2019 MLB Playoff Odds vs. Projections: Finding the Best Value Heading into October
Kelvin Kuo, USA Today Sports.
- The 2019 MLB Playoffs begins on Tuesday, October 1 and Wednesday, October 2 with the NL and AL Wild Card Games
- Before the playoffs begins, Sean Zerillo ran his MLB model to project each team's playoff odds for 2019.
The field for the 2019 MLB Playoffs is now set.
On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers will face the Washington Nationals in the NL Wild Card Game. The winner will travel to Los Angeles, to begin their five-game divisional series against the Dodgers on Thursday.
The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals will also begin their playoff series on Thursday night.
In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics will play their Wild Card matchup on Wednesday, with the winner flying to Houston to play the Astros on Friday.
Odds as of Monday at 2 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
The Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees will begin their playoff series on the same night.
Now that we know all of the possible playoff pairings, are there any teams that still offer value in the futures market?
World Series Projections
The final column, “Odds Value,” is the difference between my projected odds (converted into implied odds) and those listed on the betting market.
A positive number indicates that betting value currently exists, while a negative number means that a team is overvalued in the market.
The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals will meet in the divisional round, and oddsmakers like the Braves to advance — giving them implied World Series odds of 10%, compared to 6.7% for St. Louis.
But despite finishing with six fewer wins than Atlanta, the Cardinals had a comparable run differential (+102 and +112) and better-expected record (92-70 vs. 91-71) than the Braves, while playing a more difficult schedule.
I show the Braves as a 53% favorite in that divisional series, mostly accounting for the difference in the home field, but I think that they are overvalued, while the Cardinals are undervalued in the marketplace.
St. Louis was bet down to +1300 to win the World Series during the preseason, climbed as high at +4750 on July 1, and have now settled in an area above their preseason number — after winning the NL Central.
I’m unsure as to why you can get better odds on them now than you could when they were 20-10, leading the NL Central on May 1 – but I won’t argue.
I played a half unit on the Cardinals at +1800 in the preseason and flattened out that wager to a full unit, by adding another half unit, at the best price that I could currently find.
There’s also (slight) present line value on the Yankees, but I think you would be better served by taking their series price against the Twins and rolling that bet over into a series price bet against the Astros.
The only Wild Card team that I would consider betting before the one-game playoffs would be the Washington Nationals — who can give the Dodgers significant problems in a five-game series; by trotting out Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin four times.
National League Pennant
It’s a similar story with the NL Pennant odds, where I showed the Cardinals with a 22% chance, but oddsmakers have set the odds at 13.3%.
They’re the only team that I currently show betting value on to win the NL Pennant.
Again, the Cardinals were +725 to win the NL in the preseason, fell to +550 on May 1, and climbed as high at +1800 on July 1.
Now, you can take them at a price between their preseason number, and their cost with a 20-10 record at the end of April, knowing that only they need to win seven out of 12 games to cash your NL Pennant bet.
I’ll probably look to add an NL Pennant Future on the Cardinals at +650 or better – but make sure to shop around for the best number.
As you will see later in this article, I show the Nationals as a 37% (+170) underdog against the Dodgers, and their value would increase substantially with a win in the Wild Card Game.
American League Pennant
Oddsmakers have the Astros winning the American League more than 50% of the time.
While I placed a bet (as the Zack Greinke trade was unfolding) on the Astros to win the AL at +200, the Yankees are now the team that offers AL Pennant betting value.
There is just a slight gap between my Yankees projection (34%), and the implied probability set by oddsmakers (30.3%), but it’s hard not to imagine the Yankees and Astros meeting up in the ALCS.
And +230 is a significantly better price that you can get now, as opposed to before that series – where I show the Yankees as a +144 underdog.
Projected Series Prices
Above, I provided all of the possible projected divisional series prices (depending on which Wild Card teams win), in addition to the ALCS, NLDS and World Series projections if the chalk advances through each series.
Additionally, I show the AL Teams winning the World Series 60% of the time – so if you can find a prop wager on which league will take the championship, I would set the American League as a -150 favorite.
I anticipate on betting the Cardinals series price against the Braves, as I show that series as a coinflip and expect the Braves to be listed as a more substantial favorite than -113 (my projection).
I also expect to see line value on the Nationals series price against the Dodgers, provided that Washington gets past Milwaukee in the Wild Card game.
Best Value Bets
- St. Louis Cardinals (+1400) World Series
- St. Louis Cardinals (+650) NL Pennant