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World Series betting odds (As of July 20):
Red Sox: 5.50
The All Star break is over. Soon come the dog days of summer before MLB's stretch drive ramps up.
There are pennant and wild card races in the National League and American League, but a handful of teams have long since separated themselves from the pack as World Series favourites and contenders.
The defending champion Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox are co-favourites for the World Series, while the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have aligned themselves as serious contenders, as well. The Seattle Mariners were among the favourites only a few weeks ago, but have come back down to Earth with recent struggles heading into the break.
MLB Betting Breakdown:
Boston Red Sox
World Series odds: 5.50
Here is an interesting tidbit for you: Only 5.35 per cent of money wagered on the World Series outright market is on the Boston Red Sox.
What's more fascinating - and by "fascinating" we really mean "kind of shocking" - is that there is more money on the Toronto Blue Jays to win this year's World Series. About 6.15 per cent of money wagered on the World Series winner is on the Blue Jays, who were 23.5 games back of the American League East leaders from Boston and 14 games back in the AL Wild Card race on July 18.
Meanwhile, at this stage in the season, the Red Sox boast a league-best .694 winning percentage. Four pitchers in their starting rotation have hit double digits in wins, and they have an intimidating lineup, offensively, with J.D. Martinez, who is tied for the MLB lead in homeruns with 29, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts.
World Series odds: 5.50
In the middle of June, the Astros were in a battle with the surprising Seattle Mariners for the American League West.
Things have returned to normal within that division. Seattle, masters of winning one-run games, lost four straight heading into the break. A 6-4 record for the Astros over their last 10 games is hardly overwhelming for the 2017 champions, but, as expected, they have regained control of the division with a five-game lead and look well on their way to the post-season.
There has not been a repeat World Series winner since the Yankees reeled off three straight titles from 1998 to 2000. Can the Astros change that in 2018?
New York Yankees
World Series odds: 5.90
As of Wednesday, the largest chunk of money was on the Yankees to win the World Series, at 22.85 per cent.
The Yankees sit second in the AL East behind their long-time rivals from Boston. The division is essentially a runaway race between the Yanks and Red Sox. Both teams have a 100 per cent chance of making the playoffs now, according to MLB.com. What remains to be determined is which team will win the division, and which will likely have to settle for a Wild Card position.
Aaron Judge may not match his homerun production from a year ago, when he had a breakout campaign and hit 52 out of the park. He is currently at 25 for the season, but is still having another outstanding year for the Yankees. Starting pitcher Luis Severino leads the entire league in wins with 14, and is a favourite for the AL Cy Young Award.
Los Angeles Dodgers
World Series odds: 9.00
The big news of this week came from the Dodgers, who officially won the Manny Machado sweepstakes.
That's a huge addition for the Dodgers, as they land a highly decorated all-star shortstop. He's a Gold Glove winner. He's an MLB All-Star. He's been in consideration for the American League's most valuable player award. He's on pace for yet another 30-plus homerun season.
The Yankees have the highest amount of money on them to win the World Series, while the Dodgers are second in that category right now with 16.5 per cent of money on them, as of Wednesday. They 're in a battle with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League West Division.
The Dodgers lead by only a half game. (Oh, and don't sleep on the Colorado Rockies or San Francisco Giants, either. Those clubs are just two and four games back, respectively, of the division lead.)
World Series odds: 9.00
The long-suffering Cubs haven't won the World Series in almost two years, but they went into the break on a nice three-game winning streak, while the Milwaukee Brewers - the team battling with Chicago for the NL Central Division - had dropped six in a row.
Only 3.94 per cent of the money was on the Cubs to win outright.
With the exception of Jon Lester (12-2 record and a 2.58 earned-run average), the Cubs would certainly like to get some better outings from others in their starting rotation as we get closer to the stretch drive.