Updated World Series Odds Coming out of the All-Star Break
With the second half of the 2014 MLB season getting underway this weekend, it's time for an updated look at each contender's odds of winning the World Series.
Parity has reigned this season, so at this point every team with a .500 record or better looks to be a legitimate contender to reach the postseason.
As we have seen time and again, anything can happen in the playoffs, so for the sake of this list, the 17 teams sitting at .500 or better were all considered potential World Series contenders.
What follows is a look at those teams' current odds of winning it all in 2014. Alongside my odds of each team winning it all is a look at its current Vegas odds for the sake of comparison.
I've also included the Vegas odds and my odds for each team dating back to the start of spring training to give you a better idea of whether they've surpassed, fallen short of or simply met expectations.
Note: Preseason Vegas odds courtesy of Vegas Insider and updated on Feb. 17. Current Vegas odds also courtesy of Vegas Insider and updated on July 20.
Cleveland Indians (50-47, 4.5 Games Back in AL Central)
The Indians were the surprise team of 2013, but they have struggled to duplicate that success so far this season. A big reason for that has been inconsistency from their starting rotation, outside of Corey Kluber, and if that is not addressed, it's hard to see them putting together any sort of run.
The offense has underperformed across the board, and if it can find a way to give some support to Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall, it would help take some pressure off of the aforementioned pitching staff.
Either way, the Indians still look like long shots to even make it back to the postseason this year, let alone win it all.
New York Yankees (49-47, 4.0 Games Back in AL East)
Hiroki Kuroda is the only man still standing from the Yankees' Opening Day rotation, and while the team has been able to piece things together and remain in the hunt to this point, the loss of Masahiro Tanaka may finally be the straw that broke the camel's back.
At just four games back, it's hard to see this team not making a handful of moves at the deadline, as the AL East still looks to be very much up for grabs.
With a couple of significant additions to the pitching staff, this team could sneak into the playoffs. That being said, the World Series appears to be well out of reach right now, so we'll see how the team looks come Aug. 1.
Kansas City Royals (48-48, 6.0 Games Back in AL Central)
The Royals have the worst record of any team considered among the "contenders" here, but they have one thing working in their favor, and that is a plus pitching staff. They currently rank third in the AL in team ERA at 3.74, and their rotation has been solid top to bottom since Danny Duffy moved into the No. 5 spot.
What they don't have is power in the middle of the lineup, or anywhere for that matter, as they rank dead last in home runs. Pitching may win championships, but in order to even get to the postseason, this team is going to need to find a way to add some offensive punch.
If they can acquire someone like Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios at the deadline, their odds would improve, but this team is still on the outside looking in for a postseason berth.
Pittsburgh Pirates (51-46, 2.5 Games Back in NL Central)
The Pirates finally made it back to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years last year, and with a talented, young core of players, it looked like they would be contenders for the foreseeable future.
They have bounced back nicely after a rough start to the year, but they are still at the bottom of a crowded four-team race in the NL Central.
The emergence of Vance Worley and Jeff Locke has helped turn things around in the rotation, but relying on those guys to keep it up in the second half is risky. And to put it simply, their pitching staff is just not as good as it was a year ago.
Cincinnati Reds (51-46, 2.5 Games Back in NL Central)
There has been no shortage of obstacles for the Reds to overcome this season, as a number of key pieces have missed significant time with injury, and others have simply struggled to put up the numbers that were expected of them.
The unlikely trio of Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier has carried the offense. On the pitching side of things, it's been Alfredo Simon stepping up alongside Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation.
If it can get healthy, this is a team whose best baseball may still be ahead of it. At the same time, some regression from Simon and Mesoraco can be expected in the second half, so more established stars are going to have to pick their game up as well.
Seattle Mariners (52-45, 8.0 Games Back in AL West)
Until the Mariners add another bat, it's hard to give them any better than 30:1 odds. There is no question they are a vastly improved team, and their pitching staff is one of the best in all of baseball, but the offense is still a step behind the rest of the serious contenders.
