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2017 World Series Futures Odds and Picks

TBD(0-0-0) @ TBD(0-0-0)

  • Where: TBD. TBD
  • When: October 24, 2017 7:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Chicago Cubs (+475), Cleveland Indians (+600), Boston Red Sox (+650), Houston Astros (+750), Los Angeles Dodgers (+800), Washington Nationals (+850), New York Mets (+950), New York Yankees (+2000), St. Louis Cardinals (+4000)

Around a decade ago, Colin Cowherd made a biting commentary about the state of pro baseball in response to some ill-advised hype around the Kansas City Royals – who had begun the year with a marvelous winning streak. “The Royals are almost ten games in first place,” the radio host said, “and they’re done. I’m crossing them off. Their season is already over.”

Cowherd was right – KC soon faded out of contention. In the 2000s, the running joke of Major League Baseball was that no matter what the fanfare early in a season, there were really only a few teams with any chance at a pennant. As player salaries skyrocketed, franchises working on a modest budget were essentially disqualified before spring training.

Things are changing now – as evidenced by the Royals winning the World Series in 2015. Other clubs, such as the Nationals, have gone from doormat to contender.

Bettors can no longer prosper in World Series futures by adding up team salaries, comparing the starting rotations of the four or five highest-paid teams, and making a selection. But is there really value in taking a long-shot, even in a more competitive MLB? Or is money still manufacturing titles in the big picture?

MSB has you covered. Read ahead for our 2017 World Series futures preview of the defending champ Chicago Cubs, a few other contenders and an interesting dark horse or two.

More winning in the Windy City?

The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series without a premier contact hitter – no one on the roster who played 60+ games batted .300 or higher – by combining power, pitching and team defense. Starting aces Jon Lester and Jake Arietta combined for 37 wins and just 13 losses, and each hurled close to 200 strikeouts. Kyle Hendricks finished the year with a super-stingy 2.13 ERA.

Homers sailed out of Wrigley Field. Sensational Kris Bryant cracked 39, and seven players hit double-digit home runs including utility-infielder Willson Contreras.

But the Cubs’ biggest accomplishment was overcoming the 71-year Curse of the Billy Goat. It wasn’t just a media story – newly-acquired players would arrive in Chicago proclaiming happy ignorance, then quickly discover a club, a fan base, an entire culture immersed in pressure and frustration. Jumping that psychological hurdle wasn’t easy.

Pundits are pointing out that the 2017 roster includes few upgrades, and that repeating as World Series champs is a rare feat. But even at (+475) odds the Cubs have two things going for them. Many key performers are young and improving – and no longer have the Goat preying on their minds.

Beantown bet?

There are those who believe the World Series is a crap-shoot, as evidenced by National League teams winning the best-of-seven even in years in which the American League was demonstrably stronger by a wide margin.

From that perspective, the first rule of MLB futures betting is to pick a club with the best chance of winning 100+ games, avoiding an uphill battle in autumn. The Red Sox enjoy third-best odds to win the 2017 title despite losing David Ortiz from the lineup, but the acquisitions of Chris Sale and reliever Tyler Thornburg give them one of the best pitching staffs found anywhere.

Possibly, it will take a murderer’s row of hitters to overcome Chicago’s pitching and defense in the Fall Classic, should the Cubs return – and Boston might need a little luck with that. But the Red Sox seem assured to enjoy a regular season full of strikeouts, low-scoring opponents and a comfortable top spot in the standings.

Avoid “big picture” GMs

The Red Blaik singleness-of-purpose rule doesn’t just apply to college football. It is almost impossible to win in any sport by having more than one “number one goal.” Clubs focused on long-term stability are less valuable to bettors than those taking a real kick at the can.

The New York Yankees (+2000) are in midst of a big-picture transition, attempting to build from within the organization. That will pay off in the long run. But a pedestrian pitching staff will prevent them from contending for a pennant in ’17.

The Seattle Mariners are announcing their intention to win now, with GM Jerry Dipoto bragging on Robinson Cano and his other stars. But their situation is volatile, as 17 of 40 roster positions have been swapped out since 2016. Chemistry and teamwork issues could handicap them in spring and summer, and prevent a postseason bid.

Finally, the defending AL-champ Cleveland Indians have made a couple of handy roster moves, adding left-handed reliever Boone Logan to to the pitching staff. But several of their stars disappointed during the 2016 postseason run, and the lack of significant additions to the batting lineup could leave the club frustrated again this fall.

Increase your capital

While other contenders tread water, the Washington Nationals have quietly positioned themselves as a much stronger threat than even (+850) odds would indicate.

Bookies are attracted to power after watching the Cubs, then Team USA slug their way to championships in the past 6 months. But the Nats have added speedy Adam Eaton to their batting order, easily as valuable as a typical muscle-hitter. He will join Trea Turner in giving the club’s RBI specialists plenty of chances to produce runs.

Bryce Harper is already shaping into potential MVP form with a hot April performance. Meanwhile a pitching staff which features Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will flourish, especially if reliever Shawn Kelley comes into his own. The club’s powerful hurlers will tamp down opposing bats and give a contact-hitting offense lots of scenarios to set ’em up and knock ’em in for game-winning runs.

Moreover, the dynamic balance of this squad might be just the ticket to beating the Chicago Cubs in a postseason showdown.

All about the odds

It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cubs and Red Sox duking it out when all is said and done. But the wagerer’s task is not to figure out who is most likely to win, but to discern the best chance at a handsome payoff.

The Washington Nationals have talent to spare, and their MVP candidate is playing like a monster on a mission. By continuing to offer close to ten-fold payout odds on the Nats, bookies are doing you a favor.

Don’t skip the best value-bet on the board. Bet on the Nationals to ascend and finally prevail in 2017.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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