We are nearing the quarter-pole of a seven-plus month MLB season, and while it is still early, I am taking a look at MLB betting trends and the big movers on the World Series odds board.
Going into this weekend’s action, there are only seven American League teams with sub-.500 records. On the other side of that coin, there are only six teams on the Senior Circuit that have a winning mark. And while the pendulum is on different ends in the different leagues, you can still see the parity in both. The Twins (50-1), Tigers (150-1), Orioles (100-1), Diamondbacks (200-1), and the Rockies (200-1) are the only teams that are more than eight games out in their division….and no team in all of MLB is more than 10 games over .500 (Giants, 28-16). A lot of teams right now are hanging out at around .500, and that has seemed to keep the 2021 World Series odds mostly steady. Note that MLB is going back to its previous playoff format with five playoff teams from each league, including the one-game Wild Card.
“Who woulda thunk it?” With one of the best records in the Bigs, the Red Sox are one of the few teams to significantly shorten their World Series odds. With few preseason expectations, Boston opened at 60-1 to win another World Series crown. The Sox opened the season by getting swept by the Orioles and then reeled off nine straight en route to the top spot in the AL East. As of this writing, Boston is now 20-1 to win the World Series.
The biggest mover on that end, though, is, of course, the Giants. Picked by most to finish 4th in the NL West, San Francisco is 14-4 at home so far and is in front of both the loaded Padres and the champion Dodgers in the standings. They opened at 100-1 and are now sitting at 40-1 to win it all. They still have a tough road ahead, but preseason Giants bettors have to like where they sit at this point.
The Brew Crew has also made a lot of early-season noise. At 21-22, they are currently in 3rd place in the NL Central (four games behind St. Louis). Milwaukee opened at 60-1 and has climbed all the way to 22-1 to win their first World Series title. This is going to be a tight race as the Cubs (66-1 open, 50-1 current) have also inserted themselves into the picture.
And though the Royals currently sit in 3rd place in the AL Central, they are only six games back and have seen their odds jump from 100-1 to 45-1, and now back to 66-1 after a recent slump. The AL Central could be a very interesting race down the stretch on its own, especially if the Twins can right the ship.
“Take it with a grain of salt.” Another interesting side to the World Series odds now vs. then, and knowing what we know now, is that not much has changed on the top end. In spite of dropping 13 of 17 earlier this month, and being in 3rd place in the NL West, the Dodgers’ odds to repeat have actually improved slightly, opening at 3.5-1 and holding strong now at 13-4. The Yankees got off to a slow start, and their odds, even with Boston’s strong start in front of them, have only gone from 5.5-1 to 7-1. And with Bombers starting to heat up, you can imagine it going back down towards the opening line.
Also in the National League, the Mets, who have only recently climbed above .500 and who I think most expected more from at this point, have held steady at 9-1 (opened at 10-1). The Cardinals have also maintained their 20-1 odds (opened at 25-1) through the first part of the season. The Cards are in 1st place right now, and I would expect the price on them to drop should they remain in 1st for much longer.
“The future ain’t what it used to be.” With so many teams bunched in the standings, there haven’t been many major falls down the World Series odds board. While some teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers may not be playing up to expectations right now, it’s fairly safe to say they will be competing for the World Series when it comes down to it. A few teams, though, have shown us their true colors, and their odds to win the World Series are reflecting it. Picked by most to finish 1st or 2nd in the AL Central are the Minnesota Twins, and after stumbling to an 15-28 start, their odds to win the title have dropped from 16-1 to 50-1.
The Nationals are stacked with talent, but missed games from some of their biggest stars have them in last place in the NL East, but they are still just 4.5 games behind the division-leading Mets. If they can get their full squad on the field for any stretch of time, the 66-1 odds on the Nats to win the World Series holds excellent value, especially since they opened at 35-1.
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” Preseason futures bets are always risky due to the unknown. Betting MLB futures mid-season, though, is a great way to put to use the information we have obtained through a small, yet useful sample size. Most of the teams you may have been on before the season (the Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Yankees, Padres, etc.) are all at relatively the same price, so firing on them now would actually be more advantageous. You’re armed with more information, and you still get them at roughly the same odds.
With other teams, you will need to analyze the line value. Getting the Red Sox at 100-1 before the season started would have been great compared to the 20-1 you’d get them at today. Though, if they remain in 1st place for a couple of more months, 20-1 will probably look really good then.
While some of the pretenders are still being exposed, the contenders are all hanging in there.