Numbers Adjustment: Shortened MLB Schedule Leading To Altered Prop Bet Opportunities

Posted By Nate Weitzer on July 22, 2020 - Last Updated on July 24, 2020
MLB schedule Yankees Dodgers Aaron Judge

The MLB season kicks off this week and things will be very different this year, starting with the shortened schedule. Teams will play 40 division games and 20 interleague games against teams in similar regions to minimize travel concerns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Oddsmakers have moved quickly to adjust the MLB futures market on this unique season and postseason, and DraftKings Sportsbook is once again leading the charge in terms of unique offerings.

For the 60-game season, DK Sportsbook is offering season-long propositions for both players and teams, including whether any team will win 45 or even 50 games.

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Any team to win 45 or more games (+1800 at DK Sportsbook)

The primary candidates to top 45 wins are also the primary candidates to win the 2020 World Series, a list led by the Dodgers (+375), Yankees (+400), and Astros (+800).

Those aren’t the only teams capable of getting hot during a shortened stretch, with the Tampa Bay Rays (+1800) sticking out as a potentially dominant regular season team. The Rays play in the diminished AL East, with the Red Sox on an apparent rebuild, while the Blue Jays and Orioles remain two of the worst clubs in baseball. Tampa went 48-33 both at home and on the road last season, a winning percentage that would only translate to 35-40 wins in a shorter season. Yet those numbers also show how the Rays are relatively unaffected by venue and crowd noise. Led by fragile young aces Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, the Rays pitching staff is built for a sprint, and their bullpen remains one of the best in baseball after posting a league-best 3.71 ERA over a league-high 377 innings last season.

Taking this longshot bet casts a wide net that could pay off if an unlikely contender such as the Rays (or Twins) begin to thrive in this format. The same soft schedule for the Rays applies to a powerhouse team like the Yankees, and the Dodgers are also in a relatively weak division.

By the numbers, winning 45 games would be an incredible feat. The same winning percentage required to go 45-15 would translate to a 120-win campaign in a full 162-game season. This has never occurred, but the 2001 Mariners won 116 games and a smaller sample size opens the door for more extreme results.

The market for regular season win totals has softened since opening with the Yankees and Dodgers expected to win nearly 40 games. Now those contenders lead the market with a proposition of 37.5 wins at DK.

Winning 40 games in this shortened season would be equivalent to winning 108 games in a full season, a feat accomplished just once since 2001 (2018 Red Sox). Teams have won 100-plus games 10 times over the past three seasons, however, so a few extra percentage points could certainly occur in a smaller sample size.

Also read: Sportsbooks giving out boatloads of free cash for start of 2020 MLB season

Any team to win 50 or more games (+8000 at DK Sportsbook)

The proposition that a team could win 80 percent of their games in a shortened season has understandably long odds. While a much smaller sample size than a typical season, 60 games is still a large enough sample in which teams can drop several games due to unlucky factors.

Winning 50 games in a shortened season would be equivalent to winning 130 games in a 162-game season, which is 14 more wins than the current season-long record. There is almost no margin for error here, and it’s hard to imagine a team winning 80 percent of their games in the shortened season unless their pitching staff and offense are both absolutely on fire for two straight months.

Any pitcher to throw a no-hitter (Yes, +150 or No, -215)

This is an interesting prop bet considering there were four no-hitters tossed last season, but two of them involved multiple pitchers. So unless one starter makes it through all 9 innings, the No (-215) bet would still cash. It’s hard to imagine managers dragging their starter to a complete game effort during a condensed schedule.

Over 110 strikeouts (Yes, +125) and Over 125 strikeouts (Yes, +600)

Gerrit Cole became the 18th pitcher since 1900 to record 300 strikeouts last season and that is the high mark for a full season. A 60-game season is 37% the length of a full 162-game season, which is why the prop for 110 strikeouts is set at around 37% of the 300-strikeout mark. It seems unlikely that a pitcher gets to 125 Ks and 110 is also a bit of a tough call in a short season.

Note that there is a specific market for pitchers (Cole, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer) to top 100 Ks this season, which seems like a more attainable number and an opportunity to pick the ace you believe will have the longest leash over 60 games.

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