After roughly three weeks of the 2019 Major League Baseball season, surprises abound. Last place in the American League East? That would be your defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who as of April 20th sported a 7-13 record and an AL-low -40 runs differential.
Even the New York Yankees – given +700 odds to win it all – are under .500 at this point in the season. What is not surprising is the Houston Astros leading the AL West and the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of six straight NL West crowns, sitting atop the division once again.
It’s a long season and there is plenty of baseball to be played. Much can happen between now and October, but here are your best bets for the 2019 World Series champion.
Play It Safe
With the early season slump in Boston, the Houston Astros have emerged as a favorite to win the 2019 World Series. Listed at +450, the Astros didn’t start all that well this season either. After a 2-5 start though, the Astros won 10 straight before dropping a 2-1 decision to AL West foe Oakland.
Houston has the bulk of the roster that won the 2017 World Series still intact. Former AL MVP Jose Altuve is batting .310 with a team-high seven homers and 13 RBIs. Slugger George Springer (.254, 5 HR, 14 RBI) is a perennial All-Star and don’t forget SS Carlos Correa and last year’s breakout star 3B Alex Bregman (.286).
The pitching rotation features Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who is off to a 2-0 start. Gerrit Cole is as good as any and Collin McHugh is off to a 3-1 start with an ERA of just 1.96. Barring injury, the Astros have the type of roster that can win another World Series title.
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What’s Wrong with Boston?
The reigning AL MVP is batting .200. The ace and star of the pitching staff is 0-4 with an ERA of 8.50. What?
Yes, the Boston Red Sox are off to a poor start. Still, with the Red Sox roster it is hard to imagine Boston not challenging for another AL East crown and a second consecutive World Series.
While Mookie Betts is batting .200 and Chris Sale is 0-4, don’t expect their early season slumps to continue. At some point, great players make plays and the Red Sox, given +850 odds to win another World Series – will be right back in the thick of it all.
So, Philadelphia went all-in to acquire Bryce Harper. The move seems to be paying off as the Phillies lead the NL East after 18 games (11-7). Harper hasn’t done anything too dramatic yet. He is batting just .250 with four homers and 10 RBI, but you get the feeling that the Philadelphia lineup is preparing to explode.
Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, SS Jean Segura (.328), Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco (6 HR, 18 RBI), and Rhys Hoskins along with Harper give the Phillies a lineup that is surely World Series-worthy. Philadelphia also has solid starting pitching with Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.25 ERA), Aaron Nola (1-0), and Nick Pivetta (2-1). At +850 to win it all, pay attention to the Phillies.
Do Not Believe-land
Don’t fall for the hype. Listed at +1150, the Cleveland Indians are the favorite to win the AL Central again. But remember, this is the worst division in baseball and the Indians look like they are in the midst of a sell-off.
The word is out that ace pitcher Corey Kluber is on the trading block and the Indians have already said good-bye to Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion. If you’re a glutton for punishment, go ahead. Bet on Cleveland. If you like the smart pick, stay away from the Indians.
Is This the Year?
The Dodgers just keep winning. They are off to a grand start in 2019 as well. They lead the NL West once again and lead the National League with a +31 runs differential. Cody Bellinger is off to an MVP-like start with 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, and a .432 batting average.
Shortstop Corey Seager is back and LF Joc Pederson is off to a great start – 8 HR and 14 RBI. The lineup is deep and the pitching is strong. Kenta Maeda is already 3-1 and Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu are both 2-0. Clayton Kershaw has started just one game, but should be healthy.Is this the year the Dodgers finally do it? At +600 odds, it’s a strong bet.
The Los Angeles Angels have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout. He’s got the richest contract in the game and he’s off to another All-Star performance. Trout is hitting .348 with five homers and 12 RBIs. Once again, the Angels are underachieving and are currently last in the AL West. Given +4500 odds, the Angels simply don’t have enough talent around Trout and do not have the pitching staff to even get a sniff of the postseason let alone the World Series.
Despite losing Harper to Philadelphia, the Washington Nationals have a strong core of players plus a pitching staff with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez. Still, the loss of Harper makes betting on Washington at +2000 easy to pass up.
The Mets should make for an interesting bet, right? They have arguably two of the best starting pitchers in the majors in Noah Syndergaard and last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. What they lack are bats with power.
Pete Alonso – who? – leads the Mets with six homers and 17 RBI. New York is currently in second place in the NL East, but despite being over .500 the Mets are -10 in run differential. At +1750, no thanks.
Do you follow ATB’s Free Pick of the Day? We are at 59% on our MLB picks.
How about this? Listed at +950 is Milwaukee, last year’s NL Central champion that lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Brewers are off to a solid start (12-8) and are second in the division. They have the reigning NL MVP in Christian Yelich who picked up where he left off a year ago. Yelich is batting .351 and has 10 home runs and 27 RBIs.
With a lineup that is pretty deep – Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Ryan Braun to name a few – and a pitching staff that is serviceable; the Brewers are one of the surprise picks to win the 2019 World Series title.
And then, there’s the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays haven’t been to the postseason in the last five years. At the beginning of the season, likely no one saw this coming. At +1150 odds, you may want to get in line to make your wager.
The Rays are the surprise of the league with a 14-5 record. Austin Meadows is fifth in the AL with a .364 batting average and he has six homers and 17 RBI. The pitching staff is loaded with last year’s AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell (2-1) and Tyler Glasnow, who is 4-0 and leads the AL with a 1.13 ERA. Charlie Morton, acquired from Houston, is 3-0 and Yonny Chirinos is also 3-0. Good pitching can take you a long way in an MLB season and the Rays have it.
2019 World Series Odds to Win
Houston Astros +450
Los Angeles Dodgers +600
New York Yankees +700
Philadelphia Phillies +850
Boston Red Sox +850
Milwaukee Brewers +950
Cleveland Indians +1150
Tampa Bay Rays +1150
Chicago Cubs +1350
Atlanta Braves +1750
New York Mets +1750
St. Louis Cardinals +1750
Washington Nationals +2000
Minnesota Twins +2800
Seattle Mariners +2800
Oakland Athletics +3500
San Diego Padres +3500
Colorado Rockies +4500
Los Angeles Angels +4500
Pittsburgh Pirates +4500
Arizona Diamondbacks +8500
Chicago White Sox +8500
Cincinnati Reds +8500
San Francisco Giants +8500
Texas Rangers +12500
Toronto Blue Jays +20000
Miami Marlins +30000
Detroit Tigers +30000
Baltimore Orioles +30000
Kansas City Royals +30000
Article by Rick Bouch
Posted April 20th, 2019