LAS VEGAS -- Welcome to ESPN Insider's 2014 MLB betting preview, where we'll take a look at the best World Series value bets, season win total bets, MLB betting strategies and more.
Yes, we realize that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks officially started the season last weekend in Australia with the Dodgers winning the opener 3-1 as a minus-175 favorite behind Clayton Kershaw and the second game 7-5 as a minus-120 fave (the starter was Hyun-Jin Ryu), but those were like the NCAA's play-in games. Just like the Thursday and Friday games of the NCAA tournament, the real start of the baseball season is this upcoming Sunday, featuring, well, the Dodgers again versus the San Diego Padres. Most teams open the season Monday.
The Dodgers are the 6-1 World Series co-favorite at the LVH SuperBook along with the St. Louis Cardinals, and not just because they're off to a 2-0 start. In fact, they opened as the 5-1 favorite in October when the LVH posted its opening number after the Dodgers lost the National League Championship Series to the Cardinals and before the 2013 World Series even started. Even through an offseason that saw a lot of player movement among the contenders, the Dodgers have stayed as the top choice in Vegas.
The Detroit Tigers have the lowest World Series odds among American League teams, followed by the Washington Nationals at 8-1 and a trio of AL East teams (Red Sox, Yankees and Rays) at 12-1. The rest of the teams' odds are in the chart below.
In the point-spread sports of football and basketball, this is about the time we'd be breaking out the Vegas Rankings for handicappers to compare teams to arrive at a point spread. It's tougher to do that in baseball as starting pitchers have such a huge impact on the line for a given game. But we can still rank the teams to show their relative strength, and it seems just as easy to do that by listing the teams in order of their World Series odds. The chart also includes each team's over/under win totals (though those might be skewed a little due to uneven scheduling and the strength of the leagues).