With the 2012 Major League Baseball season well under way, it is no surprise that the odd makers have already begun tweaking the World Series futures odds.
Those adjustments should remind bettors that it is a good time to get on board if you already haven’t, picking out this year’s top contenders and eventual Fall Classic winner.
Below you will find our picks for the top five clubs who have made the biggest or most interesting climb up or took the hardest fall off the top of the heap of the current futures board.
There could be some hidden gems, providing some extra value on those who could still turn their seasons around since there are still five more months to play ball.
Los Angeles Dodgers — The Dodgers have surprised a lot of people. And after they stormed out of the gate on their way to winning nine of their first 10 games en route to a spectacular 16-7 April, the odds makers have moved them from 35-1 all the way up to 15-1. That’s a marked improvement. While the rival Giants are still favored to win the division, the Dodgers are not to be overlooked.
Slugger Matt Kemp is having a remarkable year, and is leaving no room to doubt he will capture this year’s National League MVP honor. He currently leads the League in home runs with 12, and is third in the NL in batting. (.388). On top of that the Dodgers are getting some pretty solid pitching too. Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and 33-year-old Chris Capuano are all doing a stellar job shutting down opposing bats. If the Dodgers can keep their roster healthy, I don’t see why they will not be serious contenders come October.
Washington Nationals — Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this young season is the Nationals who after being pegged as 50-1 long shots to win the World Series, have been bumped up to 18-1 after an impressive 18-10 start. The Nats solid beginning has been primarily backed by their starting rotation that boasts a league-best 2.59 collective ERA, led by 26-year old Ross Detwiler (1.59). The top of the rotation is rounded out with a healthy Stephen Strasburg and the hard slinging Gio Gonzalez.
With a couple of Washington’s top sluggers battling injures, the team has still been getting pretty good production from Adam LaRoche, Bryce Harper, and Rick Ankiel. When Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Worth return, the National’s should find themselves in even better company offensively. As always the NL East is going to be a tough division to win, especially when the Phillies get healthy. But for right now Washington is a great price to be had.
Philadelphia Phillies — Speaking of the Phillies, they have slipped a tad in the MLB futures, from 5-1 to 10-1, and for that price could be a real bargain if they can get back on the rails with a healthy roster. Philadelphia is currently sitting in last place, 4 1/2 games back of the NL East division-leading Nationals with 14-15 record. While as a team the Phils are pitching a collective ERA of 3.39, it’s the offense that is struggling, scoring only 3.79 runs a game while batting a combined .252 (12th overall). Injuries to perennial slugger Ryan Howard and Chase Utley seriously limited the Phils’ offense before the season even began, but further dings to the lineup that include Jim Thome hasn’t helped.
The rotation has also taken its share of lumps, losing Cliff Lee from the rotation for two weeks, and now top pitching ace Cole Hamels who will serve a five-game suspension starting on May 7. Still, the Phillies are just a few missing pieces away from heading back to the World Series by season’s end, and could be the best buy for a safe bettor at the moment.
Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox (11-16) have fallen from grace, sitting last in the American League East, and have squandered a 4th ranked offensive effort with an abysmal bullpen that boasts an embarrassing 5.36 ERA. Second worst only to the pitiful Twins. However, they do get the honors of being the worst in earned runs with 150. Because of this the BoSox have plunged from 10-1 to 18-1 in terms of World Series futures.
Those odds won’t last long so it bettors may want to seize the moment to buy in now as Boston will be due to get back a few of the 11 players currently residing on the DL, including pitchers Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both will provide a much-needed boost to the rotation. And should the Red Sox return the big bats of Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford before the end of August, they could make a serious push towards the postseason.
Miami Marlins — Seems we should have seen better from a Marlins team that got a new namesake, logo and ballpark to ramp up their 2012 campaign. And let’s not forget the always controversial Ozzie Guillen. But instead it’s been nothing but mass disappointment as the Fish have fallen to just .500 on the season and from 20-1 to 22-1 odds to win this year’s World Series. They had fallen all the way to 30-1 after one month. On the bright side, they are 1/2 game out of last in the NL East, but those hefty offseason free-agent signings haven’t paid dividends. At least not yet. But it shouldn’t be long before Carlos Zambrano’s (3.24 ERA) three quality starts get the run and bullpen support needed to improve his current 0-2 record.
The Marlins also have a respectable 3.38 ERA with Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco all turning in respectable starts. Miami’s pitching staff gives the club a fighting chance and a good shot at a championship. So buying in at 30-1 could offer a huge payout.