The St. Louis Cardinals' improbable run to a World Series burned books for some lofty paydays last fall.
The Cardinals, who snuck into the National League Wild Card spot thanks to an amazing run down the stretch, knocked off the favored Philadelphia Phillies, NL Central-winning Milwaukee Brewers, and downed the Texas Rangers in seven games en route to cashing World Series futures tickets as large as 500-1.
And, at the midway point of 2012 season, St. Louis has books on edge again. The Cardinals, sitting third in the NL Central, are among a handful of clubs that could reach deep into the bookmakers’ pockets if they win the World Series.
Here’s a look at St. Louis and five other teams books don’t want to see win the World Series this October:
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals don’t have the tantalizing price they did late into last season, but books had them as high as 35-1 to win the World Series earlier this year. Action on St. Louis has driven that down to 12-1, which is where the club opened the World Series futures back in the winter.
“They’re a quality team and have kind of underachieved as well,” Jay Kornegay, executive director of the race and sports book for the LVH, told Covers. “They have a loyal following no matter where you go and have a history of support in the futures book.”
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers exploded out of the gate this April, forcing books to rapidly adjust their World Series odds as bet after bet came in on Los Angeles. The Dodgers opened the season as big as 75-1 to win the Fall Classic and are currently priced at 20-1 after injuries took their toll on the team’s superstars. However, those missing pieces haven’t slowed action on L.A.
“That was the one team they started betting and kept taking them as the Dodgers kept winning,” Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker for Lucky’s Race and Sports Book, told Covers. “Everything else is looking pretty good. But the Dodgers would be a big hit.”
Toronto Blue Jays
Heading into the 2012 campaign, the Blue Jays had a quiet buzz about them among MLB sharps. An improved bullpen and a power-packed lineup, Toronto took its share of World Series bets and is still available as large as 75-1 in Las Vegas. It seems Canadian baseball bettors had faith in the nation’s team as well, flooding one online book with Jays money.
“With a large Canadian clientele, we are always loaded up on Toronto teams, and the Jays are always popular,” Aron Wattleworth, of bet365.com, told Covers. “They play in the toughest division in baseball and while it’s unlikely that Toronto wins the (AL East), they are in the thick of the wild card race.”
OK, so the sportsbooks aren’t really sweating this one. The Cubs are terrible, sunken to the bottom of the National League with 33-52 record at the break. But that record – or years of futility – don’t register with baseball fans on Chicago’s north side. The Cubbies continue to be one of the most heavily bet World Series futures, available as high as 1000-1 after opening at 40-1.
“They bet all that money, Cubs fans… can you believe it?,” laughs Kornegay. “We took most of the action when they went to 500-1. But you never know. VCU, it’s happened before.”
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels drew a ton of futures money when they signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this winter. Los Angeles to win the World Series was available as large as 20-1 but Halos money has dropped those prices to as low as +650 with some shops currently dealing L.A. at +1200. The Angels are second in the AL West and have the inside track for the Wild Card.
“Action has been picking up on them again more recently,” says Wattleworth. “Obviously, it’s possible that they get in via the division winner or the wild card, but the wild card race is currently very tight, so it’s not too bad a position to be in.”
The Bucs have been making bucks for Pittsburgh faithful, earning close to 19 units en route to first place in the NL Central at the break. Pirates fans could toss a hefty futures payday on top of those profits if Pittsburgh can win the World Series. The Pirates opened as 200-1 long shots with most of the money coming in on them at 100-1. They’re currently listed at 25-1.
“A few people jumped on that gravy train,” Kornegay says of the Pirates’ opening odds. “We’ve taken some bets, but not a significant amount. The Cubs winning would dim the lights, but not so much the Pirates.”