All 30 MLB teams have high hopes entering the season, but bettors are more optimistic about some teams than others. Here's a look at the World Series odds for every team from BetOnline.ag, as of March 24, 2021.
The defending champs might have improved in the offseason, signing reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and seeing the return of former Cy Young winner David Price after he opted out of the 2020 season. The team should be able to weather the loss of Joc Pederson with stars like Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy in the lineup, and they have high hopes for young players like Gavin Lux, Julio Urias, and Dustin May. That doesn't even mention aces Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler on the pitching staff.
The Yanks have one of the most feared lineups in the game if it can stay healthy, particularly Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. However, it's the starting pitching that could ultimately determine their fate after replacing Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton with Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Of course, the team is in good hands with Gerrit Cole remaining as their ace.
Perhaps no team improved more in the offseason than the Padres, adding starting pitchers Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove to their rotation. The lineup showed what it could do in 2020, led by Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Eric Hosmer. The team's biggest challenge could be overcoming the Dodgers in the NL West.
Atlanta's young roster continues to shine with three consecutive NL East division titles, but they have little playoff success to show for it. They've tried to remedy the situation by adding high upside starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, and the lineup remains elite, led by Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Marcell Ozuna. The team is counting on Mike Soroka's return from an Achilles injury, as well as a repeat from ace Max Fried.
Chicago made a splash in the offseason with the hiring of manager Tony La Russa after 10 years away from the dugout and continued to add by acquiring innings-eater Lance Lynn and closer Liam Hendriks. They go into 2021 with few weaknesses, led by AL MVP Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and Eloy Jimenez. The rotation is hoping for former top prospects Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech to finally deliver, taking some of the pressure off of Lynn, Lucas Giolito, and Dallas Keuchel.
The Mets failed in their effort to sign Trevor Bauer, but the squad still made massive improvements by acquiring Trevor May, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, and Taijuan Walker. The team's biggest weakness is defense, but power bats like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, and Dominic Smith should make up for it.
Minnesota has won the AL Central in consecutive seasons but might feel disrespected after what the White Sox did in the offseason. The Twins lineup remains mostly intact, and they hope to have improved their run prevention by signing Andrelton Simmons, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and Alex Colome. The team might not have the upside of division rival Chicago, but a strong argument can be made that the roster is deeper and more proven.
The fact is that this isn't the same World Series contender of two years ago after losing Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and George Springer. Still, they have plenty of star power with Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, and the hope of a breakout campaign from Kyle Tucker. The rotation already lost 2020 breakout Framber Valdez to a finger injury this spring, but remedied that loss by signing Jake Odorizzi. Zack Greinke is also still going strong, leading a strong rotation.
The Cardinals were having a quiet offseason until they acquired Nolan Arenado in early February. The star third baseman can help cover up some lineup holes, particularly with the team's outfield. They're hoping young outfielder Dylan Carlson has found his footing, and ace Jack Flaherty can rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2021 season. The bullpen might get a boost from flamethrower Jordan Hicks, back from an elbow injury.
The Jays have the tall task of competing and the AL East and without a real home for a while, but they could be up to the task after an offseason that saw the big signings of George Springer, Marcus Semien, and Kirby Yates. That adds to a roster that already had star power, with youngsters Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Teoscar Hernandez, along with ace Hyun-Jin Ryu. The biggest question mark is the depth of the starting rotation, especially in a division with small ballparks and loaded lineups.
The A's seemingly exceed expectations every year, but they've yet to find real playoff success in the sabermetrics era. They're hoping for a fourth consecutive playoff berth despite the losses of Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks. The pitching staff could actually be improved if Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are finally able to stay healthy, and Trevor Rosenthal looks like a fine replacement for Hendriks. Infield stars Matt Olson and Matt Chapman still make this one of the better defensive clubs in baseball.
The Rays had the impossible task of replacing two of their top starting pitchers in the offseason, with the losses of Charlie Morton and Blake Snell. They've done their best by adding pitching depth in the offseason, and there's real hope the lineup could be improved if Randy Arozarena's playoff onslaught was in any way real. Prospect gurus are salivating over the pending arrival of shortstop Wander Franco, which could come at some point in 2021.
The Reds underachieved last season and didn't do much to replace NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. The pitching staff still has a chance to be very good with Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray at the top, and the lineup also remains power heavy with Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez, and Mike Moustakas. The lack of a legitimate shortstop entering spring training is puzzling, but the NL Central looks wide open.
The Nats are just one year removed from being World Series champs, and they still have most of the stars that led them to the promised land, including Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. However, the pitching trio showed signs of age last season and some big weaknesses remain in the lineup and pitching staff.
Over the last two seasons, Cleveland has lost aces Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco, along with star shortstop Francisco Lindor. With all those losses, it's a wonder they're even in the playoff conversation, but the team still has elite talent, led by Shane Bieber, Jose Ramirez, and Franmil Reyes. Though, to have any chance of a big year, the team will need young players like Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez, Triston McKenzie, and James Karinchak to have breakout years.
