Despite the continuing impasse between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association on a revenue-sharing plan for an abbreviated 2020 season, the league at least appears ahead of several others on a proposed return.
Earlier this month, MLB owners approved a proposed return to play framework that aims to open the season in July following a brief training-camp period. The proposal reportedly calls for an 82-game regular season with the possibility of an expanded playoff format. The schedule is expected to be regionalized for the shortened season, removing any cross-country trips for the Colorado Rockies.
Under the proposal, the Rockies’ opponents for the season would entirely be teams from the National League West and American League West. For a Rockies team that finished last year fourth in the NL West, 35 games behind the Dodgers, little is expected in 2020. But will the modified schedule have a discernible effect on Rockies’ season win-percentage wagers? Even with the schedule changes, the Rockies still remain a long shot to make the playoffs.
NL West divisional struggles
Colorado went 71-91 in 2019, by far its worst season since 2015. The Rockies did not fare much better within the division, finishing 32-44 against NL West rivals. Colorado went 4-15 against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, including a three-game sweep by Los Angeles in early September when the Rockies were outscored, 28-14.
Had MLB started the season on time, a litany of top sportsbooks projected the Rockies to have another trying year. FanDuel Sportsbook projected the Rockies’ season win total at 73.5 wins, one above the total set by DraftKings. PointsBet USA, another major sportsbook, set the Rockies’ win total at 75.5, good for fourth in the NL West.
With the proposed schedule adjustments, the Rockies’ season win-percentage total at PointsBet currently stands at 45%. Based on an 82-game schedule, the Rockies would need to finish at least 37-45 to hit the over. Over a 162-game schedule, the same win percentage translates to around 73 wins.
“Assuming the limited information about the new schedule is true, the only adjustments we’d make for now would be based on the change in strength of schedule,” a PointsBet trader told COBets. “In this scenario, the Rockies’ schedule would be slightly stronger than that of a typical season.”
Legalized sports betting launched in Colorado on May 1. As of May 26, six Colorado sportsbook operators accepted sports wagers on their respective mobile betting platforms. The start of the MLB season has been delayed several months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the Rockies figure to play the majority of their games against the NL West, they will likely face the Dodgers more than a dozen times during the abbreviated season. With the addition of 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price, the Dodgers are 3/1 favorites at PointsBet to win the 2020 World Series. The Dodgers won an NL-best 106 games in 2019, nine more than the Braves, the next closest team.
August wouldn't be the dog days of summer this time around for @MLB.
With an 82-game schedule played against regionally appropriate opposition, win totals and playoff odds would shift dramatically.https://t.co/toEIapaAnj
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) May 19, 2020
While the Rockies’ other NL West opponents are expected to replicate their performances from a season ago, the books largely anticipate a bounce from San Diego. The Padres, who finished fifth at 70-92, will benefit from the return of a healthy Fernando Tatis Jr., a potential NL MVP candidate. Tatis hit .317 with 22 home runs in 2019 despite missing nearly half the season with a back injury. PointsBet’s trading team set the prop on the Padres’ win percentage at 50.5%, a figure that is considerably higher than the Giants (over/under 42) and the Rockies. The Diamondbacks, who won 85 games a season ago, have a total of 52.5%.
Although the Rockies could play several games against the Mariners, a perennial cellar dweller in the AL West, other bottom feeders such as the Tigers, Royals and Pirates would be erased from the schedule under the proposal. The Astros won 107 regular-season games in 2019, one more than Detroit and Kansas City combined.
Frustrated by constant trade rumors throughout the offseason, Rockies All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado could be motivated for another productive season at the plate. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Arenado is co-favored (13/1) to finish the season with the most hits in Major League Baseball. In 2019, Arenado recorded 185 hits despite missing seven games. Arenado also has odds of +1800 to win NL MVP at FanDuel, seventh among all candidates.
Arenado has odds of 20/1 to capture NL MVP at FOX Bet, a newcomer to the Colorado marketplace. Another Rockies star, shortstop Trevor Story, is considered more of a long shot at FOX Bet, with odds of 40/1. Story is the only shortstop in the entire league to record at least 35 homers in each of the last two seasons.
Which #Rockies star would you rather put your money on to win NL MVP? 🏆
— FOX Bet Sportsbook (@FOXBet) May 19, 2020
When it comes to the Rockies’ futures odds, there are other considerations at play, according to PointsBet, namely whether fans will be allowed in the stadiums and if teams will play any games at their spring-training locations. The Rockies normally play their home contests at Coors Field, one of the most hitter-friendly parks across the league.
Still, oddsmakers are not giving the Rockies much of a chance to win the World Series. As of May 26, the Rockies had odds of 100/1 to capture the 2020 World Series.
Only seven teams had higher odds.