LAS VEGAS — In a free-agency decision that turned into a photo finish, Trevor Bauer picked the Los Angeles Dodgers over the New York Mets. When asked why, Bauer said he opted for the best shot to win the World Series. Like him or not, oddsmakers agree with him.
By signing the top pitcher on the market in early February, the Dodgers clinched their spot as consensus World Series favorites — 7/2 odds at BetMGM and as low as 2/1 at William Hill — and got tagged with MLB’s highest regular-season wins total in more than 20 years.
After the Westgate SuperBook opened Los Angeles’ win total at 103.5 last week, William Hill sportsbook upped the ante by posting the Dodgers’ number at 104.5.
“The Dodgers have so much talent it’s insane,” Westgate baseball oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. “The Dodgers are so deep they could field two major league teams and their second team could probably be better than half of the teams in the league right now.”
Bauer is controversial, outspoken and obviously talented. He finished 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA and threw a majors-high two shutouts for Cincinnati last year, when he was the National League Cy Young Award winner. He joins a Dodgers rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, David Price, Dustin May and Julio Urias. Price opted out last season, yet that staff still was strong enough to defeat Tampa Bay in six games in the World Series.
The Dodgers not only had MLB’s lowest team ERA (3.02) last season, an offense led by Mookie Betts topped the majors in runs scored (349, 5.8 per game).
In the coronavirus-shortened 60-game season, the Dodgers went 43-17 — a 71.7 winning percentage that would project to 116 wins in 162 games. A win total of 104.5 might even seem low, but it’s the highest total since sportsbooks posted the same number on the 1999 Yankees, who finished 98-64.
“The first bet Under was professional money,” William Hill book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “The Dodgers look good, but they have to beat the Padres a bunch of times in that division.”
The Dodgers and Padres are scheduled to meet 19 times in the NL West. San Diego also strengthened its pitching rotation by acquiring Yu Darvish (Cubs) and Blake Snell (Rays) in blockbuster trades.
San Diego has the NL’s second-highest win total (93.5) at the Westgate, which opened the Braves and Mets each at 90.5 atop the NL East. William Hill oddsmakers see a difference in the teams, posting Atlanta at 92 and the Mets at 89.
The Mets upgraded their offense and defense by trading with Cleveland for star shortstop Francisco Lindor in January. But can the pitching staff hold it together until June, when Noah Syndergaard is expected to return from Tommy John surgery?
“The Mets are an intriguing team,” Salmons said. “We think of the Mets and Braves as equals. The Mets’ lineup with Lindor in there sure looks a heck of a lot better than it did last year. We’re not sure what to expect from Syndergaard, and the scary thing about the Mets is the bullpen.”
The Mets missed on Bauer and two other free-agent targets — outfielder George Springer, who left Houston to sign with Toronto, and infielder DJ LeMahieu, who re-signed with the Yankees.
BetMGM lists the Yankees as -200 favorites to win the AL East and they are tagged with MLB’s second-highest win total — 97 at William Hill and 95.5 at the Westgate. The Rays (88.5), Blue Jays (86), Red Sox (78) and Orioles (64, all at William Hill) have considerable gaps to close in the division.
“I would like to see one year where the Yankees don’t have a lot of injuries,” Salmons said. “That’s such a good division. Toronto has a young team that everyone expects to keep getting better, and we don’t know what the ceiling is. I never question what the Rays do because all they do is win. I still expect the Rays to be right there.”
On the BetMGM odds board, the Angels’ Mike Trout is the 2/1 favorite to win AL MVP, followed by the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Astros Alex Bregman tied at 10/1. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom is the 5/1 favorite to win NL Cy Young, with the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole the 7/2 favorite in the AL, just ahead of the Indians’ Shane Bieber (+375).
William Hill opened Judge and Trout as 12/1 co-favorites to win the MLB home run title. The Mets’ Pete Alonso is the 15/1 third choice along with the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton.