Let’s preface this by acknowledging that of course each MLB season is its own entity, that the past does not always portend the future. However, savvy bettors know to look for trends, and here’s one we spotted:
This decade only two teams that were World Series betting favourites in their league on Sept. 1 made it to the Fall Classic, let alone won it (that would be your 2016 Chicago Cubs). The other team was the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers.
So what does this mean for bettors? There are great opportunities in the baseball markets to wager on potential World Series matchups.
In the eight World Series so far this decade, 37.5 percent of the participants (6 of 16) were the third choice in their league on Sept. 1 to win the World Series: Cleveland Indians (2016), New York Mets (2015), St. Louis Cardinals (2013), San Francisco Giants (2012), Detroit Tigers (2012) and Texas Rangers (2010).
That’s double the amount of teams that were the second choice to win the World Series in their league (Houston Astros, 2017; Kansas City Royals, 2015; Boston Red Sox, 2013).
Nearly as stunning: 31.3 percent of the teams were the fifth (Giants, 2014; Royals, 2014; Rangers, 2011) or sixth (Cardinals, 2011; Giants, 2010) betting choice in their league on Sept. 1. In 2014, the top 2 choices in each league didn’t even make the League Championship Series.
Come the start of the playoffs, oddsmakers should have a pretty good handle on who is playing the best baseball. However, in a short five-game or seven-game series, funny things can happen.
Once again, looking at the data, the favourite from each league to win the title was not the most likely representative in the World Series. Only three made it to the World Series, with the 2013 Red Sox joining the aforementioned Cubs and Dodgers teams.
Far more common – and nearly 50 percent of the time (7 of 16 teams) were the second choice. Three times the third betting choice emerged and three times the longest shot in the field for each league made it to the World Series – including both 2014 participants.
So what does this mean? Well, if you want to stall and see how the teams look down the stretch, your odds will shrink and you are better off looking at the second choice of each league.
The Red Sox are the slight favourite in the American League at +350 on LINK Karamba, just ahead of the Astros at +400. They have been the best team in baseball and have an absolutely ruthless lineup, thanks to J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and a cast of many. They can just destroy mediocre pitching, even good pitching.
The problem is, they’ll see some great pitching in the playoffs. And with Chris Sale’s shoulder a concern and David Price – unproven in October as it is – with a bruised hand, there are concerns that stretch beyond a bullpen that has struggled at times this season.
We’d look to the second choice Astros and the third-choice Yankees as the teams with the most value. The defending champions have played great baseball of late and are, well, the defending champs. The Bronx Bombers have battled injuries all season, and the bullpen took a hit with closer Aroldis Chapman’s right knee tendinitis.
Still, the Yankees almost made it to the World Series and have added Giancarlo Stanton, Zach Britton, J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen and Gleyber Torres to that crew.
The NL favourites are the Cubs, who have some proven pitching in Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, plus Kyle Hendricks. They get timely hitting and could emerge with an easier path to the Series.
But if we’re looking for non-favourites, the Dodgers (+800), Diamondbacks (+1200) and Braves (+1400) should draw your attention. As of August 31, sportsbooks aren’t offering an Astros-Braves World Series matchup, and all the pity. We would through a few dollars in that direction. So keep an eye out in the coming days to see if that changes.
Could we see a rematch of last year? The Dodgers relievers struggled with Kelsey Jansen on the DL and he’s struggled since returning. But they are still in the picture and you’d be betting they figure things out and return to form. They have the talent.
The Diamondbacks have a nifty 1-2 offensive punch with Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta and have the second-best pitching in the NL behind the Dodgers.
If you are looking for a real flier, look at the sizzling St. Louis Cardinals and bet them at +3300 at SugarHouse to face the Astros.
If you are sold on a favorite getting through, you could look to bet Red Sox-Dodgers (+1400), Yankees-Cubs (+2000) or Astros-Cubs (+1200) at SugarHouse. And for those hoping for a Red Sox-Cubs World Series, you can get +1100 and bet on this season being different than recent history.
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