Posted on: March 29, 2023, 11:25h.
Last updated on: March 29, 2023, 11:43h.
After a long winter without baseball, spring training is over and Opening Day is upon us. The Houston Astros are the betting favorite to win the World Series in consecutive seasons at +600 odds. The Astros are fighting against an MLB historical trend as they attempt to become repeat World Series champions for the first time in 23 seasons.
The defending champion Astros lead six teams at the top of DraftKings’ MLB futures board. All six teams, including the New York Yankees (+750), Atlanta Braves (+750), Los Angeles Dodgers (+850), New York Mets (+950), and San Diego Padres (+950) make a strong case to win the World Series.
The Astros lost starting second baseman Jose Altuve for at least two months to start the season. Altuve fractured his hand during the World Baseball Classic, but his injury didn’t change the MLB futures market. The Astros are the betting favorite to win the American League pennant for a third-straight season at +310 odds. The Yankees are +370 odds as their closest completion.
The Astros went 106-56 last season but have a win total of 95.5 over/under in 2023 according to DraftKings. It’s the highest win total in the AL, and the Astros are tied with the Dodgers with the best overall projected win total in baseball at 95.5.
Recent Domination: Astros and Dodgers
In the era of advanced analytics and hyper-free agency, it’s extremely difficult to maintain a consistent roster and repeat as World Series champions. To put that in perspective, eight different teams won the World Series between 2014 and 2021. None of them were able to successfully defend their title.
Since 2017, the Astros and the Dodgers have been the two most dominant teams in baseball, yet they only have three championships combined.
The Astros made four World Series appearances in the last six seasons, and they only secured two championships including last season.
The Dodgers made three World Series appearances between 2017 and 2020, but they only won one championship during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020. The 2022 postseason was a heartbreaker for the Dodgers. They pulled off a franchise-best 111 wins last year, but were eliminated in the National League Divisional Series. The San Diego Padres, their NL division rival to the south, defeated the Dodgers in four games.
A year after they won 111 games, the Dodgers have strong competition in the National League this season. The Atlanta Braves are actually the favorite to win the NL pennant at +370 odds, and the Dodgers are second on DraftKings’ futures board at +425 odds. The New York Mets and San Diego Padres are close behind at +475 odds to win the NL pennant and secure a spot in the 2023 World Series.
Repeat World Series Champions in Free Agency Era
There hasn’t been a repeat World Series champion in the 21st Century. The Yankees were the last team to win consecutive championships when they pulled off a three-peat after winning the World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
In the last 50 years, since the inception of free agency in 1972, there were only five instances when a team won consecutive titles.
The Oakland A’s won the World Series in three-straight seasons between 1972 and 1974, and the Cincinnati Reds, aka the Big Red Machine, won consecutive titles in 1975 and 1976.
The Yankees won back-to-back championships in 1977 and 1978 thanks to the addition of brash slugger Reggie Jackson in free agency. Jackson was a vital piece of the A’s three-peat at the beginning of the decade before he led the Yankees to back-to-back championships. The Yankees also pulled off three consecutive championships, and the last-ever three-peat, at the end of the century between 1998-2000.
The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in back-to-back seasons in 1993 and 1994. A baseball strike occurred in 1995, and the Blue Jays were unable to win three in a row.
If you want to dig deeper into the history books and go back 100 years, the Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics were the only repeat champions between 1923 and 1971.
The Yankees dominated baseball by winning the World Series in consecutive seasons, including back-to-back wins in 1927-28, four-straight titles between 1936-39, five in a row during the “Damn Yankees” run between 1949-53, and another back-to-back performance in 1961-62.
During the post-World War I era and the pre-free agent era, the Philly A’s are the only other franchise to win back-to-back World Series titles in 1929 and 1930.
Repeat Champs in Dead-Ball Era
One of the coolest things about baseball is its rich history, and you can compare statistics from players dating back to the late 1800s. Even if you look back to the first 15 seasons since the inception of the World Series in 1903, it was still difficult to win consecutive championships prior to World War I.
The first World Series occurred in 1903 between the American League and National League. Each league had eight teams, and MLB consisted of only 16 teams. Only three franchises won back-to-back championships in the 1910s, when pitching dominated baseball. The game was also played in bigger ballparks during MLB’s “Dead-Ball Era,” which ended in 1919.
The Chicago Cubs, led by the legendary pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, were the first repeat World Series champion with back-to-back crowns in 1907 and 1908. The Philadelphia A’s, led by infamous manager Connie Mack, won the World Series in 1910 and 1911.
The Boston Red Sox won back-to-back titles in 1915 and 1916 when Babe Ruth was a star pitcher, and before he joined the Yankees to become the Sultan of Swat.
In 1961, the MLB underwent its first expansion from 16 to 18 teams. In 1962, they added two new franchises and pro baseball expanded to 20 teams. In 1969, divisional play was introduced after the MLB expanded to 24 teams. MLB currently has 30 teams.
Since the first World Series, a team repeated as champion in only 14 instances in the last 120 years. The Astros begin this new season by attempting to etch their names in the history books as the 15th repeat champion.