Could Change in Cubs’ World Series Odds Portend Big Move?
If ever there was a sign that things have gotten way too slow, it’s that we’ve gotten to the point of following quasi-conspiracy rabbit trails. Then again, the people who set betting lines for sports books usually know what they’re doing. So you can imagine how my eyebrows raised a bit when I saw the following tweet in a message thread from CI’s West Coast headquarters.
Because I miss baseball so much, let's just say there's an occasional dabble into the MLB World Series futures market on my offshore site. Three days ago, Cubs were 12/1. Nothing has happened. Checked again now… 9/1. That's a real move. Something MAY be afoot. #OffshoreKnows
— Rich Mayor (@CityHall03) January 25, 2018
Thankfully, this came across on one of the few nights I was actually asleep prior to 1 a.m. Had it come earlier or had I followed my usual pattern, I’d have probably stayed up a while longer. Am I crazy to put even the slightest amount of stock in what may be nothing more than an innocuous tweet? Well, I’m probably a little crazy anyway, but I actually think this dog might hunt.
While I’m far from an expert when it comes to betting and odds and all that, I know enough to understand that a line doesn’t shift from 12/1 to 9/1 for no reason. A bookmaker will move the numbers one way or the other based on a variety of factors, one of which is the amount of money being placed on a team.
So we could surmise that a lot of bets have been laid on the Cubs lately, thus prompting the line to move in order that the house doesn’t have as much on the line. But why would people suddenly be betting the Cubs when report dates are still a few weeks off and nothing has happened recently to spur enough action to change the odds so greatly.
That brings us to the matter of a team’s competitive outlook, which often comes from the acquisition or availability of players. Brian Duensing is a really nice addition to a bullpen that looks to be much improved over last season, but the veteran lefty isn’t a game-changer when it comes to a marked change in World Series odds. And he’s really the only addition the Cubs have made recently.
Well, they picked up Chris Gimenez on a minor-league deal, but that’s just…unless…no, it couldn’t be.
Or maybe it could. We’ve written more than once here about the ties between Gimenez and Yu Darvish and how the former was recruiting the latter to Minnesota earlier this winter. Then there’s the report of Darvish wanting to make a decision by the end of the week. So the drop to 9/1 odds has to be a result of the book thinking or knowing that Darvish is coming to Chicago, right?
Eh, maybe not. After all, the Cubs aren’t the only team aggressively pursuing Darvish, and there’s been a lot of chatter about the Twins. There’s an existing relationship with GM Thad Levine, formerly of the Rangers, and the Twins were the only team specifically mentioned in Jon Morosi’s tweet about Darvish’s impending decision. Then you’ve got their betting line.
Consider that Minnesota opened at 80/1 odds in the wake of the 2017 World Series and were still there in December. They were at 75/1 on Odds Shark as of January 8, at which point the Cubs were still at 12/1. But the most recent info at Hero Sports (as of Jan. 23 at 12:59 am ET) had the Cubs at 9/1 and the Twins at…28/1? Wow, talk about a big shift.
Again, I’m the furthest thing from an expert you’ll find on these topics, but I know that something has to be happening to influence such appreciable shifts from sports books. The people setting those lines know more about what’s going on behind the scenes than pretty much anyone else, so you could do worse than to heed their trends.
All that said, these changes could simply be due to natural correction during what has been an abnormally slow free agency period. Or maybe Minnesotans simply shifted their attention to baseball after watching the first quarter of the NFC title game, thereby forcing a change in the Twins’ odds.
The only thing I know for sure is I’m going out of my damn fool mind at this point and I just want this all to end before pitchers and catchers report on or around Valentine’s Day. Heck, I’ve already got cards made up in the event that Darvish indeed signs with the Cubs: I want Yu to want me.