu Darvish, most of the 2017 key players will return this year. A healthier pitching staff should see them dominate the NL once again. Will it be enough?
Prediction: World Series
Cleveland Indians: +750 (15/2)
Many feel that they should have got past the Yankees in the ALDS last year and that may have been their best chance for years to come. Rivals have the means to strengthen in ways that Cleveland don’t. They will win the AL Central again though.
Chicago Cubs: +900 (9/1)
This could be something of a transitional season for the 2016 champs. Jake Arrieta looks to be on his way out, along with John Lackey. There is plenty of work to do for the management to make them true contenders again.
Washington Nationals: +1000 (10/1)
The Nationals should once again be first picks to walk through a weak NL East, but they may come up short again in the postseason. Still, they have talent in abundance, with Bryce Harper once again the key to success. Another playoff run beckons, but one that takes them agonisingly close to a first ever NL Pennant.
Boston Red Sox: +1200 (12/1)
The first good bit of business achieved by the Red Sox in the off-season was getting former Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora to lead the team. The second has yet to be achieved – getting some badly needed power into the batting line-up. JD Martinez looks like the man to fit the bill. Getting David Price, Rick Porcello and Chris Sale all firing at the same time could lead to an improvement on last season.