Dan Favale | Tue 15/05/2018 - 08:36 EDT

World Series Odd 2018: Pretender or Contender for MLB’s Top 10 Teams

World Series Odd 2018: Pretender or Contender for MLB’s Top 10 Teams
Although the MLB regular season is old enough to create a clear World Series picture, there are still some facades in our midst. There have to be. Teams can get hot for a couple months, and more importantly, the postseason picture is finite. Not every one of the best teams is set up to contend for baseball's ultimate honor. We aim to separate the real contenders from the pretenders for you.

All World Series odds come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate as of Monday, May 14. Make sure to double-check these lines before placing a wager, as they will be subject to slight ebbs and flows as the regular season wears on and the championship landscape begins to more concretely materialize.

Baseball’s top 10 teams will be determined by looking at Baseball-Reference’s Simple Rating System (SRS)—a comprehensive metric that ranks squads according to a combination of run differential and strength of schedule. It’s obviously not the end-all, be-all of talent measurements, but it’s a sound way to determine which teams are actually the most dangerous. We’ll be taking the top 10 SRS scores, presenting them in order of increasing value and determining whether said group is a real World Series threat in the long run.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (+2000)

cardinals

SRS: 0.6

As much as this pains me to say, the St. Louis Cardinals are not for real. Their record is misleading, and even the oddsmakers are being a tad too generous with their mid-end odds.

The Cardinals’ pitching is fine. And it will eventually be better than fine. Luke Weaver’s 4.91 ERA should come down, and Adam Wainwright should see his stock spike once he works through his current elbow injury. St. Louis is third in the entire league in ERA and has yet to showcase its best body of work on the mound. That’s pretty impressive.

But the offense just doesn’t have the firepower to wage serious damage. The Cardinals rank inside the bottom five of slugging percentage and fail to crack the league average when it comes to on base percentage. Centerfielder Tommy Pham and first baseman Jose Martinez are getting the job done at the plate, but the Cardinals really miss catcher Yadier Molina (10-day DL) and aren’t getting nearly enough quality appearances from third baseman Matt Carpenter and right fielder Dexter Fowler—both of whom are batting under .150.

The Milwaukee Brewers should cool off before running away with the NL Central division, and the Cardinals should get slightly more hitting later in the year. Still, even if they take the division crown, it’s tough to imagine them stacking up against the NL’s other contenders, most of which tout better offensive production.

The Verdict: Pretender

9. Los Angeles Angels (+1400)

SRS: 0.6

The Los Angeles Angels have a mediocre run differential—under plus-one per game—and their offense has been far too reliant on Mike Trout embodying perfection. We should also probably expect some drop-off from rookie Shohei Ohtani’s hot start. The workload could start to get to him as the season wears on—particularly if they continue earmarking him to pitch every Sunday.

On the flip side, guys like Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton have underachieved. So the Angels’ offense should hold relatively steady overall. And while they may not have a real shot at overtaking the Houston Astros for the AL West as the schedule unfolds, they look like a shoo-in for one of the two Wild Card spots.

The Verdict: Contender

 

8. Arizona Diamondbacks (+1000)

diamondbacks

SRS: 1.1

Remember when last year’s 93-win Arizona Diamondbacks were supposed to be an anomaly? Yeah, so much for that.

The Diamondbacks are on pace to leap-frog last year’s win total by four or five victories and currently have the largest hold on their division in baseball. They should be able to sleepwalk their way into the postseason.

Nevertheless, you’ll want to approach their odds with extreme caution, if not avoid them altogether. They place in the bottom five of on base percentage and inside the bottom 10 of slugging percentage. They’ve been largely carried by their pitching staff, which places second in Adjusted ERA and is benefiting a great deal from superhuman bullpen outings mixed with a little Patrick Corbin. That’s not a good model for success—not against more potent offensive teams. 

Arizona’s record feels more misleading than genuine as a result. They’re a good-not-great team with a win rate that’s being propped up by playing in a crappy division.

The Verdict: Pretender

7. Chicago Cubs (+1200)

SRS: 1.2

Talk about your severe underachievers. Everyone expected the Chicago Cubs to stand atop the NL Central. They are instead in third place, behind both the Cardinals and Milwaukee Bucks. The latter won’t be in their way forever. Baseball-Reference rates the Brewers as the second-luckiest MLB squad to date. They’ll fall off. But the Cardinals are a different story.

More to the point, the Cubs need to get more consistent performances from the pitching staff. Starters Yu Darvish, who is currently on the DL, and Jose Quintana are both posting ERAs noticeably north of 4.00, and even Tyler Chatwood has started to fall off.

The silver lining? Many of the catch-all metrics love the Cubs. They have MLB’s fifth-best run differential, and despite their relative pitching struggles, they’re fifth in adjusted ERA. Definitely monitor their status over the next month or so, but for now, don’t read too much into their warts. They should be fine.

The Verdict: Contender

6. Washington Nationals (+1200)

nationals

SRS: 1.3

Believe it or not, the Washington Nationals could be due for a substantive uptick. They’re six games over .500 with a top-eight run differential and top-six SRS, and yet Baseball-Reference’s luck factor actually says they’ve been one of the league’s more unfortunate teams.

Pretty much all of this can be chalked up to a truly terrible 10-10 record. They were the fourth-best home team in baseball last year, so this represents a huge regression. Chances are their body of work at home will normalize. 

