Updated February 28, 2019 - 6:33 pm
Months before Bryce Harper agreed to a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies, oddsmakers in the outfielder’s hometown of Las Vegas began employing a Harper shift.
In October, the Westgate sportsbook opened Philadelphia’s 2019 World Series odds at 18-1 after an 80-82 season in anticipation of Harper signing with the Phillies.
“We were already staying low on them,” Westgate sportsbook manager Randy Blum said. “Our numbers were already kind of built-in with Harper going to the Phillies. That’s where we thought he’d end up.
“On Sunday, we made a bunch of adjustments anticipating this.”
The Westgate moved Philadelphia on Sunday from 14-1 to win the World Series to 12-1, where the number stayed Thursday when news broke of Harper’s deal. It also increased the Phillies’ win total Sunday from 86½ to 88½ before moving it Thursday to 89½.
Caesars Entertainment sportsbook manager Matt Lindeman tweeted Thursday that it moved the Phillies’ World Series odds from 14-1 to 10-1 and their win total from 86½ to 89½.
Philadelphia’s odds improved across the board, moving from 7-1 to 6-1 to win the National League pennant and from 11-4 to the 9-4 co-favorite to win the NL East with the Washington Nationals.
The addition of Harper made a big impact on the Phillies’ playoff odds at the Westgate. The “no” on the prop opened at minus 200 but moved Thursday to minus 130.
“The Phillies had a decent team before Harper, and now they add one of the best players in the game,” Blum said. “We also adjusted some of Bryce’s individual numbers because that’s a very hitter-friendly park where he’s going.”
Harper’s home run total increased from 34½ to 36½, and his odds to win the regular-season home run title improved from 20-1 to 15-1.
The 2015 NL MVP already was the 6-1 favorite to win the 2019 NL MVP. But Harper’s odds improved to 5-1 when it became official that he would be playing his home games at Citizens Bank Park next season.
“In that ballpark, he could end up hitting 50-plus home runs,” Blum said. “We’re expecting money to come in on him.”
Yankees futures favorite
The New York Yankees and Houston Astros are the 6-1 co-favorites to win the World Series, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox at 7-1.
The Yankees are the leaders in money and tickets on World Series futures at the Westgate, followed in both categories by the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
“The Phillies are in the middle of the pack in tickets and money taken,” Blum said.
Philadelphia is tied with the Cubs, Cardinals and Nationals as the 6-1 second choice to win the NL pennant behind the Dodgers (7-2).
Harper, a Las Vegas High School and College of Southern Nevada product, hit .249 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs last season. The Phillies, who haven’t had a winning season or reached the playoffs since 2011, also added Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto to their lineup.
“I expect Harper to have a bounce-back year and to make a big impact in Philadelphia,” Blum said. “But as far as being a difference maker on a World Series team, to me it still comes down to pitching.
“The Phillies’ season depends on how their other pitchers perform after (Aaron) Nola.”
Nola went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA last season and is the 7-1 third choice to win the NL Cy Young Award this season.
Nolan Arenado is the 7-1 second choice for NL MVP, Paul Goldschmidt is 10-1, Las Vegan Kris Bryant 12-1 and Manny Machado 15-1.
After Machado signed a $300 million, 10-year contract with the Padres, San Diego’s World Series odds improved from 80-1 to 50-1. But they’ve since reverted back to 80-1.
“Machado’s a nice player to build around young kids, but the Padres can’t realistically win the World Series this year,” Blum said. “As good as their offense can be, you have to have good pitching in baseball.”
San Diego’s win total moved from 76½ to 79½ when Machado signed but has since settled at 78½.
Machado’s home run total dropped from 34½ to 32½.
“We lowered him because Petco Park is a very, very pitcher-friendly park,” Blum said.
World Series odds
Red Sox 7-1
White Sox 80-1
Blue Jays 300-1