By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst
Phew, what a glorious MLB season that was. Congratulations to the Houston Astros who won it all!
Now that your final World Series exam is over and you’ve seen your grades, I hope you’re both happy with your performance this season and looking forward to next semester. No matter what, thank you for reading my lessons throughout the season and I hope I’ve helped you learn something new.
But gambling and edging never stop, so I have a new lesson for you. Like every other real job you’ve ever had, it’s best to start early. In other words, futures lines are likely to be less efficient once announced than when enough time has passed for other bettors to shape the lines.
This matters in baseball as FOX Bet has already posted World Series title odds for next season! If you want to get the best out of this class, it’s best to start a few now before free agents move to new ball clubs and spring training.
As always, I’m here for you, so here are three teams I like for next year’s World Series Champions, with odds from FOX Bet.
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New York Yankees (+800 on FOX bet)
My first recommendation is perhaps the only time I’ll suggest that it’s best to wait for news from Aaron Judge. If he doesn’t return to the Bronx, it may make sense to wait for the odds to lengthen to pounce on it. There is a risk should GM Brian Cashman & Co. want to make a splash by signing Justin Verlander, for example, but the payout is more likely to go up than down.
It’s easy to look at the second half of the season and the ALCS and then assume the Yankees are in freefall. But when healthy, few pitchers could enforce that batting order. From a Statcast perspective, Giancarlo Stanton had an average exit speed of 95.0 mph, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo each had at least a 41% hard hit rate, and Josh Donaldson had an average barrel rate of 6% per plate appearance. In other words, the raw physical skills are there even without Aaron Judge.
The pitching is also some of the best in MLB. Gerrit Cole finished the tournament with more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings, ranking third among qualifying pitchers. Nester Cortes had allowed just 2.16 walks per nine innings, and when he returns, Jameson Taillon had a top-25 strikeout-to-walk rate (16.3%). Also, considering how many times the Yankees have made it through the postseason lately, they should eventually break through, and sometimes that’s all you could ask for.
I know there are a lot of moving parts here, but I’d throw a few bucks on the Yankees anyway. And if the roster changes significantly, we can lean back on that just before the season.
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Justin Verlander reflects on what motivated him to win his first World Series.
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Tampa Bay Rays (+2000 on FOX Bet)
Arguably no competitor had to endure more injury news than the Rays. If you go by Spotrac’s list of the number of days players have been on the injured list, the Rays ranked third behind the Reds and Twins. Losing staples like Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe and even young standouts like Shane Baz was too much to overcome. Somehow, the Rays made it into the postseason, proving why virtually no roster can claim to have more depth. If Tampa Bay can combine that depth with injury luck, they’ll be impressive again.
There’s also an argument that no ball club in the American League East has more stability when it comes to winning games and minimizing distractions. The short-term goal is to pick a team that can capture a top 2 seed and earn a bye. If it can’t be the Yankees, it might as well be the Rays. I would take those chances now.
Chicago White Sox (+2500 on FOX bet)
Someone has to win the AL Central.
The Southsiders fell 11.5 wins short of their preseason overall win, making it the second-biggest difference in the AL with the Angels. Yes, it’s appropriate to blame players like Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal for injuries, but it’s also appropriate to have a farming system that ranks fourth according to FanGraphs. The supplements failed to deliver the performance needed to replace some of the better racquets in the sport. Top hitters have to be healthy for the White Sox to have a chance, and injury luck has to swing the other way, right?
We also understand the importance of an elite bullpen in winning the World Series. Look no further than these past few weeks, when Astros’ relievers had a 0.83 ERA, the lowest in postseason history.
They dominated the regular season, but the White Sox weren’t too far behind. Their independent pitching, which filters out defensive plays and focuses only on what a pitcher can control, has propelled Chicago’s bullpen eighth overall (3.59). The White Sox may be top-heavy, but if they spend wisely and take advantage of an easier split, they can make it to October. That’s all you can ask for in an early futures bet.
What you do now to learn for next season and keep up with the free hand can pay off later. Keep studying hard, watching the money roll in, and check back in this space for more MLB benefits soon.
Edward Egros is a sports analysis broadcaster/writer, sports betting analyst, data scientist and Associate Professor of Statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions drove him to become a cold brew fan. Edward previously worked for local television, most notably at Fox’s Dallas affiliate, covering Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. Keep following him Ttwitter @EdWithSports.
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