A 60-game season with more than half of MLB’s teams making the expanded playoffs could be boons for bottom dwellers like the Detroit Tigers.
According to the oddsmakers, at least.
It stands to reason that with a small sample size, there’s at least a fleeting chance of randomness clouding the unusual 2020 season.
To quote Lloyd Christmas: “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
One bookmaker has cut Detroit’s World Series odds in half in recent weeks as baseball’s season format has undergone a giant facelift for 2020.
Most of Tigers’ hopes are years away
Let’s get this out of the way: Odds are the Tigers will once again be bad. And, like last year, possibly historically bad.
The 2019 version of the Motor City Kitties went 47-114, its .292 winning percentage the second-worst in 119 years of Tigers baseball.
Not much has changed for optimism, though the Tigers acquired a few useful free agents in first baseman C.J. Cron, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and starting pitcher Ivan Nova.
The most optimism around the franchise revolves around the young players sent to Toledo for taxi squad service, including outfielder Riley Greene, corner infielder Spencer Torkelson, and pitchers Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal.
That doesn’t help much this year though.
Cabrera, pitchers are the only hope for a strong 2020
As for this year, what are the reasons to be optimistic?
Well, for one thing, the Tigers do still have one of the all-time greats in the middle of the lineup.
However, because of injury and age, it’s clear that Miguel Cabrera, 37, will never be near Triple Crown form once again.
But looking healthy and in shape for spring training and summer camp, Cabrera could be an effective piece in the middle of the order, with Cron helping bolster the anemic offense.
As for pitching, a trio of young starters are moving toward their supposed prime years in a variety of career arcs.
Ace Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer could help the Tigers get some wins this summer. Perhaps more importantly though, they could build trade value to acquire prospects.
Boyd was rumored to be traded last summer in a strong year, Norris has been unhealthy and unreliable, and Fulmer hasn’t pitched in game action for 22 months and had Tommy John surgery last spring.
Tigers betting odds have improved with shortened season
On Thursday, a few hours before the shortened MLB season began, the players and owners came to an agreement for a one-year expansion of the playoffs.
Instead of the usual 10 teams, this year’s postseason will feature 16 of MLB’s 30 teams.
To add to the randomness, the first round will be a best-of-three series.
Last month, before the changes, the Tigers were listed with 1,000-1 odds to win the World Series by BetMGM, sharing the longest odds with Baltimore. At 80-1 odds to win the American League Central, the Tigers were right at the bottom with Kansas City.
On Friday afternoon, a few hours before Detroit’s season opened in Cincinnati, the same bookmaker listed the Tigers at 500-1 for the World Series, tied with Kansas City, Miami and Seattle. Baltimore was still at 1,000-1.
For the AL Central, BetMGM had Detroit at 100-1 with Kansas City still at 80-1.