The Chicago Cubs (53-35) appeared to be rolling toward their first World Series title since 1908 as the clear-cut favorites on the betting futures at the sportsbooks. But now a pair of other National League teams have more wins than the Cubs heading into the MLB All-Star break and look to be serious threats to extend the longstanding drought of the lovable losers.
Chicago, however, is still listed as a +350 favorite (bet $100 to win $350) at online sportsbook Bovada despite losing 15 of 21 games.
The Cubs have also dropped nine of 11 but lead the NL Central by seven games over the St. Louis Cardinals (46-42) and 7.5 over the Pittsburgh Pirates (46-43). They were 47-20 back on June 19 before getting swept in three games by the Cardinals (+3300 to win the World Series), who won the division a year ago while the Pirates (+5000) also finished with a better record.
Chicago ended up beating Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card game and St. Louis in the NL Division Series last season before falling to the New York Mets (47-41) in the NL Championship Series.
The Mets swept the Cubs in four games behind their stellar pitching, although injuries have hurt them in their bid to win the NL East for a second consecutive year. New York is +1800 to win the World Series behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants (57-33) and Washington Nationals (54-36), who lead the division over them and the Miami Marlins (47-41) by six games.
The Giants are the +550 second choice to win the World Series behind Chicago while the Nationals (+900) are fifth with the American League’s Texas Rangers (54-36) and Cleveland Indians (52-36) both checking in at +700.
San Francisco is trying to win the World Series for the fourth time in seven seasons and has won the championship in the past three even-numbered years. With the addition of Johnny Cueto alongside 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner in their starting rotation, the Giants figure to have the best shot of any team in baseball of keeping the Cubs from winning it all. The Marlins are much longer shots to win the World Series at +5000.
The AL pennant race is a lot more wide open with 11 of the league’s 15 teams currently .500 or better. Four of the five teams in the AL East and Central have at least as many wins as losses, setting up for an exciting second half.
The most competitive race down the stretch will likely come in the AL East, where the Baltimore Orioles (51-36), Boston Red Sox (49-38) and Toronto Blue Jays (51-40) are all more than 10 games over the .500 mark. The Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays are each listed at +1400 to win the World Series.
In the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers (46-43), Chicago White Sox (45-43) and defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals (45-43) are chasing the division-leading Indians. Of that group, the Royals have the best chance to catch Cleveland according to oddsmakers at +2000 to repeat as MLB champs ahead of the Tigers (+3000) and White Sox (+5000).