MLB World Series Percentages

WS Odds

The playoff races are tightening and I wanted to take a look at the World Series percentages.  While some people may dismiss these, they can provide some insight for who is most likely to win the Fall Classic in November (yeah, it ends in November this year).

As the graph above illustrates, there is more than one source to get these calculations.  So let’s compare the sources and examine the disparity.

 5DimesBovadaFangraphsBB Prospectus
Royals14.0%13.5%10.3%9.8%
Blue Jays12.9%16.1%12.2%14.6%
Cardinals12.0%11.5%9.6%10.7%
Mets9.3%9.5%6.3%9.5%
Dodgers8.0%7.3%19.3%14.9%
Pirates7.6%3.8%8.3%5.8%
Yankees6.5%5.4%6.8%6.7%
Cubs6.0%6.2%5.6%5.0%
Astros5.8%7.3%12.7%15.3%
Giants4.4%6.2%1.5%2.2%
Nationals3.4%2.4%2.3%0.9%
Rangers2.9%3.1%1.3%1.2%
Angels2.5%2.8%2.3%1.1%
Orioles1.6%1.6%0.3%0.3%
Twins1.6%2.0%0.3%0.3%
Rays1.4%1.2%0.5%0.7%

There are some stark differences between the online sportsbooks (5Dimes which is sharp, Bovada which is square) and two of the most well-known sabermetrically inclined sites of Fangraphs and Baseball Prosepectus.

The Royals are the favorite at 5Dimes while the Blue Jays are the favorite at Bovada.  Granted, sportsbooks will often shade the lines on the favorites because they are normally the most popular bet.  Roughly 6 weeks ago, ESPN covered how Las Vegas sportsbooks were sweating some Royals futures tickets so it is possible that online books are trying to limit their exposure on Kansas City as well.

But the two teams I want to focus on are the Dodgers and the Astros.  Let’s start with the Dodgers.  I first noticed the discrepancy three weeks ago:

Not much has changed in three weeks, as the Dodgers are still the favorite to win the World Series according to Fangraphs’ simulations.  All of this despite the fact that Los Angeles has the smallest division lead of the three NL leaders and would most likely have to win their division to make the playoffs given the strength of the top three teams in the NL Central.  And yet Fangraphs is still buying in and stating that Chavez Ravine will be celebrating nearly 20% of the time.

Meanwhile, Baseball Prospectus (BP) has a different favorite: the Astros.  Houston got off to a hot start and the front office decided to become buyers before the trade deadline and now they are a near lock to appear in the postseason.  BP has the Astros winning the World Series 15.3% of the time, which is more than double the implied odds at Bovada (7.3%) and 5Dimes (5.8%).

Using the Kelly Criterion, you would bet around 10% of your bankroll on the Dodgers +1000 using Fangraphs’ simulation, and 9% of your bankroll on the Astros +1350 using BP’s model.  Perhaps half-Kelly or quarter-Kelly would be better to avoid risk of ruin but if you believe in these sites’ data and are looking for a World Series bet, then the Dodgers and Astros are offering the most value.

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