Monday, March 23, 2015

How Have These Teams' World Series Odds Suffered?

I said I would post this piece -- about the teams whose odds to win the World Series dropped -- over the weekend. However, I felt like it would be more appropriate to post it on a Monday, since the offseason for each of these teams must have felt like a long string of Mondays.

On Friday, I examined the reasons for four teams seeing their World Series odds more than double since October. The Padres, White Sox, Cubs, and Red Sox all had notable offseasons that caused Vegas to reconsider their chances to win it all. Today, let's look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Which five teams watched their odds decrease the most, and why? (All odds taken from oddsshark.com.)

Atlanta Braves
October Odds: 22/1
March Odds: 66/1
What caused the diminished odds?
By the end of last winter, the Braves had committed $280 million to young stars Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, and Julio Teheran, seemingly putting them in a position to contend for many years to come. In 2014, they would have made the playoffs if the season had ended in September. However, Atlanta collapsed in the season's final month, sent GM Frank Wren to the birds, and initiated one of the weirder rebuilds you'll ever see. The Braves traded Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis for young pieces, but they also signed over-the-hill Nick Markakis to a four-year contract. The team lost about ten projected WAR from the departing trio, and the team's neglect for 2015 at the expense of the future caused Vegas to look unfavorably on the Braves' World Series chances.

Cincinnati Reds
October Odds: 33/1
March Odds: 66/1
What caused the diminished odds?
The Reds traded pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, netting several prospects but weakening the 2015 roster. If Joey Votto and Jay Bruce return to form, the Reds have a chance to contend, but the NL Central will be one of the toughest in baseball.

Tampa Bay Rays
October Odds: 33/1
March Odds: 66/1
What caused the diminished odds?
Tampa Bay's decreased World Series odds is a little difficult to figure out. The team traded away Wil Myers but they think Steven Souza is capable of replacing him. The departure of Ben Zobrist will hurt, but the team's dynamic rotation can compensate for some of that loss. So what changed the odds so drastically? My feeling is that Vegas anticipated bettors would stop laying money on the team in the wake of the departures of manager Joe Maddon and GM Andrew Friedman. Even though those men would have had a relatively small impact on the Rays' 2015 record, Bovada probably baked the public view of the team into its odds. The Rays' lack of a notable fan-base might also contribute to Vegas' pessimism toward the team. But if you played the upcoming season 66 times, I'd bet that Tampa Bay would win more than one World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies
October Odds: 75/1
March Odds: 150/1
What caused the diminished odds?
Sure, every team has a chance to win it all. Regardless of Jonathan Papelbon's optimism about the season, though, the Phillies are the worst team in the majors and 150/1 odds might even be generous. Since Bovada last updated those odds, on March 10, Cliff Lee went on the 60-day disabled list and could be out for the season. Also, since GM Rubén Amaro, Jr., finally understands the need to cash in veterans for future assets, ace Cole Hamels might be traded by the middle of the summer. The Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds Report gives the Phils less than a two percent chance to make the playoffs and a Blutarski-esque 0.0 percent chance of winning the Series.

Kansas City Royals
October Odds: 16/1
March Odds: 28/1
What caused the diminished odds?
After Kansas City represented the American League in last fall's World Series, Bovada set the Royals' chances to win in '15 as the seventh-best in the league. By Christmas, after the pennant hangovers had firmly set in, the Royals' odds had already lengthened to 25/1. After the team lost one of its biggest pieces -- ace James Shields -- in February, perhaps the optimism surrounding the Royals was fully tempered by the fact that they had a run differential of just +27 last season. The Royals' postseason run was most likely a fluke and, by definition, flukes don't happen in consecutive seasons.

Other Odds Decreases:
Los Angeles Dodgers -- 15/2 to 17/2
Detroit Tigers -- 10/1 to 16/1
Los Angeles Angels -- 10/1 to 14/1
San Francisco Giants -- 12/1 to 14/1
Oakland A's --20/1 to 28/1
Pittsburgh Pirates -- 20/1 to 28/1
Baltimore Orioles -- 22/1 to 33/1
New York Yankees -- 22/1 to 33/1
Texas Rangers -- 33/1 to 50/1
Milwaukee Brewers -- 40/1 to 50/1
Colorado Rockies -- 100/1 to 150/1

Teams with Unchanged Odds:
St. Louis Cardinals -- 12/1
Arizona Diamondbacks -- 100/1
Minnesota Twins -- 100/1


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