The Washington Nationals are only just now completing the last laps of their extended victory tour, so of course it’s time to start looking forward to next season. According to the very early odds for the 2020 World Series, BetOnline has installed the Astros (+500) and Yankees (+700) as the favorites. The Cubs, meanwhile, find themselves outside the upper third of the standings with +2000 odds.
That has them tied with the Rays for 12th, significantly better than the Cardinals and their +2500 line. Joe Maddon’s Angels (+3300) are even with the Reds, while the White Sox (+5000) will pay out twice as much as the Cubs if you lay a bet on them to win.
The Brewers (+1400) actually boast the best odds in the NL Central and sit third in the Senior Circuit behind the Dodgers and Nats (both +800). Looking for a surprise in the early standings? The Mets (+1400) are right there with Milwaukee despite years of ineptitude across seemingly every level of the organization. Seems like a foolish bet to me, but sometimes those are the best kind.
As with each of these posts that reference money-line odds, it’s probably appropriate to offer a brief primer on what those numbers actually mean. The odds are indicative of how much would be paid out on a $100 bet, so if you laid a Benjamin on the Cubs right now and they win the 2020 World Series, you’ll win $2,000. Not bad.
It goes without saying that these numbers are going to move a great deal as free agency progresses and big names like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg find new homes. Maybe that means you’ll want to get in the Padres (+4000) now before the former San Diego State ace returns home, or perhaps you like the Angels to welcome back the Newport Beach native who butted heads with Trevor Bauer at UCLA.
Even if you’re not using any of this information for betting purposes, which makes sense given the timing, it can be a useful barometer of offseason goings-on. The folks in Vegas have their collective ear to the ground and aren’t in the business of losing money, so following the odds trends can clue you in to MLB’s shifting competitive landscape. Seeing big changes can be predictive of moves that haven’t been announced or even widely reported yet.
That’s what I find really fascinating about all this, beyond just looking at how monumentally bad the Orioles (+25000) are. Though I don’t believe the Cubs are going to win it all, I don’t think they’re wholly incapable of catching lightning in a bottle and I’m very interested to see how they work within what figures to be a limited budget to correct the mistakes of the past two seasons.