Who is the New Favorite Among Bookmakers to Win the World Series?

We’re just over a month into the 2012 MLB Season and there have already been more surprises than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. As a result, bookmakers have reacted by moving one team to a 19/4 favorite to win the World Series.

In the AL East, the standings are topsy turvy with the Baltimore Orioles in first with a 19-9 mark, while the Red Sox are the cellar dwellers at 11-16. The Angels — who were one of the pre-season favorite to win the World Series — have struggled mightily to the tune of a 12-17 record. Albert Pujols, who signed for $254 million in the off-season, did not hit a home run during the first month of the season and currently owns a batting average south of the Mendoza line.

On the flip side, The Machine’s former team has been one of this season’s most pleasant surprises. Terrific performances from Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal and David Freese have propelled the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central and boosted their title odds across the board.

So how has all of this early action affected each team’s title chances? The table below examines the movement of Bovada’s MLB futures between April 6th and May 9th.

Teams Odds on 4/6 Odds on 5/9
Arizona Diamondbacks 28/1 22/1
Atlanta Braves 22/1 18/1
Baltimore Orioles 150/1 50/1
Boston Red Sox 10/1 18/1
Chicago Cubs 40/1 150/1
Chicago White Sox 65/1 45/1
Cincinnati Reds 22/1 25/1
Cleveland Indians 60/1 35/1
Colorado Rockies 35/1 50/1
Detroit Tigers 15/2 17/2
Houston Astros 200/1 150/1
Kansas City Royals 80/1 200/1
Los Angeles Angels 15/2 15/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 40/1 15/1
Miami Marlins 22/1 22/1
Milwaukee Brewers 28/1 40/1
Minnesota Twins 80/1 200/1
New York Mets 75/1 60/1
New York Yankees 7/1 9/1
Oakland Athletics 80/1 75/1
Philadelphia Phillies 11/2 10/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 100/1 100/1
San Diego Padres 100/1 200/1
San Francisco Giants 15/1 22/1
Seattle Mariners 100/1 150/1
St. Louis Cardinals 25/1 12/1
Tampa Bay Rays 20/1 10/1
Texas Rangers 10/1 19/4
Toronto Blue Jays 30/1 22/1
Washington Nationals 30/1 18/1

As you can see there has been a good deal of shake-up in the futures market. The Texas Rangers — behind a 20-10 start — have moved from 10/1 to 19/4 and are now the favorites to win it all. Another interesting observation is that the Detroit Tigers actually moved up to the number two spot in the standings despite seeing their odds drop from 15/2 to 17/2. The explanation for this is the newfound parity around the league. Teams like the Nationals, Dodgers, and the aforementioned Cardinals were not considered to be strong title contenders before the season began. After a month of action, those three teams lead the NL East, West and Central, respectively.

Of course in any game where there are winners, there are inherently losers. These early season duds include the Red Sox, Cubs and Twins who have all performed woefully below expectations. Although the outlook for Minnesota and Chicago wasn’t particularly optimistic this year, each team has managed to underperform their very modest projections. The Cubs opened the season at 40/1 to win the World Series, however a 12-18 start has them seven games back and transformed them into a longshot at 150/1. The Twins were also not expected to set the league ablaze, but many believed that a healthy Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer would allow Minnesota to compete in a top-heavy AL Central. However, after 30 games the Twins have a league-worst 8-21 mark which has sent their future odds plummeting down to 200/1.

While the Red Sox join these teams as early season disappointments, their failures are difficult to compare. After last year’s late season collapse, analysts anticipated the team would quickly bounce back and prove that they belonged amongst the league’s elite. Unfortunately, the Sox bullpen has been woeful, starting pitching has been inconsistent, and the team has dropped to the bottom of the AL East standings with a 12-17 record. Still, oddsmakers know this team still has the talent to compete for the World Series which is why their odds currently sit at 18/1.

As for this season’s most compelling Cinderella story? That would have to be the Baltimore Orioles. Prior to the season, many projected the Yankees, Rays and Sox would all compete for the playoffs. Even the Blue Jays were viewed as an up-and-coming organization — one that was loaded with young talent that could potentially help them compete this season. The Orioles had made no headway via free agency despite rumors that they were looking to make a slash by adding a premier free agent, say…Albert Pujols. They were an afterthought to some, and a non-entity to others. Slightly over a month later and the Orioles sit atop the AL East standings with a 19-11 record. This hot-start has pushed Baltimore from 150/1 to 50/1 at Bovada.

We will continue to monitor this movement throughout the season but, for bettors looking for value in the futures market, re-examining these pre-season odds can provide insight as to who oddsmakers viewed as the league’s elite teams before the season began and where there may be potential value.

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