Vegas Odds Provide Insight On the Royals


Royals fans are infatuated with the 2012 incarnation of their favorite team, and rightfully so. Simply looking at the roster full of top young prospects makes me want to re-enact a patented Royals game-winning mosh pit from last year*.

*I love that walk-0ff celebration photo. The first thing I noticed about this photo to the right was Joakim Soria soaring approximately eight feet off the ground like a frog jumping lily pads. But then I noticed something even better: Eric Hosmer in the middle of the pile, being swarmed like a superhero that requires ten mere mortals to subdue.

But we already know what Royals Nation thinks about this team. Their (my) eager anticipation is palpable. We see the Process taking shaped and fully expect the Royals spend a healthy portion of the summer in contention.

However, there are better sources for unbiased prognostication than a group of unrepentant homers. In fact, there is even a “best” source. Vegas.

The sports books of Las Vegas have the most to lose from their prognostications, which means that they’ve undoubtedly hired the best in the world to handle the job. The Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd published some 2012 lines on the Ball Star blog this week, and correctly pointed out that the Royals are still considered long-shots to win in 2012.

But my curiosity immediately led me to wonder what those odds meant, especially in terms of wins and losses. So I went to and decided to break down the odds on the three Royals-related future propositions.

1. Royals 30/1 odds to win the World Series

The Royals are given 30 to 1 odds to win the World Series in 2012, which even in my estimation seems a bit optimistic. They are lumped with five other teams (Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, and Brewers) with the 13th best odds. Those preceding five teams combined to post a 401-407 record last season, good for a .496 winning percentage or (roughly) an average finish of 80-82.

Of course a lot has changed since way back in 2011. The Brewers lost Prince Fielder, the Nationals acquired Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson (and Rick Ankiel! and Mark Teahen!), The Marlins picked up Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell, the Dodgers are all set to remove the suffocating albatross that was Frank McCourt from their around necks, and the Cubs, well, the Cubs re-signed Kerry Wood.

If anything, overall, it looks like the group has gotten a bit better. The Royals sit with relatively impressive company.

The 30/1 odds also place the Royals somewhere between the 13th and 18th best teams in baseball. In 2011, the 13th best team was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished with an 82-79 record. The 18th best teams were the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, who both finished with 79-83 records.

Sure I’m only looking at one sports book, but I’ll gladly cling to the narrative that Vegas expects the Royals to be around a .500 team next season. In fact I intend to take that expectation as gospel.

2. Royals 15/1 to Win the American League Pennant

All five teams that the Royals share World Series odds with are in the National League. But they will really be judged by their contemporaries in the American League.

As you can see, the Royals are considered 15 to 1 odds to win the AL. That figure puts the Royals comfortably between the Tampa Bay Rays (15/2) and the Toronto Blue Jays (20/1) among American League hopefuls, and positions them as considerable favorites over fellow AL Central  rivals Cleveland (30/1), Chicago (40/1), and Minnesota (40/1).

The odds also indicate that the Royals are expected to be the 7th best team in the American League this year. What exactly does that mean? It means that they are looking a .500 record right in the eyes. In 2011, the 7th best team in the American League was the Blue Jays, whose overall record was 81-81.

Their status as the prognosticated runner-up in the AL Central is noteworthy as well. Cleveland, in particular, is a surprise. The Indians finished with an 80-82 record and picked up Ubaldo Jimenez in a deadline deal last season. They also acquired Derek Lowe and the immortal Roberto Hernandez Heredia, who both looks and pitches just like Fausto Carmona, only three years older.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see that the affable members of Royals Nation aren’t only ones predicting the Royals will outplay every team in the division who doesn’t start Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

3. Eric Hosmer 50/1 to Lead the Majors in Home Runs

While we’re looking at the lines, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight Hosmer’s perceived chances of leading the major leagues in home runs. He is considered to be the 25th most likely candidate to accomplish the feat, as he’s tied with the Angels’ Mark Trumbo with his 50 to 1 odds.

Last season the 25th best home run hitter in the major leagues cracked 29 jacks. His name was David Ortiz, and he ended 2011 with a .953 OPS. His name was also Joey Votto, who put up a robust .947 OPS to go with his 29 homers. And also Nelson Cruz, who got his 29 long balls in only 475 at bats, and went on to hit another eight home runs in the playoffs. In the interest of full disclosure, his name was also Josh Willingham and Mark Trumbo. Either way, I like the idea of Eric Hosmer hitting 29 home runs in 2012.

Sure, it would be fair to argue that this whole endeavor has been wildly unscientific. Based on the fact that I only looked at one source, you would be right. But there are still a couple weeks to go until spring training begins and this seems like relatively hopeful news. If nothing else just consider it more vindication for that gut feeling you probably already have. So let’s just kick back and take a moment to think about Eric Hosmer, with the help of a few breaks and some stiff breezes to right center field, making a certifiable September run at Steve Balboni’s epic franchise home run record while playing on a .500 team.

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