MLB World Series Pick

World Series Picks

October is in full swing and while some of the sports world is tuned into the NFL other fans are concentrating on the old classic of fall baseball. Since this is the case, it is important to realize the battle for the World Series berth is definitely going to be a great struggle and one that only one team from the AL and one from the NL will reach. So which two of the teams are going to be making it to the World Series and which ones are going to be left sitting to watch the rest of the series?

AL Winner – Cleveland Indians

The Indians are not a favorite team for a lot of expert handicappers or even the odds makers in Vegas. However, the scrappy way the Indians were playing in the games all season definitely will lend to some credence of the Indians being able to pick up a few wins and make it to the series. Not to mention, the Indians have a fairly well balanced offense that is not relying on a single hitter to get the winning runs in for them. With the way the Indians play small ball as well, it will really help the Indians out as the ball will not fly out of the part as often in October.

The Red Sox and Yankees  are good teams and could pose a serious threat for the Indians, but they are teams that really seem to have worn themselves out in the regular season. You just have to look at some of the Yankees starters to see they lost a lot of velocity on pitches in September to see the long season wore on the pitchers.

NL Winner – Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have been able to battle through a lot of teams this year and even had to win a one game championship win for the NL West title. Not to mention the Dodgers have a younger pitching staff that was not really overworked at all during the regular season. Not to mention the Dodgers have been consistent in hitting on the year so far it is easy to see the Dodgers coming out of the NL swinging.

When you look at the Brewers or the Rockies you will notice that the only team between them that could challenge the Dodgers would be the Rockies. However, the Rockies were dominated in the regular season by the Dodgers and the Brewers, they simple to not have a pitching staff that will be able to stand up to the rigors that are seen in the playoffs.

MLB Playoffs

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This MLB season has been a special one and the postseason is sure to delight. The wildcard games are over and the division series are about to kickoff. In the AL, Toronto walked off against Baltimore to set up a rematch of last year’s ALDS against Texas, but this time Texas has the home field. The other series pits Boston against Cleveland as the Red Sox face their former manager Terry Francona. NL was treated to a great game as the Mets hosted the Giants, but Bumgarner was a rude guest throwing a complete game shutout with the Giants winning on a 3 run home run in the top of the 9th setting up a series with Chicago. The other NLDS series is East vs. West with the Dodgers and Nationals duking it out.  VegasTopDogs has all of your insights and winners throughout the MLB Playoffs.

Texas and Toronto went the full five games last year with Toronto winning at home largely due to Jose Bautista’s home run and bat flip. Texas took exception to that and when Bautista got thrown out in May he went in hard at second to break up a double play leading Odor to haul off on Bautista. The series last year was an odd five game set with the first four games being won by the road team. In game five Texas took the lead 3-2 in the top half of the 7th inning only to see Toronto put up a four spot in the bottom half to take the game 6-3 and winning the series. This time with Texas having the home field, being well rested plus the additions of Beltran and Lucroy Texas will be too much for Toronto this time around as Texas wins a tough fought series in five.

Boston has been strong all year and has been crushing it offensively all season long leading the majors in runs scored which got them to 93-69 on the year. Cleveland was a touch better with a 94-67 record, giving them home field advantage. Boston had a similar record at home and on the road, however Cleveland was far better at home with 53 wins which was tied for tops in the AL. Cleveland’s pitching has been a little banged up this season, but their bullpen is strong and the timely hits along with the home field crowd will lead to a Cleveland series win in 5 despite a big series from Big Papi.

Chicago is the odds on favorite to win it all and deservedly so with a 103-win season. The way the season was going it seemed like San Francisco would be challenging the Cubs for top spot in the NL all season after taking over the lead at the All-Star break. The second half was a different story as the Cubs continued to play well and the Giants went into a tailspin needing to win a few games on the last weekend just to get into the wildcard game on the road. Well they won it behind Madison Bumgarner and have some quality pitchers in Cueto and Samardzija for the first two games. This is going to be a battle of a series, but it will be Chicago winning it in five after splitting the first four games the wind will be blowing out in game five and Chicago has the better offense to take advantage.

