Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals on their 2015 World Series Championship. Enjoy it now KC, because the early MLB futures odds for 2016 don't like your repeat chances.
To quote the English writer Chuck Dickens, these are the best of times, these are the worst of times. For fans of the Royals, and anyone who had a World Series futures wager on them this year at 20/1, these are indeed the best of times after Kansas City dispatched the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series that was bookended by two exciting extra inning games.
For the rest of us, and baseball fans in general, these are the worst of times as baseball heads into its winter slumber only to be awakened next February by those four magical words, "Pitchers and catchers report."
Yes, 29 teams are already building hope for 2016 with their "Wait 'til next year" battle cries. Fortunately, sports books are already thinking about next year with early baseball futures odds, and it should come as no surprise to see the 10 teams that made the postseason this year packed within the first dozen listings.
Dodgers Draw Earliest Chalk
Last on that list of 2015 playoff teams are the champion Royals at 18/1, the same MLB odds as the Boston Red Sox. Both teams have some work to do to win it all, Kansas City needing to figure out how they're going to be able to afford to keep the core of its team while Boston will be trying to reverse two consecutive last-place finishes in the AL East following its 2013 World Series title.
At the top of the chart heading into the offseason are the Los Angeles Dodgers at 8/1 after beginning the 2015 season as 6/1 choices to earn a sixth Fall Classic crown. Los Angeles first needs to decide who will manage the team in '16 after parting ways with Don Mattingly recently, and the Dodgers also need to resolve whether they will chase Zack Greinke with a long-term offer after the righthander opted out of his contract.
Three National League clubs -- New York, Chicago and Washington -- join the Toronto Blue Jays as best of the rest behind the Dodgers, all four teams being offered at 10/1 on baseball futures boards. This was supposed to be the Nationals' year as 3/1 World Series favorites last March, but they flamed out and are also seeking a new dugout commander.
The Mets have a solid young group of pitchers, but have decisions awaiting them on Yoenis Cespedes and postseason hero Daniel Murphy who are both free agents. Coming off a 97-win season, the Cubs have an enviable group of young hitters like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and are likely to be looking for pitching this winter.
Toronto is expected to make a hard run at left-handed free agent David Price, whom the Blue Jays acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays definitely have the offense to support even an average pitching staff to make another playoff run.
Astros, Rangers Part Of 3rd-Tier
Despite being MLB picks battle for the AL West basement, both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers defied those odds and made it to the postseason. Now they're each drawing 12/1 odds to win their respective franchises' first World Championship.
Houston arrived at least one season earlier than expected after rebuilding through the draft from the ground up during some very lean times. The Astros led the division much of the season before falling off at the end, and their biggest concern right now is shoring up a leaky bullpen.
Texas is definitely an attractive pick right now since the Rangers will have both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish at the top of their rotation for the 2016 campaign. Budding young stars like Delino DeShields and Rougned Odor should be the catalysts in front of Adrian Beltre and Price Fielder in next year's lineup.
A pair of NL Central clubs, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, are also listed at 12/1 right now, not bad odds considering the Cardinals and Pirates finished 2015 with the top two regular season records. The Cards did that without Adam Wainwright leading their rotation due to an Achilles injury in early-April, while the Pirates have been knocking on the door each of the past two seasons with a lineup and pitching staff that seems ready to bust through on 2016.