The hope was that Corey Hart could be that right-handed-hitting run-producer between Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, but that has not panned out. As far as the pitching potentially regressing, a healthy second half from Taijuan Walker and James Paxton should help offset any steps backward the rest of the rotation may experience.
This team went all in this offseason, so there's no reason to think it won't be aggressive at the deadline in patching any existing holes. Until that happens, though, its odds will remain relatively low.
Toronto Blue Jays (50-48, 4.0 Games Back in AL East)
There was a time earlier this season when the Blue Jays looked to be right alongside the Oakland A's for the title of best team in the American League, going an impressive 21-9 in May. They have gone just 17-24 since, though, and now find themselves tied for second in the AL East.
The pitching staff is still one proven veteran arm away from being a serious threat, though the young duo of Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison has no doubt given the team a boost. If the Blue Jays can add a solid, mid-level arm and hold on to both Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris in the process, it'd be a big July for them.
Given their offensive firepower and the potential for their rotation to improve just with in-house talent, they should be able to give the Baltimore Orioles everything they can handle atop the standings. They don't have the arms to be a serious title contender at this point, though.
Baltimore Orioles (53-43, 4.0 Games Up in AL East)
The Orioles have been the class of the AL East to this point, as the division as a whole has been something of a disappointment, with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays both falling well short of expectations.
Pitching remains the biggest concern in Baltimore, and while Kevin Gausman looks poised to make a serious impact in the second half and Dylan Bundy could join him in some capacity, this is still a team that lacks a bona fide ace whom it can lean on down the stretch.
They have a plus offense, plus defense and a rotation that is solid 1-5, making them serious contenders to hold on and win the AL East title. That said, this does not look to be a team built for October success, so their odds of winning it all still remain fairly low.
Atlanta Braves (53-44, 7.0 Games Up in NL East; Tied for First)
The Braves rotation was a nice story at the beginning of the season, but it has slowly decayed into a weakness over the past couple of months, as it has a 4.03 starter's ERA since June 1.
Losing Gavin Floyd in the middle of June only made things worse, and while Julio Teheran has emerged as a legitimate ace, the rotation as a whole is not as good as it was a year ago.
That, coupled with an offense that remains talented but wildly inconsistent on a player-by-player basis, makes the Braves a tough team to bank on here in the second half. They don't have the benefit of a big lead over the Nationals this time around, and Washington just looks like the better team at this point.
St. Louis Cardinals (54-44, 2.5 Games Up in NL Central; Tied for First)
Teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were certainly bigger disappointments this season, but it's fair to say that the Cardinals were something of a disappointment as well heading into the All-Star break. By all accounts, they looked like the most complete team in baseball entering April, but things have not gone according to plan.
Adam Wainwright has been a stud again this year, and Lance Lynn is having a nice season, but the rest of the rotation has been a major question mark. Meanwhile, their offense has taken a big step backward, with key bats like Matt Holliday and Allen Craig not producing up to expectations. Throw in the Yadier Molina injury, and it was a tough first half.
All that said, this team still has a ton of talent, and if the veteran bats get hot and the rookie duo of Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras can make a significant impact, this team is still capable of being one of the NL's best.
San Francisco Giants (54-43, 1.0 Game Up in NL West)
At their peak this season, when they sat at 42-21 and a full 9.5 games up in the NL West, the Giants looked like the best team in baseball by a sizable margin. However, they have gone just 12-22 since and seen their division lead trimmed to one game in the process.
There is plenty of room for in-house improvement, with big bats like Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval coming off of subpar first halves and the bullpen still something of a mess. Getting Angel Pagan back from injury will also be a huge shot in the arm, as there may be no player more important to the success of this team.
With Tim Lincecum pitching to a 1.86 ERA in his last seven starts, and All-Stars Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson slotted ahead of him, their rotation again looks like a major strength.
If any team could benefit from a few days off at the break and a chance to hit the reset button, it's the Giants, so look for them to come out of the break looking formidable once again.
