-- On October 12, four teams remained in the 2014 MLB postseason but Vegas bookmakers were already looking forward to 2015. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released its future odds for the 2015 World Series, installing the Dodgers and Nationals as co-favorites at 6-1. While not much has changed for the two favorites (Dodgers still at 6-1, Nationals now 5-1), there have been some notable risers and fallers in terms of future odds.
Let's take a look at the most significant changes in the 2015 World Series odds from October 12, 2014 to today.
1. Chicago Cubs
According to Jay Kornegay, Vice President of Race and Sports at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, no team has more tickets on them to win the World Series than the Cubs, who opened at 40-1. The Cubs have always had public support, but this year they have put together an encouraging mix of young talent while adding proven winners. The hype for Kris Bryant, the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year, looks to be warranted with his performance this spring. The young talent doesn't end with Bryant; the Cubs have baseball's best farm system according to ESPN's Keith Law. As for proven commodities, Chicago added two-time World Series champion Jon Lester and two-time AL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon. Put it all together, and the Cubs are now the seventh favorite to win it all at 16-1.
Coming off a two-year stretch that included a World Series championship in 2013 and the sixth-worst record in baseball a year ago, the Red Sox opened at 25-1, tied for the 15th-best odds among MLB teams; now, there are just three teams with better odds than Boston's 12-1. The Red Sox made some significant changes to their roster this winter, as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were notable additions to what could be baseball's best lineup. While Boston missed out on bringing Lester back, the Red Sox traded for 15-game winner Rick Porcello and brought back Justin Masterson. What the Red Sox get from their pitching will ultimately determine their fate in 2015. To put Boston's offseason in perspective, it went from finishing 25 games out of first in 2014 to the American League East favorite at 7-4 odds in 2015.
The Cubs aren't the only Chicago team that has seen its Vegas outlook significantly change since October. The White Sox, despite being tied for the second-worst record in baseball in the last two seasons, have seen their odds change from 40-1 to 20-1. The reason? The White Sox addressed the bullpen in adding Zach Duke and David Robertson, the rotation in trading for Jeff Samardzija and the lineup by acquiring Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera.
The Padres have had just one winning season in seven years, but their 40-1 opening odds have since moved, and San Diego's aggressive offseason has a lot to do with it. The most notable additions came via trade, where the Padres acquired Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, among others. In free agency, San Diego signed James Shields to a four-year deal. Now, the Padres find themselves with an over/under win total of 84 and are currently 20-1 to win the 2015 World Series.
The Braves opened 20-1 to win the 2015 World Series, tied for the ninth-best odds among MLB teams. Bettors can now get Atlanta at 100-1 to win it all. Why is Atlanta -- a franchise that has made the playoffs 17 times in the last 23 seasons -- now considered a long shot to contend? The Braves appear to be in rebuilding mode after an offseason in which they lost three of their top five home run hitters in 2014 (Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward). Atlanta's season outlook has changed so much that its current odds to win the division at 40-1 are twice as bad as its opening World Series odds.
In 2011, the Phillies won 102 games en route to their fifth straight division title. However, that capped off a period of dominance, and Philadelphia has since fallen on hard times. After a last-place finish in 2014, the Phillies opened 100-1 to win it all in 2015. In the offseason, they traded their long-time shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, and are continuing to shop ace left-hander Cole Hamels. To make matters worse, Cliff Lee was placed on the 60-day disabled list and there's a good chance he will miss the entire 2015 season. A roster that continues to weaken along with a lack of betting support, have resulted in Philadelphia's odds dropping to 500-1. The outlook in Vegas for the Phillies is so bad that their odds to win the NL East are currently 200-1, twice as bad as any other team's World Series odds.
Despite having the AL's worst record in 2014, the Rangers opened a respectable 25-1 to win it all in 2015. A big reason was that Texas expected to start the season with a healthy Yu Darvish and Prince Fielder after both players had their season end early in 2014. In what was devastating news for the Rangers, it was announced that Darvish will be out for the entire 2015 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Now only four teams have worse World Series odds than Texas, who currently sit at 60-1.