2018 Baseball Playoffs
After two Division deciding games on Monday, the MLB playoffs are officially set and ready to go.
- Red Sox and Astros best run differential in the MLB
- Astros best road record in baseball
- Braves fewest wins (90) of any playoff team this season
- Brewers 15-5 over last 20 (best in baseball)
- Only one Wild Card team since 2011 has won the World Series
Who’s Better? Boston Red Sox (+300) vs. Houston Astros (+325)
Over the course of the 2018 MLB regular season, two teams looked better than everyone else in the Majors – the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. While the calendar has changed to October and the playoffs are here, the top two teams remain the same. The big question is who has the better chance of winning the World Series.
Offensively speaking, the Red Sox were the best team in baseball this season. No team scored more runs or hit for a higher average than the Red Sox.
Their lineup features the best two hitters in baseball this season, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Books and Martinez were the only two players in the Majors this year to bat .330 or better.
Houston’s offence is not far off the Red Sox. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve both have a chance at winning a Silver Slugger award this year, while George Springer (2017 World Series MVP) can start or come off the bench, giving the Astros some extra pop.
The more significant difference between these two teams is their pitching. The Astros were by far the best pitching team in baseball this season. They led the league with an ERA of just 3.11 or 0.63 better than any other American League team.
The Astros’ bullpen is outstanding as well, leading the league with a 3.03 ERA (0.69 points lower than the Boston Red Sox and 1.06 lower than the American League average).
While the Boston Red Sox may have the best pitcher in baseball this season – Chris Sale 12-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 0.86 WHIP – the depth and experience of Houston’s pitching staff gives them the edge over the Red Sox.
The best bet entering the MLB playoffs is to bet on the Houston Astros to be the first team to repeat as World Series Champions since the New York Yankees won three straight at the turn of the Millennium.
Los Angeles Dodgers (+850): Hot at the Right Time
After sitting outside the postseason for a large chunk of the MLB regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers strung together a strong September, helping them win the NL West Division for the sixth straight season. Their recent success has made them the favourite to win the NL Pennant on many online sportsbooks.
Are they deserving of being the favourite in the National League?
While they took a step back this year, winning 12 fewer games in 2018 (than they did last year when they made the World Series), they are, statistically speaking, the best team in the National League.
The Dodgers ranked first in the NL in OPS, home runs and runs scored. They were equally impressive in pitching, leading the NL with an ERA of 3.38 (the Cubs were second with a team ERA of 3.65).
They have experience, depth and good enough defence to deserve their spot atop the NL Pennant futures. Their NLDS opponent, the Atlanta Braves, are quite young and very inexperienced. The Dodgers should win their series against the Braves in three of four games. Whoever they play in the NLCS will give the Dodgers more problems. However, no matter what team it is, they should remain the favourite to win the NL (barring any significant injuries in the NLDS).
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Underdogs? Great Take on Teams by the Great Lakes
Cleveland Indians (+900)
It does seem like many people are sleeping on the Cleveland Indians this postseason. Maybe it because the Indians played in a very weak Division this season and just coasted through 2018 to a 13.0 game AL Central title (the biggest margin of victory in any Division this season).
The Indians winning their Division with such ease has their club rested for the postseason. The Indians bullpen threw the fewest innings of any team this season, which should help the group recover from a 4.60 ERA this season. If Andrew Miller and company can pitch as they did during the Indians 2016 World Series run, they can hang with the Astros and Red Sox (who The Indians went 7-7 against this season).
While the Indians path to the World Series is no cakewalk, upsets always happen. Last year, the Indians finished first in the American League, only to lose in the ALDS to the New York Yankees. All it takes is a bit of luck and better bullpen pitching for the Indians to pull off some upsets and advance to their second World Series in three years.
Milwaukee Brewers (+1300)
The Milwaukee Brewers leading the National League with 96 wins this season certainly came as a surprise to many. While the team looked good on paper, the group defied expectations and now has home-field advantage until the World Series.
Milwaukee’s success is partly due to their excellent bullpen. Milwaukee finished the year with the second-best bullpen ERA in the National League. If they can get enough out of their starting pitching, the Brewers can ride their bullpen later in games to victories in tight games.
One of Milwaukee’s biggest strengths is their speed on the bases. The Brewers paced the NL with 125 stolen bases or 30 more than the Colorado Rockies (the next closest NL playoff team).
The Brewers also have one of the MVP frontrunners in Christian Yelich. Yelich led the NL with a .326 batting average and 1.000 OPS. Yelich is one of the more underrated players in baseball, batting .301 over the last four seasons.
As long as the Brewers can get runners on base for Yelich and Jesus Aguilar, their team is strong enough across the board to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs for the NL Pennant.
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