The Houston Astros are the new favorites to win the World Series. Not that they'll be a popular pick.
Maybe some of the bad feelings about the cheating scandal, which included banging on trash cans to tip off pitches, has subsided. But those feelings will get a second run if the Astros beat the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS to make the World Series.
Those odds, and probably the favorite, will change as the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants settles on Thursday. But the Astros are an interesting story. Just imagine if they play the Dodgers again.
Astros take over as favorites
There were a lot of bad feelings, from fans and players alike, after the Astros' cheating scandal became public. The 2017 World Series, when the Astros beat the Dodgers, will have a historic footnote attached. Dodgers fans would say there's an asterisk.
The Astros still have some key players from that run, and they are close to making it back to the World Series. Here are the current odds:
Red Sox +400
The Astros are -160 to win the ALCS over the Red Sox. The way they dispatched the White Sox was impressive.
Of course, they might not be favorites for long.
Astros have had another good season
The Dodgers or Giants might vault ahead of the Astros as favorites once we know who moves on. The Dodgers clearly would. The Giants have been underrated all season, so we'd have to see with them.
If you want to bet the Astros, it might be smart to wait until we know who is playing in the NLCS. Their odds could rise after that.
There are good reasons to believe the Astros will win it all. Their lineup is strong from top to bottom. They have depth in the starting pitching rotation. They won 95 games for a reason. The Red Sox won't be an easy out, but it's no surprise Houston is favored to take that series.
But it might pain some baseball fans to bet on them to take another championship.