It may seem hard to believe if you live around Chicago, but baseball season is near.
Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this week, and Illinois sportsbooks have MLB futures odds available.
The White Sox and Cubs will begin their seasons in early April. The White Sox have World Series expectations, while the Cubs’ primary goal appears to be … to slash payroll?
2021 World Series odds
Here are the 2021 World Series odds from top Illinois operators.
As previously mentioned, the White Sox have big expectations.
The Southsiders have one of the most exciting young cores in baseball, featuring Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.
While most fans would have preferred that they spent more this offseason, the Sox still upgraded a few key spots, adding starting pitcher Lance Lynn and closer Liam Hendriks.
Top prospects Andrew Vaughn and Michael Kopech also figure to play key roles.
And we haven’t even mentioned Jose Abreu, the reigning AL MVP. Simply put, the Sox are loaded.
IL sportsbooks also have AL Central division winner odds listed, and PointsBet likes Chicago’s chances the most.
Here are the AL Central odds at PointsBet:
- Chicago White Sox: -150
- Minnesota Twins:+165
- Cleveland Indians: +750
- Detroit Tigers: +4,500
- Kansas City Royals: +5,000
The Sox are favored at every Illinois sportsbook to win the division, and the Twins are right behind them.
Last season, the Sox went 35-25 in the shortened 60-game regular season. Adjusted for a 162-game schedule, they played at a 94-win pace.
Chicago lost one key piece in James McCann. Beyond him, the Sox have upgraded multiple spots, so World Series hopes seem justified.
How about the Cubs?
The headlines aren’t quite as glitzy on the north side of town this offseason.
Theo Epstein bolted, and new lead baseball man Jed Hoyer promptly dealt ace Yu Darvish to the Padres for an underwhelming return.
Darvish was phenomenal last season, finishing 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA and a sub-1 WHIP.
The Cubs also opted not to re-sign Kyle Schwarber or Jon Lester, two members of the 2016 World Series squad. While Lester’s best days are behind them, the decision not to bring Schwarber back was curious.
Chicago added Joc Pederson in free agency to take his spot, and if Pederson can regain his 2019 form (.876 OPS) the Cubs may have gotten a steal.
However, Pederson posted a .681 OPS in 2020, hence why he was available.
The Cubs have a bevy of players who are hoping 2020 was just an uncharacteristic blip. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo all had their worst seasons in several years in 2020, and if they return to form, the Cubs can do damage.
This is a huge season for that trio, and it might be their last in Chicago.
Here are the Cubs’ NL Central odds over at FanDuel:
- St. Louis Cardinals: +105
- Cincinnati Reds: +330
- Milwaukee Brewers: +380
- Chicago Cubs: +400
- Pittsburgh Pirates: +5,000
The NL Central looked like a crapshoot heading into the offseason, but the Cardinals’ addition of Nolan Arenado separates them from the pack.
Cubs, White Sox individual player futures
There is some star power on both sides of town, and the odds reflect that.
Mike Trout is the favorite to win the AL MVP at DraftKings. Here’s where some White Sox players check in:
- Jose Abreu: +2,500
- Yoan Moncada: +2,500
- Luis Robert: +2,500
- Yasmani Grandal: +3,000
- Tim Anderson: +3,300
- Eloy Jimenez: +3,300
Mookie Betts and Juan Soto lead the NL MVP odds at +750. Here’s where a few Cubs are also listed:
- Kris Bryant: +3,000
- Anthony Rizzo: +3,000
- Javier Baez: +3,300
- Ian Happ: +4,000
- Willson Contreras: +10,000
How about the Cy Young? For the White Sox hurlers:
- Lucas Giolito: +450
- Lance Lynn: +1,700
- Dallas Keuchel: +2,200
- Dylan Cease: +4,000
And the Cubs:
- Jake Arrieta: +6,000
- Kyle Hendricks: +6,600
For those curious, Darvish is +1,000. The Cubs rotation is looking spotty heading into the year.
Regardless, it’s nice to be talking about baseball again. Once March Madness winds down, it’ll be time to start the 162-game marathon.