They didnâ€™t begin the season as the favorites to win the World Series, but at the halfway point of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have moved up with odds makers. Many sportsbooks believe those teams will meet in the Fall Classic.
Los Angeles began the season at 9-1 to claim the championship series, but has been steadily climbing up the board as the season has progressed. By June they were 8-1 and three days ago were at 4-1. Houston began at 14-1, went to 8-1 by May and then settled at 4-1 at baseballâ€™s recess.
The Chicago Cubs were the preseason favorite at 9-2, but they have consistently slipped, dropping to 5-1 in June and are now at 8-1. The biggest plunge, however, was the San Francisco Giants. They were mentioned as a dark horse to win the series and started out at 11-1. Injuries have taken their toll and the odds reflect it. They were 40-1 in May, 66-1 in June and are now off the board entirely.
Why LA or Houston Could Win
The Dodgers have the top record in the majors right now at 61-29. They hold a 7.5-game lead in the NL West and in the entire National League.
The Dodgers have scored 463 runs this season, third most in the majors. They have allowed just 300 runs, which is the fewest in baseball by a wide margin. Their plus-163 run differential is also best in baseball.
The Astros are running away with the American League. Their 60-29 record is tops in that league and they lead the AL West by 16.5 games. Their next closest competitor is the Boston Red Sox, who are in the AL East, and they are 10 games behind. Their run differential of plus-162 is second.
Playing in a weak division helps the Astros. All four of the squads in the AL West have failed to achieve .500 records and Houston has feasted on those teams. Los Angeles has stiffer competition in the NL West, with Arizona and Colorado both above .500.
Other Teams Possible
In 15 years, only one team that had the best record at the All-Star break went on to win the National League Championship Series. The odds are a little better in the American League where four of the last 15 won the ALCS.
So who does Las Vegas believe are the dark horses to upset the favorites? In the American League they are inclined to pick the Boston Red Sox. The odds for the AL East leaders are at 5-1, almost at where LA and Houston stand. In the NL, they like Washington at 6-1.
There are also long shots that might be attractive to bettors. The Arizona Diamondbacks are at 18-1, with the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals at 20-1.