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Of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, Major League Baseball has the longest drought of having a repeat champion. That will continue in 2017 because the Los Angeles Dodgers knocked out the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS to reach their first World Series since 1988.
The Dodgers are -170 series betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com to beat the Houston Astros (+150) in the Fall Classic, which starts Tuesday in Los Angeles.
However, recent history says that the Dodgers won’t win the seventh title in franchise history. MLB’s Wild Card Era started in 1995 so this is year 23 of that period. Only five times in the previous 22 seasons has the team that finished with the best regular-season record or tied for it won the World Series. On the bright side for the Dodgers, the Cubs did it last year – although they had to rally from a 3-1 deficit to Cleveland. The other teams were the 1998 and 2009 Yankees, and the 2007 and 2013 Red Sox.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred changed the rule this season from the winning league in the All-Star Game getting home-field advantage in the World Series. It goes to the pennant winner with the best regular-season record. That worked out well for the Dodgers as the American League won the Midsummer Classic, but Los Angeles had the top regular-season mark at 104-58.
At one point, it looked as if the Dodgers might break the MLB record of 116 wins, but then they went on an 11-game losing streak in September. All is well now with just one playoff loss.
The Dodgers won the NLCS despite playing without arguably their best all-around position player in All- Star shortstop Corey Seager due to a back injury. He’s expected to be on the World Series roster.
Houston won 101 regular-season games, making this the first World Series to feature two clubs that reached the century mark since Orioles-Reds in 1970. The Astros are also the first team to reach the Fall Classic from both the American and National League. They went there in the NL in 2005 and were swept by the White Sox. Houston moved to the Junior Circuit for the 2013 season.
The Dodgers and Astros haven’t met since the 2015 regular season when Houston swept three at home. This series features the likely AL MVP in the Astros’ Jose Altuve and NL Rookie of the Year in the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, and perhaps the NL Cy Young winner in Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner, is lined up to start Game 1 vs. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young winner. Los Angeles is a -170 betting favorite on the Game 1 odds for Tuesday, with Houston the +145 underdog.