Not long after we learned that Major League Baseball would implement a season of 60 games, I wrote about how we should be looking for storylines and odd quirks instead of focusing on wins and losses – a position I still hold.
As it turns out, many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as players, have disagreed with that sentiment. Indeed, there was an insistence that I was wrong to suggest wins and losses don’t matter, much less the World Series. On MLB Radio, Trevor Williams said, “It’s more impressive this year to win the World Series.”
I still disagree. Certainly, I won’t disparage fans for exulting in a World Series victory in 2020, but it doesn’t strike me as more impressive – it strikes me as luckier. If the classical rationale is that “everything evens out” over the course of a full, 162-game season, then shouldn’t we utilize inductive reasoning to determine that a World Series victor’s 60-game season is predicated on a hot streak, which is, in at least some sense, lucky and not necessarily more impressive?
Regardless of my tepidity regarding the 2020 season – and I’ll concede: If the Pirates turn out to be World Series contenders, I may well renege on my initial convictions (after all, I’m only a human, and therefore am sometimes subjected to the whims of emotion) – we should look at some of the betting odds that the Pirates will be able to capture a World Series.
First up: SportingNews. In an article which had just been published as of this writing, SportingNews gives Pittsburgh decidedly long odds. Of the 30 MLB teams, the Pirates are knotted up with the Baltimore Orioles at the very bottom of the list at +30000.
Odds Shark agrees with SportingNews’ conclusion, also listing the Pirates at +30000. The Buccos won’t be very good this year, sure, but are they really as bad as Baltimore? I find that hard to believe. Granted, I gave the team a little more credit than most other websites, projecting them to go 28-32 over the 60-game 5k.
Utilizing an ESPN article which pulls odds from Caesars Sportsbook, the Pirates hopes don’t make them league-wide cellar dwellers. Under those predictions, Pittsburgh is listed at 250-1 odds, which puts them on par with the San Francisco Giants, Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners, and Kansas City Royals. For reference, Baltimore is listed at 750-1.
Finally, from a regular season standings standpoint, FanGraphs expects the Pirates to go 27-33, which is last in the NL Central, while carrying a -32 run differential, the only negative differential in the division. But FanGraphs also expects the Pirates to do as well as or better than seven teams in all of baseball.
There it is. You can pick whichever of those odds you like the most; or you can take a more optimistic approach. That’s something we’ve seen a lot. “Anything can happen over 60 games,” they say. That’s a fine enough outlook — and true enough. It’ll be interesting to see how the season shakes out – not just from a Pirates perspective, but all of baseball.