Posted on February 13, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After a long and fairly uneventful winter, spring training is finally here. Outside of the Miami Marlins trading away their top players, there hasn’t been a ton of player movement this offseason. However, things are finally starting to pick up on that front. Even with more movement expected in the weeks to come, it’s pertinent to look at the top favorites to win the 2018 World Series as pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
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As soon as the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton they became World Series favorites, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The Bronx Bombers haven’t done much else this winter aside from adding Stanton and keeping C.C. Sabathia. However, they have tons of young talent that should be ready to contribute at some point in 2018, so they will add pieces as the season goes along.
The addition of Gerrit Cole gave Houston’s World Series chances a noticeable boost. The Astros have almost the same potent lineup that won last year’s World Series and a rotation that can go toe-to-toe with any in baseball. The bullpen has been improved but is still a small question mark heading into the season. Of course, a suspect bullpen didn’t stop them from winning last year’s World Series.
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There’s been little movement for the Dodgers this winter, so their odds have taken a slight hit as other teams have made moves. That being said, Los Angeles still has the best pitcher in baseball and a lineup that won’t struggle to score runs. After winning the National League pennant last season, the road to the Fall Classic still goes through Chavez Ravine.
Outside of adding Yonder Alonso to replace Carlos Santana at first base, the Indians haven’t done much this offseason. That being said, they didn’t need to do much. To be fair, Cleveland’s bullpen lost a couple good arms, and that could hurt down the line. But as long as their starting pitchers stay healthy, the Indians are heavy favorites to win the AL Central and serious World Series contenders.
The Nationals are another team that hasn’t made many moves this winter. However, they’ve won the NL East in four of the last six years and return more or less the same team as last year. They have duel aces at the top of their rotation and one of the most impactful players in the game in Bryce Harper. If they can sort out the bullpen issues that plagued them for most of last season, there’s no reason they can’t be serious contenders in the National League.
With the recent addition of Yu Darvish, the Cubs look like World Series contenders. Chicago’s lineup is more or less the same as last season, and the rotation just traded out Jake Arrieta and John Lackey for Darvish and Tyler Chatwood. The only concern for the Cubs is whether Brandon Morrow can repeat his outstanding 2017 campaign now that he’s in the closer’s role.
Red Sox, 12-1
Boston’s World Series odds have held steady all offseason. They’ve yet to add the power bat they’ve coveted all winter, and now there’s uncertainty whether or not they’ll end up with J.D. Martinez. If they don’t add to their current team, the Red Sox could have a tough time keeping up with the Yankees, which means they’ll have to settle for a wild-card spot, making their path to the World Series a little more difficult.
The Angels did a lot of business during the early part of the offseason, giving their World Series odds a significant boost. However, those odds have cooled somewhat with other teams making big moves. The Los Angeles lineup looks formidable from top to bottom. However, there are still questions about their bullpen and whether or not their best starting pitchers can stay healthy.
With the addition of Marcell Ozuna and a few tweaks to their bullpen, the Cardinals figure to be relevant in 2018. However, their bullpen could still be missing a piece or two and their rotation depth is still questionable, which could make it tough for St. Louis to keep up with the Cubs in the NL Central. That means a wild-card spot is their best-case scenario.
Oddsmakers must have liked the additions of both Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier because the Mets saw their World Series odds improve significantly from earlier in the winter. With those two on board, the Mets should be at least an average offensive team. The key, of course, is the health of their pitching staff. When everyone was healthy in 2015, their rotation carried them to the World Series. If everyone’s healthy, which is a big “if,” the Mets have as much rotation depth and as many bonafide aces as any team in baseball.