- The MLB Players Union and owners have agreed to a 60-game regular season beginning around July 24. Players will report for a shortened spring training beginning on July 1.
- The agreement came after months of tense negotiations and mountain uncertainty of whether or not a season would happen at all.
- New rules and the shortened season will have a tangible impact on betting odds, but powerhouses like the Dodgers (+325) and Yankees (+325) still remain heavy favorites.
NEW YORK – After months of tense and borderline hostile negotiations, the MLB Players Union and MLB owners have agreed to a 60-game regular season beginning around July 24.
Players will report for a three-week spring training on July 1.
As part of an agreement the two parties made in March, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was able to unilaterally declare the length of the season while the players were able to receive the full pro rata (per game) salary value of this shortened season.
As part of the return, all league employees will abide by a new 100-page COVID-19 safety handbook and will be subject to testing every other day. Players considered high risk will sit out the season and will not receive their pro rata salaries but will accrue service time.
There will also be a bevy of new rules that could alter the World Series playing field, including:
- A universal designated hitter in both the American League and National League.
- 30-man rosters to start the season (reduced to 28 after two weeks and 26 after two more weeks)
- Taxi squads that will allow teams to play up to 60 players during the season.
The postseason will still feature the usual 10 teams and players will not receive any bonus money from the playoffs outside of additional game checks for participating teams.
The season announcement was a pleasant surprise; after Manfred expressed doubt that baseball would return last week, odds for MLB’s return plummeted.
Betting Odds Under New Season Format
The new rules will have a tangible impact on the season and on teams’ betting odds to win the World Series.
The universal DH will obviously benefit NL teams with a bevy of good hitters like the Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds. The taxi squad should provide a boost to teams with stockpiles of talented prospects like the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ultimately, however, good teams before the rule changes will still be good teams after them. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers still look like budding powerhouses while the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers still look pretty much hopeless.
If anything, the shortened season could add some intrigue for MLB bettors looking to bet on mid-level teams, any of whom could ride a hot start to a surprising playoff berth.
2020 World Series Betting Odds:
- Los Angeles Dodgers +325
- New York Yankees +325
- Houston Astros +750
- Atlanta Braves +1500
- Minnesota Twins +1800
- Washington Nationals +1800
- New York Mets +2000
- Chicago Cubs +2200
- Oakland Athletics +2200
- St. Louis Cardinals +2200
- Tampa Bay Rays +2200
- Chicago White Sox +2400
- Cleveland Indians +2400
- Los Angeles Angels +2400
- Cincinnati Reds +2500
- Philadelphia Phillies +3300
- San Diego Padres +4000
- Boston Red Sox +5000
- Milwaukee Brewers +5000
- Arizona Diamondbacks +6000
- Texas Rangers +8000
- Toronto Blue Jays +8000
- San Francisco Giants +15000
- Colorado Rockies +17500
- Kansas City Royals +20000
- Pittsburgh Pirates +30000
- Seattle Mariners +30000
- Baltimore Orioles +40000
- Detroit Tigers +40000
- Miami Marlins +50000
The Legitimacy Of A Shortened Season
Per an analysis by The Athletic’s Eno Sarris, 60 games is an important milestone for fans concerned about the “legitimacy” of the 2020 season.
The first 60 games of a normal season are much more statistically predictive of final results than the first 50 games, which was the original season length proposed by MLB.
Still, expect a high degree of chaos both in terms of individual and team performance. A player could bat .400 for the first time since Ted Williams.
A below-average team could sneak its way into the playoffs. Tons of scenarios could play out that would delight casual fans, enrage purists, and have a little bit of both sides at legal online sportsbooks.
By and large, however, this will still be a baseball season as challenging and rewarding as any other.
MLB may elect to put an asterisk next to certain statistics because of the small sample size, but there is nothing illegitimate about players’ accomplishments during this extraordinary time.
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With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.