When it comes to baseball analysis, Vegas betting odds aren't exactly scientific. The odds aren't even necessarily based entirely on how good the teams are, but rather how much people will bet on them; a club that made splashy-but-unhelpful moves could get a big boost just based on name recognition.
But still, it's interesting to see how your team ranks by just about any measure. Bovada Sportsbook just released its World Series odds, and, well, let's just say that despite three straight playoff berths the A's are underdogs once again:
Washington Nationals -- 6/1
Los Angeles Dodgers -- 8/1
Boston Red Sox -- 12/1
Chicago Cubs -- 12/1
Los Angeles Angels -- 12/1
St. Louis Cardinals -- 12/1
Detroit Tigers -- 14/1
Seattle Mariners -- 16/1
San Francisco Giants -- 18/1
Toronto Blue Jays -- 18/1
Baltimore Orioles -- 20/1
Chicago White Sox -- 20/1
Kansas City Royals -- 25/1
New York Yankees -- 25/1
San Diego Padres -- 25/1
Cleveland Indians -- 28/1
Atlanta Braves -- 33/1
Miami Marlins -- 33/1
New York Mets -- 33/1
Pittsburgh Pirates -- 33/1
Oakland Athletics -- 40/1
Texas Rangers -- 40/1
Cincinnati Reds -- 50/1
Milwaukee Brewers -- 50/1
Houston Astros -- 66/1
Tampa Bay Rays -- 66/1
Arizona Diamondbacks -- 100/1
Colorado Rockies -- 100/1
Minnesota Twins -- 100/1
Philadelphia Phillies -- 100/1
I guess we shouldn't be surprised. After all, Oakland traded away four of its biggest names, in addition to losing Cespedes and Lester and Lowrie, and it now has a roster full of relative no-names. Even the A's new star, Ben Zobrist, is more of a cult hero. We here at Athletics Nation know that the no-names are likely to contend for the playoffs with even moderate luck, but it's not a big shock that the general betting public doesn't share our optimism.
But the Mets? Seriously? The Mets have better odds than we do? That's just a slap in the face. Let's look through the list for other things of note.
Only 8 teams have worse odds than the A's
Those eight teams are the Reds, Brewers, Astros, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Twins, and Phillies. Cincinnati and Milwaukee aren't bad, and it wouldn't take much for either to contend, but I suppose they're not big-market teams and they're not popular nationally so it's not a surprise that they don't get a lot of love (much like the A's themselves). The other teams don't figure to be particularly good this year and have only small hopes of pushing into contention, so those make sense.
But what about the Mets, Marlins, Braves, Yankees, and Indians? Are they really better bets than the A's? The Yankees will always get a lot of love just for who they are, of course, so that's no surprise. But the Mets and Marlins are lovable losers despite the upside they carry into 2015, the Braves just traded off some stars in their own right after a mediocre 2014, and the Indians play in Cleveland where sports championships are prohibited by local laws. That's cold, Vegas.
I can understand the Padres, Blue Jays and White Sox getting a lot of credit for their numerous win-now moves, and the Royals surely get a boost for reaching the Series last year. Oakland is tied with the Rangers, which seems fair for some reason -- just as the A's hope to replace their stars with youngsters, the Rangers hope their stars will simply get healthy. If you're not a fan of one team or the other, then you probably see them each as high-risk.
The Cubs have the third-best odds to win the World Series
This is the Chicago Cubs, of the National League of baseball. The team that hasn't won a title since 1908, and hasn't even been to the Fall Classic sine 1945. The team whose last good shot was spoiled partially because one of their own fans robbed a catch from their own fielder to open the door for their opponent's stunning NLCS comeback. The team who is cursed by a goat. The team who is the butt of almost every joke about losing and futility ever written, especially now that the Red Sox have won a few titles.
The Nationals and Dodgers lead the odds at 6/1 and 8/1, respectively, and that makes sense. The Nats won 96 games last year and just added Max Scherzer, and the Dodgers are the financial behemoth with stars all around the field. But then there are the Cubs at 12/1. To be fair, they just added a superstar player in Jon Lester and a superstar manager in Joe Maddon, they have a ton of young talent starting to graduate to the bigs, and their Team President is the guy who broke the curse in Boston. They're legit contenders in the NL Central, so they do belong up the list somewhere. But it's the Cubs, man. The Cubs don't win the World Series. They're comic relief.
You have to figure that Back To The Future II has something to do with this. The Cubs were predicted to win it all this year all the way back in 1989, and now they happen to be good right when their predicted number comes up. Someone out there totally bet on them for that reason as a joke. Probably lots of people. That's how the Cubs have the same odds as the Red Sox, who just won in 2013 and signed a couple of major free agents this winter; the Angels, who won the most games in baseball last year and have MLB's best player; and the Cardinals, who make the NLCS literally every year regardless of who's on the team.
The Phillies, Twins, Rockies, and D'Backs have the worst odds to win
Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors pegged the 2015 Phillies as having the sixth-highest payroll among the 30 teams. Step aside, Astros, there's a new butt-of-every-joke in town.
The Twins signed a couple pricey free agents last winter, but it didn't help their win total much. So, they signed a couple more pricey free agents this winter. Bold strategy, Cotton, let's see how it works out for them.
The Rockies chose to hold on to Troy Tulowitzki, and I tend to like it when teams keep their superstars, but the odds don't think it'll help them actually win anything and I have to agree.
The D'Backs lost 98 games last year, most in MLB, and Yasmany Tomas probably won't change that on his own.
Most extreme misses
Which team seems to be the most optimistic compared with reality, and which the least?
I'm going with the Cubs (12/1) as being too high. The top three of Lester/Arrieta/Hammel could be fantastic, but it could also turn into a No. 1 and a bunch of filler. And picking them means banking on multiple prospects to become productive MLB players right away. I'd drop them to more like 20/1, with the Orioles and White Sox.
On the other hand, the Pirates (33/1) are kind of getting the shaft. They've got a couple Wild Card berths under their belt the last two years, and they still have one of the best players in the sport in Andrew McCutchen. The rotation is still shaky and they don't really have the resources to make big improvements, but the roster has upside all over and this seems like the kind of team that could go on a magical run to the title if things broke right. I'd put them somewhere in the range of the Padres (25/1) and the Indians (28/1).
As for the A's, I think they should at least be at 33/1, which would put them alongside the Pirates for most underrated.
Of course, I'm in no way encouraging or endorsing that you actually bet on any of these. You will almost certainly lose, statistically speaking. My point is just to see how one source rates the 30 teams, with its own way of looking at things. What are your reactions to the rankings? Who's too high and who's too low? Where should the A's be?