So, too, should Bryce Harper’s offense. He’s putting up what would be a career-worst .236 batting average, which is mainly responsible for the Nationals’ uninspiring OPS. Get anything more from him, and Washington won’t struggle to meet the league average in runs scored per game. That they’ve fared so well to this point despite the offense’s relative strife is actually an encouraging harbinger of what’s to come should Harper, Ryan Zimmerman (on the 15-day DL), Michael Taylor start progressing to their usual mean. To be honest, they may be the most lethal team in the brutal NL East division.

The Verdict: Contender

5. Boston Red Sox (+650)

SRS: 1.3

With all the focus on the New York Yankees’ deep collection of home-run hitters, too many seem to be allowing the Boston Red Sox’s offense to be flying under the radar. They lead MLB in slugging percentage and are getting MVP caliber-performances from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

The 25-year-old Betts specifically has been out of this world. He’s batting .360 with a slugging percentage of .772. That can and probably will come down, but it’s high enough that even coming relatively close to maintaining it puts him on track to join the 45-homer, 100-RBI club. Martinez also has room to spare on his own numbers. He’s clearing a .624 slugging percentage himself.

Though the pitching staff has been a little shaky at times, the Red Sox are hovering inside the top 10 of overall ERA. Chris Sale gives them a legit ace, and closer Craig Kimbrel has been lights out all year, posting an ERA just over two while striking out 13.5 batters per nine innings.

Watching the Red Sox compete with the Yankees for AL East supremacy will be fascinating as the season wears on. Most will pick the Yankees, for obvious reasons. But don’t count out the Red Sox.

The Verdict: Contender

4. Philadelphia Phillies (+2500)

phillies

SRS: 1.7

Effortless verdict incoming.

The Houston Astros cleared 100 victories and won the World Series last year. This season, they’ve opened up the schedule with the league’s best run differential by an insane margin. The distance between them and the second-place Red Sox (0.5) is the same as the gap separating the sixth-place Phillies from the 12th-ranked Cleveland Indians.

Additionally, the Astros lead the entire league in Adjusted ERA and strikeouts per nine innings. Their pitching staff is flat-out scary. Justin Verlander is living up to the hype, and Gerrit Cole might be even better. 

Could the Astros stand to get more out of their offense? Absolutely. They’re middle of the road in OPS and delivering a suboptimal slugging percentage. At the same time, who cares? The Astros are giving the pitching staff about five runs per game. That’s more than enough for them to remain among the World Series favorites.

The Verdict: Contender

3. Houston Astros (+550)

SRS: 1.7

Effortless verdict incoming.

The Houston Astros cleared 100 victories and won the World Series last year. This season, they’ve opened up the schedule with the league’s best run differential by an insane margin. The distance between them and the second-place Red Sox (0.5) is the same as the gap separating the sixth-place Phillies from the 12th-ranked Cleveland Indians.

Additionally, the Astros lead the entire league in Adjusted ERA and strikeouts per nine innings. Their pitching staff is flat-out scary. Justin Verlander is living up to the hype, and Gerrit Cole might be even better. 

Could the Astros stand to get more out of their offense? Absolutely. They’re middle of the road in OPS and delivering a suboptimal slugging percentage. At the same time, who cares? The Astros are giving the pitching staff about five runs per game. That’s more than enough for them to remain among the World Series favorites.

The Verdict: Contender

2. New York Yankees (+550)

yankees

SRS: 1.7

No. Surprises. Here.

Some people began worrying about the New York Yankees at the beginning of the season. Neither Giancarlo Stanton nor Gary Sanchez was really hitting, and Aaron Judge was even going through his own difficult spells. But those concerns have since been put to bed. 

Judge, Stanton and Sanchez are all tallying slugging percentages around .500 or better; Judge, in fact, has climbed above .600. Didi Digregorious is also eclipsing the .500 threshold. Mash this all together, and it amounts to MLB’s co-lead in OPS and the third-best run differential around.

If there’s one thing that should register as a potential red flag, it’s the upside-down pitching performances. Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray are getting rocked on the mound, with ERAs of 4.66 and 6.00, respectively. Dellen Bentances’ efforts out of the bullpen are also something to keep an eye on. He’s averaging 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings, but he’s been wild overall. He has the second-worst ERA on the squad.

How much this should trouble bettors remains to be seen. The Yankees’ offense is just so good, the roller coaster ride that is their pitching rotation might not matter one single lick.

The Verdict: Contender 

1. Atlanta Braves (+1800)

SRS: 1.8

Surprised? You’re not alone. The Atlanta Braves are supposed to be rebuilding. Like, really rebuilding. Many had them pegged to be one of the worst teams in baseball. And yet, here they are, boasting the league’s highest SRS over established powerhouses like the Astros and Yankees. 

Aspects of their blistering start won’t hold. They’re 16-8 on the road compared to 8-7 at home, which suggests they’ve overachieved a great deal. Their National League-leading OPS isn’t going to stick either. They have two guys batting over .330—Freddie Freeman and a 34-year-old Nick Markakis—and their pitching staff is notching a below-average WHIP. 

Can they continue to fend off the Phillies, Nationals and New York Mets all year? You should have your doubts. Maybe they scrape together a Wild Card bid. Heck, maybe they even win the AL East. But this doesn’t feel like a team that will be playing deep into the fall.

The Verdict: Pretender

Category : Sports Betting News

Tag : atlanta braves , baseball , Boston Red Sox , Houston Astros , mlb , New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies

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