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MLB Playoff Expansion Shifts World Series Longshots’ Odds

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 4 mins

MLB Playoff Expansion Shifts World Series Longshots’ Odds

Major League Baseball’s one-year postseason expansion from 10 teams to 16 for the unique 2020 season drew praise and criticism from various corners.

But the news did not change the World Series betting odds of most of the top contenders. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of the two Opening Night games played on Thursday, remained co-favorites at +400.

However, for those considered MLB betting longshots to win it all, there was notable movement.

Of the top 22 teams on the World Series futures board at William Hill, only two of them had odds move on Thursday. But all eight of the bottom teams saw a significant drop of their championship odds.

CHECK OUT: The Ultimate Guide To Betting MLB Baseball In 2020

How World Series 2020 Odds Shifted

MLB’s owners had until the first pitch of the first game of the 2020 season to negotiate a one-season playoff expansion. They got a deal done with a couple hours to spare.

Eight teams from each league will now qualify the postseason. There is no one-game wild card, as has been the case in recent years with a 10-team playoff format. Instead there are eight first-round matchups, each a best-of-three series. Second-round series will be the usual best-of-five, with best-of-seven remaining for the League Championship Series and World Series.

Many believe it’s the right move in a baseball season unlike any that has happened before. Others say it dilutes a 60-game MLB regular season in which every game matters.

2020 World Series Favorites

Team Odds
Los Angeles Dodgers +400
New York Yankees +400
Houston Astros +650
Atlanta Braves +1200
Minnesota Twins +1300
Washington Nationals +1500
Tampa Bay Rays +1600
New York Mets +2000
Philadelphia Phillies +2000
St. Louis Cardinals +2000

Odds are from William Hill; they are accurate as of publication but subject to change.

There was nearly zero movement among the upper echelon in MLB futures betting on Thursday. Only two teams that started the day lower than +15000 saw its odds move on Opening Day. The Houston Astros, behind only the Dodgers and Yankees at +750, dipped to +600. Another team in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels, moved from +3500 to +3000.

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While the playoff expansion barely made a blip among the favorites, it created a seismic wave underneath. The eight teams not realistically considered in the MLB odds running are, at least to some extent, more so in the mix.

World Series 2020 Odds For Longshots

Team Thursday Odds Friday Odds
Colorado Rockies +15000+10000
Pittsburgh Pirates +20000+15000
San Francisco Giants +20000+15000
Seattle Mariners +30000+20000
Baltimore Orioles +40000+30000
Detroit Tigers +40000+30000
Kansas City Royals +40000+30000
Miami Marlins +40000+30000

The playoff field jumped by 37.5% -- each of these teams had their odds fall by 25% to 33%.

There still remains a sizeable gap between the top 22 and bottom eight. The Toronto Blue Jays (+6500) and Texas Rangers (+6600) were considered fringe playoff teams. The Rockies are next on the board.

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.