Mid-Season World Series Futures Review

With three months of baseball in the books, we have a pretty good idea of how good each team is. Some haven’t lived up to expectations (cough, cough, CUBS, cough…) while others like the Diamondbacks are playing better than anyone imagined they could.

You may think your team is a lock to win the World Series, but what really matters is what the experts think. Oddsmakers, for one,  are experts. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be able to make millions of dollars off of stupid bettors every year.

Statisticians, like the folks at Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, are also experts. They know more about baseball than just about anyone out there and have statistical models to predict how likely it is that each team will win the World Series.

Since we are right around the half-way point of the season, I felt that it would be a good time to take a look at how World Series futures odds compared to the data at Fangraphs and BP. Through this exercise, we can see which teams are being overvalued and undervalued by the books — the latter, of course, are the teams you should consider betting on.

In the table below, you will find the odds from three different sportsbooks with the accompanying implied probabilities (IP).  The final two columns are the probabilities from Fangraphs and BP. 

Team Bookmaker odds
(7/3)
IP BetOnline odds
(7/3)
IP 5Dimes odds
(7/3)
IP Fangraphs WS %
(7/3)
Baseball Prospectus WS %
(7/3)
Arizona 1250 7.4% 1000 9.1% 1400 6.7% 2.40% 4.2%
Atlanta 10500 0.9% 10000 1.0% 15000 0.7% 0.0% 0.0%
Baltimore 8000 1.2% 6600 1.5% 6600 1.5% 0.2% 0.0%
Boston 670 13.0% 750 11.8% 675 12.9% 12.4% 7.0%
Chicago Cubs 745 11.8% 700 12.5% 730 12.0% 8.8% 6.3%
Chicago White Sox 35000 0.3% 50000 0.2% 50000 0.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Cincinnati 45000 0.2% 35000 0.3% 50000 0.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Cleveland 625 13.8% 700 12.5% 730 12.0% 16.8% 14.5%
Colorado 2700 3.6% 1400 6.7% 1800 5.3% 0.7% 1.7%
Detroit 11500 0.9% 10000 1.0% 10000 1.0% 0.2% 0.1%
Houston 375 21.1% 500 16.7% 450 18.2% 16.7% 18.1%
Kansas City 6700 1.5% 4000 2.4% 6600 1.5% 0.3% 0.2%
Los Angeles Angels 13000 0.8% 8000 1.2% 8000 1.2% 0.6% 0.1%
Los Angeles Dodgers 410 19.6% 400 20.0% 505 16.5% 20.2% 23.5%
Miami 30000 0.3% 20000 0.5% 25000 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Milwaukee 5700 1.7% 6600 1.5% 3350 2.9% 0.2% 1.2%
Minnesota 8500 1.2% 5000 2.0% 6600 1.5% 0.1% 0.4%
New York Mets 9000 1.1% 5000 2.0% 8000 1.2% 0.5% 0.2%
New York Yankees 1350 6.9% 850 10.5% 1400 6.7% 3.2% 6.1%
Oakland 100000 0.1% 50000 0.2% 50000 0.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Philadelphia 200000 0.0% 500000 0.0% 500000 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pittsburgh 7500 1.3% 15000 0.7% 10000 1.0% 0.1% 0.1%
St. Louis 3300 2.9% 6000 1.6% 5000 2.0% 1.4% 1.2%
San Diego 150000 0.1% 300000 0.0% 250000 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
San Francisco 25000 0.4% 100000 0.1% 200000 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Seattle 6500 1.5% 5000 2.0% 5000 2.0% 0.5% 0.7%
Tampa Bay 6000 1.6% 5000 2.0% 6600 1.5% 0.5% 1.5%
Texas 7000 1.4% 5000 2.0% 6600 1.5% 0.4% 0.7%
Toronto 6000 1.6% 5000 2.0% 5000 2.0% 1.1% 0.0%
Washington 635 13.6% 750 11.8% 625 13.8% 12.5% 12.0%

You should note that the percentages add up to 100% at Fangraphs and BP, while they add up to about 120% at the sportsbooks. This is because of the theoretical hold percentages…essentially the books need to make money so they provide lesser payouts than they should.

Both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus feel that the odds overwhelmingly point to six teams, one from each division (Dodgers, Astros, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Cubs), to win the World Series. Baseball Prospectus has a little more faith in the handful of teams after the top six, but both websites feel that about half the league has essentially no chance of winning it all.

The sportsbooks aren’t going to write off the teams in the middle of the pack, though. They can’t just give payouts of +10000 or higher to 20 teams. As a result, every team with greater than a 10/1 payout has no value at this moment.

Now, I’m not going to blame you for taking a flyer on the D-Backs, Yankees, or Rockies if you are a fan, but there are better ways to spend (lose) your money.

Based on the chart, there are essentially only two teams you should be making a World Series bet on at this time — the Dodgers and Indians. Los Angeles is a pretty sizable World Series favorite in the eyes of baseball experts, but oddsmakers have failed to recognize them for the powerhouse that they are. 5Dimes’ +505 payout equates to a 16.5% implied probability — 3.7% lower than Fangraphs and 7% lower than Baseball Prospectus.

The Indians have scuffled a bit this season, but are still considered a top-three team in the majors by the two baseball websites. At 5Dimes, the +730 payout suggests that they will win about 12% of the time, which is 4.8% lower than what Fangraphs thinks and 2.5% lower than what BP thinks.

Among the most overvalued teams are the Cubs and Rockies. The Cubs are certainly expected to be there due to their performance last season. The Rockies started off great, but are amidst a terrible stretch. It could be a situation in which the books haven’t adjust their odds accordingly, whereas the baseball sites, on the other hand, do so every day.

Below are the most undervalued and overvalued teams according to each website. They don’t agree on a few teams, but are pretty close for the most part on the rest of the league.

Top 3 Value Picks per Fangraphs

  1. Indians (5Dimes) +4.8%
  2. Dodgers (5Dimes) +3.7%
  3. Nationals (BetOnline) +0.7%

Worst 3 Picks per Fangraphs

  1. Yankees (BetOnline) -7.3%
  2. D-Backs (BetOnline) -6.7%
  3. Rockies (BetOnline) -6.0%

Top 3 Value Picks per Baseball Prospectus

  1. Dodgers (5Dimes) +7.0%
  2. Indians (5Dimes) +2.5%
  3. Astros (BetOnline) +1.4%

Worst 3 Picks per Baseball Prospectus

  1. Cubs (BetOnline) -6.2%
  2. Red Sox (Bookmaker) -6.0%
  3. Rockies (BetOnline) -5.0%

Be sure to check back throughout the season at our World Series Odds article for updates.

Feel free to comment with any thoughts or contact us with any questions by emailing help@sportsinsights.com.

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