MLB Picks: How 2015 Futures Differ from Final 2014 Standings

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, November 15, 2014 8:21 PM GMT

Hot Stove League hasn't fired up yet, so MLB futures odds certainly will change. But let's see if the oddsmakers took into account last season's standings when forecasting World Series 15' odds.

National League Status Quo
The Washington Nationals led the NL with 96 wins last season in taking the NL East for the second time in three seasons, while the Los Angeles Dodgers were No. 2 with 94 victories in winning the NL West. Those teams were the betting favorites at sportsbooks entering their respective NLDS. Of course the Nationals lost to the eventual World Series champion Giants in four games and the Dodgers lost to their nemeses Cardinals in four. St. Louis simply owns Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who won his third Cy Young Award this week, in the postseason.

Currently, sportsbooks have the Dodgers and Nationals each as +700 World Series favorites for next season and +300 each to win the NL pennant. Los Angeles hasn't made a major offseason move yet, other than luring former Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman to run all of the baseball operations. He's going to do some things. Injury-plagued shortstop Hanley Ramirez is not going to be back so that's one spot Friedman must fill. Friedman already said he was going to trade one of his four outfielders of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig. No doubt Puig would have the most value as he's on a team-friendly deal, but he's very unlikely to go. It will be one of the other three guys. Los Angeles also is hoping to sign the best free-agent catcher on the market, Russell Martin.

Washington will make some tweaks but probably not any major moves despite rumors you heard of possible talks with the Cubs for Nationals ace Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats already picked up the team option on outfielder and leadoff  hitter Denard Span but declined on first baseman Adam LaRoche and former closer Rafael Soriano. LaRoche led the Nationals with 26 homers and 92 RBIs, but they want to move Ryan Zimmerman to first from third base. That would make Anthony Rendon the full-time guy at the hot corner.

Easily the biggest discrepancy from the 2014 standings and 2015 World Series odds belongs to the Cubs. They finished last again in the NL Central with 73 wins. Yet the Cubbies are +1600 to win the World Series on MLB odds. Why? The signing of former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Those odds may get shorter as the Cubs are considered favorites to sign Martin  -- it could happen by next week -- and are heavily after Boston ace Jon Lester. The team will meet with Lester next week.

Don't miss on the action this season, visit SBR's MLB odds for updates in the betting market.

 

No Respect for Orioles in AL?
Baltimore had 96 victories last season and won the supposed powerhouse AL East by 12 games. Yet the Orioles were underdogs on MLB odds at sportsbooks in the ALDS against Detroit before sweeping the Tigers. Kansas City finished off the Birds with a sweep in the ALCS.

The Orioles are just the fourth favorites among AL teams to win the 2015 World Series at +1600. You can understand being behind the Angels (+1100 at sportsbooks), who led the majors in wins. But the Tigers (+1100)? And the Red Sox (+1400)!? Boston finished last in the AL East, 25 games behind Baltimore. The Orioles may lose outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz to free agency after Cruz led the majors in homers. But the O's also get back star catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado after both missed large chunks of the 2014 season with injuries.

Why are the Red Sox so high? They did finish last in 2012 and then won the 2013 Fall Classic. Boston has plenty of  money to spend and a ton of prospects to trade if need be. The Sox could bring back Lester, sign Max Scherzer or trade for Cole Hamels. They are also heavily after Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Boston will be very active.

Detroit is going to lose Scherzer and most likely outfielder Torii Hunter, but the Tigers this week were able to keep leading hitter and DH Victor Martinez, although they overpaid to the tune of $70 million over four years. The Tigers' championship window probably has one more season before they turn into the Phillies -- i.e., overpaid, broken-down veteran roster -- in 2016.

The AL champion Kansas City Royals are just +2000 on MLB odds to win the World Series, largely because the team is expected to lose ace James Shields along with a couple of other guys (DH Billy Butler for one).