WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
What the latest odds reveal about Houston Astros World Series aspirations
If you watch the small print of scores and news at the bottom of the screen during ESPN SportsCenter or their talk shows with Kendrick Perkins and Dan Orlovsky appearing on 15 different programs the same day, you may have noticed an important change this week.
For the first time all baseball season, the Houston Astros are not the betting favorite to win the 2023 World Series.
Of course there are reasons for downgrading the Astros stock – their inability to catch and release the Texas Rangers, plus injuries to key players like Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley and Lance McCullers Jr.
Still, seeing the Astros fall behind the Atlanta Braves as top betting choice to win the Fall Classic brought it home that the Astros’ slip may be showing.
The same day the Astros dropped as betting favorite, the ESPN news notes said, “Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. has surgery, out for the season, hasn’t pitched in 2023,” and “Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez out for four weeks with oblique strain.”
As of today, the Braves are the favorite, +450 to win it all, meaning you’ll win $450 if you plunk down $100 on Atlanta. The Dodgers are +500 and the Rays sit at +550, while the Astros are +700. The Rays are baseball’s biggest surprise so far – they were +2,200 on Opening Day. They’re currently in first place in the American League East with a MLB best 50-22 record.
Curiously, and we have no problem with this, bettors have little confidence in the AL West-leading Rangers, sitting 3.5 games ahead of the Astros. Despite their early success, the Rangers currently are +1,400 longshots to win the World Series.
My soul won’t allow me to bet on, and therefore root for the Rangers, but as those tout sheet wiseguys would say, there’s value there. Or as Cosmo Kramer would put it, “that’s some sweet action.”
While injuries continue to plague the Astros, bettors still hold them in decent regard at +700.
Are the Astros a good gamble? The odds are against them repeating as champions. But there’s one guy who’s keeping the faith. Jim McIngvale is putting his money and Sealy Posturepedics on the Astros again.
Let’s turn back the clock one year. You could say that Mattress Mack had some pretty good fortune backing the locals in 2022.
In May, Mack bet $3 million on the Astros at +1,000. He made the bet on the Caesars Sportsbook app while sitting in a Subway parking lot just over the border into Louisiana. It’s stupefyingly stupid that Texans have to do that if they want to bet on sports legally. In July, when the odds on the Astros fell to +500, Mack doubled down with a $2 million wager on BetMGM, $2 million at Barstool Sportsbook (“one bite, everybody knows the rules.” and $1 million each at Wynn, Unibet and Betfred.
The Astros won it all and Mack backed up his truck to collect $75 million – a historic one-day haul in sports gambling.
The Astros have been a good bet since their wild rollercoaster ride began in 2017. They opened that season as +1,500 longshots, behind the Giants (+1,400), Nationals (+1,000), Dodgers (+900), Red Sox (+900), Indians (+450), and this surprised me, the betting favorite Cubs (+400).
Bottom line, and really that’s all that counts, if you had bet $1,000 on the Astros at the beginning of each season 2017-22, you would have won $26,000 minus your initial investment and losing wagers in 2018-19-20-21, for about a $20,000 windfall. And for one person, minus refunds on all those mattresses.