MLB Playoffs: The Betting Odds Are In (For Entertainment Purposes Only)

CINCINNATI: Pete Rose takes part in the ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of his breaking the career hit record of 4,192. He was honored before the start of the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

If you're reading Baseball Nation, you're probably a serious baseball fan. You don't need to gamble to enjoy the games. That stuff is for college basketball, Super Bowls, and serious Dungeons & Dragons players. So this post isn't for you. This post is pretty much for Norm McDonald. I hope he enjoys it.

But if you're a little curious about the playoff odds for the MLB Division Series ...

Odds to win the 2011 World Series

Philadelphia Phillies - 7/4
New York Yankees - 4/1
Detroit Tigers - 7/1
Milwaukee Brewers - 15/2
Tampa Bay Rays - 8/1
Texas Rangers - 8/1
Arizona Diamondbacks - 14/1
St. Louis Cardinals - 14/1


If you're a true believer in the theory that the playoffs are a crapshoot, you might think that the Diamondbacks and Cardinals aren't given enough respect. On the other hand, Kyle Lohse. If every team were evenly matched, they'd all have a 12.5% chance of inning the World Series. Obviously, though, the Phillies and Cardinals aren't exactly evenly matched teams. The Phillies don't have anyone nearly as gritty as Nick Punto. If you could tape him and Skip Schumaker together, why, that would be like a bear holding a shark, but grittier.

So long story short: None of these are great odds. I'd say Diamondbacks and Cardinals are the closest to decent odds, and of those two, the Diamondbacks are probably the best bet. Which is to say, not that great of a bet. It's almost as if the casinos intentionally stack the odds so they make money.

And the corollary to that is that the Yankees at 4/1 is like the tongue of the alligator snapping turtle. You pass by and think, "Say, is that a nourishing and delicious worm?" and then it bites your hand off when you grab for it.

Though the Yankees have close to 25% of all the World Series that have been played. Maybe there's something there ...

Odds to win the 2011 AL Pennant

New York Yankees - 3/2
Tampa Bay Rays - 4/1
Texas Rangers - 13/4
Detroit Tigers - 13/4

"But the Yankees are my favorite team! I have to bet on them! When am I going to be in Atlantic City during the playoffs again? If Jamie doesn't like it, just tell her that a lot of her friends are going to community college. There's no shame in it. And if I win, why I'll ..."

Odds to win the 2011 NL Pennant

Philadelphia Phillies - 4/7
Milwaukee Brewers - 15/4
Arizona Diamondbacks - 6/1
St. Louis Cardinals - 13/2

Wow. The Phillies are almost certainly the best team in baseball, but if I'm putting $100 down on any team to win two consecutive playoff series, I want more than $57 back if they actually do it.

2011 World Series Exact Matchup

Detroit Tigers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - 28/1
Detroit Tigers vs. Milwaukee Brewers - 18/1
Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 11/2
Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals - 28/1
New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - 14/1
New York Yankees vs. Milwaukee Brewers -10/1
New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 5/2
New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals - 15/1
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - 30/1
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Milwaukee Brewers - 20/1
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 13/2
Tampa Bay Rays vs. St. Louis Cardinals - 33/1
Texas Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - 25/1
Texas Rangers vs. Milwaukee Brewers - 18/1
Texas Rangers vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 11/2
Texas Rangers vs. St. Louis Cardinals - 28/1

Each of these permutations has something around a 6.5% chance of happening. Obviously the best teams make things a little likelier, but not enough to get super excited about any of these odds. Unless I'm doing the math wrong, which is possible. I was an English major.

There you go, Norm. I loved you in Billy Madison, and your Burt Reynolds impression always slays me. Hope these odds serve you well.

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