Though I am a very casual bettor at best, as in two lottery tickets in a big year, I do keep an eye on what the oddsmakers are reflecting about the upcoming baseball season. It is also worthwhile to see change over time registered by those willing to invest their cash as it represents another measure of reaction to baseball events occurring around us.
Betting site thespread.com posts the 2011 World Series odds of all 30 teams. What makes their listing most interesting is they compare the current odds to what the opening odds were. While the site doesn’t indicate the date on which bets were first taken, it may have been shortly after the conclusion of the 2010 Series.
At opening, the St. Louis Cardinals were at 14/1, tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for fifth. Ahead of them were the usual suspects: the New York Yankees (4/1), Philadelphia Phillies (6/1), Boston Red Sox (10/1) and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants (10/1).
Since then, the Cardinals apparently were not as popular as expected among bettors as one is now able to secure 20/1 odds on them winning the 2011 Series. St. Louis is tied for sixth with the Rays and Minnesota Twins.
Top teams whose odds have trended in the other direction include the Phils (from 6/1 to a current-MLB best 13/4) and Red Sox (from 10/1 to 4/1).
What might have driven this change in the oddsmakers’ line on the 2011 Cardinals?
First of all, perhaps the initial placement of 14/1 was just too aggressive and didn’t attract enough play.
Another possibility is that their opponents were viewed to have improved more than they. The additions of Cliff Lee by the Phillies and Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in Boston might help explain the shift in odds for those two front-running clubs.
Closer to home, the Milwaukee Brewers shot up from 65/1 to 25/1. The acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum had to be a major driver. While the Cincinnati Reds stood relatively pat over the winter, their odds have eroded slightly from 20/1 to 25/1.
One other logical factor would be a view that the Cardinals themselves are considered less competitive today than earlier in the off-season. At first blush that would seem odd as their recent personnel changes are generally considered to be no worse than neutral and the club begins camp with an almost entirely healthy roster.
So what else might be behind it? Let’s see, what is the biggest story surrounding the 2011 Cardinals?
Might Albert Pujols’ contract situation and the resulting concerns about ongoing in-season distractions and their potential impact on the club’s on-field results be influencing the bettors?
Only those willing to lay down their money know for sure.