How the Offseason Could Impact the Twins' World Series Odds
Image courtesy of © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsAfter a record setting 2019, the Twins were +2500 to win the 2020 World Series, just a 3.8% chance. Exactly a year later, after an underwhelming 2020, they’re at +1400 (6.6% chance) to win in 2021. What can history tell us about the movement of these odds as players move around the league? Does it matter who the Twins sign from a betting perspective?
To attempt to answer that question I will look at the free agents that MLB Trade Rumors (MLBTR) predicts could end up in a Twins uniform and use historical data from the last three seasons to help determine that players impact on their odds to win. As I did previously, I will provide you with the odds to win as well as the percentages using the formula odds/(odds +100). Does a big splash correlate to a big move in the odds? How do important role players and relievers, like Marwin Gonzalez or Trevor May, influence the oddsmakers despite not playing everyday? It’s time to find out.
MLBTR has Bauer ending up with the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, but they do list the Twins as a potential suitor and give various reasons why he might not fit on some other big name teams (i.e. Yankees). To look at his possible impact on the oddsmakers, let's look no further than the 2019-2020 offseason when the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole who was also coming off a Cy Young Award season. Cole signed with the Evil Empire on December 11th which improved the Yankees odds to +400 (20% chance) on signing day from +600 (14% chance) just six days earlier.
I’d imagine that Bauer would have an even bigger impact on the Twins current odds of +1400 (6.6%) as +600 (14.2%) was already plenty good. It’s also possible that failing to sign him will decrease the Twins odds. When Cole signed with the Yankees, the fact that the Houston Astros failed to re-sign him moved their odds from +500 (16.6%) to +550 (14.8%).
The Twins slugger is projected to stay with the team by MLBTR, although that largely depends on whether or not the National League continues to use a designated hitter. According to a tweet from the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal, this is likely not to happen...for now.
Nelson Cruz is nearly in a class of his own being one of the league’s premier players at his position where he only has up to 14 other full-time competitors at any given time. Over the last few seasons, he and J.D. Martinez are really the most notable free agent signings, so why not look at his impact on the Twins 2019 World Series odds. Unfortunately, Sports Betting Dime’s first published odds of the 2019 World Series are after the Twins signed Cruz on January 2nd, but being that he was already part of the team in 2020, I don’t see a potential re-signing impacting the odds too much.
Trevor May and Kirby Yates
MLBTR has May and Yates as the fourth and sixth best relievers, respectively. Both enter the market coming off a down or injured year. It would be my opinion that middle relievers aren’t going to have a huge impact on World Series odds due to their volatility and, although being used in high leverage situations, they are the least utilized player on the roster from an innings perspective.
To validate this let's look at arguably the biggest relief pitcher signing of the last three offseasons: Wade Davis to the Rockies on December 29th, 2017. On November 24th, SBD had the Rockies at +4000 odds (2.4%) to win the 2018 World Series while by January 10th they were +3300 (2.9%) which is a bigger jump than I would have thought, but it’s also important to note they signed two other relievers in Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee in that timeframe. Because of their positions and especially with May already being on the team in previous seasons, I don’t see either of these signings moving the odds.
Given his age, injury history, and peak the only player I can really think that compares here would be Johan Santana. Even if he ends up with the Twins like MLBTR predicts, I don’t see a figurative lottery ticket moving the odds one way or another.
The Twins are in need of a utility player as Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza are both set to be free agents this offseason. Like relief pitchers and figurative lottery tickets, I don’t see a utility player moving the needle a ton. But for the sake of the article, let’s look at how Marwin Gonzalez (admittedly a much better player than Profar) impacted the Twins 2019 World Series odds when he signed on February 25th, 2019.
Around the same time the Twins were signing super-utility Gonzalez, the Phillies and Padres landed a couple of super free agents themselves - Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. That might explain why the Twins odds February 20th (+5000 or 2%) were actually better than on March 27th (+5867 or 1.7%).
It’d be impossible to draw any concrete conclusions about the above data, but here’s what we can summarize and possibly already knew. A big splash signing (i.e. Bauer) will move somebody’s odds significantly if the oddsmakers weren’t already anticipating the big free agent to land in a certain spot. On the other hand, as seen when the Twins signed Marwin, a big splash signing will also hurt the odds of teams who lost out on the free agent.
Only owning the 10th best odds in baseball, it’s clear the Twins will need to make a move to improve those odds. Bauer is obviously a huge piece to this puzzle, but I think the key to this season, more than making a big splash in free agency, is how they handle their top prospects. Do they trade one or two for that immediate difference maker or do they commit to giving them playing time with the assumption there will be a learning curve early on? What do you think the Twins should do this offseason? Make a splash whether it be free agency or a trade, or rely on the likes of Rooker, Kiriloff, etc. to contribute in 2021?
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