Now that four teams have hit the midway point of their 60-game schedules, it's a good time to evaluate the current World Series odds and make some observations.
One item of note: Only three National League teams are listed among the top 10 favourites and they will be the focus of this article.
If the season were to end today (August 24, 2020), the following teams would be in:
-- division winners Los Angeles Dodgers (4.5:1); Atlanta Braves (14:1); and Chicago Cubs (16:1);
-- division runners-up St. Louis Cardinals (36:1); San Diego Padres (41:1); and Miami Marlins (151:1);
-- and wild cards Colorado Rockies (41:1) and San Francisco Giants (201:1).
The New York Mets (31:1) are tied with San Francisco and Colorado but sport a lower winning percentage.
Ironically, in addition to the Mets, the next best odds after the division leaders are for teams currently on the outside:
-- Philadelphia Phillies (29:1); Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds, each at 31:1.
-- Except for the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates (301:1), a playoff case can be made for any National League squad, including the Arizona Diamondbacks (51:1), who are currently only a half a game out of the playoffs.
In a post-season tournament that will feature an opening round best-of-three format, plenty of upsets should be on tap. This dynamic makes the Los Angeles Dodgers – clearly the best team in the National League, if not all of baseball – a terrible bet at 4.5:1. If the Dodgers were to draw the Mets in a three game series, the prospect of facing Jacob deGrom, a stretched out Seth Lugo, and a lineup with the highest batting average and highest on base percentage in the majors doesn’t sound at all like a sure thing. Playing all three games as the home team, be it in Chavez Ravine or in some bubble, in front of no fans amounts to a token advantage. Los Angeles could also be vulnerable in a best of five series.
The Marlins, on the other hand, are an interesting play. Not only are they in the playoffs as of now, but they are also returning their top three starters -- Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and José Ureña -- as well as shortstop Miguel Rojas, catcher Jorge Alfaro, first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez, all of who were amongst the 18 players on the team’s Covid list. They still may be short on talent but with their long odds, if they do make the playoffs, an owner can make solid bank hedging against them. At the very least, the Marlins at 151:1 represents value.
As far as the other division leaders are concerned, Atlanta’s starting pitching is weak now that their ace, Mike Soroka, has lost his season to an Achilles tear; and Chicago’s bullpen is dreadful with a 5.55 ERA. These flaws make them susceptible in any playoff series.
The Padres, Reds, and Cardinals’ starting pitching make them formidable in a three or five game series and deserve consideration. The Dodgers are the lone flawless team (relatively speaking) and they will be only a slight favorite over any team they play in a three-game series. Remember the 1988 Mets-Dodgers League Championship Series? The Dodgers won it four games to three, despite being beaten ten out of 11 times in the regular season by the Mets and being outscored 49–18.
If the 2020 Dodgers lose, the National League will be a crapshoot. As such, at this juncture, the only money that should be wagered should be longer than 30:1. Near the half way point, a basket of the Padres, Marlins, and Mets should result in at least one team in the National League Division Series.
Here are the latest odds to win the NL pennant, courtesy of SPREADS.CA
-- by Hot Rodz
Headline Photo Credit: Getty Images