Washington and LA Dodgers is an interesting match up with both teams being quiet all year as the got through some key injuries and wrapped up their divisions early into September and are all set for a big time series. Kershaw has had his issues in the postseason with a 2-6 record in 13 games including 10 starts with a 4.59 ERA. Scherzer has fared a little better with a 4-3 mark and 3.73 ERA. The key to this series isn’t pitching or power hitting it is speed and the Nationals were 7th in the league in stolen bases while LA Dodgers were 27th. The stole base and taking the extra base will be the game changing factor that leads Washington to a series win in four games.

Written by Frank Jordan for VegasTopDogs.com

World Series Edges: Pitching and Defense

World-Series-Logo

October memories glare the brightest in baseball lore. While home runs mostly dot the top of the memorial landscape, October baseball can also feature memorable defensive plays and great pitching performances from starters and relievers.
The Cubs had a remarkable second half run keyed by their pitching and defense. That had a stretch beginning in late September where they went 9-2-1 run under the total, then shut out the Cardinals in their first playoff game, 4-0, sailing under the total of just 6.5. The top pitching teams in baseball as far as ERA were the Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, Mets, Dodgers and Astros — all made the postseason.
For all the accolades the Toronto Blue Jays had with their top-ranked offense don’t forget the pitching staff ranked 12th in ERA. Just ahead of them was Kansas City, ranked 10th, the defending AL champs. Kansas City was also in the Top 10 this season in fielding, making few errors, as were the Dodgers and Astros.

Last year’s champs, the amazing Giants, had a top 10 team in ERA. The year before Boston road a strong defense and pitching staff to a worst-to-first title, but slipped to last place last season with a team ERA ranked 23rd and bottomed out again in 2015 with awful pitching and worse defense in the field.

The Big Four who reached the 2013 League Champion Series were no flukes during the regular season. The Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals and Dodgers all had star power on offense and some dominant aces on the mound to help anchor the pitching staffs and end losing skids. Pitching and defense shine in October. You need both to get here and managers are more inclined to go with their best arms, which isn’t always the case during the long regular season.

The Giants won the World Series in 2012 and the final scores of the last three games against Detroit: 2-0, 2-0 and 4-3 in ten innings. The Cardinals stunned the Texas Rangers in October of 2012 with a miracle comeback in Game 6, a 10-9 thriller. But 5 of those 7 World Series games went under the total with scores of 3-2, 2-1, 4-0 and 6-2.

The 2010 Giants were a poor hitting team all season, ranked 17th in runs and 19th in on base percentage, yet won it all. Taking a content analysis of the last 16 years of the World Series, you’ll notice that pitching and defense shine a bit more on the October stage than offense. Over that time there have been 59 unders, 24 overs and 2 pushes in World Series play.

Is this a fluke? Or are there reasons for more low scoring games? Since the World Series is the last battle of the season, managers aren’t going to go with their worst pitchers, but the best of their best. This is why you see three and four man rotations in the World Series, whereas in the regular season teams employ a five and sometimes six-man rotation. Simply put, the No. 4, 5 and 6 starters during the regular season aren’t going to see much (if any) important action in late October. The same is true for relief pitchers: A team generally has two or three quality relievers and three or four marginal/below average arms. Naturally, a manager is going to use his best often and go to his weakest arms only if necessary.

Teams constructed solely around offense are built for the regular season. Teams stocked with a balanced lineups and excess pitching, both starting and in the bullpen, are built for October.

In addition, defense is a subtle, often overlooked aspect of baseball. There’s an old adage that teams win with pitching, hitting and defense, and that’s true. This is why you often see teams with outstanding center fielders, shortstops and catchers in the World Series because a team needs to be strong up the middle. Good defense helps your pitchers, turning double plays and keeping the other team from scoring.

Finally, the weather is far colder in October than in July and August, and it’s tougher to hit a baseball when it’s cold. When the World Series takes place in northern cities (Boston, New York, Cleveland, Detroit) it can be very cold in late October and early November.

