With the 2021 World Series here, let’s dive back into history and hone in on the top-five World Series longshots that hit since the 1985 season. These odds are from spring training, so midseason longshots like the 2019 Washington Nationals (60-1 in June) are excluded.
For reference, this season’s World Series participants were not among the top-four Spring Training favorites and did not crack the top-five longest odds since 1985. The Atlanta Braves were a consensus +1000 to win it all before the start of the season (but around +5000 in August), with the Houston Astros +2200 in March.
5. 2013 Boston Red Sox: +2800
These Red Sox were priced as high as 40-1 in December 2012, but bettors bumped it down before the season began. That year, John Farrell’s team led all of baseball in weight on-base average (wOBA), which accounts how a player reached base rather than whether he did.
David Ortiz, a soon-to-be Hall of Famer, paced Boston’s lineup with MLB‘s 11th-highest weighted runs created (wRC+). Meanwhile, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ryan Dempster guided Boston’s rotation despite its subpar 3.97 expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP).
If Boston won the World Series this season too, Alex Cora’s bunch would have more sizable payout at 50-1.
4. 2015 Kansas City Royals: +3300
After losing to the Giants in the 2014 World Series, the Royals bounced back to win it all behind their offense, which boasted league’s lowest strikeout rate (15.9%) and tied for the ninth-highest wRC+. Although center fielder Lorenzo Cain has declined in production since joining the Brewers, he accumulated the ninth-highest wins above replacement (WAR) that season.
That made up for Ned Yost’s rotation notching the second-worst xFIP while its bullpen placed No. 15 in that department.
3. 2002 Anaheim Angels: +4000
Mike Scioscia’s club punched its postseason ticket via a wild-card berth and overcame a 3-2 World Series deficit against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants — with the aforementioned Lackey closing the door in the clincher. Leadoff man David Eckstein led the Angels in WAR (4.5), representing one of the premier all-around shortshops.
2. 1987 Minnesota Twins: +5000
Not only did the Twins claim the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time since 1961, but they also were playing in the American League West back then. Minnesota starter Frank Viola, who tied for the seventh lowest WAR (5.4) among starting pitchers (behind Oral Hershiser), led his team to a Game 7 win over the Cardinals.
1. 2003 Miami Marlins: +7500
Among World Series longshots, no team surprised more compared to Spring Training expectations. These Marlins are infamous for the “Steve Bartman game,” in which a Cubs fan controversially interfered with a foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series that led to an eight-run Miami outburst. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez & Co. went onto win Game 7 and eventually knock off the Yankees as a +190 underdog.