MLB Playoffs Betting: World Series Odds Then and Now for the Eight Teams Remaining

A best-of-three playoff series is designed to be inherently short, but even by those standards, Major League Baseball’s first round earlier this week was brief and especially unmemorable. (Except if you picked the Brewers to make the World Series, in which case, this week was hard to forget…whoops)

All four series were sweeps and none of the eight games were decided by fewer than two runs. Of the five games in which a save was recorded, the potential tying run stepped to the plate in the ninth inning four times. Those batters went 0-for-3 with a groundout to the pitcher. 

At least the dud of a wild card round meant there’s nowhere to go but up for the MLB Division Series…and nowhere to go but down to go, in terms of pennant- and World Series-winning odds, for most of the eight teams left vying for the championship.

Here’s a then-and-now look at the odds for the playoff field along with a new World Series prediction, since the Brewers are playing golf and possibly losing their manager to the New York Mets. All odds from DraftKings as of Oct. 6.

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American League

Houston Astros 

  • Before the wild card series: +185 to win the pennant, +450 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +180 to win the pennant, +425 to win the World Series

With the 87-win Twins opposing the 89-win Toronto Blue Jays to determine the Astros’ opponent, Houston’s odds were never going to change that much regardless of the victor. As it did a few days ago, the Astros’ hopes still rely on championship pedigree and whether or not, after six straight trips to the AL Championship Series or beyond, their veterans have enough gas left in the tank for another month-long push.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Before the wild card series: +290 to win the pennant, +700 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +275 to win the pennant, +650 to win the World Series

The Orioles’ odds only went down a smidge, likely a result of the uncertainty over how an untested team will fare in the playoffs as well as the advantage the Texas Rangers have after winning a round to get to the Division Series. Discounting the 2020 season, when all 16 playoff teams began with a wild card round, 10 teams have emerged from a wild card game or round to at least make the LCS. But four of the last five top seeds in the AL have reached the World Series.

Texas Rangers

  • Before the wild card series: +750 to win the pennant, +1600 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +275 to win the pennant, +700 to win the World Series

The Rangers’ odds entering the playoffs reflected how they looked like the 2022 New York Mets down the stretch. Their vastly improved odds are a reminder Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame-bound manager and teams with those kind of skippers — think the 2000 New York Yankees, 2006 Detroit Tigers and 2006 St. Louis Cardinals — tend to figure out a way to leave a poor regular season finish in the rear view mirror. Battle-tested Bochy vs. postseason newcomer Brandon Hyde is going to be the most intriguing managerial matchup of the postseason.

Minnesota Twins

  • Before the wild card series: +800 to win the pennant, +2000 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +370 to win the pennant, +1000 to win the World Series

All hail the Twins, who no longer have to hear about how they haven’t won a postseason series since my nephew (who turns 20 today, Happy Birthday Matt!) was still a few days shy of his first birthday. The wild card era is filled with teams that went on deep runs after earning a long-awaited postseason series victory, but the thin margin of error the Twins had in defeating the Blue Jays — whom they outscored 5-1 — is reminiscent of last season’s Cleveland Guardians, who swept the Tampa Bay Rays by a combined 3-1 before falling to the Yankees in a five-game ALDS.

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National League

Atlanta Braves

  • Before the wild card series: +145 to win the pennant, +310 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +150 to win the pennant, +310 to win the World Series

The pennant-winning odds actually decreased for the two best teams in the NL. In the Braves’ case, it’s because the vagaries of the seeded bracket means they get the defending NL champion Phillies, who won six more regular season games than the sixth-seeded Arizona Diamondbacks and spent most of the season locked into the top wild card before vaporizing the Miami Marlins in the first round. Also, even bettors can’t completely ignore historical trends that have nothing to do with the players on the field this year. This marks the eighth time the Braves have won at least 100 games in the wild card era. They’ve been knocked out before the World Series six times…including last year, when they lost to the Phillies in the NLDS. And 30 years ago, in the final pre-wild card season, the 104-win Braves fell to the Phillies in the NLCS. Gulp.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Before the wild card series: +200 to win the pennant, +450 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +210 to win the pennant, +425 to win the World Series

On paper, the Dodgers’ path to the NLCS is much easier, but, of course, they’ve spent the last decade channeling their inner Braves by learning dominance over six months doesn’t mean much in a five- or seven-game series. Los Angeles lost in the NLDS to the divisional rival San Diego Padres last year after going 14-5 against them in the regular season. The Diamondbacks were 5-8 this year against the Dodgers and look less dangerous than the mercurial Padres, but the vagaries of October have to be baked in a little bit here.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Before the wild card series: +600 to win the pennant,+1300 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +340 to win the pennant, +700 to win the World Series

The Phillies were the most impressive team of the wild card round, right down to Nick Castellanos’ that’s-not-his-middle-finger salute to his teammates following a double in Game 1. Castellanos displaying his ring figure for all to see was a reminder it’s championship or bust for the Phillies, who have the power, the pitching and the chemistry that tends to matter at this time of year without any of the burden that’s going to be on the Braves’ shoulders following a season of wire-to-wire dominance.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Before the wild card series: +1300 to win the pennant, +3000 to win the World Series
  • After the wild card series: +550 to win the pennant, +1400 to win the World Series

Sorry to call you baseball’s version of the AFC South champion, Diamondbacks. This is a good time to remind everyone the Tennessee Titans made the AFC Championship Game as a wild card team out of the AFC South in 2019. The Diamondbacks looked unfazed by the spotlight or the task of winning on the road in Milwaukee and they’re likely to have the pitching advantage with Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen opening the NLDS. But even with memories of the Padres’ conquest still vivid, it’s difficult to see Arizona going much further.

NEW PREDICTION

Sorry again for hexing you, Brewers. Let’s stick with the early ‘80s nostalgia, though, and go with the Orioles over the Phillies in six games in the sequel to 1983’s I-95 Series.

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