By Doug Padilla for FrontPageBets
Major League Baseball on Thursday reached a tentative agreement on a new collective agreement that salvages a full 162-game season. With the 2022 campaign now in sight, the schedule looks like a race to the top between annual contenders.
There’s always surprise along the way, with the rise of a few teams with impressive young talent.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (+700), New York Yankees (+900), and Houston Astros (+900) stand out as the top three favorites to win the World Series based on DraftKings futures markets. With 19 total playoff appearances over the past seven seasons, it’s not a difficult equation to solve.
Then there are young guns, the rising stars who have already started to make their mark and seem poised to take the next step, like the Toronto Blue Jays (+1100), Chicago White Sox (+1100) and San Diego Padres (+1200).
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There’s another class fringed with intrigue. The Los Angeles Angels (+3500) have two MVPs in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, while the San Francisco Giants (+2200) came out of nowhere last season and set a franchise record with 107 regular-season wins. The club has been around since 1883. And don’t forget the defending champion Atlanta Braves (+1200), who won without franchise star Ronald Acuna Jr. in the lineup.
Ohtani (+300) won last year’s American League MVP in an unprecedented season in which he was productive as a hitter and pitcher, while Trout (+350) will return from injury. The National League youth movement is led by Juan Soto (+350), Fernando Tatis Jr. (+350) and Acuna Jr. (+900).
Cy Young Award favorites have a distinct Big Apple feel to them. These include Gerrit Cole (+400) of the New York Yankees in the American League and Jacob deGrom (+250) of the New York Mets in the National League.
List of AL pennant candidates
The Astros still seem to be in the class of the AL, with the Yankees again being extremely talented and having more to prove. Losing Carlos Correa in Houston is expected to take its toll. The White Sox have only made the playoffs three times since winning the World Series in 2005, but two of them in the last two seasons.
The White Sox appear to have an ideal balance of youth and veteran leadership from players like Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. After Cy Young’s top-10 results in 2019 and 2020, Chicago right-hander Lucas Giolito took a slight step backwards last season.
Our choice: White Sox win AL pennant (+550)
The Braves roared to the top and got hot late in the season when it counted, but they’re not necessarily rising above the fight in a top-heavy NL this season. The Dodgers have been to the World Series three times in the last five seasons, while the Mets are making waves thanks to the dedication of new owner Steve Cohen.
The Dodgers won 106 regular-season games last season to break a franchise record, but seemed to run out of gas in the postseason after trying to chase the Giants for the division title. Los Angeles lost star shortstop Corey Seager to free agency but can still put All-Star Trea Turner in the position. The pitching team remains talented despite the departure of Max Scherzer.
Our choice: Dodgers win NL pennant (+275)
Choice of the World Series: Dodgers (+700) over White Sox (+1100)
Arguably the most talented NL pitcher is deGrom, while new teammate Scherzer (+600) has a proven track record. The Milwaukee Brewers have two notable personalities in 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes (+800) and Brandon Woodruff (+1200). However, at 27, it’s the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler (+1000) who seems poised to deliver the goods in the NL.
Cole just missed out on the 2021 AL Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray (+800), with two White Sox teammates in Giolito (+1000) and Dylan Cease (+1800) in the mix. But if 2020 AL winner Shane Bieber (+600) stays healthy after suffering a shoulder injury last season, he looks set to hit the pitcher.
Ohtani and Trout could take the Angels on a magical ride in the shadow of Disneyland, while up north Blue Jays teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr (+350) and Bo Bichette (+2000) will shine. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge (+1500) has a chance to make his way to the AL’s top honor. But in a season where youth is celebrated, Wander Franco (+1500) of the Tampa Bay Rays could be poised to deliver.
Soto and Tatis Jr. aim to put on a two-man show for the NL’s top honor, with Soto taking advantage of four previous seasons to finally become MVP after a second-place finish last season. Turner (+1500) and Mookie Betts (+700) will announce their presence in Los Angeles.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
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@FieldLevelMedia Doug Padilla has been in MLB for more than two decades and has covered betting angles for the last five seasons.