With one full month of the 2023 MLB season in the books, things are starting to become clearer. The cream has begun to rise. The contenders have begun to separate from the pretenders. Superstars are set to return to the field, ready to reshape the race for the World Series.
So let’s take a look at that race at the one-month point to see how the early season has affected each team’s odds of reaching the Fall Classic — and whether there are any dark horses worth hitching your wagon to early. The full breakdown and some best bets are below, with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Updated World Series odds as of May 1
As the frontrunners in their respective leagues (with apologies to the Cinderella Pittsburgh Pirates, still chugging along at 20-9), the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays are perfectly understandable choices atop the leaderboard. The Houston Astros, meanwhile, bring championship equity, elite starting pitching and the promise of Jose Altuve, Lance McCullers Jr. and Co. getting healthy for the stretch run. The New York Yankees and San Diego Padres have each tumbled a bit as their offenses take on water, while the division-leading Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers have both made moves.
World Series odds: Takeaways and best bets
Best bet 1: New York Mets
I’d rather take my chances in the wide-open NL than the AL, where the Rays are running roughshod and the Blue Jays and Astros also look like they’ll be ferocious come October. The Senior Circuit, by comparison, boasts exactly three teams more than three games above .500 — and, due respect to the NL Central, two of those are the Pirates and Brewers.
The Mets are one of those teams in the crowded middle, but they probably won’t be for long: They’ve had to slog through this month with Carlos Carrasco and Justin Verlander on the IL and Max Scherzer suspended for 10 games over that foreign-substance fracas at Dodger Stadium. Verlander and Scherzer will both be back this week, while Carrasco and Jose Quintana will likely return later this summer, meaning that New York fans will no longer have to suffer through David Peterson, Jose Butto, Joey Lucchesi and Tylor Megill on the mound. The offense is already a meat-grinder, and when the rotation gets right this team could make +1000 look like great value.
Best bet 2: Philadelphia Phillies
See above re: the NL being the place to find World Series sleepers. Although can they reigning pennant winners really be considered sleepers? At +2500 they can, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that this is the highest Philly’s odds will be all year. On offense, the team has managed to stay afloat despite being ravaged by injuries — one of whom, Bryce Harper, is set to return as early as tomorrow. Add a former MVP to a group that features a resurgent Nick Castellanos, upstarts like Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh and a sleeping giant in Trea Turner? There will be plenty of runs in the Phillies’ future.
Which raises the question: What about the pitching? That’s been this club’s Achilles’ heel so far in 2023, with both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler off to disappointing starts. But both of those aces looked great against the Astros last weekend, and their track record suggests they’ll be just fine over the long haul. Ranger Suarez is due back soon, and with Jose Alvarado looking like the best reliever in baseball, the Phillies have the arms to go on a run once they get their ducks in a row.