The World Series Winners’ Curse

2020 saw the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series. They haven’t made the best of starts to the new season, though. Are they the latest team to fall foul of the World Series Winners’ Curse?

Does such a Major League Baseball curse exist? Well, it looks as if that may well be the case. Many sports see teams win a competition and then repeat that feat the following year. But bizarrely, this rarely happens in baseball. The last team to win the World Series two years in a row was the New York Yankees, and that was 21 years ago. 

They certainly weren’t cursed as that win in 2000 was their third win on the trot, and they reached the World Series the following year. Other teams have retained their title, but it seems harder nowadays to get back-to-back World Series victories. 

Or perhaps it’s a resurgence of the curse. The New York Yankees won the title in 1977 and 1978, but no team managed to repeat that feat until the Toronto Blue Jays won in 1992 and 1993.

World Series Favorites

Despite the curse, the Dodgers are still favorites to retain their title. They are the favorites to win the 2021 World Series with odds of +325. That puts them ahead of the New York Yankees, who haven’t made the best of starts either with a 31-28 season record but still +800 in the market. 

You can see all the odds for the 2021 World Series at Pointsbet. Remember that the odds for the World Series will constantly be changing throughout the season.

The past couple of decades has seen the defending champs curse in full flow. The 2017 winners were the Houston Astros. They came close to ending the curse by reaching the American League Championship Final. But the curse proved too strong for them.

The Red Sox went on to become the World Series champions in 2018. The curse traveled with them, and they couldn’t even make it into the playoffs the following year. 2019 was the year when the Washington Nationals won the World Series. However, there was to be no successful title defense. They couldn’t even make the playoffs finishing fourth in the National League East with a 26-34 record.

Why could this all be happening? The other teams in the league raising their game could be a possible reason. After all, they all dream of being the winners of the World Series and will do all they can to topple the current titleholders.

Then there’s the pressure on the World Series winners themselves. They have made it to the summit and won the title after a long and hard season. To do that again the following year just isn’t an easy task.

Up to June 6, the Dodgers have a 34-24 season record. That has them down in third place in the National League West behind the San Francisco Giants (37-21) and San Diego Padres (36-24).

There’s a long way to go, of course, with 162 games being played. However, could the Dodgers fail to even reach the playoffs?  Last year saw them end the regular season with a 71.7% win percentage. This season though, that is currently at 58.6%.

The form on the road hasn’t gone well this season, with 14 out of 29 lost. That’s compared to a regular-season record last year of eight defeats in 20. Ten home matches have so far ended in defeat, but there are signs of improvement, although that form on the road needs to turn around.

Still the Team to Beat

Yet, despite all this, the bookmakers still have them as the most fancied team.

The Dodgers won the World Series last year, but it was a shortened season due to the pandemic. Now they have to prove they can win the title over a standard season. That means maintaining their form over a longer period, a far stiffer task. With such a long season, it’s possible to have a poor week and still have time to battle through to the playoffs.

They have managed to keep their top players from last season. In addition to that, players such as Trevor Bauer and Corey Knebel have been added to their roster. There is every chance that this is a team that can improve as the season progresses. Perhaps this will be the year that the World Series Winners’ Curse fails to work its unfortunate magic.

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