MLB Betting: Why the Astros and Twins Are the Best Values to Win the World Series
After COVID-19 and negotiations between owners and players for a shortened season almost took away baseball in 2020, we are a few days away from a late-July opening day. There are only 60 regular season games, which means just about every team can win (with some exceptions -- sorry, Orioles and Tigers fans). The defending champion Nationals would not have even made the playoffs had last season been only 60 games.
numberFire's model is up to date with 60-game season projections, and the World Series odds are out on FanDuel Sportsbook, so we have all we need to determine which teams have value this upcoming season. The chart below summarizes the FanDuel Sportsbook World Series odds and the resulting implied probability, as well as championship odds from numberFire's model.
|Team||numberFire Probability||FanDuel Champ Odds||Implied Probability|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||11.5%||380||20.8%|
|New York Yankees||10.3%||400||20.0%|
|New York Mets||4.3%||2200||4.3%|
|St. Louis Cardinals||4.1%||2600||3.7%|
|Boston Red Sox||4.0%||4300||2.3%|
|Los Angeles Angels||3.9%||3500||2.8%|
|Tampa Bay Rays||3.7%||1700||5.6%|
|San Diego Padres||1.4%||4600||2.1%|
|Chicago White Sox||0.7%||3300||2.9%|
|Toronto Blue Jays||0.2%||8500||1.2%|
|San Francisco Giants||0.0%||30000||0.3%|
|Kansas City Royals||0.0%||30000||0.3%|
Houston Astros: +800
Houston won 107 games last season, and even though the loss of Gerrit Cole to the Yankees will hurt, the Astros still have the best offensive lineup in baseball. All of their core hitters return to follow up on a 2019 season in which they led both leagues in batting average (BA), on-base percentage (OBP), and slugging percentage (SLG). Alex Bregman and George Springer are two of our top projected fantasy players this season after both finished in top-10 in AL MVP votes. Additionally, Houston hopes to have a healthy Carlos Correa, who missed half of last season.
Based on our model’s projections, it is difficult to see why Houston is not priced similarly to the Yankees and Dodgers. Perhaps the sign-stealing scandal that turned the Astros into the league’s most hated villains have deterred public bettors from backing Houston. If this is the case, then bettors ought to turn to the dark side and take advantage of the great price.
More likely, it is the Yankees' signing of Cole that's been the main factor. Not only do the Astros lose their best pitcher, but they lost him to their most dangerous competition to win the American League.
Cole is highly valuable, and he is the Cy Young favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook for a reason, but he is just one player. The Astros still have a strong rotation with Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke leading the way, and as long as their offense continues to dominate after discontinuing the sign-stealing scheme, Houston should have no problem contending for a World Series in 2020.
Our model predicts the Astros win the World Series with 14.6% probability, which is a nice bump compared to the implied probability from the oddsmakers.
Minnesota Twins: +1500
Minnesota is the best team in the tier below what I will call the "Big Three" (Houston, New York, and Los Angeles), according to our model.
Last year, they won 101 games and had a Pythagorean win-loss record of 97-65, which was fourth-best in baseball. The most significant move made by the Twins this offseason was the acquisition of Josh Donaldson, which allowed them to upgrade at multiple positions.
Donaldson will play third instead of Miguel Sano, upgrading their infield defense and adding another dangerous hitter into the lineup. Sano is moving to the other corner to play first, replacing C.J. Cron, who was one of two regular starters who had an OPS of below .800. The other was second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who, along with Cron, signed with the division rival Tigers, and will be replaced by Luis Arraez. Arraez hit for a .334 BA and .399 OBP as a utility infielder in 2019.
The Twins also shored up their rotation by adding depth. Minnesota signed Homer Bailey and Rich Hill, and they traded for Kenta Maeda. Along with ace Jose Berrios, these veterans provide stability to a Twins rotation that was already amongst the best in the league. The Twins do not have the same star power as the Big Three -- their best hitters, Donaldson (34) and Nelson Cruz (38) have already had their best career seasons on other teams. However, Minnesota does not have any holes in their lineup or rotation as of opening day and will be a tough out for any team in the playoffs.