Rounding Third and Heading For Home: MLB Postseason Odds With a Quarter of the Season to Go

  • Oddsmakers see the Braves and Dodgers as locks to make the playoffs
  • The NL Central is a dogfight as nobody is strong enough to pull away
  • The AL East is by far the best team in MLB and might get four playoff teams
  • The Astros are favorites over the Rangers for the NL despite trailing in the division
Max Muncy rounding third on a homerun
The Braves and Dodgers are locks to make the postseason, but what do the odds look like for other teams with a quarter of the season left to play? [Image:]

There is roughly a quarter of the Major League Baseball season remaining, the trade deadline has passed, and teams are about to hit the home stretch as they battle for playoff spots. Now would be as good of a time as any, then, to take a look at what the sportsbooks have to say about teams’ chances as the pennant races heat up.

In breaking teams down by division, we will limit our discussion to teams that have a realistic shot to make the playoffs. All lines are provided by DraftKings. Why? Because they have lines from “to make the playoffs” all the way to win the World Series.

National League East

Atlanta Braves (+160 to win the NL, +330 to win the World Series)
Philadelphia Phillies (-1,000 to make the playoffs, +750 NL, +1,600 WS)
Miami Marlins (+130 playoffs, +2,800 NL, +6,000 WS)

You may notice there is no line on the Braves making the playoffs or winning the NL East. That’s because they are so far ahead of everyone in the division that there’s no point in posting odds. They are winning the division and making the playoffs. They are the best team in MLB, let’s move on.

The Phillies were seven games under .500 at the beginning June, but have the second-best record in the majors since then to not only get back in the Wild Card race, but to be the oddsmakers’ favorite to claim Wild Card spot. It’s been a wild ride since last year, when they lost in the World Series to the Houston Astros.

Luis Arraez was flirting with hitting .400

The Marlins are a fun team this year, bucking the odds as they went into the season +10,000 to reach the postseason. Last year’s Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara is rounding back into form and Luis Arraez was flirting with hitting .400 for about half the season. They have a negative run differential, though – their hitting might do them in.

National League Central

Milwaukee Brewers (-300 playoffs, -135 to win the division, +1,200 NL, +2,800 WS)
Chicago Cubs (-130 playoffs, +180 division, +2,000 NL, +5,000 WS)
Cincinnati Reds (+160 playoffs, +500 division, +3,000 NL, +7,000 WS)

The most competitive division in the league is the NL Central, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, as the competition has been decidedly mediocre. The Brewers’ are still the sportsbooks’ favorites, but their odds just got worse after getting swept by the Dodgers. Milwaukee’s pitching is outstanding, especially now that Brandon Woodruff is back and looking good, but their hitting is anemic. Their record in one-run games is fantastic because of that pitching, but they have no room for error in most games.

The Cubs looked like they had no chance for a while, but they have charged into the playoff race. [Image:]

The Cubs have been absolutely surging. They looked terrible for much of the season and were basically dead, but rattled off an eight-game winning streak before the trade deadline to turn them into buyers and have been doing well since. Their lineup is deep and pitching could be just good enough, even if it’s nothing exciting. It’s nice to see Cody Bellinger doing well again, just like Christian Yelich on the Brewers.

The Reds were the darlings of the NL for a while, as they took over first place riding a group of fun, young players. Elly De La Cruz is electric, yet Matt McLain is the best rookie on the team. They seem to be fading and likely don’t quite have enough this year to make a real run, but nobody is running away with the division, so they are still easily in the hunt.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers (-20,000 division, +190 NL, +400 WS)
San Francisco Giants (-165 playoffs, +4,500 division, +1,600 NL, +3,500 WS)
Arizona Diamondbacks (+235 playoffs, +30,000 division, +4,000 NL, +8,000 WS)

Coming off a sweep of NL Central-leading Milwaukee, the Dodgers are on an 11-game winning streak and would be the class of the Senior Circuit if it wasn’t for the Braves. It’s actually surprising that there are still odds posted on them to win the division, as they are 10.5 games ahead of the Giants as of Friday afternoon. If the NLCS doesn’t come down to Atlanta and L.A., it would be surprising.

in a dogfight for a Wild Card spot

The Giants have been another surprise team. They have a very shallow pitching rotation and a rotating cast of characters in the middle of the batting order, but are somehow still alive. The bullpen has had a big hand in that. They were actually right there with the Dodgers until fairly recently, but now they are in a dogfight for a Wild Card spot with the teams that don’t win the NL Central, Miami, and Arizona.