Milwaukee Brewers (54-44, 2.5 Games Up in NL Central; Tied for First)
No team needed the All-Star break more than the Brewers, as they were mired in a 2-11 tailspin to close out the first half, with what was once a 6.5-game division lead vanishing in the process.
Despite those struggles, this still looks like a team that has the talent to not only right the ship and win the NL Central division, but also make a serious run in the playoffs.
Sorting out the No. 5 starter spot, where Marco Estrada has seemingly been pitching batting practice, is their only major uncertainty. If top prospect Jimmy Nelson can seize that job and the team can find a solid, right-handed setup man, it'll be set for its second-half push.
Los Angeles Angels (58-38, 1.5 Games Back in AL West)
After back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Angels are finally turning on-paper talent into on-field success. They entered the All-Star break with the second-best record in baseball, nipping at the heels of the Oakland A's in the AL West standings.
There is some concern as to whether Garrett Richards can hold up over a career-high innings workload, but his emergence atop the staff has been as big a reason for their success as any. The addition of Huston Street shores up their bullpen, and if they can land one more mid-level starter, they would be awfully tough.
The biggest thing working against them at this point is the fact that they will have to play a Wild Card Round game if they don't catch the A's. Not being able to set their rotation for a potential ALDS series could be difficult to overcome.
Washington Nationals (52-43, 7.0 Games Up in NL East; Tied for First)
The Nationals entered the 2013 All-Star break at 48-47, trailing the Atlanta Braves by six games, and a torrid late-season push was not enough to overcome their disappointing start.
This time around, they were 51-42 when the Midsummer Classic rolled around and tied for first in the NL East standings. Given the injuries they dealt with in the first half, it's fair to assume they may be even better in the second half, and that could be bad new for the Braves.
More importantly, as far as these odds are concerned, this is a team that is built for postseason success, with a terrific starting rotation that ranks second in the NL with a 3.28 ERA. They look like the biggest competition for the Los Angeles Dodgers as far as the NL pennant is concerned, but they need to secure a postseason spot first.
Detroit Tigers (53-41, 4.5 Games Up in AL Central)
Few teams in "win-now" mode undergo as drastic an offseason as the Tigers did this past winter, as the team dealt Prince Fielder and Doug Fister in separate deals. In spite of those key losses, though, they look to be just as good, if not better, than they were a year ago.
The pitching staff is not quite as dominant as it was in 2013, and there are some very real concerns about Justin Verlander, but they still have one of the better rotations in all of baseball. They have to address the bullpen at the deadline, but even that has been better of late.
As long as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez keep slugging in the middle of the lineup and they avoid any significant injuries to their rotation, there is no reason the Tigers shouldn't walk away with their fourth straight AL Central title. From there, they have the all-around talent to be Oakland's biggest competition for the AL pennant.
Los Angeles Dodgers (54-45, 1.0 Game Back in NL West)
They may not even be leading their own division right now, but it's hard not to view the Dodgers as the favorites in the National League as we gear up for an exciting second half of baseball.
The injury to Josh Beckett and recent struggles of Dan Haren have put them in the market for an impact starter, but even as is, their rotation has been the best in baseball with a 3.13 starter's ERA. It doesn't get much better than Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to kick off a postseason series.
Yasiel Puig will need to get back on track after struggling for the past month, and guys like Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez need to perform like stars, as the offense is capable of a lot more than it's shown. We haven't seen this team firing on all cylinders yet.
Oakland Athletics (60-37, 1.5 Games Up in AL West)
There is little doubt the A's have been the best team in baseball to this point, and after the blockbuster trade to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, they look ready to prove they are the best here in the second half.
One thing to watch will be how Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez handle uncharted territory in terms of workload, making the trade that much more significant, as they have the depth to overcome any issues that may arise.
Second base could certainly be upgraded, but this is a team in which the whole is better than the sum of its parts as far as the offense is concerned. Their catching platoon has been a stroke of genius.
The Los Angeles Angels are going to give them everything they can handle, and slipping to the wild-card spot would certainly be a blow to their World Series hopes, but at this point, the A's have to be the favorites to win it all here in 2014.
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