MLB Season Kick-Off: The Betting Favourites

With a freshly minted MLB Season just around the corner, follow Bodog as we dig into the dirt and talk all things betting favourites. Batter-up.

Spring is here, and with it comes a fresh new season of baseball. It’s been too long since we watched the Texas Rangers surprise the MLB betting world by winning the World Series as a wild card team. Their opponent, the Arizona Diamondbacks—another wild card team, had a .519 win percentage during the regular season, which was lower than the Rangers’ .556. To make the Fall Classic, the Rangers had to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros, pulling off upsets on the road in the majority of the matchups.


The Rangers won three straight in Arizona, after splitting the first two, to claim the franchise’s first World Series title. In Game 5, fans were treated to an incredible pitching duel between Diamondbacks’ ace Zac Gallen, who didn’t allow a hit through six innings, and Rangers’ Nathan Eovaldi. After a flawless performance through 19 batters, Gallen stumbled surrendering three straight hits, beginning with Rangers’ star shortstop Corey Seager, which ultimately shifted the game’s momentum. In the end, Corey Seager won MVP for his performance in the series.

This season, the Rangers (+1100) are just outside of the top five World Series favourites board at Bodog. Their 2023 roster is mostly returning to the field for 2024; however, their starting rotation is a little shaky due to injuries. Seager is still recovering from sports hernia surgery, and 3B Josh Jung suffered a calf injury in spring training. We’ll take a look at the five teams ahead of the Rangers with the best odds of winning the 2024 World Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers +300

Last season, the Dodgers finished with a 100-62 record and the division title despite a big chunk of their starters suffering injuries, including two season-ending injuries to pitcher. They made it to the first round of the postseason, where they lost to the Diamondbacks—the same outcome as the year before.

The brass opened their pocketbooks and spent over a billion dollars in the offseason to bring in elite talent, none more significant than two-way Japanese phenom Shohei “Shotime” Ohtani. Instantly, the Dodgers rocketed to the front of the futures market for the World Series title. Ohtani alone is costing them $700,000,000 over a 10-year deal—more than any other player in MLB history.

Ohtani won’t be pitching in 2023; the superstar underwent elbow surgery last September to correct a UCL tear. He’s allowed to hit during his rehab and is the Dodgers’ designated hitter. Ohtani will be part of an incredible lineup that includes MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, giving him World Series aspirations for the first time since joining the MLB. The trio is arguably going to be the greatest top of the lineup in MLB history. Last season, Ohtani led the AL in homeruns (44) and on-base percentage (.412).

With Ohtani taking the designated hitter role, Dodgers’ All-Star slugger, 36-year-old JD Martinez left in free agency and eventually signed with the Mets.

The Dodgers had to address their pitching situation from last season. They no longer have Julio Urias and Noah Syndergaard, who put up a 6.50 ERA in 18 starts in 2023. Their top two will be Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with Yamamoto coming over from the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan on a 12-year $325 million contract this offseason. Although his debut game failed to impress (took the loss against the Padres), management is optimistic that he’ll bounce back and adjust to the changes between American and Japanese baseball.

Atlanta Braves +500

Regular Season Win Total: 101.5

After dominating the majors in the 2023 regular season to a tune of 104 wins, the Braves were pitted against the Philadelphia Phillies in the divisional round of the postseason. They were -205 favourites to win the series, but unfortunately for them, injuries struck at the worst possible moment—just like the year prior. Starting pitcher Max Fried came back from an injury just in time to start Game 2, but was not his regular self. Pitcher Charlie Morton went down in the last week of the regular season and was completely unavailable to the team.

More significant was the absence of offensive firepower that the team was known for during the regular season; in their three series losses, they mustered just three runs.

It’s quite possible that the Braves’ offense could come back harder and stronger this year. Outfielder Michael Harris and 3B Austin Riley were ascending in the second half of the 2023 season and could reach new heights in 2024. After getting through a slump, Harris put forth an incredible 100-game span that included a .912 OPS and 16 homeruns.

As for Riley, he came up clutch in the only game the Braves won against the Phillies in the divisional round when he smacked a two-run homer in the eighth inning.

They certainly benefit from having the league’s top hitter in Ronald Acuna Jr. He racked up 41 homeruns and 73 stolen bases, winning NL MVP.  Acuna finished just three spots ahead of his teammate, Matt Olsen (54 HRs), and six spots ahead of Riley. And if those three weren’t enough, designated hitter, Marcell Ozuna tallied 40 homers during the regular season.

Pitcher Spencer Strider followed up his promising 2022 rookie season with his first full season as a starter. He led the league in strikeouts (281) and performed well in the postseason despite getting virtually no run support from the team.

The Braves bring back largely the same roster, but added veteran Chris Sale and 24-year-old Jarred Kelenic in the offseason. They fortified their bullpen, securing relievers Pierce Johnson (two-year deal) and Joe Jimenez (three-year deal). Just like with the Dodgers, this year will be a “World Series or bust” kind of season for the Braves.

