The road to the World Series runs through New York. That is, according to the betting public.
No doubt similar to results at other sportsbooks in New York — and across the country, for that matter — both DraftKings Sportsbook and BetRivers Sportsbook report that the New York Mets and New York Yankees sit among the NY sports betting favorites to lift the Commissioner’s Trophy at season’s end in terms of public betting.
It stands to reason: The Mets have shelled out historic levels of salary to build a win-now team, highlighted by the reunited pitching tandem of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander; the Yankees come off a year in which they set the pace in the American League, only to taper off toward the end of the season and ultimately lost in the league championship series. Both have MVP-level contenders in Pete Alonso and Aaron Judge.
While inspiring to see the public get behind New York’s finest, just how has that translated onto the field?
Mets, Yankees among MLB betting favorites by public
To be clear, neither the Mets nor the Yankees stand as the odds-on favorite to win the World Series. Rather, according to both DraftKings Sportsbook NY and BetRivers Sportsbook NY, the Houston Astros have the shortest odds to claim the MLB championship for the third time since 2017.
That is not to say that New York’s baseball clubs don’t rank high among the favorites. The Yankees, for example, are top three at both DraftKings () and BetRivers () to win their 28th World Series. Similarly, the Mets rank in the top five ( and ) to claim the title for the first time since 1986.
Yet while Houston leads the charge, the public backed the Big Apple heading into the 2023 MLB season.
|DraftKings Sportsbook NY||BetRivers Sportsbook NY|
|New York Mets +950||New York Mets +900|
|New York Yankees +750||Houston Astros +625|
|Philadelphia Phillies +1800||New York Yankees +700|
|San Diego Padres +950||San Diego Padres +900|
|Boston Red Sox +6000||Atlanta Braves +800|
How have betting favorites fared?
Many factors go into sportsbooks setting MLB betting odds heading into the season.
Player personnel, from returning talent to new guys on the roster. Scheduling. Injuries. Even how teams out of division, or even out of league, stack up with their own opponents.
When sportsbooks post futures, there is some science to it. The Astros, for example, have been perennial contenders over the past six years. Low turnover, consistent play, relatively weak division. And Houston has lived up to the billing. The Astros, from betting odds to expert opinion, continue to be among the teams to beat.
That said, not every favorite goes on to win the championship. In fact, sometimes an under-the-radar club goes on to win. The Kansas City Royals, for example, entered the 2015 season with +3300 odds to win the World Series.
MLB betting favorites carry weight, but not always a winner
It’s a small sample size, but take into account the past two seasons’ worth of preseason MLB betting data from DraftKings.
Heading into 2022, the Mets were the most-bet-on team to win the World Series, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. Let’s see how those teams ended the year:
- Mets: 101-61, 2nd NL East, lost in Wild Card
- Dodgers: 111-51, 1st NL West, lost in Championship Series
- Yankees: 99-63, 1st AL East, lost in Championship Series
- White Sox: 81-81, 2nd AL Central, missed playoffs
- Red Sox: 78-84, 5th AL East, missed playoffs
Rewind now to 2021, when the White Sox had the highest percentage of bets, followed by the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and San Diego Padres:
- White Sox: 93-69, 1st AL Central, lost Division Series
- Mets: 77-85, 3rd NL East, missed playoffs
- Yankees: 92-70, 3rd AL East, lost Wild Card
- Dodgers: 106-56, 2nd NL West, lost Championship Series
- Padres: 79-83, 3rd NL West, missed playoffs
Consider the recap: Over the past two years, of the top 10 teams backed by the public, four missed the postseason entirely. Only three advanced to the league championship series. Not one made it to the World Series.
Even teams with best odds didn’t win
Over that same span, eight of those 10 teams featured the best odds to win the MLB championship. The only clubs not to receive much public backing was the Toronto Blue Jays in 2022 and the Atlanta Braves in 2021.
Last year, Toronto took third in the AL East with a 92-70 record but lost in the Wild Card. The previous season, the Braves, with the fifth-best odds, took the NL East with an 88-73 record and went on to win the World Series.
All told, history does not bode well for preseason odds-on favorites. Going back to 1985, the preseason favorite lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy just six times. The last was the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Interestingly, the Yankees (1999, 2000, 2009) and the Mets (1986) also accomplished the feat.