Did you know that no spring training favorite to win the World Series has done so since the 2009 New York Yankees? So let's examine three longer-shot bets on BetOnline's MLB odds that might be worth a betting investment for the 2016 season.
Arizona Diamondbacks (+2500)
The Snakes have become a largely irrelevant team nationally and even somewhat locally, with attendance stagnating and the rise of the NFL's Cardinals. Hard to blame Arizona fans as the team hasn't finished with a winning record since 2011. So ownership agreed to significantly add payroll this offseason and team president Tony La Russa and GM Dave Stewart went crazy. The biggest move was signing former Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a crazy six-year, $206 million deal. Is that too much money for a 32-year-old with more than 33,000 big-league innings on his right arm? Of course. But the Snakes had to overpay to keep Greinke from re-signing with the Dodgers or heading to the division rival San Francisco Giants.
Greinke was the NL Cy Young runner-up last season, going 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA that led the majors and was the best of any starter in 20 years as well as an MLB-low 0.84 WHIP. There's no question that Greinke is a true ace and those are hard to find, plus Arizona kept him away from division rivals. Arizona also gutted its farm system, including sending away 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, in trading for Atlanta's Shelby Miller. He had a career-best 3.02 ERA last season but was just 6-17 because the Braves were so terrible offensively. Miller is on a very team-friendly contract for the next few seasons. Combined, Greinke and Miller averaged 6.2 innings per start in 2015 with a 2.31 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Arizona starters last year combined to average 5.1 innings with a 4.37 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. And don't forget that the Diamondbacks have one of the five best hitters on the planet in first baseman and annual NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt as well as a rising star in outfielder A.J. Pollock.
Chicago White Sox (+3300)
The White Sox were a very aggressive team last offseason but the moves largely flopped as the Pale Hose finished 76-86, their third straight losing season and seventh in a row missing the playoffs. The White Sox play in the shadows of the crosstown Cubs so they can't really afford to fully tank and build for five years. So the team was aggressive again this offseason in upgrading what was one of the majors' worst offenses in 2015.
GM Rick Hahn traded for All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier from Cincinnati and solid second baseman Brett Lawrie from Oakland. Third and second were offensive black holes for the Sox in 2015 so those are huge upgrades at those positions. The team also added outfielder Austin Jackson and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who help upgrade the defense. That defense was also among the worst in MLB last season. The Sox did lose DH Adam LaRoche to retirement in a story I'm sure you know all about, but LaRoche was terrible in 2015 and wildly overpaid at $13 million this season. Addition by subtraction. Chicago appears to have one of the best top ends of the rotation in Cy Young betting favorite Chris Sale, underrated Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon, who showed signs of stardom as a rookie. All are southpaws.
Miami Marlins (+6600)
The Marlins finished 71-91 in 2015, their sixth straight losing season, and they haven't made the playoffs since winning the 2003 World Series. This team has won two World Series despite being in existence since only 1993 but has yet to win a division title. So the Marlins love the wild card. What plagued Miami last season was largely injuries. Ace pitcher Jose Fernandez, the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year, missed the first few months off Tommy John surgery. But he was excellent in his 11 starts, going 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA and 79 strikeouts. He's as good as they come and still only 23 -- and now fully recovered and ready to roll.
The best pure slugger in the majors and betting favorite on the MLB odds board at sportsbooks to lead the majors in homers is Giancarlo Stanton. It's all about health for him as Stanton hasn't played more than 145 games since 2011. He was off to a monster start last year with 27 homers in 74 games before suffering a wrist injury that would end his season (it wasn't originally expected to). Stanton seems a lock for at least 45 homers if he plays 150 games. The Marlins also upgraded their coaching staff this offseason by hiring Don Mattingly as manager and one Barry Bonds as hitting coach. And the team got a solid No. 2 starter behind Fernandez in former Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The talent is there for this team to win the NL East, so they deserve consideration for your MLB picks.