Earlier this month, the offshore sportsbook BetOnline posted odds for all six division winners. The Chicago Cubs opened as the odds-on favorite (-500) to win the NL Central, while the Cleveland Indians opened as massive chalk (-350) to win the AL Central.
These are obviously two of the best teams in baseball, but Cleveland’s short odds also speak to the lack of competition in their division. For comparison, the Red Sox have shorter odds of winning the World Series than the Indians, but Boston’s only listed at -145 to win their division. In fact, the odds of either the Twins (+2000) or White Sox (+4000) winning the AL Central are extremely low.
Several weeks ago, FanGraphs released their projected standings for the entire league. This contained the expected win-loss record, playoff probabilities and divisional probabilities for all 30 teams. These forecasts utilize several different systems such as Steamer, ZiPS, and staff playing time estimates to project the 2017 MLB season. By comparing these projections with the divisional odds from BetOnline, we’re able to see which teams are being overvalued and which are being undervalued according to the FanGraphs projections.
The table below compares the latest divisional odds from BetOnline and the divisional probabilities from FanGraphs.
|Boston Red Sox||-145||59.2%||59.7%|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+350||22.2%||21.9%|
|New York Yankees||+650||13.3%||5.0%|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1000||9.1%||8.1%|
|Kansas City Royals||+900||10.0%||2.0%|
|Chicago White Sox||+4000||2.4%||0.1%|
|Los Angeles Angels||+900||10.0%||13.2%|
|New York Mets||+170||37.0%||27.8%|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+700||12.5%||11.4%|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||-185||64.9%||79.0%|
|San Francisco Giants||+225||30.8%||19.3%|
|San Diego Padres||+15000||0.7%||0.0%|
Interestingly, there are two favorites that are still being undervalued by oddsmakers; the Houston Astros (+105) and Los Angeles Dodgers (-185). Based on the latest odds, there’s a 48.8% implied probability that the Astros will win the AL West and a 64.9% implied probability that the Dodgers will win the NL West. Based on FanGraphs projections, those odds should be -156 and -376, respectively.
It’s also important to note that these props take fairly low limits, and bettors would need to wait nearly six months to get paid out. For that reason, I would not recommend placing a wager on this prop bet — especially given the small payout on these divisional favorites.