As pitchers and catchers around MLB report to camp, one team stands out as 2016 World Series favorites. The Chicago Cubs have the longest title drought in American sports, but odds makers give them the best odds to win the title this season.
Chicago has +400 betting odds to claim their first championship in 106 years, via Bovada.lv. The Cubs’ odds are 2.5 times better than anyone else, following Chicago’s best season since 2003.
After winning 97 regular-season games and reaching the National League Championship Series, the Cubs head into Spring Training having signed some of the best free agents this offseason. The Cubs gave out the biggest contract to any position player, signing outfielder Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million deal. Chicago also added Ben Zobrist to an already impressive offense, while improving their rotation with the addition of John Lackey.
The Cubs rank ahead of the New York Mets, who swept Chicago in the 2015 NLCS. New York’s +1000 World Series odds have them tied for second with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mets didn’t make any major additions this offseason, but they were able to hold onto Yoenis Cespedes, who was the team’s best player in the second half of last year. With Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom leading what should be the best rotation in baseball, the Mets have a good chance to find their way in the World Series for a second straight year.
New York upset Los Angeles in the 2015 NLDS. The Dodgers have won three straight NL Division titles, and they are among the betting favorites once again. But they lost Zack Greinke in free agency, and they’ll have to compete with the Giants, who won the title in 2010, 2012 and 2014. San Francisco spent more money this offseason than any other team.
The Kansas City Royals needed just five games to defeat the Mets in the 2015 World Series, but they are absent when it comes to the teams with the best odds to win the title this season. With +1600 odds, the Royals trail six teams, who have been given a better chance to win the Fall Classic. The Washington Nationals have +1600 odds, as well.
The Royals weren’t expected to replicate their success last season after reaching the 2014 World Series. After proving the doubters wrong a year ago, Kansas City will try to do the same this season, despite losing two key pieces of their championship run. In addition to Zobrist going to Chicago, starter Johnny Cueto signed a six-year contract with the Giants this offseason.
The Toronto Blue Jays (+1400) and Houston Astros (+1600), who Kansas City beat on their way to the World Series, have just as good or better championship odds than Kansas City. Toronto lost David Price to the Boston Red Sox (+1400) in free agency, while Houston lost Scott Kazmir to the Dodgers.
Nine teams have better World Series odds than the St. Louis Cardinals (+1800), who have been as successful as any MLB team this decade. After winning the 2011 World Series, St. Louis reached the NLCS in each of the next three years. St. Louis didn’t make it past the NLDS last season, but they led the majors with 100 wins.
The New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians all share the same odds at +2000. Detroit was a major player in free agency, handing out contracts north of $100 million to Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmerman, while the Yankees didn’t sign one free agent. Pittsburgh is coming off a 98-win season, and the Indians haven’t won a playoff game since 2007.
The Texas Rangers (+2200) have the worst championship odds of any team that made the playoffs last year. They finished ahead of the Astros, Los Angeles Angels (+4000), Seattle Mariners (+4000) and Oakland Athletics (+7500), winning the fewest games of any division champ. The AL West has experienced as much parody as any division of late, with three different teams finishing in first place in the last three seasons.
The Arizona Diamondbacks (+2500) and Baltimore Orioles (+5000) are hoping that giving out two of the biggest contracts of the offseason will help them return to the playoffs. Arizona made Greinke the highest paid pitcher in MLB history, giving him more than $34 million per season after he posted a 1.66 ERA in 2015. Baltimore spent $161 million to keep Chris Davis, who led all of baseball with 47 home runs.
After finishing behind the Royals in the AL Central, it would be a surprise to see the Chicago White Sox (+3300) or Minnesota Twins (+5000) compete for a title. Playoff baseball isn’t expected in Florida, where the Tampa Bay Rays (+5000) and Miami Marlins (+7500) could both finish with losing records.
Six teams have 100/1 odds or worse of winning the title. The San Diego Padres (+10000), Milwaukee Brewers (+12500), Cincinnati Reds (+12500), Philadelphia Phillies (+15000), Atlanta Braves (+15000) and Colorado Rockies (+15000) are longshots to do much of anything in 2016.