The rampaging Los Angeles Dodgers are the biggest story of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. They have been a very good team since 2013 – nothing like this, though – in winning four straight NL West titles but haven’t reached the World Series since Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and company upset the powerful Oakland A’s in the 1988 Fall Classic.
With all due respect to that team, this club is vastly more talented with the lock NL Rookie of the Year in Cody Bellinger, NL MVP candidates in Bellinger and Justin Turner, and three great starting pitchers (when healthy) in Clayton Kershaw, who might have won a fourth career Cy Young Award if not for a back injury, Alex Wood and trade acquisition Yu Darvish.
Home-field advantage in the World Series now goes to the pennant winner with the best regular-season record. That’s going to be the Dodgers if they get there as they are lapping the field and could break the MLB record of 116 wins. However, perhaps Los Angeles might want to think twice about that as neither of the two clubs who had 116 victories, the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners, won the World Series.
The Dodgers are the +225 favorites on the latest odds to win the 2017 World Series – compared to +1200 on May 2. It was in late April this team took off; the Dodgers were 9-11 on April 24, the day before Bellinger was recalled from Triple-A.
This is Year 23 of the Wild Card Era in baseball and only three times has the team with the majors’ best regular-season record won it all – the 1998 and 2009 Yankees and last year’s Cubs, who eliminated Los Angeles in six games in the NLCS. Of the teams with the top five single-season winning percentages in MLB history, just the 1998 Yankees (.704) won it all.
The Houston Astros are the +500 second-favorites to win the first World Series in franchise history. They have only reached the Fall Classic once, swept in 2005 while in the NL against the Chicago White Sox. Houston still has the best record in the AL but has been slumping of late partly due to injuries – including to star shortstop Carlos Correa. He hasn’t played since July 17 due to a thumb injury but could return by the end of the month.
The Washington Nationals are +700 to win that franchise’s first World Series. The Nats are going to win the NL East and be the Senior Circuit’s second seed, which means avoiding the Dodgers until the NLCS. Washington’s World Series odds would be much longer if the knee injury suffered by superstar Bryce Harper on August 12 had been season ending. It was serious, but Harper should be back by the end of the regular season.
The defending champion Cubs, who are dealing with a few injuries to key players of their own, are +850 on the MLB futures to become the first National League team to repeat as World Series champions since the Big Red Machine in 1975-76.