Well, just like that, the 2023 MLB season is officially behind us. With their relatively easy 4-1 World Series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Texas Rangers — led by two-time WS MVP Corey Seager — took home their first championship in franchise history after a thoroughly impressive run through the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
So, while Texas fans continue to rejoice over their title, the conclusion of the Fall Classic means that the new MLB league season is upon us. Free agency is opening up, and all eyes are geared toward the 2024 regular season when hope springs eternal, at least for most of the 30 MLB teams. With that comes the publishing of the 2024 World Series odds list, which is a great thing to look over to distract you from the fact that spring training is still months away.
Unsurprisingly, the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers top the list despite their disappointing postseason performances in 2023. The Rangers — looking to be the first repeat champion in MLB since the New York Yankees won three-straight titles from 1998 to 2000 — are a little further down but still should be in the mix with their loaded lineup. Who else can end their respective title droughts? Let’s take a look and make some World Series predictions.
It’s not a huge surprise that these are the teams with the best MLB odds to win the World Series in 2024, and they happen to be the winners of each World Series before this past season. The Braves were by far the best team in MLB in 2023, and it was pretty stunning to see them fold the way they did against the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series. But, they have their stacked offensive core locked up — seemingly for perpetuity — and have plenty of pitching options to turn to. They won’t be going anywhere.
The Dodgers were maybe the biggest surprise, in a negative way, of the playoffs as the Diamondbacks swept them in the NLDS. Starting pitching health is a massive question for Los Angeles and will continue until guys like Dustin May and Walker Buehler return from injury, which they should do at some point in 2024.
Possibly adding Shohei Ohtani should help that strong lineup but even he will be limited to DH duties, which were handled very well by J.D. Martinez (who is now a free agent). Andrew Friedman’s team will still need to have an active offseason in order to prevent another postseason disaster.
The Astros had two chances — at home — to win their third-straight American League pennant but their pitching just ran out of juice in the ALCS. The World Series odds are smart not to doubt Houston’s ability to climb back up the mountain, but it’s fair to question if the Astros really can keep this up, considering that they have now made seven straight ALCS appearances.
There are holes in the lineup and some cracks beginning to show in the rotation, and they’ll need to replace the retiring Dusty Baker, so the contention window isn’t wide open. For now, though, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against this team. +800 is great value.
After the Rangers held off the Astros in Game 7, this grouping was widely expected to be the World Series matchup until the Diamondbacks had other plans. Philadelphia, for the second-consecutive year, parlayed a Wild Card berth into a thrilling postseason run behind the two-headed monster of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola on the mound, a strong bullpen, and a slugging lineup.
That lineup fell silent against Arizona in Games 6 and 7, though, and now Nola is a free agent. This team shouldn’t take a huge step back, but Nola’s possible departure would create an enormous rotation hole and would hurt their 2024 World Series odds even more.
The Rangers, the champs themselves, do have some key pending free agents, yet it’s not hard to see them continuing to stay competitive. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are as reliable as middle infielders get on offense and defense, while the young bats of Nathaniel Lowe, Josh Jung, Evan Carter and Leody Taveras aren’t going anywhere.
And, of course, you can’t forget about postseason sensation Adolis García, who has blossomed into a superstar. The rotation is old and injury-prone, but Texas made it work even without getting contributions from guys like Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. And, it’s clear that Chris Young has the green light to spend on whoever he wants. Even in a top-heavy AL West, the Rangers won’t fade.
Best Of The Rest
It’s tough to really separate the teams in this group from one another despite the 2024 World Series odds lumping them all together. The Orioles are loaded with young talent, particularly on offense, and they took a big step in 2023.
However, they have a lot of pitching questions that need to be answered, especially in the bullpen, where they won’t have All-Star closer Félix Bautista for the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. There’s also the concern of regression to the mean after so many guys had career offensive years.
Baltimore will also need to contend with the likes of the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays (and to a lesser extent, the Boston Red Sox) in a brutal AL East. Toronto and New York were big disappointments but they should be active in the offseason and are poised to bounce back. The Yankees will be firmly in the mix for Juan Soto and could be MLB players for Ohtani (or at least some of the other big-name Japanese free agents) as well.
The Padres are an interesting one. They didn’t make the postseason either and may trade Soto (and will likely lose Blake Snell in free agency), but the roster is still outstanding on paper. They also were historically bad in extra-inning games, one-run games, and with runners in scoring position.
Each of those is an indication that their record was a good bit worse than their on-field play deserved to be. It doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically improve, just that there is a strong basis to believe that they’ll be a bit luckier regarding game results.
Even though no one is really expecting Arizona to make another World Series appearance in 2024, the Diamondbacks deserve a mention here. They went just 84-78 in the 2023 regular season but, in the postseason, all of their young talent at the plate — and in the field and on the basepaths — took full display, as did their complement of developing arms.
Arizona needs much more pitching depth going forward and could use another power bat — bringing J.D. Martinez back as a primary DH would be a great idea — to complement the impressive core and compete with the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West.