Breaking Down Vegas Odds for the 2013 World Series
The 2013 World Series is still 11 months away, but Las Vegas has already started the sports betting conversation. VegasInsider.com presents the updated odds of every MLB team winning the league's next championship (courtesy of gambling site Bovada).
Transactions completed this winter have shaken up the pecking order and the odds will certainly shift again between now and Opening Day.
The following breakdown reveals where all 30 clubs currently stand and discusses cases where the oddsmakers came to questionable conclusions.
Houston Astros: 200/1
It's hard to imagine this team not losing 100 games again.
At just 28 years of age, shortstop Jed Lowrie could be Houston's most experienced player on Opening Day.
The franchise isn't motivated to compete in 2013 and has appropriately been separated from the rest.
Colorado Rockies: 100/1
The pitching staff is in ruins.
Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki could be co-MVPs of the National League and it wouldn't matter.
The Rockies will need multiple reputable arms to escape the NL West cellar. However, there are decent internal options like Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa.
All in all, Las Vegas is being a bit harsh.
Miami Marlins: 100/1
Last year's Marlins finished dead last in the NL East despite full seasons from Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes.
Now, Giancarlo Stanton has nothing around him.
Minnesota Twins: 100/1
Don't let their inactivity fool you—the Twins are "active participants in the race for the best available free-agent pitchers," according to GM Terry Ryan (via John Shipley, The Pioneer Press).
But they won't return to relevance without actually signing some help.
Teams at 75/1
Chicago Cubs: 75/1
Losing Bryan LaHair to Nippon Professional Baseball leaves the Cubs lineup pretty powerless. The team hopes Starlin Castro can continue filling out his frame to compensate.
The pitching staff will lean heavily on Scott Baker and Matt Garza, both of whom are coming off significant arm injuries.
Chicago stocked up on prospects in 2012 through midseason deals, but none of them are MLB-ready yet.
Cleveland Indians: 75/1
Things will get worse before they improve, as the Tribe seems likely to start from scratch following a second-half meltdown. Shin-Soo Choo is an impending free agent with no interest in signing an extension, while closer Chris Perez brings a lot of negative attention with his mouth.
Aside from Kevin Youkilis, Cleveland hasn't been linked to any high-profile free agents.
Kansas City Royals: 75/1
Las Vegas underrates the Royals. Considering all their talented position players and newly-acquired rotation members, they appear to be on the rise.
WiIl Myers and Jake Odorizzi are two potential AL Rookie of the Year candidates for 2013.
Others at 30/1 or Worse
New York Mets: 66/1
Their two most important players—R.A. Dickey and David Wright—aren't close to agreeing to contract extensions. Trades could be forthcoming if those stances don't soften.
Meanwhile, the front office has to address the depleted outfield and incompetent bullpen.
At least the Mets will buff up their win-loss record against the Miami Marlins.
San Diego Padres: 66/1
With fewer injuries to their starting pitchers, the Padres will play far more close games. The late-inning relief of Andrew Cashner and Huston Street could determine whether they are legitimate.
Also, keep in mind that Yasmani Grandal can be activated around Memorial Day.
Seattle Mariners: 66/1
The M's must make a splash in free agency. Josh Hamilton is reportedly out of their price range, but that doesn't excuse them from pursuing the next-best impact players.
It's been years since Seattle last had a reputable offense.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 45/1
The lineup is laden with impatient hitters. Pittsburgh could score in double digits on any given day and get shut out just as easily.
Beyond A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez, the Bucs are devoid of trustworthy starters.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 40/1
Look for the D-Backs to trade a surplus outfielder to solidify shortstop and the starting rotation.
It's unlikely, however, that Aaron Hill and Wade Miley will replicate their outstanding 2012 seasons.
Chicago White Sox: 30/1
Jake Peavy and Chris Sale match up well with any other AL duo.
Middle of the Pack
Baltimore Orioles: 28/1
All the key contributors should be returning.
But understandably, the O's are projected to regress after posting an impeccable record in extra-inning contests.
Boston Red Sox: 28/1
Boston still has glaring holes to fill at shortstop and first base. Starting pitching is also a team weakness, even if Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester bounce back in 2013.
Milwaukee Brewers: 28/1
The pitching staff isn't nearly as accomplished as the lineup.
The Brew Crew would've reached the postseason had John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez blown fewer leads. That problem can be remedied if they find a strike-thrower for the closer role.
