Who Will Win The 2013 World Series?
With the 2013 MLB playoffs set to begin, today on the blog Nick Miller delivers his team by team playoff betting preview.
Billy Beane's use of sabermetrics was revolutionary a decade ago, but what is perhaps the most remarkable thing about his tenure as Oakland general manager is that he has managed to build winning teams even as baseball's wealthier teams cottoned on.
However, as Beane once famously said, while his strategy may succeed in upsetting regular season odds, the post-season has proved more elusive. The A's have made the playoffs seven times in his time at the Coliseum, including six American League West titles, but failed to reach the World Series in any of those years. This time may be different, however. Oakland ran away with their division, and while (as usual) they might not have many stars, in the likes of Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and Alberto Callaspo they have the bats to beat anyone, while their pitching rotation is lead by Bartolo Colon, the man who seems to defy the concepts of time and medical science.
Oakland A's Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||9.00||9.00||8.00||9.00||9.00|
|Win American League||5.00||4.50||4.33||4.50||4.50|
How much of the Tigers' hopes will rest on Miguel Cabrera? The best hitter in baseball spent the last weeks of the season limping around the diamond, hobbled by groin and abdominal injuries, and it started to show in his performance, with Cabrera posting an average of .278 in September, against .348 over the season. Still, even at his worst this season Cabrera is still better than most, and the Tigers might not even need their third baseman to fire in order to go all the way.
In Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez they have two of the top five pitchers in the Major Leagues in earned run average, and while Justin Verlander hasn't been at his dominant best, they still have a formidable pitching line-up.
Detroit Tigers Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||5.75||5.50||6.00||5.50||5.50|
|Win American League||3.00||3.00||3.30||3.00||3.00|
Boston Red Sox
To describe this year's Red Sox as a remarkable comeback story would be an understatement. From finishing bottom of their division in a calamitous 2012 to the joint-best record in the Major Leagues in 2013, it has been a triumph of smart moves by general manager Ben Cherington. The likes of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Koji Uehara proved spectacular recruits, but perhaps most important to their success has been the depth of their team, with several bench players unwanted by most others stepping up when required.
Their playoff rotation, likely to be Clay Bucholz, Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and John Lackey, rivals most in the game and the only real concern about the Red Sox is they could be a little 'lightly raced'. They clinched their spot in the playoffs on September 19, and lost as many games as they won after that. However, they will rightly be the favourites to take the American League pennant.
Boston Red Sox Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||4.60||4.50||4.75||4.75||4.50|
|Win American League||2.80||2.75||2.65||2.75||2.75|
Tampa Bay Rays
Joe Maddon does it again. The Rays are a threat in the playoffs, largely because of their capacity to find a way of winning from somewhere – anywhere – with little logic governing it. They also of course have some fine offensive players, with Wil Myers proving a revelation following his trade from the Kansas City Royals, and first baseman James Loney has been the surprise of the year, picked from the scrapheap to record a .299 average and a .348 on base percentage.
The Rays' problem could come with their pitching. While David Price, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson are all fine players, this season they have struggled staying in games, meaning Maddon has been forced to look to his relievers. In a short and intense post-season, burning out the bullpen could prove costly.
Tampa Bay Rays Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||9.00||9.00||9.00||9.00||9.00|
|Win American League||5.25||5.50||5.00||5.50||5.50|
In the first weeks of the season, the Dodgers were a laughing stock – an expensively-assembled shambles who went 23-30 in April and May. Something clicked in the middle of June however, and whether you can solely attribute that to the arrival of brash young right fielder Yasiel Puig - who seems as committed to annoying people as he does hitting homers – he has been their key position player as the Dodgers started to win and barely looked back.
Matt Kemp will miss the entire post-season with injury, but that might not be too much of a problem given the Dodgers played most of their best baseball without him – in any case, an outfield of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Puig is still pretty handy. Their real strength is their rotation, with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke the aces in a fantastic staff that will take some stopping.
LA Dodgers Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||5.50||5.50||5.50||5.00||5.50|
|Win National League||2.80||2.75||2.75||2.50||2.62|
St Louis Cardinals
The 2011 champions are a long way from being a one-man team, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that their chances rest on the form and health of Yadier Molina. The Cardinals' catcher is their most important player by some way, not only with his bat (which becomes even more important in the absence of first baseman Allen Craig) but with his glove and leadership skills.
St Louis have a talented but young pitching staff, with the likes of Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist all performing well over the season, but the playoffs are something else entirely – two-time world champion Molina can guide them through it all. The catcher has spent a few spells out so far this season, something manager Mike Matheny will be praying is not repeated this October.
St.Louis Cardinals Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||6.00||7.00||7.00||7.00||7.00|
|Win National League||3.25||3.25||3.40||3.25||3.25|
In some ways it's been an odd year for the Braves. BJ Upton, the big winter recruit, has been terrible, posting just a .184 batting average and .268 on-base percentage - indeed, it's unlikely that Upton will even join his brother Justin on the field for the playoffs. Their early-season reliance on home runs has dissipated a little, and in the latter stages of the season they have turned into a fine defensive outfit.
The return of Jason Heyward will give the team a key boost, but they will have to improve on a poor recent record in the playoffs – they have been eliminated in the first round of their last six post-season campaigns.
Atlanta Braves Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||8.00||9.00||8.50||9.00||9.00|
|Win National League||3.90||4.00||4.00||4.33||4.00|
Who wouldn't feel warm and fuzzy inside if the Pirates won the World Series? Perennial losers, 2013 was the first time in 20 years that the Pirates had not lost more games than they won, so the worry in the playoffs is that they will have a subconscious 'just happy to be here' mentality.
Of course, they have the players to overcome that, with shrewd acquisitions like Russell Martin and Marlon Byrd helping MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen and home run co-leader Pedro Alvarez to turn the Pirates' ship around. The heart says Pittsburgh can do it, even if the head suggests otherwise.
Pittsburgh Pirates Playoff Odds - Odds as at 3rd October 2013.
|Win World Series||12.50||12.00||10.00||11.00||13.00|
|Win National League||6.00||5.50||5.00||6.00||6.00|
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