The New York Yankees face plenty of questions as Major League Baseball’s spring training begins, and oddsmakers are among those awaiting answers.
The 27-time champions are conspicuously absent among the favorites to win the World Series this year, according to sports books in Las Vegas, and aren’t the oddsmakers’ pick to win a division title they’ve claimed 12 of the past 15 years.
Steve Mikkelson, who has set baseball betting lines since 1987 and is the sports book director for the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno, Nevada, yesterday put the Yankees’ projected win total for this season at 86 1/2. The Yankees haven’t won fewer than 87 games in a full season since 1992, and have had 94 wins or more seven of the past eight years.
“I can never recall seeing the Yankees in this position,” said Mikkelson, who put up Nevada’s earliest win totals for MLB teams for the seventh straight year. “They’ve always been one of the top two or three teams, if not the top team, year in and year out for the last 20 years.”
The Yankees began workouts for pitchers and catchers yesterday in Tampa, Florida, and have their first full-squad practice scheduled for Feb. 18. Their regular-season schedule begins April 1 against the Boston Red Sox.
With a projected win total of 86 1/2, bettors can place a season-long wager on whether the Yankees will have 87 wins or more, or if they’ll have 86 wins or fewer. A winning $115 wager would return a $100 profit. New York’s worst record during the past 17 years was an 87-74 mark in 2000, when it went on to win a third straight World Series title.
The Yankees head into spring training with 14-1 odds of winning this year’s World Series, tied for eighth among the league’s 30 teams at the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays and defending champion San Francisco Giants currently have better odds.
“I can’t remember the last time they’ve been in this range to win the World Series at the start of the year,” Chris Bennett, who sets baseball lines for the LVH Super Book, said in a telephone interview. “I feel like they’ve always been less than 10-1, at least, coming into the season. People have a lot of questions about the Yankees.”
The Yankees hadn’t been lower than third favorites to win the World Series in the past five years, according to Las Vegas- based handicapping information website Pregame.com.
A couple of things to note here…
One, Vegas sets these numbers with the intent to get people to bet. So, that impacts the projection. And, two, Vegas has no one in the A.L. East winning more than 87 games in 2013. So, while the Yankees win total here is low, they’re still saying that the Yankees have a chance to win the East (along with the Jays and Rays).