Even though it’s not even the All-Star break in the Major League Baseball season, the action on World Series futures is moving fairly steadily. The favorites have mostly held their positions, though, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have had the top odds to carry the World Series this season. At most major sportsbetting sites, for example, the Dodgers are 13/2 favorites. However, the Washington Nationals have moved into a tie with them, also featuring 13/2 odds to win the titles. Just behind them are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals, both sitting at 15/2.
Let’s look at the standings to see how logical these odds are playing out. The Dodgers are 37-28 as of June 17, leading the National League West by 2 1/2 games over the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals, with slightly higher odds, have a 43-21 record, seven ahead of Los Angeles in the loss column. So why wouldn’t the odds be better for St. Louis than for Los Angeles?
A Look at the 2015 Major League Baseball Future Odds
A lot of it comes down to the dynamics of postseason baseball. In the regular season, a team has to use at least five starting pitchers to get all the way through 162 games. With injuries, spot starts and other factors, that number can get as high as 10 or 12, even in a year when a team doesn’t send too many people to the disabled list. However, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost one of their best pitchers, Adam Wainwright, to a freak injury early in the season when he tore his Achilles tendon during an at-bat (as the hitter). So they would have less firepower on the mound with which to counter the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. In a seven-game series, an ace can start three times if necessary.
The same is true for the Washington Nationals. Even though they’re not even first in the NL East and are currently only three games over .500, the perception is that tools like Bryce Harper and Steven Strasburg could dominate a playoff series much more easily than an entire season. This is one reason why they’re co-favorites in Vegas.
But what about the Kansas City Royals? Yes, thanks to a rabid fan base, they have 8 players slated to start the All-Star Game next month. But they lost their biggest name in the rotation – James Shields – to free agency. Yes, they’re 36-25 (as of June 17) with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, but the Detroit Tigers just lurk four games back in that division, and their best pitcher, Justin Verlander, just made his first start of the season, and Victor Martinez is going to come back from injury. So even though the Royals have a +53 run differential, they could be about to run into some real trouble.
But once again, this is why it’s called a gamble, and this is why the rewards for winning are so high. After all, a 13/2 proposition brings you more than six times what you put into it, plus your original stake. So if you have the money to put down and you really think the Dodgers can make it all the way through, no matter how many bad faces manager Don Mattingly makes, then that could be the bet for you. It would be interesting, though, to see how many favorites on June 17 have ended up actually winning the World Series. If it were that easy to predict winners, then the sports books would be driven out of business.