- Entering All-Star week, the Dodgers had the fifth-best odds of winning the World Series
- LA hasn’t been NL favorites since April 9
- The longest odds the Dodgers have offered all year are +1800 (twice)
With the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring Manny Machado, the balance of power has shifted in the National League.
After claiming the NL pennant in 2017, the Dodgers opened as the favorites in the NL at online sports betting sites, but were quickly usurped by the Chicago Cubs once the season began. The 2016 champions were proving the long-term potential pundits saw in them true, while LA started to scuffle.
They’ve begun to turn it around without a major shakeup though. After a 12-16 start to the year, the Dodgers followed it up with a 14-14 May, a 17-9 June, and a 10-4 July.
Now the rich have only gotten richer. And though their average odds pulled even with the Cubs, the odds see differently.
2018 World Series Odds
|New York Yankees||+450|
|Boston Red Sox||+450|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+650|
Machado Fills a Major Need
Since it was announced on May 1 that star shortstop Corey Seager was undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers have had a hole in the middle of their infield.
— Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello) July 17, 2018
Yes Seager was going through a down year and Chris Taylor is putting up similar numbers, but it just isn’t the same. Seager was coming off back-to-back 20 homer seasons, hitting over .290 in both. If his arm was healthy, either the 24-year old wouldn’t have suffered through his ice-cold start, or he would have started to revert to the norm. It’s hard to fathom Seager languishing through a two-homer, .267 campaign.
Now they fill that role both offensively and defensively in Machado.
|.315||2018 Batting Average||.253|
|24||2018 Home Runs||11|
|4.04||2018 Range Factor per Game||3.63|
Macahdo is crushing a 24-home run year, paired with a .315 average. He’s on pace for 38 homers and 106 RBI, which would give him four-straight years of 30+ home runs.
If Dodgers complete Machado deal (and they lead), they could move Taylor to 2B, Muncy to 1B and Bellinger to the stacked OF. That’d be quite a lineup. Also, if top OF prospect Yusniel Diaz is in deal, their rep as stingy with prospects goes out the window.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 17, 2018
After spending the majority of his career at third base, Machado has played exclusively at short this year. His 4.04 range factor and .980 fielding percentage trump Taylor in both categories, allowing him to return to a utility role.
If their starting pitching can stay healthy in the second half, LA has plugged one of their biggest holes.
Can the Rest of the NL Catch Up?
One of the rumored landing spots for Machado was the Chicago Cubs. While he isn’t going through a terrible season, Machado offers a massive upgrade offensively over Addison Russell.
So what can the Cubs do to match the Dodgers’ power move?
Not much. Their likely improvements will come in the form of pitching, but don’t expect them to move the odds. JA Happ is the best option among starters, but the Cubs could have competition from Philadelphia. Wilson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo mean they don’t need to chase J.T. Realmuto, while Tyson Ross presents Happ-esque impact.
While the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are sitting there as feel-good stories, the cupboards are even more bare for them. There’s nothing available that would catapult them into the Dodgers/Cubs stratosphere. They may just have to rely on October magic.
What About the AL Favorites?
By all accounts, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were in on Machado. If he makes it to the open market come Winter, they will be again. The AL East powers, along with the defending champion Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, are all destined for a collision course.
The Astros haven’t been mentioned in the Happ conversation, but Boston and New York have. It makes them a better team, but again, Happ isn’t a major odds-mover.
— RumorBreak MLB (@RumorBreakMLB) July 9, 2018
The Ken Giles saga likely has Houston in the market for a reliever. If you’re expecting Zach Britton or Jeurys Familia to improve the AL favorites odds though, don’t hold your breath. The same can be said for the bullpen-needy Indians.
The Dodgers undoubtedly improved in a big way with the addition of Machado. After that early-season swoon, they’re back in line with the Cubs and prepared to go shot-for-shot down the stretch.
Because the teams are evenly matched, they’re still not a lock to make it out of the NL. If they do, there likely won’t be a pushover awaiting them out of the American League either.
Barring a catastrophe however, they’re one of the only two plays I see in the NL. It’s the Cubs or the Dodgers, and LA just stole the only game-changer on the market.
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