On September 12, 2011 the St Louis Cardinals were 500 to 1 to win NL pennant, and a whopping 999 to 1 to win the world series.
There were 15 games left in the season. Reading this article, you'd think they had to climb past 3 or 4 teams to make the playoffs, and basically go 15-0 or 14-1. The article is unbelievable in two respects:
1.that vegas and the betting public had the odds so wrong on the Cards to win the world series ( I put it at 63 to 1 for NL pennant, and 141 to 1 to win world series-I'll show how later).
2. that this article was written looking back, and they still got it wrong!
Here's the situtation:
As of September 12, 2011 according to mlb.com:
Stlouis was 79 and 68 4 losses back behind the Atlanta braves for the Wild card slot. With the Sf Giants two games behind them.
So they were in second place with 15 games to play. This limits the number of things you need to go right to win. Had there been 3 or 4 teams ahead of them, then that would increase their odds significantly.
Furthermore, St. Louis was 6-4 last 10, Atlanta was 3-7 last 10 on a 4 game losing streak. So the cardinals had gained 3 games over the last 10, and needed 4 more in the loss column over the next 15.
I put the odds of them winning the wildcard at (3-1) 25% .
Next, they would play the best team in the league. But this is baseball, where luck is a much bigger factor in each individual game than other sports. Also, the difference between the best and and good teams is not that much. Think about it, greatness in baseball is determined over months not in a week. It is routine for the best players to look like the worst players for a short period and vice versa. Also, what usually separates great teams from good ones is depth. That means the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starter for the worst team aren't anywhere close to the bottom of the rotation for the better one. But in the first round of the playoffs, you only need 2 good starters to win 3 out of 5 games. There isn't any need to rest them or worry about next week because if they lose, they're off for the winter! And hitting is fickle. Especially in a short series.
So all that being said, Ill still make the Phillies the big favorite and say
I put the odds of Cards winning 1st round at (6-1) 14%
If somehow they beat the above odds, all best are off. In reality, they'd be 50-50 against anyone. They'd be giant killers, and have incredible mommentum. But to give cushion.
I put the odds of Cards winning NL championship series at 45%
That puts the Cardinals at 63.50 to 1 to win NLCS.
Using same logic from above, give them 45% chance to win world series.
That puts the Cardinals at 141 to 1 to win world series.
Now that's betting value: something that will happen once in 65 times, paying out at 500 to 1.
Something that will happen once in 142 times, paying out at 999 to 1.
Maybe this article is mistaken on some facts. But if not, It goes to show if you do your homework, there's profit to be made.
Here's the best:
The articles claims Vegas actually talked the man down to this level, he wanted to bet more, and they didn't want to take his money out of sympathy:
'If you calculate it all out, the true odds for something like this to happen is 10,000/1,' he said
That's what makes a bet!
*note- even if I'm right, you'd still lose this bet on average 64 out of 65 times! just not 499 out 500 times!