Biggest MLB Long Shots to Win a World Championship Since 2000
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Underdog stories are fan favorites, and Major League Baseball is no stranger to long shots winning world championships.
Since 2000, seven franchises have lifted the Commissioner’s Cup after entering the season with 2500+ championship chances or more. In this example, a $100 bet would pay out $2,500.
But this +2500 mark is simply the starting point. For nearly two decades now, we’ve watched the +7500 long shot become the champ.
The list focuses entirely on pre-season prospects, using data from SportsOddsHistory.com. As a result, the 2019 Washington Nationals and 2021 Atlanta Braves were not included despite dropping to +5000 odds or longer at some point during the regular season.
2010 San Francisco Giants
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Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Pre-season odds: +2500
The 2010 campaign marked the beginning of a fun trend.
From this season through 2014, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series during even-numbered years. They opened the unique race with a victory over the Texas Rangers in 2010.
San Francisco made up for the lineup’s shortcomings — the team averaged 4.3 runs per game during the regular season, which finished just below the MLB average of 4.4 — thanks to a solid team work.
Rotating with Matt Cain, Tim Linnicum, Barry Zito and 20-year-old rookie Madison Baumgarner, the Bullpen had three of the dominant choices in Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Brian Wilson. In all, the Giants recorded a league low of 3.36 ERA.
Most impressively, San Francisco had four post-season layoffs — including two against Texas.
2011 St. Louis Cardinals
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David Freese / David E Klotho
Pre-season odds: +2500
One year later, the St. Louis Cardinals matched the Giants. But the most memorable part was that the Cardinals were incredibly lucky to make it to the post-season.
With the calendar turning to September, the Milwaukee Brewers held an 8.5-game lead advantage at NL Central. In addition, the Braves have a similar advantage in the wild card race. Barring a crash from either of them, the cards will watch the playoffs at home.
But the Braves faltered, and St. Louis earned an unlikely spot with a victory on the final day of the regular season.
During the playoffs, the cards definitely made it fun. They have played 18 out of 19 possible games, cutting the Philadelphia Phillies in five, The Brewers in six and the Rangers in seven.
Perhaps it was only fitting that an unexpected player, Texas Game-6 champion David Friese, took home the World Series Player of the Year award, taking over Cardinals Albert Pujols, Yadir Molina and Lance Berkman.
2014 San Francisco Giants
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Madison Baumgarner | Ron Vesely/MLB Images via Getty Images
Pre-season odds: +2500
San Francisco winning a third championship in five years is fantastic enough. Surviving a single wild card match and passing a pair of division winners is another great achievement.
But what Madison Bumgarner has accomplished during the post-season – especially the World Championships – is truly legendary.
The left-hander has had a great season, reporting 18 wins, 219 hits and a 2.98 ERA. However, this is only a prelude to Baumgarner’s playoff performance. He appeared in seven games, conceding only six winning runs in 52.2 innings.
Bumgarner has consistently shut out the Kansas City Royals on the championship stage. He allowed one run in seven innings to win Game 1, threw a nine-game lockout in Game 5 and slammed the door in Game 7 by holding the Royals scoreless during a five-game save.
2013 Boston Red Sox
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Pre-season odds: +2800
After a vacation filled with roster changes, the Boston Red Sox were not expected to compete in the Middle East. Based on pre-season odds, three foes in the division—the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays—entered the year as stronger contenders.
But the overhauled Sox came out on top.
Led by first-year manager John Farrell, Boston jumped to 5.3 MLB-leading kicks per game. David Ortiz hit 30, Jacoby Elsbury stole 52 league bases, and the Red Sox offered an escape to a community suffering from the tragic Boston Marathon bombing in April.
Boston won the Middle East squad and then sent the Rys to the opening round. The Grand Slam of David Ortiz and Shane Victorino highlighted the ALCS’ victory over the Detroit Tigers, and the Sox recovered from a 2-1 deficit in the Cardinals Series at the World Championships.
Ortiz earned MVP honors with a ridiculous slash of .688/.760/1.188 during the Fall Classic.
2015 Kansas City Royals
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Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire / Corbis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Pre-season odds: +3300
In the most underdog fashion possible, the royals scored their championship-winning run thanks to a player who hadn’t scored a single hit during the post-season up to that point.
Christian Colon presented the championships against the New York Mets in Game Five of the World Series. Eric Hosmer scored the game’s run in the ninth inning, and Cologne capped a comeback with a 12th-place single that sparked a five-round frame to secure the title.
And manage a little redemption.
Despite reaching the World Championships in 2014, the low-budget royals were widely expected to exit the post-season altogether. Instead, they rode an elite defense and closed an unlikely loop.
2002 Anaheim Angels
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Donald Meral / Getty Images
Pre-season odds: +4000
As 2002 approached, the Anaheim Angels were a long way off. After losing 87 games in 2001, the franchise hasn’t reached a post-season stage since 1986.
But armed with a pitching crew that conceded AL-low 4.0 runs per game, Halos ended the drought.
Although “Moneyball” Oakland A won the AL West title, the Angels entered the post-season as a wild card team. They defeated the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins to reach the World Championship, which was marked by an All-California match with Barry Bonds and the Giants.
The unexpected tournament included plenty of drama, considering the Angels were about to watch the Giants celebrate a championship at Anaheim Stadium in Game Six.
After trailing 3-2 in the series, Anaheim fell 5-0 in the seventh inning. However, the Angels came back with a pair of triple frames to steal a 6-5 victory and knocked down the Giants 4-1 in Match 7. Closest star Troy Percival slammed the door both nights, setting an MLB record with seven saves. in one postseason.
2003 Florida Marlins
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Josh Beckett | Jed Jacobson / Getty Images
Pre-season odds: +7500
The 2003 season is a perfect story about the underdog.
On the AL side, the tradition-rich and big-budget Yankees won the pennant for the sixth time in eight years. They won four world championship titles along the way, including three in a row from 1998 to 2000.
On the contrary, Florida Marlins – with Salaries of $49.1 million For $152.7 million for the Yankees – NL represents. Sure, The Fish won a great world championship in 1997, but the first infamous fire sales immediately followed that title. The organization did not publish a winning record during any of the following five seasons.
Then suddenly 2003 happened.
Florida fired manager Jeff Torburg after 16-22 starts and replaced him with Jack McKeon. He oversaw a 75-49 race that propelled the Marlins to the NL wild card spot and introduced Josh Pickett, Dontrell Willis and Miguel Cabrera into the national spotlight.
In the playoffs, they defeated the defending Premier League Giants, overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the Chicago Cubs and recovered from a 2-1 hole to defeat the Yankees in six games.