We are into the seventh week of the baseball season with no clear participants locked for the Fall Classic. Let’s delve into the top four according to the sportsbooks, as well as our prime choice to pick against the MLB odds.
The +600 Club
The preseason favorites to win the World Series were Detroit and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Approximately a quarter of the way into the 2014 season, nothing has changed.
The Tigers have played more like the team which could be playing late into October, being equally proficient thus far both at home, and on the road, record-wise. After a quiet start, Detroit’s offense is back to normal, averaging 4.9 runs per contest, which is exactly what they rang up in 2013.
This offense has the right mix for success ranking third in the American League in OPS (on-base percentage + slugging). MLB baseball handicappers have really been impressed with the Tigers overall pitching, ranking second in ERA and they do give away runs, surrendering the fewest walks in the AL.
The Dodgers are meandering in third place in the NL West, largely due to perceived lethargy and a bullpen that despite having an adequate 72 percent save percentage, has been tagged for 11 defeats.
However, it would be unwise to write-off L.A. when you consider a much-improved Dee Gordon is their leading average hitter and Yasiel Puig leads them in RBI’s. This means Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez have not started to grind yet and with Clayton Kershaw back, the overall pitching should stabilize.
The +800 Club
Anyone making sports picks would have presumed St. Louis would be near the top since they are the defending NL champions. Nevertheless, there is cause for concern with the Cardinals with its pitching only slightly above the norm in several meaningful categories, and the offense generating just 3.7 runs a game.
This is not to say the Cards cannot improve, especially in a division that looks weaker than last year when three teams won at least 90 games. A good tell on St. Louis, and its pedestrian record, is the mediocre +3 run differential, which is match to their record. For MLB picks on World Series futures, probably not a good choice at this time.
One squad that has impressed everyone is San Francisco. They are tied with the Redbirds as the third-best wager to be champions. The pedigree is in place with two trophies in the past four seasons, and the majority of their core everyday players are still in their prime. The Giants staff is back to its usually stifling self, ranking third in ERA and OBP, and is second in the NL in fewest free passes. One last reason to like San Fran is manager Bruce Boche, whom the players play hard for, and he pushes the right buttons despite his outwardly low key demeanor. A definite threat.
Top Long(er) Shot
I had to rename this paragraph accurately since Oakland is the fifth betting choice at +1000.
The A’s have more talent than most people realize, because they are not televised like the bigger market teams. Without question this is the most versatile team in baseballm and manager Bob Melvin knows how to expertly plug the right players in to fit the situation.
I, for one, thought they would suffer more in losing pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, but that has not been the case. And as the season goes along, don’t be surprised if GM Billy Beane doesn’t pick up a player or two to further fortify the roster.
Right now, I like the Athletics.