Houston Astros +900

Regular Season Win Total: 92.5

With the success that the Astros have had in the last decade, they’re consistently plagued by lofty expectations, and this year is no different. Anything short of a World Series appearance (or a win) will be a disappointment for the franchise, as they’ll be keen to progress further than their ALCS elimination in 2023 and maintain their record-setting streak of seven straight ALCS appearances.

In last year’s ALDS, they eliminated the Minnesota Twins and faced the Texas Rangers in a series that went to seven games. The Astros’ greatest challenges was performing in front of their own fans; they finished the regular season 39-42 at Minute Maid Park and didn’t fare any better in the postseason.

It’s the start of a new era in Houston, as Joe Espada stepped in as manager for the recently-retired Dusty Baker. While this is Espada’s first time in the managerial role, he’s been Houston’s dugout bench coach for several years.

Espada recently spoke with reporters about Justin Verlander’s return from injury, where he reported that the veteran righty should return early in the season after suffering from shoulder inflammation during spring training. The Astros brought the ace back after letting him go in free agency last year when pitching injuries mounted. They’re still dealing with a long list of injured starting pitchers, but now have the depth to manage it. A recent update on righty Jose Urquidy gave the reassuring news that there are no serious problems with his elbow ligament; they expect him to return soon—likely in late April or early May. Lance McCullers won’t be back until July, and Luis Garcia is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

By contrast, the Astros will start the season with an even stronger bullpen than last year. They dropped a small fortune to bring in relief pitcher Josh Hader, who signed a five-year, $95 million deal. Hader, Ryan Pressly, the Astros former closer, and Brian Abreu, will be a formidable late-inning trio that will come in handy in the postseason.

Houston’s franchise player Jose Altuve was re-signed to a $125 million five-year deal this offseason and will almost certainly finish his career exclusively as an Astro—welcome news after the team parted ways with catcher Martin Maldonado, a true leader in the locker room. Maldonado signed with the Chicago White Sox.

New York Yankees +900

Regular Season Win Total: 92.5

2023 was not a good year for the Yankees. They finished the season 82-80 and missed the postseason for the first time in seven years. The glaring problem was the absence of league MVP Aaron Judge. While he was in the lineup, everything was good, and the team went 57-46, but without him, the offense dried up and they dropped to 25-31.

Judge played exceptionally well in his shortened 106-game stint, racking up 37 homeruns, 88 walks and spitting out a 5.3-WAR. Keeping Judge healthy is paramount for the Yankees’ success, but they can’t control everything. To help, they added elite slugger and 3X All-Star Juan Soto in the offseason. Judge and Soto should be enough to lessen the impact of injuries and get the Yankees back in the playoffs. They’ll slot in the batting lineup after veteran DJ LeMahieu.

Other injury concerns include ace Gerrit Cole. While he won’t need Tommy John surgery, he does need three-to-four-weeks of rest and rehab to treat his nerve inflammation and edema in his elbow before re-joining the Yankees, likely in late May or early June. The rotation beyond Cole has been shaky and includes Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Marcus Stroman, who they signed in the offseason.

Cole has served as the Opening Day starting pitcher the last four years, but with him on IR, they settled on Nestor Cortes, after Stroman passed on the offer. Beyond Cole, injured players for Opening Day include: LeMahieu, who’s working through a bone bruise on his right foot sustained in spring training, potentially Judge, who has been struggling with an abdomen injury, and now Anthony Rizzo, who was out for much of 2023 with concussion problems.

The team is hoping that lefty starting pitcher Carlos Rodon has a bounce-back season after struggling through much of 2023. He had a career season in 2022 with the Giants, finishing sixth-place in NL CY Young Award voting, but after making the jump to the Yankees and starting the season on the IL, he was unable to return to form and finished with a 6.85 ERA.

Baltimore Orioles +950

Regular Season Win Total: 90.5

It’s such an exciting time to be a Baltimore Orioles fan. They had an incredible season in 2023 that included reaching the 100-win mark for the first time since 1980, finishing with a 101-61 record, two games ahead of their division rivals, the Rays. The Orioles clinched the AL East title which granted them a bye in the postseason wild card round. Kyle Bradish, the standout rookie pitcher from 2022, showed major signs of development over the season, recording a 2.83 ERA in 30 starts (4.90 in 23 starts in 2022). Overall, they had the seventh-best ERA in the league (3.89) during the regular season.

However, they didn’t have an ace and that proved problematic in the postseason. The Orioles faced the Rangers in the ALDS and were swept in three games; their ERA plummeted to 7.27 in that span.

Management got to work in the offseason addressing two urgent needs: acquiring a solid closer and an ace. With their star closer, Felix Bautista out for the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, options were limited. They made two blockbuster trades by signing veteran relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel to a one-year $13 million deal, and acquiring former Cy Young winner, Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers. Kimbrel will close after setup men Yennier Cano and Danny Coulombe.

Although those stars take up much of the headlines in Baltimore, there’s quiet excitement around Gunnar Henderson. Henderson won AL Rookie of the Year in 2023 thanks to a standout performance that included two four-hit games. He also blasted a 462-foot homerun at Camden Yards, breaking the record for the furthest hit in the history of the ball park.

With the 2023 season such a success, the Orioles have proven that their window for World Series contention is open now. Get in your bets now at Bodog Sportsbook while the value is best.