2023 World Series odds: Astros, Rangers present liability for sportsbooks

As the final month of Major League Baseball’s regular season approaches, World Series odds are getting quite a bit more interesting.

No, there hasn’t been any change at the top of late, with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers still first and second in odds to win the World Series.

But over the past month, the Chicago Cubs and much more so the Seattle Mariners have surged into the picture.

Casey Degnon, senior risk supervisor for The SuperBook, breaks down the current status of the World Series futures market.

Chicago Style

The Cubs’ rise actually began more than a month ago. Chicago peeled off eight straight wins from July 21-29. For the month of August, through Aug. 24, the Cubs are 13-7. So over the past month-plus, Chicago is a stout 21-9, moving into an NL Wild Card slot and closing in on the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Correspondingly, the Cubs’ championship odds have significantly improved.

“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Cubs World Series’ odds cut in half, from 60/1 down to 30/1,” Degnon said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve taken more action from the public, though. There have been a couple of smaller wagers at 50/1 and 60/1, but nothing of note.”

Which means the Cubbies — normally a very public team in MLB betting markets, and therefore normally a liability for sportsbooks — aren’t much of a liability at The SuperBook.

“The Cubs are about middle of the road in terms of ticket count and toward the bottom half of the league in terms of dollars wagered,” Degnon said. “Surprisingly, there is almost no liability for the SuperBook on a Cubs World Series or NL pennant win. We are a very small loser to the Cubs.

“So we are not actively rooting for Chicago. But if they do pull off a miraculous run and win the whole thing, we wouldn’t lose sleep over it.”

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Seattle Surge

Meanwhile, the Mariners are scorching hot in August, putting together two eight-game winning streaks while going 16-5 entering games of Aug. 25. And that was after an 8-3 run to end July.

At 71-56, the Mariners are in a virtual second-place tie with the Houston Astros in the AL West, a game behind the Texas Rangers. The response from oddsmakers has been significant.

“The Mariners have gone from 30/1 to 10/1 for the World Series in the past couple weeks, but the public doesn’t seem too interested,” Degnon said, noting limited betting interest on the M’s. “There were a couple sprinkles along the way, but no bets of significance recently on Seattle to win it all. The Mariners are fringe top 10 in both ticket count and money but at shorter odds, so we don’t have the liability built up there.

“We are a winner to the Mariners in the World Series market. However, we have some liability built up on them to win the AL pennant, from [action] earlier in the season.”

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For the most part, teams at or near the top of the World Series oddsboard represent a better outcome for The SuperBook than for its customers. Degnon noted the +300 favorite Braves and +400 second-choice Dodgers are both good behind the counter.

Ideally, though, when factoring in all eight states that The SuperBook operates in — Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Iowa and Tennessee — Degnon is rooting for a couple other AL teams.

“The Blue Jays or even the upstart Orioles would be a good World Series winner for us,” he said.

Baltimore is currently the +800 fifth choice and Toronto the +3000 co-11th choice, along with the Cubs.

The SuperBook’s largest concern is basically the state of Texas. Degnon said the defending World Series champion Astros are “not a great result in Nevada,” but the Rangers are where the real liability lies.

“Lots of liability, one of our bigger sweats in terms of MLB futures [markets] in Nevada,” Degnon said. “The Rangers are definitely a team we are hoping gets knocked out early in the playoffs, so we can avoid that sweat. The public was a believer in the Rangers early in the year, and we have some liability dating back to March at as high as 80/1 and 60/1.”

Texas is now all the way into the +700 co-third choice, joined by the Astros.

At the moment, only one NL team is particularly concerning at The SuperBook: The surprising Cincinnati Reds, still in the thick of the NL Central and Wild Card chases. However, the Reds are +5000 in the World Series odds market, trailing a dozen other teams.

“The Reds are another team that the public bought in on once they started winning, and that is definitely reflected in our futures book, as well,” Degnon said. “It would be a fun story, but not the Cinderella we are rooting for this year.”

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