Four World Series Darkhorses
With over two months of baseball under our belts, it’s no longer reasonable to dismiss surprise results, be they good or bad. But we’ve also watched enough baseball to know that over the next four months there’s still a lot that can change. That means there’s betting value on the futures market and there are four teams whose World Series betting odds are healthy enough to at least merit further investigation…
Arizona Diamondbacks (18-1): The Diamondbacks have a “Dodgers problem” in that winning the NL West over the long haul is going to be tough, especially with the bullpen problems manager Torey Luvullo is facing. But Arizona is getting some really good starting pitching. Zack Greinke has returned to form and another Zack—last name Godley, has been a pleasant surprise. Arizona has the second-best ERA in the National League in spite of being a hitter’s park.
Bullpen problems can get worked out and if nothing else, even if the D-Backs are a wild-card, having Greinke in a one-game setting is as good as it gets. If that works out, you’ve got Arizona in the final eight teams at a good price.
St. Louis Cardinals (25-1): The struggles of the Cubs get most of the attention in this division, even though Chicago still remains the betting favorite to win the NL pennant. That shifts the market value to St. Louis, who is still in striking distance of first place.
Can they pick it up? If you believe Yadier Molina, Aledyms Diaz, Randall Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty can hit better, than it’s very possible. If you think Adam Wainwright can get settled in, than it’s very possible. And if you believe in an organization with the pedigree of this one, it’s ultra-possible. St. Louis’ flaws are real and if they were in their more familiar role as favorite, we’d have to run. But as a dark horse they’re ideal.
Baltimore Orioles (40-1): What if I told you that for two months, the Orioles were going to get terrible production from Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy? Or that Chris Tillman would be both injured and mediocre, that Kevin Gausman would be a disaster and that Zach Britton had hit the disabled list? You’d be thinking terms like “last place” and “fire sale.”
Instead, the Orioles have played through the problems, stayed squarely in the AL East race and not gotten nearly the same market respect as the Yankees (14-1) or Red Sox (15-2). What if just a couple of those aforementioned names return to form? What if all of them do?
Toronto Blue Jays (45-1): On a somewhat similar vein to Baltimore, we have another AL East team that’s gotten themselves into the race—albeit after a horrible start. The Blue Jays have done it with Josh Donaldson missing time, Jose Bautista playing poorly and Troy Tulowitzki delivering the parlay of being both hurt and unproductive.
It’s always concerning when a team starts as badly as Toronto did—even allowing their strong play of late to get back on the radar, there’s usually another step-back at some point. But that concern is why we get the opportunity to grab a team with two straight ALCS appearances at 45-1 odds.