The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nats are the preseason World Series favorites which means they won’t win title

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)
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The Washington Nationals (93.0) and Los Angeles Dodgers (92.5) have the highest projected season win totals according to numbers posted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Philadelphia Phillies have the lowest (68.5).

That makes the Nationals the favorite to win the 2015 World Series at 6-to-1. And that’s not a good thing.

Since 2009, just one team won the championship after being installed as the preseason favorite: the 2009 New York Yankees. On Mar. 5 they were plus-300 on the money line and beat the Phillies in six games. Incidentally, Philadelphia was the second favorite that year (plus-850).

The following year oddsmakers again had the Yankees as the favorite (plus-325 on Feb. 15), but they lost in the ALCS to the Texas Rangers.

In 2011 the Phillies were plus-350 on Feb. 10 and Mar. 31, but couldn’t make it past the eventual champion  St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

A year later the Phillies were again the preseason favorites (plus-550) and missed the playoffs completely, finishing in third place of the NL East, 17 games behind the Nationals.

In 2013, the oddsmakers were impressed with the Nationals’ 98-win season the year before and moved them from co-favorites with the Angels and Tigers on Dec. 1 (plus-800) to the sole favorite by Mar. 31 (plus-750). The Nats did not qualify for the postseason after posting an 86-76 record.

Last season, the Dodgers were tabbed as the favorite (plus-700 on Mar. 30) but lost the NLDS in four games to the Cardinals.

The World Series winners since 2010 were all at least 20-to-1 long shots in the offseason but no worse than 30-to-1:

  • 2010 San Francisco Giants, 25-to-1
  • 2011 St Louis Cardinals, 20-to-1
  • 2012 San Francisco Giants, 20-to-1
  • 2013 Boston Red Sox, 28-to-1
  • 2014 San Francisco Giants, 20-to-1

Using that quick-and-dirty guideline, here are the teams in that range (odds provided by as of Feb. 17, 2015) and their projected 2015 win total from Fangraphs.