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Finding MLB World Series Betting Value Using Fangraphs’ Projections

Mar 16, 2019 10:00 PM EDT
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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Max Scherzer

  • Baseball analytics site Fangraphs has released its projections for the 2019 season, which include World Series, pennant, division and playoff odds.
  • If we compare them to implied probabilities based on actual Vegas odds, we can see where the value lies.

After a long wait, Fangraphs released its 2019 MLB playoff odds on Friday. For those unaware, Fangraphs is perhaps the most reputable baseball analytics website on the internet.

Using this data, we can find some betting value using projections and implied probability based on actual betting odds.

2019 MLB World Series Odds

As a whole, the Fangraphs folks like the American League powerhouses more than the National League. Their favorite to win the whole thing is the Astros, who are +600 at the Westgate. They’d be approximately +440 at the fictional Fangraphs Sportsbook.

The Indians also have a lot of value, and should be closer to +700 based on the projections. The Indians have perhaps the easiest path to a division title in all of baseball. Numerous NL contenders will have to fight just to make the playoffs, which is why their chances are generally lower. Meanwhile, the Indians should cruise into the ALDS.

If you’re looking for a longshot, you’ve come to the wrong place. Once you get past the group of teams at +1200, most of the projections aren’t close to what the odds suggest.

2019 MLB Pennant Odds

In the American League, the Indians once again have a lot of value. The Red Sox and Yankees are in tough spots since at least one of them will have to play in the Wild Card game if they want to win the pennant. As I said before, the Indians shouldn’t need to, nor should the Astros, who are also a fair bet at +275.

The Dodgers are oozing with value in the National League, as they’re in a similar boat as the Indians. While potentially seven or eight teams will be fighting for playoff spots in the NL East and Central, the Dodgers should be much better than the competition out West. This playoff security provides some definite value in a bet like this.

At +600, the Nats are also a fine choice. As you’ll see in a minute, Fangraphs really believes they are undervalued in their division. Despite the value on these pennant odds, you may have noticed that their World Series odds at 12-1 do not have value.

However, keep in mind that these odds vary around the market. If you can get the Nationals at 14-1 or higher, you’re getting a solid price.

2019 MLB Division Odds

Though the Red Sox won the World Series last year, it’s the Yankees who are heavily favored in the eyes of Fangraphs this year. Fair division odds would be -180 for New York and +188 for the Sox.

In the Central, the Indians are apparently still a bargain despite their lofty -400 price tag. I was happy when I was able to bet on the Twins at +400.

The NL East could be the craziest division in the league, and clearly Fangraphs believes the books have overreacted to the Bryce Harper signing and other moves the Phillies have made. At +225, the Nationals to win the NL East may be Fangraphs’ favorite bet of them all, as they’d price them at -127.

The Central will also be tight, but Fangraphs thinks the Cubs are a clear rung above the Cardinals, who are a clear rung above the Brewers. For what it’s worth, they also didn’t like the Brewers last year and we all know how that played out.

2019 MLB Playoff Make/Miss Odds

As you may have expected, the Nationals and Cubs are once again showing a ton of value to make the playoffs. A lot of the elite teams are too, but I don’t think anyone wants to lay -800 on the Yankees for six months.

Of the American League fringe contenders (A’s, Twins, Angels and Rays), Fangraphs likes the Twins the most and the Angels the least.

Plenty of teams are offering value to miss the playoffs, with the Cardinals, Brewers and Rockies leading the charge.

To summarize, if I was Mr. Fangraphs (I’m not) and I was going to place some bets, here’s what I’d choose from (ignoring the super-heavy juiced options):

2019 MLB Value Bets

  • World Series: Astros +600 (18.6% projection, +438 fair odds)
  • World Series: Indians +1000 (12.7% projection, +687 fair odds)
  • AL Pennant: Indians +500 (20.7% projection, +383 fair odds)
  • NL Pennant: Dodgers +350 (30.3% projection, +230 fair odds)
  • NL Pennant: Nationals +600 (18.7% projection, +435 fair odds)
  • AL East: Yankees -140 (64.3% projection, -180 fair odds)
  • AL Central: Indians -400 (88.4% projection, -762 fair odds)
  • NL East: Nationals +225 (55.9% projection, -127 fair odds)
  • NL Central: Cubs +160 (48.8% projection, +105 fair odds)
  • Make playoffs: Cubs -110 (65.5% projection, -190 fair odds)
  • Make playoffs: Nationals +110 (80.2% projection, -405 fair odds)
  • Miss playoffs: Rockies -260 (82.5% projection, -471 fair odds)
  • Miss playoffs: Brewers -180 (74.9% projection, -298 fair odds)
  • Miss playoffs: Cardinals -110 (65.6% projection, -191 fair odds)
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