Speaking of Arizona, the Diamondbacks have come back down to earth after being in first place after the first week of July. Their odds are getting long, but they are still only one game out of the third Wild Card spot. Zac Gallen is the current favorite for NL Cy Young.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles (-20,000 playoffs, -220 division, +390 AL, +950 WS)
Tampa Bay Rays (-2,500 playoffs, +205 division, +400 AL, +800 WS)
Toronto Blue Jays (-195 playoffs, +2,000 division, +1,000 AL, +2,000 WS)
Boston Red Sox (+900 playoffs, +30,000 division, +11,000 AL, +20,000 WS)

The AL East is by far the best division in baseball. The worst team – and it’s amazing to say this – is the New York Yankees, and they’re only one game under .500. Of course, the problem here is that only one team can win the division and it is unlikely that the next three will all make the playoffs.

The Orioles are finally looking down at the rest of the league. [Image:]

The Baltimore Orioles – a team I told you to watch before the season started – are arguably the best story of 2023. They went through years of futility and nearly made the playoffs last year. Now they have the best record in the AL.

The reason the Orioles aren’t a division lock yet is because the Tampa Bay Rays are sitting right there, just a couple games behind. The Rays had a historic start to the season, winning their first 13 games to tie the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers for the longest winning streak to begin a season. They continued to roll, sitting at 57-28 at the end of June, but stumbled in July as the Orioles surged. Even if they don’t win the division, though, they are nearly a cinch for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays aren’t going to win the division and in some years would be in a comfortable Wild Card position, but the AL is so strong at the top that they are only a half game ahead of Seattle for the final playoff spot.

The Red Sox have been better than expected, entering the season at -5,000 to make the playoffs, but the AL is probably too good for them to claw back into a playoff spot.

American League Central

Minnesota Twins (-1,000 playoffs, -1,000 division, +800 AL, +1,800 WS)

Not much to say about the AL Central. It’s terrible. The Twins are barely above .500 and will easily win the division. Nobody else has much of a chance at the playoffs.

American League West

Texas Rangers (-2,000 playoffs, -125 division, +380 AL, +850 WS)
Houston Astros (-1,200 playoffs, +115 division, +330 AL, +700 WS)
Seattle Mariners (+110 playoffs, +1,300 division, +1,400 AL, +3,000 WS)

The Rangers, ANOTHER team I told you to watch, were also just +5,000 to make the playoffs before the season started and now they are in first place, 2.5 games ahead of defending champion Houston Astros, and a lock for the playoffs. They can absolutely rake and their pitchers have given up almost the fewest runs in the league. Adding Max Scherzer should help in the stretch run.

they have better odds than the Rangers to win the AL and the World Series

The Astros would be a lock for the playoffs if it wasn’t for the AL East. They’ll still probably make it, but right now, they have their sights set on catching the Rangers. Interestingly, while oddsmakers have them as underdogs right now to win their division, they have better odds than the Rangers to win the AL and the World Series. Why? Probably because the sportsbooks believe they are better than the Rangers and will likely at least make a Wild Card spot, so once the playoffs start, they have a perceived edge. They also reacquired Justin Verlander, a nice boost to the pitching staff.

The Mariners had a surprisingly good season last year and though they are not quite on the same pace, they are just a half game out of a playoff spot. They have an interesting schedule the rest of the way, with about half their remaining games against great teams and half against terrible teams.

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