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Astros Hire Dusty Baker; 2020 World Series Odds Bouncing Back Slightly

Dusty Baker in the Nationals dugout
The Houston Astros have hired Dusty Baker as their new manager, which has boosted the team's World Series odds. Photo via @mlbtraderumors (Twitter).
  • The Houston Astros needed a manager after A.J. Hinch was fired amid the team’s sign-stealing scandal
  • Dusty Baker has 22 years of managerial experience across four organizations
  • Baker has never won a World Series, yet Houston’s 2020 futures are rebounding

In a few weeks, sunny locales in Florida and Arizona will host MLB teams for spring training, which is the first clear-cut sign that baseball season is around the corner. While most organizations have their rosters set and their camp invitations in order, the Houston Astros were still missing a pretty significant piece — a manager.

The turmoil caused by the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal led to the firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. They still don’t have a new GM, but as of Tuesday, they are expected to hire 22-year managerial veteran Dusty Baker.

In the hours since the news broke, the Astros’ 2020 World Series odds moved in a positive direction. While their odds were as long as +750 late last week, they are +683 (on average) today and as short as +550 at Bovada.

2020 World Series Odds

Team Odds at Bovada
New York Yankees +325
Houston Astros +550
Los Angeles Dodgers +600
Atlanta Braves +800
Washington Nationals +1300
Minnesota Twins +1500

Odds taken Jan. 26

What does this news mean for bettors? How can Baker help the Astros? Those questions are answered below, with advice to follow.

Dusty’s Pedigree

Baker’s first MLB managerial role dates back to 1993, and thus he’s considered “old school,” while everything else the Astros project in their image comes off as “new school.” Perhaps this was deliberate, perhaps it was coincidental.

Either way, there’s a lot to like about what Baker has accomplished in the majors.

Seven years after wrapping up a 19-year MLB career, Baker took over as manager of the San Francisco Giants. He led them to a World Series berth in 2002, where they fell one game shy. In 2003, he led the Cubs to the NLCS, though they blew a 3-1 lead and missed the World Series.

Baker, a three-time Manager of the Rear winner, has a lifetime record of 1863-1636 (.532). In other words, he has seen a lot and won a lot.

No Cole In The Astros’ Stocking

Baker or no Baker, the Astros are dealing with a gargantuan loss as they head into the 2020 season without stud pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Cole, the MLB strikeout king and AL Cy Young runner-up last year, joined the Yankees (the odds-on favorites to win the World Series) via free agency.

The Astros are a better team with Cole, but it’s worth noting that their 2017 World Series victory came without him.

A Loaded Lineup Nonetheless

Minus Cole, the Astros still boast a rotation led by Justin Verlander (the 2019 AL Cy Young winner) and Zack Greinke (3.11 ERA over the past three seasons). They’ll also welcome back Lance McCullers Jr., who has a 3.87 career ERA across four seasons but missed last year due to injury.

In the field, Houston’s lineup is still as loaded as ever: with AL MVP runner-up Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve (2017 AL MVP), and George Springer (an All-Star in three consecutive seasons).

Decision Time

The Astros’ scandal and loss of Cole has made for one of the rockiest off-seasons ever. But the team is still loaded and ready for another World Series run (an appearance in 2020 would be their third in four years).

Baker brings something special to the mix, too: he has experience dealing with difficult situations.

He was the manager of the Giants through Barry Bonds’ most heavily scrutinized seasons. He was also the manager of the Cubs during the Steve Bartman curse and in the years that followed.

With the right manager in place and a star-studded lineup, now’s the time to bet the Astros. Their odds have shortened already — they are likely to be shorter before Opening Day.

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