The Astros cheating scandal hasn’t put much of a dent in Houston’s chances of capturing another World Series title in 2020, with sportsbooks keeping the 2019 American League champions near the top of their boards, even after the firings of manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
However, many oddsmakers have taken the Astros off the board — for now — when it comes to their win total for the 2020 regular season, as they take time to evaluate how much the turmoil surrounding the cheating scandal will impact the team.
A Houston Problem at Jersey Books
Several New Jersey bookmakers have removed the Astros from their lists of available win total markets for the upcoming season. DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet all have a full range of options on all other teams, but Houston was conspicuously absent from the lists of over/under win markets on all three sites on Wednesday.
All three betting sites do have the Astros on the board for their outright World Series winner markets, and Houston remains among the favorites. FanDuel and PointsBet each have the Astros as a +550 second choice behind the New York Yankees, while DraftKings has Houston listed at +600 behind New York (+350) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (+500).
Not all bookmakers have shied away from offering a total on the Astros. At Caesars Sportsbook in Nevada, Houston has been given a win total of 97 on the year, below only the Yankees (101) and Dodgers (99).
According to Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis, the Astros cheating scandal didn’t have a major impact on the team’s odds, saying that he only took them down about a half-win for the recent firings.
“I just don’t want to read too much into [the advantages of sign stealing],” Davis told ESPN. “I would rather take under bets against a really good roster than overreact to something that might be nothing. Hinch is very well-regarded as one of the best managers in baseball, so he’s got to be worth something. However, the players still have to play, and it’s a pretty damn good roster.”
The Astros cheating scandal led to the firing of both Hinch and Crane after an MLB investigation found that the team cheated by using cameras to steal signs during parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including the team’s 2017 playoff run that culminated in a World Series title for Houston.
Cheating Scandal Implicates Cora, Beltran
The Astros also lost first- and second-round picks in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts, and the team was fined $5 million.
On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora also parted ways. Cora was the bench coach for the Astros during the 2017 season, and the subject of a second investigation into a possible similar cheating scheme that may have been used by the 2018 Red Sox.
The fallout may not end there. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran played for Houston in 2017, and was implicated in the MLB investigation as one of the key figures in decoding signs as a part of the cheating scheme. Beltran was not disciplined by the league, and the Mets have yet to comment on the situation.