Tampa Bay Rays: 25/1
All of us—oddsmakers included—are waiting for the Rays to unload an excess starting pitcher and bolster their offense.
Until they do, Tampa Bay cannot be considered an elite squad.
Las Vegas is spot on with these odds.
Four Fringe Contenders
St. Louis Cardinals: 20/1
Why so low?
The Cards had one of baseball's best run differentials last season (plus-117). Adam Wainwright should be sharper in his second season back from Tommy John surgery, while the electrifying young pitchers can fill more prominent roles.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal is a durability concern, but GM John Mozeliak says his torn elbow ligament has completely mended (via Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
Oakland Athletics: 18/1
The A's had great success with their unheralded individuals.
They have awesome outfield depth following October's three-team trade.
Atlanta Braves: 16-1
This winter's thin free-agent market doesn't include many players who can replace Chipper Jones' bat.
However, his retirement freed up enough money for the Braves to chase the finest outfielders.
The pitching staff, meanwhile, looks promising in terms of both quality and depth.
Philadelphia Phillies: 16-1
It's tricky for the Phillies to fill out their roster with so much payroll already allocated to a handful of players.
Toronto Blue Jays: 14/1
Despite all the recent activity, the Toronto Blue Jays aren't nearly finished.
Suitors are inquiring about their catchers and GM Alex Anthopoulos will try to get another quality pitcher in such a deal.
Through their blockbuster with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays added athleticism and reputable pitching to a team that had plenty of power. With the commissioner's approval, they instantly gained experience at some of their most questionable positions.
They ought to be even farther up in the American League hierarchy.
Cincinnati Reds: 12/1
Last summer's runaway NL Central champs could be equally dangerous in 2013.
Speedster Billy Hamilton is guaranteed to have some sort of positive effect on their World Series odds. Also, it will be interesting to see how Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco progress in their second full seasons.
With a payroll in the $90 million range, their free-agent involvement will be limited to re-signing Ryan Ludwick or courting an established reliever.
Los Angeles Angels: 12/1
Las Vegas has tempered its expectations for the Los Angeles Angels. Still, considering their roster's imbalance, even 12/1 odds seem cautiously optimistic.
The team's chief priority is filling out the starting rotation, which right now is comprised of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and three empty seats. Another bullpen arm is on the wish list, too.
Flip them with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 12/1
On paper, nobody looks better than the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But their high-priced players weren't particularly dominant this past September.
Ownership will disregard the luxury tax if it's in the team's best interest. Any important moves they don't complete this offseason should be taken care of sometime during the 2013 campaign.
How can you bet against bottomless pockets?
Texas Rangers: 12/1
Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels needs to get to work.
While sluggers Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli reached free agency, key relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara did as well. On top of all that, Texas is in the market for a starting pitcher.
The organization has mulled the idea of shifting Ian Kinsler to the outfield to accommodate über prospect Jurickson Profar.
Is he ready for everyday duty at age 20?
New York Yankees: 11/1
Likewise, the New York Yankees aren't rushing to re-sign their veteran players...with the exception of Hiroki Kuroda.
They officially inked him for another year and can feel a whole lot more confident about the rotation. He and CC Sabathia are very capable of leading it.
Raul Ibanez and Mariano Rivera also seem very likely to come back in 2013.
On the down side, the All-Star infield that brought them a championship in 2009 is crumbling at the corners. Also, New York doesn't have a catcher or right fielder as the MLB winter meetings loom.
San Francisco Giants: 10/1
For the second time in three years, the San Francisco Giants relied on fantastic pitching in the postseason. All the familiar faces are still under contract, so it would be unwise to rank them any farther from the top.
They will surely add offense now that Melky Cabrera, Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez are off the books.
A free-agent center fielder like Angel Pagan or B.J. Upton would convince the oddsmakers to make a generous adjustment.
Washington Nationals: 17/2
Bovada probably likes the Washington Nationals more because of how well they did without their franchise centerpiece, Stephen Strasburg.
In 2013, he'll be pitching without restrictions.
Detroit Tigers: 8/1
It's simple—the Detroit Tigers are the safest World Series pick because they are all but assured a postseason berth.
With Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez in the mix, their lineup should be deep enough to drown in. Plus, Jose Valverde and Delmon Young, two of the club's weakest links, will be someone else's problems in 2013.
Aside from the Kansas City Royals, none of Detroit's AL Central rivals seem any stronger then they were at season's end. And even K.C. doesn't have answers for Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.