Red Sox and Cubs early co-favorites to win the World Series

Feb 13, 2017; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) plays long toss during reporting day for pitchers and catchers at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2017; Lee County, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) plays long toss during reporting day for pitchers and catchers at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are Bovada Sportsbook‘s early favorites to win the World Series.

Meaningful games haven’t started yet, but with the first official spring workouts in the books, it’s time to start looking towards the future. Bovada, one of the most popular online sportsbooks, released their futures odds today and Red Sox fans will like who is on top of the list. The Cubs were wire-to-wire favorites en route to a World Series championship last season, a feat the Red Sox will look to replicate this year.

Here are the ten teams most heavily favored to win it all, according to Bovada:

  1. Chicago Cubs, 9/2
  2. Boston Red Sox, 9/2
  3. Cleveland Indians, 8/1
  4. Washington Nationals, 10/1
  5. LA Dodgers, 10/1
  6. SF Giants, 12/1
  7. Houston Astros, 14/1
  8. New York Mets, 18/1
  9. Toronto Blue Jays, 20/1
  10. St. Louis Cardinals, 22/1

It’s important to note that Vegas odds are meant to predict where the money will go, not necessarily results. So when Bovada places Boston at the top of their list, it’s because they predict that bettors will flock towards the Red Sox, not necessarily because they think they have the best chance at winning.

It’s really no surprise that the Cubs are co-favorites, after winning 103 games and coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series. They have a nearly identical lineup, sans Dexter Fowler, and one of the best rotations in baseball. A ton of gamblers will view them as a safe pick to repeat. I am slightly surprised that the Red Sox are equally favored, though. This isn’t to say that I don’t think they could win the World Series (I definitely do), I just think there’s a little bit too much juice on them considering the competition.

The Cleveland Indians cannot be overlooked in the American League. They came within an inning of winning it all last season, despite missing 40% of their rotation and their best all-around player. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar missed the entirety of the postseason, while Michael Brantley played just 11 games for the Tribe. Despite that, they were able to sweep the Red Sox in the ALDS and handle the Blue Jays in 5 in the ALCS. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez had full seasons to continue their development, Corey Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in baseball, Brantley will return to the middle of the lineup with Carlos Santana, and Andrew Miller is arguably the best reliever in baseball. Oh, and they signed some guy named Edwin Encarnacion to help out too.

Odds are, however, meant to elicit attention and the Red Sox have done a lot of that. After acquiring Chris Sale in the winter’s biggest trade, the Sox dominated all offseason discussions. They also added Tyler Thornburg to the bullpen and Mitch Moreland at first base. They definitely came out of the Winter Meetings a winner, if not the entire offseason. For a team that won 96 games the year before, that much activity will make them a safe bet to even the most casual of observers.

I can’t really make an argument for one team being clearly better than the other, both have incredible depth and talent at most positions. Which is exactly why they should be equally favored. Boston’s offense was head and shoulders above everyone in baseball last season and will be lethal again, even after the retirement of David Ortiz. The addition of Chris Sale gives them a rotation that can go toe to toe with any other, while their bullpen has been quietly restocked with three-four potentially elite relievers. The Red Sox are a great, great team. But so are the Indians, which will make for a lot of high-stakes and high-stress games later in the season and throughout October.

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I’m probably reluctant to get overly excited after last year’s disappointment in the ALDS, but I just can’t see how either team could be a clear-cut favorite over the other. That, or I’m missing something that Vegas isn’t.