It was one of the more unlikely World Series matchups MLB has seen in years, as the wild-card winning San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals, who reached the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years. With the season over and both teams looking to come back just as strong in 2015, it won’t be easy for the pennant winners to repeat their success.
San Francisco’s championship can hardly be classified as a surprise, since it was their third World Series title in five seasons. While a case can be made to call the Giants a dynasty, they aren’t the favorites to win it all next year.
According to the betting odds at Bovada.lv, four teams have a better chance of winning the 2015 World Series than San Francisco. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels all have better shots to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in October 2015.
The Giants have been unbeatable in the postseason, failing to lose a series in their last three playoff appearances. However, San Francisco is no guarantee to play beyond the regular season. The champs followed up their 2010 and 2012 titles by missing the playoffs, averaging 81 wins in 2011 and 2013.
With a dominant bullpen and the best big-game starter in baseball, San Francisco is built for the postseason. In 162 games, 10 MLB teams finished with an equal or better record.
World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner returns as the team’s ace, but his regular-season ERA likely won’t come close to matching the 1.03 ERA he posted in October. Pablo Sandoval, who was the team’s best playoff hitter, might be headed elsewhere in free agency.
The Royals have their own free agents to address this winter. No.1 starter James Shields will test the market, and there’s a good chance he’ll get an offer that the Royals won’t match. Designated hitter Billy Butler could also be gone, since Kansas City isn’t likely to pick up his $12.5 million option.
The Royals’ run to the World Series has appeared to rejuvenate baseball in Kansas City, but that doesn’t mean the team will start spending significant money in free agency. Kansas City came one win shy of winning a championship with just the 18th-highest MLB payroll, but the Royals are expected to have trouble repeating as AL pennant winners if they don’t make any offseason additions.
With 16/1 World Series odds, the Royals rank seventh among all MLB teams. They had an improbable playoff run, making the postseason as an 89-win, wild card team, despite finishing last in the league with 95 home runs. In the wild-card era, no team has ever made the playoffs the year after finishing last in the Majors in home runs.
The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have the best World Series odds of any team that didn’t make the playoffs at 22/1. The Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks are all tied for the worst odds at 100/1.