Shohei Ohtani vaults Dodgers to World Series favourites

AFP

The Los Angeles Dodgers vaulted to the favourites to win the 2024 World Series after bestowing the largest contract in Major League Baseball history upon Shohei Ohtani.

The Dodgers were among the title favourites as they pursued Ohtani, including being offered at +800 by BetMGM. That placed them behind the Atlanta Braves, but that changed after the Japanese superstar agreed to a 10-year, $700 million contract to leave the cross-town Los Angeles Angels.

The Dodgers vaulted to the +550 World Series favorites at the book, followed by the Braves (+650) and New York Yankees (+950). Before the blockbuster Ohtani signing, the Yankees had completed the biggest offseason move with the acquisition of outfielder Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres.

Ohtani's signing shifted the balance of power in the National League, where the Dodgers are now the +275 favorites to win the pennant ahead of the Braves (+375) and Philadelphia Phillies (+500).

The Yankees are the co-favorites to win the American League at +450 along with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays' odds had shortened in recent days with reports that Ohtani was strongly considering Toronto, but they went from +900 to +1400 to win the World Series after losing out to the Dodgers.

Even still, the Blue Jays have shorter odds to win the AL pennant than the Houston Astros and the reigning champion Texas Rangers at +500.

Ohtani was the first major free-agent domino to fall, and now the race will be on among the other contenders to bolster their rosters in an attempt to keep pace.

Ohtani, 29, won his second AL MVP award this past season when he batted .304 with an AL-leading 44 homers with 95 RBIs in 135 games with the Angels. He led the AL with a .412 on-base percentage and led the majors with a .654 slugging percentage.

As a pitcher, Ohtani went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and recorded 167 strikeouts over 132 innings (23 starts). He limited opposing batters to a .184 average.

Ohtani's pitching efforts ended after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on August 23. He continued playing as a batter until sustaining an oblique injury on Sept. 3.

Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-September for the second time and isn't expected to pitch in 2024. He also had the procedure in the fall of 2018.

With the signing, BetMGM also moved the Dodgers' win total market from 101.5 games to 103.5.

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