Last year the Giants won 3 of the final 4 World Series games, with one 5-0 shutout and a 3-2 win in Game 7, both going under the total. In 2013 the final three games went under the total between the Cardinals and Red Sox, 4-2 under overall. In 2006 the A’s and Tigers hooked up for Game 3 in Detroit. It was 42 degrees at game time, the lowest for a postseason game since it was 38 in Cleveland at the 1997 World Series. The final score? 3-0 Tigers, way under the total. Fans were bundled in parkas and blankets in Philly during the World Series in recent years. So don’t be surprised if pitching and defense shine a bit more than offense as temperatures dip — along with batting averages.

Written by Jim Feist for VegasTopDogs.com

Wagering on the World Series: Pitching and Defense

October memories glare the brightest in baseball lore. Bobby Thompson’s 1951
home run, Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the ’56 Series, Bob Gibson’s
17-strikeouts in Game 1 ’68, Carlton Fisk’s home run in ’75, Kirk Gibson’s blast
in ’88, Joe Carter’s Series ending three-run homer in 1993. While home runs
mostly dot the top of the memorial landscape, October baseball can also feature
memorable defensive plays and great pitching performances from starters and
relievers.

The Big Four who reached the League Champion Series were no
flukes during the regular season. The Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals and Dodgers all
have star power on offense and some dominant aces on the mound to help anchor
the pitching staffs and end losing skids.

The Cardinals opened the
playoffs with a scoring games (9-1 win) against Pittsburgh, but that’s not the
norm this time of the year. Don’t forget that they won the final two games of
that series, 2-1 and 6-1, then topped the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS, 3-2, in
13 innings. Pitching and defense shine in October. You need both to get here and
managers are more inclined to go with their best arms, which isn’t always the
case during the long regular season.

The Giants won the World Series
last year and the final scores of the last three games against Detroit: 2-0, 2-0
and 4-3 in ten innings. The Cardinals stunned the Texas Rangers in October of
2012 with a miracle comeback in Game 6, a 10-9 thriller. But 5 of those 7 World
Series games went under the total with scores of 3-2, 2-1, 4-0 and 6-2.

That is what led the surge of the Tampa Bay Rays this season and their
remarkable run to the World Series five years ago, great defense and a deep
young pitching staff. The 2010 Giants were a poor hitting team all season,
ranked 17th in runs and 19th in on base percentage, yet won it all.

This
is important from a betting perspective, too, and was a key factor the Colorado
Rockies surprised the oddsmakers in 2007. They were 100-to-1 to win the World
Series before the season started. The Rockies’ pitching improved from 13th to in
2006 to 8th in 2007 in the NL, the same year they were tops in the majors in
team defense with the fewest errors allowed. The 2007 ALCS between Boston and
Cleveland matched the No. 1 and No. 3 pitching staffs in the AL.

Taking a
content analysis of the last 15 years of the World Series, you’ll notice that
pitching and defense shine a bit more on the October stage than offense. Over
that time there have been 52 unders, 38 overs and 2 pushes in World Series play.
Is this a fluke? Or are there reasons for more low scoring games?

Since
the World Series is the last battle of the season, managers aren’t going to go
with their worst pitchers, but the best of their best. This is why you see three
and four man rotations in the World Series, whereas in the regular season teams
employ a five and sometimes six-man rotation. Simply put, the No. 4, 5 and 6
starters during the regular season aren’t going to see much (if any) important
action in late October. The same is true for relief pitchers: A team generally
has two or three quality relievers and three or four marginal/below average
arms. Naturally, a manager is going to use his best often and go to his weakest
arms only if necessary.

Teams constructed solely around offense are
built for the regular season. Teams stocked with a balanced lineups and excess
pitching, both starting and in the bullpen, are built for October.

In
addition, defense is a subtle, often overlooked aspect of baseball. There’s an
old adage that teams win with pitching, hitting and defense, and that’s true.
This is why you often see teams with outstanding center fielders, shortstops and
catchers in the World Series because a team needs to be strong up the middle.
Good defense helps your pitchers, turning double plays and keeping the other
team from scoring.

Finally, the weather is far colder in October than in
July and August, and it’s tougher to hit a baseball when it’s cold. When the
World Series takes place in northern cities (Boston, New York, Cleveland,
Detroit) it can be very cold in late October and early November. In 2006 the A’s
and Tigers hooked up for Game 3 in Detroit. It was 42 degrees at game time, the
lowest for a postseason game since it was 38 in Cleveland at the 1997 World
Series. The final score? 3-0 Tigers, way under the total. Fans were bundled in
parkas and blankets in Philly at Citizens Bank Park during the World Series in
recent years. So don’t be surprised if pitching and defense shines a bit more
than offense as temperatures dip along with batting averages.

