Mere hours after clinching their second pennant in three years, the Houston Astros were conferred the best World Series odds in over a decade.
Westgate deemed the Astros as -220 favorites with Caesars Sportsbook opening at -235. Even at the lower figure, that’s largest odds for a favorite since the 2007 Boston Red Sox were -240 favorites over the Colorado Rockies.
For the uninitiated, lines bigger than -200 are rarely seen at this level because people don’t often think things will be so lopsided. The implied odds from a -220 line is that the Astros will win 68.8 percent of the time — 70.1 percent if you use the Caesars line. And given how talented the Washington Nationals are, that seems very high.
Should the Astros be this heavily favored?
It’s hard to argue that the Astros shouldn’t be the favorites in the Fall Classic. It’s entirely possible that they’ve got the top two Cy Young Award finishers, the MVP and the Rookie of the Year, and that’s before getting to José Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and Zack Greinke.
The Astros led baseball with 107 wins, and the numbers showed even more dominance. They led all teams with 66.2 WAR, which was 7.4 more than the second-place New York Yankees.
But it’s easy to sleep on the Nats, especially given their playoff history. Washington had never won a postseason series before this month and constantly failed to meet expectations. Still, that’s no reason to ignore how talented they are this year even after letting go of one of the game’s best players.
The Nationals are potentially the only team that can match Houston in starting pitching. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Aníbal Sánchez have combined to give up just nine runs in 54.2 innings in October. Patrick Corbin has been the weak link with a 7.43 ERA, but seven of his runs came from one ill-fated relief outing.
Washington too has star hitters with Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner and the suddenly resurgent Howie Kendrick. The big difference, though, is in relief, where the Nats had a 29th-ranked 5.68 ERA, while the Astros ranked second at 3.75.
Houston still deserves to be favored, but it’s probably closer to the 60 percent favorites that FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings say. That would put their odds at -150, which is within 15 points of each of the last three World Series favorites.
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