On paper, the Los Angeles Dodgers once again appear to be the best team in Major League Baseball this season. However, that does not mean you should go ahead and bet on them to win the World Series this year.
Are they ridiculously talented? Of course, they are, and they have the highest payroll in baseball once again to act as proof. But talented teams fall short of winning championships all the time. But they were insanely talented in 2017, 18, and 19 as well. While spending money may help stock the roster with talent, it rarely results in a World Series titles.
Over the last 25 seasons, it has only happened five times (’18–Red Sox; Yankees—’09, 00, 99, and 96).
However, the level of talent on the roster for the Dodgers is undeniable. Because of it, they absolutely deserve to be World Series frontrunners. Putting money down on them to win the Series again this year is a safe bet.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 1, 2021
But is it a good one?
Does Last Season Deserve An Asterisk?
The Dodgers finally got that monkey off their backs last season with the franchise’s first World Season win since 1988. But some would say the monkey is still there. Yes, they won, but they did not have to work as hard for it because of the short season.
Because of the 60-game schedule, the Dodgers were not rally battle-tested. They did not have to face the same adversity teams do during a typical season. Part of proving you are the best team in baseball is proving that you can overcome whatever challenges playing 162 games throw at you.
But in 60 games the Dodgers did not have to face any significant challenges. They had the fourth-fewest total number of days on the DL last season (248). Clayton Kershaw had a short stint on the DL, and Walker Buehler had two. Otherwise, the Dodgers were never without anyone vital to the success of the team.
Yes, in the end, they did what matters and beat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to earn the title of World Series Champions. But does it mean as much since the season was so short? Some would say yes, but many would also say no. Another World Series win this season would put all doubts to bed, of course.
However, there are a number of teams that could rise to the challenge and take the Dodgers down this year.
|2021 MLB Season-- World Series Winner Odds||William Hill||BetMGM||DraftKings|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+350||+350||+350|
|New York Yankees||+550||+600||+550|
|San Diego Padres||+900||+900||+800|
|New York Mets||+1000||+1200||+1000|
|Chicago White Sox||+1000||+1000||+850|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+2000||+2500||+2200|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+2500||+2200||+2500|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2500||+1600||+2500|
|Boston Red Sox||+5000||+5000||+5000|
|San Francisco Giants||+10000||+8000||+8000|
|Kansas City Royals||+10000||+10000||+10000|
2021 World Series Contenders
As could be expected, the Dodgers are favored to win it all again. Defending champions usually do start the season favored, so that is not unusual. Oddsmakers tend to give defending champions the benefit of the doubt to start the season. But things can change rather quickly if they struggle right out of the gate.
If the Dodgers were to do so this season, it would come as somewhat of a shock. Had they lost some key guys via free agency, you would expect a slip. But they did not. Instead, they made the best starting rotation in baseball better with the addition of Trevor Bauer.
Combine that rotation with one of the most potent offenses in the game, and you not only have a team that should be favored to win the Series. You have a team that should win it.
But there are a few teams that are not going to make it easy for them:
New York Yankees
The fact that the Yankees are considered contenders should come as a surprise to no one. While they were not active in free agency, this incredibly talented team is in great shape to make a run. Healthy seasons out of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge would go a long way, of course. But, other than Gerrit Cole, the starting rotation is nothing to brag about.
San Diego Padres
The Padres became a legit threat in the NFC West last season, but the question heading into this season is whether the offense can maintain that level of play for more than just 60 games. If they can, and if their pitching acquisitions (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove) can live up to their reputations, the Padres could be a real threat to the Dodgers this year.
Chicago White Sox
The talent is certainly there for the White Sox to become the next team to beat in the AL. But they will need to keep developing their young talent if they are going to take the next stop. Right now, they are certainly AL contenders, but they need to up their collective game to challenge for the World Series.
The Braves were just a game away from making it to the Series last year. Their offense alone would make them contenders in the NL and for the World Series. Adding an ace like Charlie Morton to the pitching rotation may be enough to push them over the edge and into the Series this year.
New York Mets
The Mets have been one of those teams with a lot of potential in recent years. But they have struggled to stay healthy and put all the pieces together at the same time. However, with a healthy rotation that now includes Carlos Carrasco and the addition of Francisco Lindor, the expectations are real for the Mets this season.
Since 2010, the ’20 Dodgers and ’16 Cubs are the only World Series winner to have preseason odds under +1000. From 201-15, the lowest preseason odds a Series winner had was +2000 (the ’12 San Francisco Giants). This season, there are a few teams with that kind of potential if everything goes their way once the season starts:
- Toronto Blue Jays: They became a playoff team last season and added a great bat in George Springer. But the rotation may need some work just to challenge in the AL East, let alone for the World Series.
- Houston Astros: Once again, they will be the easiest team in baseball to hate. But the talent is still there, and if the rotation can stay healthy and a few guys can bounce back on offense, the Astros will be tough to beat.
- Washington Nationals: They were not good during the first 60 games of their World Series season. With their rotation, they just need a little help from the offense to become contenders once again.
If you want to play it safe, then put your money down on the Dodgers. But no one would fault you for putting it down on the Yankees or Braves. If you are okay with a little risk, then give the Mets or Padres some serious thought.