As we near the quarter way point of the baseball season, I figured it would be as good a time as any to update my odds-based power rankings for the season. If you’re interested in my methodology for deriving the Strength of Schedule and Power Rating, it can be found here in another blog post I made.
The odds used are, once again, World Series odds courtesy of Bovada. Without further ado, here are the MLB Power Rankings according to the betting market, for May.
|Rank||Team||Odds Rating||S.O.S.||Power Rating||∆ Ranking|
|1||Boston Red Sox||167.47||0.96||168.43||+4|
|2||New York Yankees||166.97||-1.26||165.70||0|
|6||Los Angeles Angels||161.47||-2.23||159.23||+4|
|7||Los Angeles Dodgers||159.47||-1.35||158.12||-6|
|9||San Francisco Giants||150.97||1.04||152.01||0|
|11||St. Louis Cardinals||151.47||-2.01||149.46||-4|
|14||Toronto Blue Jays||145.47||0.79||146.26||-3|
|16||New York Mets||151.47||-10.21||141.26||-2|
|23||Tampa Bay Rays||-26.53||6.91||-19.62||-1|
|25||San Diego Padres||-326.53||8.12||-318.41||-2|
|26||Chicago White Sox||-326.53||-1.06||-327.59||0|
|30||Kansas City Royals||-576.53||-0.55||-577.08||0|
The betting markets have Boston as the best team in baseball, which is surprising because, as of writing this, they’re not even the best team in their division. That being said, the Red Sox Odds Rating is slightly better that the Yankees, while still having an above average Strength of schedule; meanwhile the Yankees’ S.O.S. is rated as below average, meaning the markets think Boston is the better team, even in the face of having a harder schedule. Since I assume the Efficient Markets Hypothesis is true, then based on all available information, Boston is actually the best team in baseball.
The three biggest improvements of this month were the Atlanta Braves, jumping up 13 spots, the Arizona Diamondbacks, jumping 9 spots, and the Detroit Tigers, jumping 8 spots.
The Braves were something of a wild card team coming into the season, being a younger team, coming off of a 72 win campaign in 2017, likely led a lot of bettors to question how good they could be, despite some very hyped talent like Ronald Acuña Jr. In my estimation, the markets kept them at a middle-tier team to allow for them to either explode out, and make a post-season run, or fall back into a bridge year. So far, bettors like what they’ve seen as the Braves cracked the top 10 and beat out the Nationals for top rated spot among NL East teams.
The Diamondbacks are on a tear to start this season, being the only team in baseball yet to lose a series. Having an additional boost from the, previously #1 rated, Los Angeles Dodgers continuing to stumble out of the gate, Arizona has taken their spot as the highest rated NL team. Arizona was good last season, winning 93 games and a Wild Card berth, however the markets were seemingly skeptical that they would repeat that success this season. Those fears have been put to bed, as the team is currently the favorite to win the NL West and represent the National League in the World Series.
The Tigers are the biggest surprise on this list. Last season the Tigers bore the worst-team-in-baseball distinction and, with seemingly little off-season improvement, many figured the team would repeat as a near-100 loss team. So far this season, however, that has not been the case; as of writing this the Tigers are 15-21 and, thanks to no one else in the AL Central being above .500, they sit just 3.0 games back from 1st place. While I would be surprised if the Tigers actually make a post-season push, a combination of factors could see Detroit still in the hunt come the All-Star break or even the trade deadline.
The biggest losers were the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals who both dropped 6 spots and the Baltimore Orioles who dropped 9 spots.
The Dodgers start to the season has probably been the most shocking. Last season’s World Series runner-ups are currently 4th in the NL West, 8 games back from 1st, and just 3 games up on last place. With an injury plagued roster and even more bad news about a DL stint for Kershaw, it’s unclear where the short-term relief is going to come from for the team that has won the NL West the past 5 years. As the Dodgers get healthier, there is no doubt they will more competitive, the question is just when exactly that will be, and will they have enough time to right their ship. They’re still in the top 10, and they’re still rated as the 3rd best team in the NL, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too dramatic about this start, but the market is starting to turn on the Dodgers. If they don’t improve in relatively short order, the team could very well not make the playoffs, let alone the World Series, and will fall accordingly.
The Nationals had a similar start to their season going 12-16 in their first 28 games. Since then, they seem to have figured it out going 8-2 in this most recent 10 game stretch and sit just 2.5 games back from first place. Given their talent level and their upwards trend, I suspect this fall out of the top 10 will be reversed in the next power ranking and could easily make the top 5. The Nationals are playing in a better than expected division; Washington was supposed to be the only team above .500 this season, but currently there are 4. That being said, the Nationals roster is just too good to not to at least take the division race into late September.
The Orioles are having a tough year. Having decided to keep Machado in the off-season and try to compete with him one last time, Baltimore is off to the worst start in baseball with a .250 winning%. Baltimore has a tough schedule, playing in a division with the top two teams in baseball, a Blue Jays team that should be playing good baseball, and a Tampa Bay Rays team that is probably going to play .500 ball. All in all, it may be time for the O’s to just tank; I hear the Dodgers are in need of an All-Star short stop.
In my completely biased opinion, the Pirates are woefully underrated at 18. They’re currently playing at a 92 win clip, are tied for 2nd place, and sit just a half game out of first. The Bucs revamped offense has the 2nd most runs scored in the NL, and jumped from 29th in HRs last season to 10th overall this season. Their ERA of 4.20 is middle of the pack coming in at 16th overall however a lot of those runs have come in the form of “blowup” innings and games. This a problem that is somewhat expected, given that the Pirates have the second youngest pitching staff in the majors, with an average age of just 26.9 years old, nearly two full years below the league average according to Baseball Reference. This should stabilize as the season goes on and more of their pitching upside is realized. The Pirates have the potential to be a serious contender this season, especially considering their off-season moves of McCutchen and Cole has freed up a lot of money for the front office to add pieces come the deadline. The Pirates offense is solid but their major need is for the rotation to stabilize. If it does, I’d expect the Buccos to climb a few more positions come next ranking.