Dodgers’ NL Pennant Odds Give LAD a 55.9% Chance to Reach the World Series – Is That Good Value?

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw warming up.

Clayton Kershaw and the long-favored LA Dodgers have seen their NL Pennant odds reach new heights after taking a 1-0 lead on the San Diego Padres in the 2020 NLDS. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr).
  • The LA Dodgers took a 1-0 lead on the San Diego Padres in their best-of-five NLDS on Tuesday
  • If they get past the Padres, the Dodgers appear to be on a collision course with the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS
  • Despite still needing to win six more games against the second and third-best teams in the NL, LA is a -155 favorite to advance to the World Series

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers used a four-run sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie with the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of their best-of-five NLDS, cruising from there to a 5-1 victory.

Oddsmakers have put the Dodgers in their own tier in the National League all season. Heading into the second round of the MLB postseason, LA was a heavy -144 favorite to win the NL Pennant. After last night’s victory – which put them just two wins away from a berth in the NL Championship Series – the Dodgers’ NL Pennant odds have shortened to -155, on average.

2020 NL Pennant Odds

Team 2020 NL Pennant Odds Implied Probability
Los Angeles Dodgers -155 60.8%
Atlanta Braves +239 29.5%
San Diego Padres +700 12.5%
Miami Marlins +1575 6.0%
Total 108.8%

Odds as of Oct. 7, 2020.

As with all sports-betting odds, the cumulative probability in the NL Pennant futures exceeds 100%. In this case, the juice is 8.8%.

To figure out where the betting market has set the true odds and true probability, that extra 8.8% needs to be extracted.

The table below shows the moneyline and probability once the juice has been deducted (assuming the 8.8% was spread out evenly over all four teams).

NL Pennant True Odds and Probability

Team True Odds True Probability
Los Angeles Dodgers -127 55.9%
Atlanta Braves +269 27.1%
San Diego Padres +770 11.5%
Miami Marlins +1718 5.5%
Total 100%

Are the Dodgers Good Value at Short Odds?

In order to have positive expected value, the Dodgers’ true probability needs to be higher than the implied probability of their actual odds (i.e. greater than 60.8%).

The average true moneyline from the first two games against San Diego is roughly -185 (65%). Giving LA a 65% chance to win each game against San Diego (while already up 1-0) results in the Dodgers having an 87.4% chance to win the best-of-five series. (In reality, that’s a generous moneyline to set for the Dodgers over the duration of the series, as co-aces Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw started Games 1 and 2, respectively. But for the sake of argument, let’s give LAD the benefit of the doubt.)

In order to get to the World Series, they will also have to win the NLCS, of course. And in order to have a 60.8% chance to reach the World Series, they would need to have a 69.6% chance (at minimum) to win that best-of-seven NLCS.

With the Braves up 1-0 on the Cinderella Miami Marlins (and leading Game 2 by a 2-0 score at the time of writing), let’s assume that the NLCS is a meeting between Los Angeles and Atlanta.

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Entering a best-of-seven with the Braves, the Dodgers need to have, on average, a 68% chance to win each game in order to have a 69.6% chance to win the series as a whole.

Converting the probability back into odds, their true moneyline against the Braves needs to be -223 (on average) in each game.

2020 World Series Odds Tracker

Would the Dodgers Be Huge Favorites Over the Braves in the NLCS?

LA and Atlanta have no head-to-head history from 2020 to scrutinize. But if we go back to last season, when they were once again the top-two teams in the NL, the Dodgers were -173 moneyline favorites on average over their three-game set at Chavez Ravine.

The Braves were outright favorites in two of their three meetings in Atlanta.

While the Dodgers are a stronger team this year than last in terms of run differential (+2.27 runs per game vs +1.69 runs per game in 2019), so is Atlanta (+1.0 runs per game vs +0.69 runs per game in 2019).

The Dodgers are rightful favorites to win the NL Pennant, but wagering on LA at -155 odds at this stage is not a +EV bet unless I am drastically underestimating Miami’s chances of coming back against the Braves.

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