As the MLB season wends its way towards the playoffs and the World Series, we consider which teams are best positioned to make it to the postseason. Plus, we make picks based on our contrarian method of capping.
National League Update
To reiterate, I have been on
record stating that I was betting that the Atlanta Braves would catch the
Washington Nationals for the National League East division crown. Furthermore, I stated that the
Pittsburgh Pirates would win the National League Central, and that the Los
Angeles Dodgers would win the NL West. And, the two NL wild card playoff teams would be the Nationals and the Cardinals.
Five Dimes odds makers currently show
the Nationals as the favorite to win the NL pennant at +325. Despite winning 20
of their last 23 games and taking over the lead in the NL Central, the Reds are
second at +400. The San Francisco Giants, who lead the West by just a half game
over the Dodgers are +435. Then come the Braves at +450, the Dodgers at +620, the
Cardinals at +650, and the surging Diamondbacks at +1400.
So, odds makers are stating that
Washington will win the East, the Reds will win the Central, and the Giants
will win the West crowns. The two wild card berths will be the Braves and the
Dodgers. So, I nearly agree with the odds listed and there is a lot of logic to
support that, but the Cardinals are a very dangerous team and they only need to
catch some breaks and get on an 8-out-of 10 win streak to become true
The Diamondbacks are certainly in
the mix, but as the odds reflect they are still long shots to over both the
Giants and the Dodgers in the NL West.
The Nationals rank best in nearly
every pitching category available. They rank best in MLB with a 3.30 ERA, best
with a 1.210 WHIP, best allowing an average of 7.80 hits per nine innings
pitched, and third allowing just 0.82 home runs per game. Where I have the
greatest concerns, is with their lack of offensive consistency. They rank just
16th with a .255 team batting average, 15th averaging 8.81 hits per game, 20th
averaging just 2.98 walks per game, and dead last averaging 8.30 strikeouts per
game. It is the last category combined with the lack of walks that concerns me
the most for the Nationals. It reflects a lack of patience at the plate and
very few teams get to the World Series with a free swinging style of offense.
So, my recommendation is to
take the Cardinals at +650 to win the pennant and then to look for odds to
wager that they make the wild card position. I also like the Braves at +450 to
win the pennant and again, take them to win the NL East.
The American League Playoff
The American League playoff
picture is a mess with eight teams competing for two wild card berths. So, you
have 11 teams with three leading their respective divisions and eight others
trying to join the party. Even the Yankees, who are tied with the Rangers, are
not absolute locks to win the division crown. Tampa Bay has slowly risen into
second position in the East and trail
the Yankees by 6 ½ games with Baltimore 7 ½ games back. The Yankees, though,
are the team with the highest probability of making the playoffs at 90% based
on mathematics alone.
So, I always tend towards looking
for value, or the ‘dark horses’ in MLB. Playing favorites is no fun and many
times they either don’t win or don’t provide enough return for the investment
made. Even though the teams have the same records, the Yankees, due to public
sentiment are listed at +185 to win the pennant and Texas is listed at +210.
These are obviously the two favorites as well to win the World Series with the
Yankees lined at +450 and the Rangers lined at +525.
Money Ball is alive and well in Oakland as they
have climbed the ladder in the standings and trail the Rangers by just 4 ½
games in the AL West. As you would expect, the Oakland small media market gets
no respect from the public or Vegas. They are however, lined at +4000 and
although they are certainly a long shot, I like taking the risk for a small
amount of widgets. I would also look to play them to make the wild card berth
and to play them to win the division crown