Despite all the number-crunching and mathematical wizardry used to compile odds for sports, subjective opinion still comes into play when setting the odds. However, when a team starts as hot as the Red Sox have this season, there is little room for conjecture: sportsbooks have to act on it.
Before a pitch was thrown this season, the Red Sox were about the seventh or eighth favourites for the World Series. The Yankees, Dodgers and Astros led the way at the top of the odds, coming in around 6/1. Then came the Indians (7/1), Nationals (8/1) and Cubs (10/1). The Red Sox were in the region of ‘outside chance’, priced around 14/1. Some sportsbooks differed of course, but that was a general picture of the World Series odds on the eve of Opening Day.
27-3 destruction of Angels shifts Sox’ odds dramatically
Today, with the Red Sox finishing off the Angels in a three-game sweep and, at 16-2, registering the best start by any baseball team since 1987, those odds have changed dramatically. Some sportsbooks have been a little bit cautious. William Hill, for example, have cut the Red Sox’ odds to 8/1, but still have the Astros (6/1) and Yankees (7/1) ahead of them. Quite strange when you consider that the Sox have a 6.5 game (at the time of writing) lead in the AL East over the latter.
Others have acted with more certainty, with Bet365 putting the Sox and Astros as co-favourites at odds of 23/4. That’s less than half the odds than just three weeks ago. If you think the Sox look a little short, you can supplement your bet with the latest bookmakers offers, including free bets.
Signs are there that Sox can sustain hot start
Rather than worrying about the odds, the question for most Sox fans will be how long can the team keep this up? Well, without wanting to tempt fate: the signs look very good. Indeed, there is some suggestion that the Red Sox can even improve. For example, we know that the line-up will be bolstered once both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts come back from injury. The bull-pen also looks to be settling in after a shaky start.
But there is also signs that we are starting to see the best of J.D Martinez after a slow start. Martinez is hitting .464 in his last seven games, which includes seven hits in the final two games of the series against the Angels. Other players are also heating up. Mitch Moreland is .500 in his last seven games. And then, there is Mookie Betts. For the last couple of seasons, most Sox fans saw in Betts a good player who could potentially become a great one. Is it finally happening? His numbers suggest that it is. But, perhaps more importantly, Betts is taking on the kind of talismanic quality the Sox have lacked since the retirement of David Ortiz.
2017 Indians show that records count for nothing in postseason
Of course, there should be a note of caution to all this. Last season, the Cleveland Indians went on an historic 22-game win streak from August into mid-September. Those numbers counted for nothing when the Indians came up short in the 2017 ALDS. The point is great teams are not remembered for streaks and hot starts; they are remembered for winning in October and November. Let’s hope the Sox’ narrative is very similar six months from now.