With postseason commencing next week, it is time to think about a futures wager on who could win the World Series. Before making MLB picks versus the betting odds, we need to know each team.
Today we will examine the six real or presumed division winners from a baseball handicapper’s perspective and understand their strengths and weaknesses, along with their current odds over at 5Dimes.
L.A. Dodgers +475
Despite being a dysfunctional team all year, the Dodgers proved to have too much talent and will be division champions. Los Angeles has been one of the favorites all year, but what has made them come around in the second half of the season has been Matt Kemp and Justin Turner’s play and if those two continue to hit, it will be hard to contain L.A. The bullpen is strong beyond Brian Wilson.
Nobody is certain if Yasiel Puig will be too emotional like in last year’s postseason and if he and say Kemp of Adrian Gonzalez go into a slump, so does the Dodgers chances against the MLB odds. Hyun-Jin Ryu uncertain status leaves Don Mattingly with just two quality starters.
L.A.A. Angels +500
The best offense in baseball and the most versatile, being able generate a big inning of five runs or more at any time. Mike Scioscia has plenty of postseason experience as a manager and former player and there are several veteran players like Albert Pujols who can lead by example. Angels also have an underrated bullpen that can finish games or stop the bleeding if a starter fails early.
The Halos are extremely short on starting pitching. Besides losing Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, C. J. Wilson has been very inconsistent since coming off the DL and savior Matt Shoemaker will enter the postseason having not pitched since Sept. 15 with a ribcage issue, leaving Jered Weaver.
For anyone making sports picks, a great case could be the Nationals, who are arguably the most complete team among the division winners. Washington has the third-best run differential at +130 and surrenders the fewest runs per game at 3.4. The batting card is not like the Dodgers or Angels but is above average in baseball in all key categories.
Matt Williams became a better manager as the season went along in his first year, but postseason baseball brings different pressures. We have seen some flourish and others fail. If the Nat gets tight like it did two years ago, they will never make the World Series.
The Tigers possess three potentially great starting pitchers who could win any series by themselves in David Price, Matt Scherzer and Justin Verlander. The top 5 in Detroit’s batting order are as lethal as any in baseball.
Sportsbooks had Detroit as the favorite in the American League a good chunk of the season, but with Verlander more inconsistent, the bottom of the batting order delivering next to nothing and manager Brad Ausmus almost reluctant to have to go to an unstable bullpen late in games, shaky choice despite’s its strengths.
The best long shot of the bunch. Except for Ubaldo Jimenez, every starting pitcher has an ERA under 3.65 and a winning record based on team results not individual accomplishments. Baltimore is the best home run hitting team in baseball, which can allow them to score in bunches and put together big innings. Having manager Buck Showalter is a real plus and the team believes in him.
The bullpen is a couple ticks above ordinary and while the team as whole has several players that are in the prime years, the Birds have very little postseason experience. A lot of free swingers and the Orioles are 27th in walks, not helping themselves.
St. Louis +900
Took advantage of Milwaukee collapsing and Matt Holiday got hot to carry the offense with various other contributors after the All-Star break. Solid starting pitching which can contain any offense and they don’t beat themselves being 3rd in fewest home runs allowed. The Cardinals are terrific at home with a 51-30 record.
Even with improvement, St. Louis will still have the worst offense among the playoff teams at less than four runs per game. A typical sign of a championship team, like the Cardinals had in winning championships, is a team’s record in games determined by four or more runs. The Cards are an unsavory 26-27.
Kansas City +1800
The Royals could still win the AL Central, which is why I am including. However, all they vital stats are very similar to cross-state rival St. Louis, having quality pitching and not enough offense. Also, this is close to a .500 team except for their 15-5 record against the National League.