Oh boy! The MLB playoffs are here! If you thought the regular season was unpredictable – just wait. Things are about to get crazy.
The American League is loaded with contenders. The junior circuit boasts the 4 winningest teams in the Majors this year and a case could be made for each to win a ring.
* eliminated in Wild Card game
Let’s break it down series by series before taking a look at the odds for winning a pennant.
Indians – Astros
The Cleveland Indians scare me in this postseason for two reasons:
- most of their roster has deep postseason/World Series experience
- no one knows how good the Indians actually are
Reason #1 – The Indians Have Postseason Experience
You are probably screaming at your computer screen right now about how stupid reason #1 is. Of course the Astros have more experience. They won the whole thing last year! The problem is that repeating is extremely difficult.
Look at the following chart. It depicts how teams have fared in recent years after a World Series title.
|Team (Year they Won)||Result the Following Year|
|Cubs (2016)||Lost 4-1 in NLCS|
|Royals (2015)||Failed to make playoffs|
|Giants (2014)||Failed to make playoffs|
|Red Sox (2013)||Failed to make playoffs|
|Giants (2012)||Failed to make playoffs|
|Cardinals (2011)||Lost 4-3 in NLCS|
|Giants (2010)||Failed to make playoffs|
The information in this chart is exactly why I do not have faith in the Astros to repeat. As good as they might be, the odds are simply stacked against them.
The Indians have postseason experience without the added stress of having to defend a title. They are flying under the radar and are mature enough to maintain composure late in a series.
Reason #2 – The Indians Might Be Better Than People Think
I say “might be” because Cleveland could come out flat in this series. Considering they have not played many high-pressure games in the second-half, they may not be able to match Houston’s intensity.
On the other hand, Cleveland has not shown us what they are truly capable of this season. They have not had to give it their all in order to secure a playoff spot. The world is unaware of their true strength.
This hidden potential, among other reasons I outlined previously, are enough for me to put some money down on the Indians to win an AL pennant. Odds are currently +450 for this feat.
Yankees – Red Sox
It is the matchup that the media and New Englanders alike have yearned for since April – Yankees vs Red Sox in the ALCS. This clash of American League titans features two prolific offenses, each guilty of hurting many pitchers’ feelings.
The media will hype the likes of Stanton, Judge, J.D., and Mookie, but this series will be determined by one key aspect – the bullpens.
Take a look at how the two measure up in late game situations. The following chart compares the bullpens of these two diamond giants.
The Bronx Bombers turn to their pen about half an inning earlier than their rivals. New York’s pen is also much more effective than Boston’s.
In postseason baseball, managers tend to have a very quick hook, replacing pitchers at the mere scent of trouble. A bullpen type of game would greatly favor the Yankees who made trade deadline deals to bolster an already talented late-game fire crew.
I see these sides as very even. Since I can receive plus odds on the team in pinstripes, I may have to swallow my pride and side with them just this once.
Betting American League Futures
|Team||AL Pennant Odds|
Maybe I like being contrarian or am just very stupid, but I like to bet underdogs in the playoffs. When the stakes are highest, the playing field is the most level. This is when underdogs show their true colors.
I will definitely have to throw down a bit of cash on the Yankees and/or Indians pennant odds considering that I am picking them to advance and face each other in the ALCS.