Don't fret if you're one of the many who let great value with picks on the MLB futures odds slip through your fingers in the past couple of months. Plenty of time remains before the start of the season, and even during the long 162-game schedule, to find a winner in what is already shaping up to be a strange and wild ride.
When Bovada first released 2013 World Series odds following San Francisco's sweep of Detroit last October, the favorites to meet for the championship were the Tigers (7/1) and Washington Nationals (10/1). Way down on that list at 40/1, were the Toronto Blue Jays.
We tip our hat to anyone who jumped on the Jays at that time as Toronto has now soared all the way to the top of the futures odds chart with a 15/2 price.
Theoretically, all three teams remain solid value despite having missed out on sweeter odds. After all, the only real bargain at any time is on the eventual winner, and there are 27 other teams which will do their very best to see that the Blue Jays, Angels and Dodgers come up short.
Dogfights Expected In AL's East & West Divisions
It's difficult not to like Toronto after the incredible talent haul GM Alex Anthopoulos came away with this offseason. First there was the mega-deal with the Marlins that added Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio. Next came Melky Cabrera via free agency, and just before Christmas was another swap with the Mets with NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey being the prize.
The same is true for the Angels, a team that was among the favorites to win the 2012 AL pennant only to get off to a very slow start and fail to make the postseason. The Halos have boosted an already impressive lineup with the signing of this winter's top free agent, Josh Hamilton.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Blue Jays and Angels collide in the 2013 ALCS. In fact, it will be a shock if those teams do not make it to the MLB version of the Final Four.
Then again, just winning their divisions could prove tough enough, much less winning the World Series. The AL East is wide open right now with all five teams as legitimate contenders. Certainly the Yankees aren't going down without a fight, while the Rays, Red Sox and Orioles will also have a say in who wins the division. Out in the AL West, Texas and Oakland join the Angels in what should be a great race.
The Central Division, meanwhile, once again finds Detroit with the clearest path to the AL playoffs. Five solid arms fill the rotation, led by Justin Verlander, and the lineup will have Victor Martinez back to give opposing pitchers even more to think about along with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The Tigers at 10/1 may not seem like a lot of value, but this might be the best price Detroit bettors will get.
Sorting Through The Senior Circuit
All three National League divisions are expected to see close races to the finish line, but the fields are more narrow than current AL forecasts, at least according to the futures odds. The Dodgers (17/2) and Nationals (9/1) are essentially co-favorites to win the pennant with Cincinnati (12/1) not far behind.
Challenging Washington in the NL East will be the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, both 16/1 choices to win the '13 Series. I do like the Phillies to sneak back into the postseason after the club closed the campaign strong and quietly tweaked the roster with the additions of Michael Young, Mike Adams and Ben Revere. They will have to begin the schedule without catcher Carlos Ruiz for 25 games following a suspension, but will have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard healthy unlike the first half of this past season.
If the NL Race was just between the Nationals, Dodgers and Reds, I'd put money on Cincinnati as the dark horse in that trio. Dusty Baker's bunch has a great offense and the rotation could be even better with the expected move of fireballer Aroldis Chapman into the mix.
But let's not forget about the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis should have Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter healthy at the top of the rotation for the first time since 2009, and at 25/1, the Cards have the best value of any NL club with just six weeks remaining before the start of spring training.