Surprise: Astros the early favorite to win 2018 World Series

The Houston Astros wound up being the best team in baseball in 2017, so it only makes sense they would be favored heading into next season. A day after their first World Series championship, the Astros are the favorite to win the 2018 World Series.

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Those odds come courtesy of Bovada. The Astros top their list, with the runner-up Los Angeles Dodgers again in second.

The Astros are favored to repeat in 2018. (Screenshot courtesy of Bovada)

Are you shocked? Probably not. It makes sense. The team that wins the World Series is usually in good shape the following year.

Still, that probably wasn’t the only factor here. Keep in mind, these odds came out the day after the World Series ended. The offseason, and free agency, have yet to really start — though no one told Justin Upton and the Los Angeles Angels.

Bovada probably shouldn’t predict free agency, so they have to consider what each team will look like if they make no moves. The Astros do really well here. The team will lose five players in the offseason — Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano and Luke Gregerson — but none were integral to their on-field success. Without those guys, the Astros are still pretty formidable. And those talents can be replaced.

The Astros are set up to win it all again in 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Dodgers are actually set up pretty well too … just not as good as Houston. The team is set to lose Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. There are a few more departing players, but those three really stand out. All three played big roles in the team’s success this year. Yes, we’re including Darvish. He pitched poorly in the World Series, but they may not have made it there without him.

You can count on the Dodgers to go out and spend money to bring in elite talent, so it’s possible they can overtake the Astros in the odds in a few weeks. Houston isn’t known for spending a ton, though a new World Series trophy may motivate them a little more.

The next group behind those two teams includes the following five teams: Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. No arguments here.

There are actually a couple longer shots that could make interesting cases depending on how the offseason goes. The Colorado Rockies made the wild-card game in 2017 and are listed at 40/1. The San Francisco Giants have the same odds … and we’re honestly not sure how they were awful in 2017. A rebound is possible.

The Baltimore Orioles have exceeded expectations in the past, so they could be a decent long shot. The Angels just signed Upton and still have Mike Trout, so anything can happen. And the Texas Rangers could bounce back after a down year. Same for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Oh, and the wild-card Minnesota Twins are down there too.

If anything, that probably goes to show just how much the offseason matters. With one tweak or two, any of those clubs could see their chances rise dramatically.

Last year at this time, Bovada had the Astros ninth in their odds. Both Colorado and Minnesota were buried, and they each made the postseason.

Anything can happen this winter, obviously. With that said, it’s tough to argue with the team the Astros built.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!