As the long journey toward the world series just begins, all teams in Major League Baseball turn their eyes forward with hopeful eyes at the crown. Will the Giants continue their even-year streak, and win a 4th? Will the pitching heavy Mets battle their way to the playoffs, then let their arms handcuff opposing hitters? Or will the long downtrodden Cubs finally make the push, and cement their place in history?
Like the Cy Young picks, it is tough to predict winners so early in a season. Talent is almost never the soul determinant of a winner. The Angels would have a handful of hardware if that were the case. This type of predicting is again, at best shots in mild darkness.
When I do weigh in on future world series winners, I try to do so in a semi-standardized way. The very first thing I weigh is a pitching staffs viability. Do they have a stable of guys who can maintain production through the course of 162 games. That begins with the starting 5. I need to see strength through 4 guys, and stability in the 5th for any team to look like a real contender.
On top of that, I really want to see a guy with tremendous “Stuff” at the top of the rotation. A guy with high pitch-ability is fantastic, and a must have. A guy with stuff and high pitch-ability can win even when his pitches aren’t hitting spots. A 98 mile per hour fastball on the hands is almost impossible to hit. Whether the fastball is followed by the perfect tilt, off speed pitch down, or not. Guys like that will win you games consistently in the playoffs.
Seeing a strong back end of a rotation is another must. A lights out setup guy and closer shorten games. When teams get into the playoffs, having to win 7 innings opposed to 9 is a huge value. I think that’s easy enough to see.
If a team has those two things, plus a good long relief guy I think they have play-0ff viability.
Don’t Bet On Teams That Strike Out
Offensively the biggest non starter for me is a team that strikes out a ton. As they are playing now, the Huston Astros will never win a world series. Give me a team like the Royals any day: high contact rates, high on base %, high wins rate. A strike out is as killer to an offense as a walk is to a defense. There is literally nothing a TEAM can do to defend a walk. It is very much the same for a “K”. Striking out does nothing for runners on base, nothing to the defense, nothing for the hitter on deck; crippling.
That is the primary thing I look for in an offense. If a team can score runs, they can win as long as they don’t strike out a ton. Someone may point to teams who have had success hitting the long ball and striking out a ton. I would point to the Mets and say “have fun stringing together multiple solo shots against that staff in a 7 game set”.
Another overlooked factor is defense. But for this you need to look at the makeup of a team. Instead of taking the one factor “defense”, look at a teams fundamentals. How do they approach 2 strikes, runners in scoring position, base running, and decision making defensively. If they do those things well it would point towards a winner for me.
So compounding all these factors, we may be able to get a clearer look at potential winners.
Look For Opportunities To Hedge In The Playoffs
Another factor that influences my betting in this area is hedging. I will take long-odds teams based on their ability to get into the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, you can hedge your bets by betting against them in each series, and come away with a very profitable situation.
|New York Mets||10-1||8|
|Kansas City Royals||14-1||10|
|San Francisco Giants||20-1||12|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||8-1||12|
|Toronto Blue Jays||10-1||16|
|Boston Red Sox||18-1||18|
|Chicago White Sox||40-1||18|
|St. Louis Cardinals||12-1||20|
|New York Yankees||16-1||30|
|Tampa Bay Rays||40-1||40|
|Los Angeles Angels||20-1||50|
|San Diego Padres||60-1||300|
The Front Runners
For the billionth time….METS METS METS. If this team makes the playoffs they are running through every team they face that isn’t named the Giants or Cardinals. That pitching staff can absolutely demolish lineups (See 2015 Cubs). They only chance teams have against that stable of thoroughbreds is contact, men on base, and smart decision making on the base paths. 8-1 isn’t exactly a value bet, but this team has a very good chance at making the playoffs. Once they make it, they will make a deep run undoubtedly.
The back end of this pen makes games 6 innings. Same story as the previous 2 years. They make great contact offensively (see 2015 world series). They were good, they are good, they will be good. 10 to 1 is getting a little better, so I don’t hate putting money on a very good team that is expected to do well here.
If they pitch they will win. MadBum hasn’t looked like himself early, I have a ton of questions about Cueto, and the back end is terribly inconsistent. One thing I do know is that fundamentally this team can play ball. The have very good situational hitting, they play stellar defense, and they have the ability to run. Match that up with Bruce Bochy and a team full of veterans who have done it before and spell it wit me S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
The Cardinals at 20 to 1 is a steal. That team has pitching. Wainwright, Wacha, Leake, Martinez, and Garcia. Two guys who can go out and dominate teams with high pitchability and stuff, a third in Martinez with the same caliber of stuff (just a tad bit less pitchability), and solid back end guys. The staff is there for me. Offensively, they are very savy with a lot of talent. 20 to 1 on a team wit this much experience is a very smart bet.
I LOVE OAKLAND…to make the playoffs. At 80 to 1, you get them to the playoffs and start hedging your bet and you find yourself in a very profitable situation. There is just something about this organization that puts teams out there every so often that win despite everything else. They have a good young staff with decent young talent in the field. I promise you I’m betting Oakland personally this year, so if they tank I tank as well. Should tell you something about my conviction.
They have to beat the Giants and Dodgers…a very tall order. With Grienke, they have an ace capable of beating anyone. Miller and Corbin make a great 2-3 punch, that matches or beats any the Dodgers and Giants have. For me the staff is there, if the bullpen performs. Offensively they are lead by a top 5 hitter in the league. Paul Goldschmit is the truth. Behind him they are young and inexperienced. At 40 to 1 it is close for me. I hate that they have to beat 2 solid teams to get out of the division. Especially when the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs are all very talented in the central. They can do it however, and at for 40 to 1 they payoff is large enough to outweigh the risk.
I have been saying since they end of last year that the Tigers are not as bad as they seem. Verlander, Sanchez, Zimmerman at the front end of a solid staff. Cabrera, Kinsler, Martinez, and Upton should scare any staff not from New York named the Mets. I’m not sold on these guys, but at 30-1 they intrigue me. If they keep winning you are going to regret not getting in early.