Preseason World Series Odds vs Actual Outcomes Since 1995
How often do preseason Moneyline darlings go on to win MLB World Series? If we classify a “preseason darling” as a team warranting odds of <+1000 to win the World Series, not many. According to the data, only 40% of the teams with <+1000 preseason odds to win the MLB World Series since 1995, have actually gone on to win the Fall Classic.
There are 10 teams that have accomplished this feat in the last 25 completed seasons:
1995 Atlanta Braves (+400)
1996 N.Y. Yankees (+700)
1998 N.Y. Yankees (+600)
1999 N.Y. Yankees (+200)
2000 N.Y. Yankees (+250)
2004 Boston Red Sox (+400)
2006 St. Louis Cardinals (+700)
2007 Boston Red Sox (+700)
2009 N.Y. Yankees (+500)
2016 Chicago Cubs (+660)
Over the last 25 seasons, The New York Yankees have been the team to play up to the hype of their preseason odds the most often. The Yankees represent 50% of our sample group. If your betting strategy is to roll with a preseason favorite in 2020, then the Bronx Bombers are your team. The Yankees’ odds to win the World Series are currently set at +350.
The Boston Red Sox account for 20% of the fulfilled prophecy, but they’re currently in the AL East basement. There is no reason to speculate Boston’s chances in 2020. The Red Sox’ odds are 50-1, and are far too long for the purpose of this article. We want to focus on the teams that occupy the sweet spot between top billing and a shot in hell.
If 40% of the teams lived up to preseason expectations, that means that 60% did not. Relative underdogs emerged along the way, and one of those teams won a title. What teams should we be taking a hard look at in 2020? There are a couple of relative underdogs that have serious postseason potential and are flying under the radar a bit.
This might be the last year that Chicago’s core group of players from the 2016 World Series championship team will be together. The Cubbies broke the curse in 2016, but face a different sort of demon in MLB’s Competitive Balance Tax (CBT). The Cubs’ organization has been subject to this luxury tax two years in a row. The front office has been adamant it will not suffer a three-peat.
Next season will likely find the Chicago Cubs looking unrecognizable and not competitive. The core players from the 2016 title team are aware, and are playing to win now. Guys like SP Jon Lester (1.06 ERA) and C Wilson Contreras (.311 BA) are playing like it’s their last day on Earth. 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, and OF Jason Heyward can still wreak havoc.
The Cubs (12-3) are currently in first place in the NL Central and have the highest winning percentage in MLB. The Cubbies are playing crazy good. Chicago has a deep, talented team that seems to share a “get it done” attitude. Securing Chicago at 15-1 (+1500) to win the World Series could be a real bargain. The pick feels right.
The Cleveland pitching staff alone is reason enough to investigate this choice. Indians pitchers lead the league with a 2.32 ERA and a whopping 15 quality starts. Cleveland is tied for second with seven saves, and opponents are hitting .196. When healthy, the Indians’ starters might be the best in all of baseball. No one wants to face SPs Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevenger, and Zach Plesac in a postseason series.
Cleveland’s offense is not elite, but it’s certainly serviceable behind the stellar pitching staff. Third baseman Jose Ramirez and SS Francisco Lindor are smashing the ball, and 2B Carlos Hernandez is playing well. Cleveland’s defense is worth mentioning, as well. The Indians rank 8th in fielding percentage at .989%.
The Indians (10-9) are third in the AL Central, but 2020 is a year of expanded playoffs. A COVID-19 shortened season, but expanded playoffs. A total of eight teams from each league will have a shot at earning a trip to the World Series. It’s quite possible that the AL Central will have three representatives in the postseason, the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, and Cleveland Indians.
The Indians (+2000) are currently listed at 20-1 odds to win the World Series. With Cleveland’s phenomenal pitching staff leading the way, it could be disastrous for whoever gets in the Indians’ way. A $50 bet on this would win you $1,000!!!
I’m picturing a World Series Game 7 in Wrigley Field on Halloween. A pitching duel between Lester and Bieber. What are the odds?