As we hit late August, this can be the last chance to get some real value on which team you think is going to claim the World Series crown this fall. The MLB playoffs is mostly viewed as a crapshoot once you get in, and we’ve seen the favorite go down in flames before even reaching the World Series over and over again. This is why I usually stay away from the favorites. With that said, here are my top 3 plays. As always, value is paramount.
Pittsburgh Pirates: +3000
The only longshot worth betting on at this point. The Pirates are a well-balanced club that play really well at home. They hung in there without their superstar Andrew McCutchen for a few weeks but now they have him back and are beginning to play good baseball again. They currently sit 5 games back in their division and just 2 games back of a Wild Card spot. If they do get in, I see them as a candidate to do some damage because of their deep and powerful lineup. At 30-1 odds, Pittsburgh could be worth a second look.
Milwaukee Brewers: +1200
We’ve waited all year for the Brewers to stop winning after their disappointing season last year, but the Brew-Crew keeps chuggin’ along. At 72-58 (August 24th) they lead the stacked NL Central by 1.5 games over the Cardinals. They’ve done it with a potent lineup and solid starting pitching staff. Even if the Dodgers (+450) and Nationals (+700) are more talented clubs, I like the Brewers odds much better at 12-1. They’ve scored the second most runs in the National League so far this season, and have a solid road record at 36-27. They recently swept the Dodgers in LA, beating both Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, which tells me they matchup well with the NL favorites.
Oakland Athletics: +450
I know, I know, never bet on the favorite for the World Series. But I can’t help myself here. Even given the recent offensive struggles, the A’s are clearly the overall best team in the American League. Let’s go through their challengers:
The Detroit Tigers are struggling and actually wouldn’t be in the playoffs if the season ended today, yet they still sit at +800 to win the whole thing, ridiculous. The Los Angeles Angels (+800) are a very good offensive team, however they just lost their best starting pitcher Garrett Richards to a devastating knee injury. They also have a losing record versus teams over .500. I don’t think they match up well with the Athletics. The Baltimore Orioles (+800) just lost their outstanding third basemen Manny Machado for the season; and their starting pitching has been inconsistent all season. The Kansas City Royals have gone from +5000 on July 16th, all the way down to +1200 today. I was one of the lucky ones to bet on them at +5000 (humblebrag!) but I am afraid the value is all gone at this point. They would be the only other AL team I would consider.
I am one of the few that still believes Billy Beane made the right move by trading for Jon Lester. Giving up Yoenis Cespedes may have made them a slightly lesser team in August, but getting Jon Lester made them a nightmare to face in playoff series. Where we stand right now, I think the Oakland A’s are your 2014 World Series Champs.