By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst
Whew, what a glorious MLB season it was. Congrats to the Houston Astros for winning it all!
Now that your final exam in the form of the World Series is over, and you’ve seen your grades, I hope you are both satisfied with how well you did this season and excited to look ahead to next semester. No matter what, thank you for reading my lessons throughout the season, and I hope I helped you learn something new.
But gambling and edges never stop, so I have a new lesson for you. Just like with any other real assignment you’ve ever had, it’s best to start early. In other words, futures lines are likelier to be less efficient once posted than when enough time has passed for other bettors to hammer the lines into shape.
This matters in baseball because FOX Bet has already posted World Series title odds for next season! If you want to get the most out of this class, it’s best to bet on a few now, even before free agents move to new ball clubs and spring training.
As always, I have you covered, so here are three teams I like as World Series champions next year, with odds courtesy of FOX Bet.
RELATED: World Series futures odds for all teams
New York Yankees (+800 at FOX Bet)
My first recommendation may be the only time I suggest it’s best to wait for Aaron Judge news. If he doesn’t return to the Bronx, there may be value in waiting for the odds to get longer to pounce on. There is a risk in case GM Brian Cashman & Co. wants to make a splash with, say, signing Justin Verlander, but it’s likelier the payout will increase than decrease.
It’s easy to look at the second half of the season and the ALCS and then assume the Yankees are in a free fall. But, when healthy, few pitchers could mow through that batting order. From a Statcast perspective, Giancarlo Stanton had an average exit velocity of 95.0 mph, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo each had at least a 41% hard-hit rate and Josh Donaldson averaged a 6% barrel rate per plate appearance. In other words, the raw physical abilities are there even without Aaron Judge.
The pitching is also some of the best in MLB. Gerrit Cole finished with more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings, ranking third among qualifying pitchers. Nester Cortes had a low 2.16 walks allowed per nine innings, and, if he returns, Jameson Taillon had a top 25 strikeout-to-walk rate (16.3%). Besides, given how often the Yankees have made the postseason recently, at some point, they should break through, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.
I know there are many moving parts here, but I’d still sprinkle a few bucks on the Yankees right now. And if the roster changes considerably, we can touch base on them again closer to the season.
Justin Verlander shares a heartfelt moment with his brother after picking up first career World Series win
Justin Verlander reflects on what motivations contributed to his first World Series win.
RELATED: Mattress Mack wins $75 million
Tampa Bay Rays (+2000 at FOX Bet)
Arguably no contender had to endure more injury news than the Rays. If you go by Spotrac’s list of the number of days players were 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 were too much to overcome. Somehow, the Rays were still able to make the postseason, proving why practically no squad can claim to have more depth. If Tampa Bay can combine that depth with injury luck, they will again be formidable.
Also, there is an argument to be made 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-two seed and earn a bye. If it can’t be the Yankees, it might as well be the Rays. I’d grab these odds now.
Chicago White Sox (+2500 at FOX Bet)
Someone has to win the AL Central.
The Southsiders fell 11.5 wins short of their preseason win total, tied for the second-biggest difference in the AL with the Angels. Yes, blaming injuries to players like Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal is appropriate, but so is having a farm system ranked fourth-from-the-bottom per FanGraphs. The supplements could not provide the power necessary to replace some of the better sluggers in the sport. The top hitters have to be healthy for the White Sox to have any chance, and injury luck has to swing the other way, right?
We also know about the importance of an elite bullpen to winning the World Series. Look no further than these last several weeks, when Astros’ relievers had an ERA of 0.83, the lowest in postseason history.
They dominated the regular season, but the White Sox were not too far behind. Their fielding independent pitching, which filters out defensive plays and focuses only on what a pitcher can control, has Chicago’s bullpen coming in eighth overall (3.59). The White Sox may be top-heavy, but if they spend wisely and take advantage of an easier division, they can make it to October. Which is all you can ask for in an early futures bet.
What you do now as far as studying for next season and keeping up with free agency can help pay off later. Continue to study hard, watch the money come in and check back in this space soon for more MLB edges.
Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, a sports betting analyst, a data scientist and an adjunct professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become a cold brew aficionado. Edward previously worked in local television, notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. Follow him on Twitter @EdWithSports.
Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more