Talent isn't really the problem in Philadelphia, with a roster featuring stars like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Nola, and Zack Wheeler. However, the team is still trying to fix an epically bad bullpen, and has more holes than a team with their payroll should, including center field and the backend of the starting rotation.
For an organization that's been known for making splashes over the last 20 years, Boston's recent slow and steady moves by GM Chaim Bloom are probably frustrating for fans. He's still done well to add some talented players over the last two offseasons, including Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, and Garrett Richards. Still, to have any chance in the AL East, Boston will need bounce-back seasons from the likes of J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Martin Perez.
After years of heavy spending, the Cubs were in the business of cost-cutting during the offseason. They trimmed salary by moving on from Yu Darvish, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana, and the collection of replacements don't exactly breed optimism. Chicago really needs great seasons from Jake Arrieta, Zach Davies, and the bottom of their rotation, as well as rebounds from the offensive core that includes Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant.
The Angels continue to waste Mike Trout, who has appeared in the playoffs just once in 10 incredible seasons. The talent still looks capable with some luck, and the team might have found it with Shohei Ohtani off to an electrifying start this spring. They also need better contributions from high-priced players like Justin Upton and Albert Pujols.
Milwaukee could be the best bargain on the market considering how good Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes could be at the top of the starting rotation. The Brewers have a similarly elite tandem in the bullpen with Josh Hader and Devin Williams, and the lineup seems plenty capable if Christian Yelich can rebound from a poor 2020.
Any sort of optimism in Miami likely stems from a talented starting rotation, led by Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Sixto Sanchez. The bullpen is also rebuilt, albeit on a shoe-string budget, and the lineup has added a trio of capable outfielders in Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Adam Duvall over the last year-plus.
There has been quick turnover in San Francisco's pitching staff recently, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. Kevin Gausman was a breakout in San Fran last year, and the team is hoping new acquisitions Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, and Aaron Sanchez can regain their old form in a roomy home. The lineup lacks much oomph but has gotten much deeper with the front office's under-the-radar moves.
Baltimore is still in clear rebuild mode, but some of their prospects finally arrived last year. They saw nice performances from Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, and Dean Kremer, and the return of Trey Mancini from cancer this year is a real boost. Still, with several significant holes and a leaky bullpen, it's tough to imagine the O's being ready yet.
After a firesale two years ago, Seattle's roster is rounding into form again. They should get a nice boost from the returns of Mitch Haniger, Tom Murphy, and James Paxton, while Marco Gonzales showed that he could be a legitimate ace in 2020. Fans most anticipate the pending arrival of top outfield prospects Jarred Kelenic and Taylor Trammell.
Arizona's roster undoubtedly has talent, led by Ketel Marte and Zac Gallen, but there are also big areas of concern. The team lost outfielder Kole Calhoun to knee surgery this spring, and the big-ticket signing of Madison Bumgarner backfired in the first season of a five-year contract. The bullpen is also lacking much upside.
Royals GM Dayton Moore built a World Series roster before, and KC was seemingly one of the few teams in baseball trying to win this offseason. Their big moves included the additions of Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, Andrew Benintendi, and Michael A. Taylor. That adds to budding stars Jorge Soler and Adalberto Mondesi, while 20-year-old former first-round pick Bobby Witt Jr. has been the talk of early spring training. There's enough talent here to surmise that the Royals are underpriced, but they're also probably lacking the depth of a true contender.
The Rockies personnel moves continue to be head-scratchers, with the team cutting young outfielder David Dahl free in the offseason and trading star third baseman Nolan Arenado for minimal return. What's left is a roster clearly worse than last year and with very little margin for error. That means the Rox will need their best from starting pitchers German Marquez and Kyle Freeland, and well as lineup stalwarts Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.
Fans of young pitching have a lot to like with Detroit, as a possible future ace trio of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning should all see starts this season. The lineup is far less exciting, with a bevy of placeholders while the team's hitting prospects develop. Jeimer Candelario and Willi Castro could be keepers, and new manager A.J. Hinch has shown success developing young players in Houston.
Texas disappointed last year and opted to rebuild in the offseason, ridding themselves of Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, Elvis Andrus, and Shin-Soo Choo, among others. The lineup still has some intriguing talents, led by Joey Gallo, but it could be a long year for a pitching staff filled with fliers and reclamation projects.
GM Ben Cherington is tearing the Pirates down to their barebones, and there's a very painful year ahead. The team traded starting pitchers Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon in the offseason, along with first baseman Josh Bell. What's left is a host of unproven young players and organization fodder that would likely be filling Triple-A with many other teams. Any sort of development from keepers Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, and Mitch Keller should be considered a win for the Pirates in 2021.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.