MLB American League Odds to Win the World Series

Posted by Peter Boysen on October 3, 2016 in

It took until the final day of the regular season, but the playoff slate for the American League has been set. The wild card game on Tuesday will feature the Baltimore Orioles heading to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays, with the winner set to head to Texas to take on the American League West champion Rangers starting Thursday in a best-of-five American League Division Series. The other AL Division Series starts Thursday, as the AL East champion Boston Red Sox travel to take on the AL Central champion Cleveland Indians. Let’s take a look at the MLB odds for each contender to win the World Series.

MLB American League Odds to Win the World Series

Texas (5/1)

The Rangers have the best record in one-run games in baseball’s modern era — an eye-popping 36-11. They have shown resilience in their bullpen when things have mattered most, and they also have delivered a number of walk-off wins, showing clutch hitting as well.

The Texas lineup is strong from top to bottom. Even the positions that traditionally feature weaker hitters (shortstop and catcher) have solid bats, with Elvis Andrus and mid-season Jonathan Lucroy featuring the ability to hit for average and power.

So what’s their flaw? Well, their overall ERA is 4.43, ranking #30 in all of baseball. However, playoff pitching features short series, and you generally won’t use more than three starters. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are as solid a 1-2 combination as the pitchers that any other team will run out there. They have pitched somewhat inconsistently down the stretch, but their outings this past week showed that their focus is there.

Boston (13/2)

The Red Sox also have a powerful lineup. They also have the motivation of Big Papi’s last season in the major leagues, and such big bats as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez. Throughout the early part of the summer, though, they had wildly inconsistent pitching, which is why Baltimore and Toronto kept trading the division lead until late, when the Red Sox ran off 11 straight wins.

The possible flaw with Boston comes from their starting rotation. David Price has been a terrific starting pitcher for them this season, but his postseason record (0-7, 5.24 ERA) should give all Red Sox fans pause. Rick Porcello has pitched amazing baseball this season (22-4, 3.15 ERA). But he has only scant postseason experience, going 0-1 in three Division Series appearances with Detroit (5.68 ERA), and only making one start and three appearances in an ALCS in 2011, going 9 total innings and permitting 4 earned runs. How will he fare in the October glare?

Toronto (8/1)

Toronto’s hitters can smack the ball a long, long way. However, they strike out a lot as well. In the last ten seasons, only the Boston Red Sox (2013) failed to finish in the top half the league in fewest strikeouts, but the Blue Jays are seventh-worst. In the playoffs, teams feature their best pitchers — the ones who deliver the most strikeouts. When the sluggers come up, they are likely to see the bases empty, and it is easier to overcome a solo shot than a three-run Jimmy Jack.

Cleveland (10/1)

The Tribe would sit a lot higher on this list, but they have lost two of their top three starting pitchers for the rest of the season — Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. When Corey Kluber — the last of the top three — had to leave his start on Monday with a tight groin, things got even grimmer. The Indians have played tremendous ball this season, but they will have a hard time controlling a series with the back end of their rotation.

Baltimore (10/1)

The Orioles lead the major leagues with 245 home runs on the season, 28 better than the next best team (Toronto). However, Baltimore is only 12th in runs scored. They are 15th in batting average and 21st in on-base percentage. That tells you that they live and die by the home run. That is why they are the least likely team from this crew to advance and win the big trophy, because they will face the best pitchers from the opposition. If you can’t stack up base hits, you can’t score enough in the postseason.