Quick Look at the Preseason Favorites

Los Angeles Dodgers fan

The 2022 MLB season is upon us and with it, the Los Angeles Dodgers and their league-leading payroll are the favorites to win the World Series. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Shocked face: it’s the LA Dodgers

After a little nervousness and a delay because of labor negotiations, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2022 season is finally underground. If there ever was a time to say it: better late than never!

Among all the sniping between owners and players, rule changes (DH in the National League!), and pitcher/catcher communication technology, one thing remains the same: the Los Angeles Dodgers are once again the favorites to win the World Series. They were almost universally installed at 5-1 by sportsbooks; only one other team, the Toronto Blue Jays, was in the single-digit range, sitting at 9-1.

Draft Kings and Caesars set their over/under at 98.5 wins

The Dodgers also have no peer in pre-season betting when it comes to win totals. Draft Kings and Caesars set their over/under at 98.5 wins, six more than Toronto.

And it makes sense. The Dodgers won 105 games last year and added both 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman and high-leverage reliever Craig Kimbrel, helping to make for the free agent losses of Max Scherzer and Corey Seager. The Dodgers have four former MVPs (Freeman, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and Clayton Kershaw) and a top three in the pitching rotation that few teams can rival (Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias). And that doesn’t even mention bats like Trea Turner, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, and Max Muncy.

Of course, just because a team is a heavy favorite to win the World Series doesn’t mean it will. After all, it wasn’t the Dodgers hoisting the trophy at the end of the season, but rather the Atlanta Braves, who won their first title since 1995.

Both East divisions expected to be tough

Breaking it down by division, the Dodgers, no surprise, are the odds-on favorite in the NL West at -225, according to BetMGM. In the NL Central, it’s the Milwaukee Brewers, one of those aforementioned teams with the rotation that could match LA’s, at -175. There is no “odds-on” favorite in the NL East: the defending champion Braves are the favorites at +120, followed by the New York Mets at +200 and the Philadelphia Phillies at +350.

In the American League West, the Houston Astros, now a perennial power, are heavy favorites at -165 (the Los Angeles Angels are next at just +400). The Chicago White Sox are even heavier favorites in the AL Central at -200; no division rival is closer than +500. And like its National League counterpart, there is no odds-on favorite in the AL East. In fact, it is expected to be a knock down, drag out fight for the division, with three teams – Toronto (+180), the New York Yankees (+230), and the Tampa Bay Rays (+240) – all expected to be excellent this season.

Aside from the Dodgers and Blue Jays, the Braves, Astros, White Sox, and Yankees all have expected win totals over 90, according to DraftKings. The Brewers, Rays, Mets, and San Diego Padres, are just under that mark.

On the flip side, the worst teams in baseball are projected to be the Baltimore Orioles (62.5 wins), the Pittsburgh Pirates (65.5), the Arizona Diamondbacks (67.5), the Colorado Rockies (68.5), and the Oakland A’s (68.5) .

LA Angels have two MVP favorites, but are never good

Individual award winners are much harder to predict. After all, you can’t forecast injuries (Mike Trout last season) or massive drop-offs in play from players in the primes (recent MVPs Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger). But fans, pundits, and sportsbooks will always try.

DraftKings installed Washington Nationals’ slugger Juan Soto as the NL MVP favorite at +300. Soto has taken the league by storm since making his debut at the age of 19 in 2018. Last season, Soto was the MVP runner-up after hitting .313 with 29 homers and a sensational .999 OPS. He led the league in both walks (145) and on base percentage (.465). In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, his entire slash line led the NL.

Otani is the closest thing baseball has seen to Babe Ruth since Babe Ruth himself

The AL favorite is reigning MVP Shohei Otani at +350, followed by teammate Mike Trout at +500. Otani is the closest thing baseball has seen to Babe Ruth since Babe Ruth himself: he hit 46 home runs last season AND struck out 156 batters in 23 starts as a pitcher, sporting a tidy 3.18 ERA.

Last year’s NL Cy Young race was extremely tight and it is expected to be no different this season. The top four in last year’s voting are the four favorites going into the 2022 season: Max Scherzer at +600, 2022 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes at +700, Walker Buehler at +850, and Zack Wheeler at +1,000. Burnes’ Brewers teammate Brandon Woodruff is also at +1,000.

In the American League, DraftKings has Gerrit Cole as the favorite to win the Cy Young at +425, followed by Shane Bieber at +700, last season’s near-unanimous winner Robbie Ray at +900, and Lucas Giolito at +1,000.

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