Written by Jim Feist for VegasTopDogs.com

Baseball Hot and Cold Starts

More than any other sport, baseball is a game of patience. It’s not how you start, but where you finish, and with a 162-game regular season, there is a LOT of baseball left. Did your team get off to a bad start? Well don’t panic. There is plenty of time to make adjustments and turn things around. Did your team get off to a hot start? Don’t start making World Series reservations just yet.

The Giants have won two of the last three World Series but have been roughly a .500 thus far, trailing the Diamondbacks and Rockies in their own division. No matter. A year ago they were also just a .500 team, trailing the Dodgers the first week of May in 2012.

Two years ago this week Texas was a .500 team sitting in third place in
AL West, but wound up as AL Champs in October. Three years ago the Giants were a mediocre 18-15 and went on to win the World Series. Four years ago this week the eventual champion NY Yankees were 15-17. Yes, that’s right, they had a terrible
start, before going on a 16-4 run on the way to another pennant.

Five years ago the AL eventual champion Tampa Bay Rays were 10-11, second to last in the AL East, looking up at three teams (Boston, NY, Baltimore) they would soon overtake. The eventual 2007 World Series champion Phillies were 11-11, looking up at the Marlins and Mets in the NL East.

Look at it another way: So
who were the division leaders at this time one year ago? Four of the teams were
the Indians, Cardinals, Dodgers and Rays. None ended up winning the division
with only St. Louis sneaking into the postseason as a Wild Card. The Dodgers
finished 8 games behind the eventual champion Giants despite the big late season
trade to acquire more talent, while the Indians finished in fourth place at
68-94…so much for that first-place start!

So don’t panic if your team
is stumbling and don’t start thinking about printing playoff tickets if your
team started 18-7, like the 2013 Red Sox. The biggest flops have been the Blue
Jays, Angels, Phillies and Dodgers. But remember that six years ago the Phillies
started 1-7 and ended up as NL East champs, while the eventual NL Champion
Rockies were 10-16, last place in the NL West at the end of April, and 45-46 at
the All Star break.

Eight years ago the Houston Astros started 8-13 and
eventually stood at 15-30! They ended up winning the 2005 NL pennant. In 2003,
the Florida Marlins started 19-29 and ended up winning the World Series. In
2002, the Angels started 6-14 and wound up winning their first World Series.

Oakland GM Billy Beane once said you spend the first third of the season
seeing what you have and evaluating your team. The middle third trying to
acquire pieces to fill weak spots, and the final third sitting back and watching
the team make a run at the postseason — or not. We are in the first third of
the season and there’s a long way to go. General Managers are in the process of
evaluating what they have.

In the same way GMs need patience when
analyzing baseball, so do handicappers. The Pirates, Rockies, Royals and Red Sox
have been the big surprises this season, with improved offenses and pitching.
However, consistency over the long haul is the key.

Surprises will
emerge over a long season and offer smart bettors good value for their wagering
dollar, even with individual players. Pitchers are more susceptible to injuries
than any other professional athletes and remember that betting numbers are made
based on current and past performance. It can take a while before oddsmakers
catch on to a struggling or injured pitcher.

Sometimes kid pitchers can
come up from the minors and dazzle, such as we saw the last few years with
Edinson Volquez (Reds), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) and Tim Lincecum (Giants).
Things can change quickly, as Volquez is with San Diego this season and
Strasburg is back after missing time rehabbing. Even Lincecum is dealing with
decreased velocity while not throwing his slider as there are concerns about his
health. Sustaining a surprise start requires talent, depth, line-up balance and
good health.

Remember in 2003 the Royals started 17-4, the Mariners
started 40-18 and the Diamondbacks were 52-42 at the All Star break. None made
the playoffs. Those examples give hope to those teams that are off to struggling
starts and should provide caution to teams that are in first place. After all,
it’s only May!
Written by Jim Fiest for VegasTopDogs.com