Our MLB handicapper Mark Lathrop has had a winning MLB season up to this point by using advanced metrics as his guide. Read on as he handicaps the series line offered for the 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers.
2017 MLB Season Record: 224-199-11 (+10.29 units)
The World Series is set with the Houston Astros facing the Los Angeles Dodgers starting on Tuesday night. It’s not that surprising of a result when looking back at my win total model based on projected WAR of each roster, as my preseason model had the Dodgers ranked #1 with a projected win total of 101 games and Houston #6 with a projected win total of 94. Home-field advantage favors the Dodgers in this series, as does the current odds posted at sites such as 5Dimes. Bettors backing the Dodgers have to lay -170 for them to win the series, while the Astros can be found at +150.
The Astros were the kings of offense over the regular season, ranking #1 overall in accrued WAR and putting up a .282 team batting average over the year. They were also ranked dead last in strikeout rate at 17.3%, much better than the Dodgers' rate of 22.3%. However, the Dodgers were tops in walk rate on the season at 10.5%. That is one of the reasons why they were ranked #2 in offensive WAR on the year even after putting up a team batting average of .249. In other rankings, the Astros hold a team wRC+ advantage of 121 to 104 over the Dodgers as well. It’s the slightest of margins, but the Astros have had the better offense this season coming into this matchup.
The Dodgers have the accrued WAR advantage in overall pitching this season, ranking 3rd while the Astros rank 6th in the league. My favorite metric is FIP and the Dodgers have the advantage there as well with a 3.67 FIP – better than the 3.91 FIP of the Astros. The slightest of margins also have the Dodgers with an advantage in walk rates on the year, as they carry a team 2.75 BB/9 rate and the Astros have a 3.25 BB/9 rate. The Dodgers have a 3.38 to 4.12 ERA advantage, but if you have read anything of mine this year you know that I don’t care about ERA in handicapping. Focus on indicators on what will happen, not what has happened, is how I reflect on that. Still, the Dodgers have a slight pitching advantage in this series over all metrics you can throw out there.
With a both the defense and offense offsetting in advantages, yet steep chalk on one side, one has to wonder if there is value in taking the underdog on this series line. I don’t think so, as the Astros actually have a losing record against left-handed starters this year at 24-25 on the season. It is the only losing record split left to look at between these two teams, and the Dodgers are in prime position to take advantage of it, with starting pitchers Kershaw, Hill, and Wood being able to take the mound for 5 games of this series. Fade the Dodgers with any right-hander starting, but Los Angeles has the starting pitching advantage to get the overall series win and be World Series Champions in 2017.Free MLB Pick: Dodgers Series LineBest Line Offered: 5Dimes