By Jesse Spector | | 4 mins
Why the Nationals May Be the Smart 2019 World Series Bet
The best team in the National League this regular season was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are -180 to win the pennant at William Hill and +225 to win the World Series, second choice to the Houston Astros. It makes plenty of sense that the oddsmakers like the team that’s been to the last two Fall Classics, is searching for a first championship since 1988 and remains as strong as ever.
That doesn’t mean that’s where your money should go.
The season is six months long, and a lot of things happen over the course of six months, including some very good teams getting off to bad starts.
2019 World Series Odds
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+225|
|New York Yankees||+400|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1400|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+3000|
All odds via William Hill US and current as of publication but subject to change. Check out the latest World Series odds and compare sportsbooks here.
Why the Nationals Can Win the World Series
Since the start of June, the team with the most wins in the National League is the Washington Nationals. Since the start of July, the team with the most wins in the National League is the Washington Nationals. Since the start of August, the team with the most wins in the National League is the Washington Nationals.
And since the start of September, the team with the most wins in the National League is … okay, it’s the Milwaukee Brewers, but the point here is that after basically playing themselves out of contention in the East by losing 31 of their first 50 games and falling 10 games out of first place before Memorial Day, the Nationals turned things around in a big way.
It would be cool if you could point to one move as the reason that the Nationals got their season on track, but as nicely as Gerardo Parra has performed as a fourth outfielder for Washington, his signing in May probably isn’t it. The Nationals did recognize the need for a bullpen overhaul at the trade deadline, bringing in Daniel Hudson from Toronto and Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from Seattle, but only Hudson has made a really positive impact.
Pitching Has Been a Strength
The thing is just that the Nationals are, like, really good. They have two Cy Young candidates in their rotation in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin was seventh among major league pitchers in wins above replacement by Baseball-Reference’s formula.
Sean Doolittle hasn’t had his best year as a closer, but he and Hudson at the end of games are a very strong pair, while Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero rack up lots of strikeouts in their bullpen roles.
Lineup is Loaded Too
Then there’s the lineup, where Anthony Rendon has a legitimate case for MVP, even though he probably won’t win it, Juan Soto is legitimately a superstar at the age of 20, and there are no soft spots outside of the pitchers – and even then, Strasburg and Scherzer both cracked double-digit hits this year.
This season Washington set a National League record, tying a major league record along with this year’s Blue Jays and Twins, by having nine players hit 15 or more home runs – and that does not include Asdrubal Cabrera, who hit 12 dingers in 93 games with the Texas Rangers before launching another half-dozen upon his return to Washington in August.
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Nationals World Series Odds Hold Great Value
The Nationals don’t have an obvious weakness, and while playoff baseball has a way of exposing weaknesses in teams as they’re eliminated one by one, it’s also why you can look at teams with middling rotations like the Brewers and Twins, or not enough pop in their lineup like the Cardinals, and happily go forward without considering them.
Are the Nationals the most likely team to win the World Series? No, they are not. That’s the Astros, who are favorites at +200.
But is Washington more likely to win the World Series than Atlanta (+850), Minnesota (+1000), or Oakland (+1600)? It’s hard to say no there, and that’s why, even though they’ll have to get through a wild-card game and then the Dodgers in the division series, the Nationals at +1800 are the best bet on the board.