American League Playoff Contention

Where should your money go when deciding who'll make the playoffs
Jasmine Baba
Thu, August 15, 1:30 PM EDT

In my last column, I posed the question about the World Series favorites; “Do you trust this Dodgers team in a World Series Final, where the deciding game will be hosted at the opposition’s ballpark against the Yankees/Astros/Indians?”

I also said that I personally didn’t.

There are several reasons for me saying this. Mainly; their recent track record. I felt they looked stronger last year compared to the 2017 season, even though the Dodgers went to game 163 for the NL West, but in the final they were demolished quite easily by Boston. Both in 2017 and 2018, they made the World Series, and both times they were put aside by American League teams. If it goes to Game 7, then that will be played in the AL and depending on who LA face, that could put them at a major disadvantage. Let’s go through who they- or whoever else in the National League- could face in the World Series.

AL East – New York Yankees +500

Many were surprised when the AL East leaders didn’t make any moves on Trade Deadline Day, especially to add to their pitching rotation, but they’ve not let it affect them thanks to their dominant batting; they’ve scored the most runs and have one of the highest team BA.

The talk of the town is usually Aaron Judge, and he ’s batting .267, however if you delve through the Yankees team, there are plenty more bats to talk about. The one that leads the way is DJ LeMahieu at a fantastic .337, followed by Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit at .283 and .277 respectively. And that’s from qualified stats; if you look at people without the necessary At Bats – Mike Tauchman comes in batting at .299 (as well as robbing home runs). Not bad for a team that has been ravaged with injuries.

However, should they come up against a team that can match them on the offensive front, they may struggle. Each one of their currently healthy, starting pitchers is currently registering an ERA of over 4.00.

The Yankees are a fun team to watch, and even with a IL as long as the Wall of China, they’re still going strong. I think they could take on the Dodgers pitchers, should they meet in the World Series. I’d be willing to have a little money on them at +500. They meet on August 24th so that should hopefully give us some indicator how they might get on.

AL Central – Cleveland Indians + 2200 and Minnesota Twins +2000

My prediction earlier this month was that Cleveland would overtake the Twins, and since then they have, but at the time of writing this, they’re neck and neck. It could go either way and it’s only fair if I talk about both of their chances.

Cleveland are still going strong, compared to their Central rivals who are barely over .500 in the last 30 games. A 22-8 record going into the final six weeks or so is nothing to discount either. And they fit my theory of “teams on good runs at the end are in it to win it”.

However, on further inspection at the teams that the Indians have played recently, the LA Angels, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City… they’re all under .500. And Minnesota obviously play similar games, so it reflects even worse on them. They’re both big priced for a reason and battling for that leader spot will take it out of them. If you want to take one at a bigger price, go with recency bias and stick to Cleveland.

AL West – Houston Astros +350

We’ve saved the best for last in the form of second favorites for the World Series, the Astros. If their line up wasn’t strong enough, adding the ace from the Arizona Diamondbacks helped. The West leaders now boast not only one of the strongest rotations of the MLB but maybe one of the best rotations in baseball history, especially with another extra addition of Aaron Sanchez coming into form.

Let’s have a look at it.

Justin Verlander – 15-4/2.82 ERA/217K/0.85 WHIP
Gerrit Cole – 14-5/2.87 ERA/226K/0.98 WHIP
Zack Greinke -12-4/3.08 ERA/143K/0.99 WHIP
Wade Miley - 11-4/2.99 ERA/116K/1.13 WHIP
Aaron Sanchez – 5-15/5.60 ERA/111K/1.60 WHIP

Four out of those five pitchers, and you’re basically facing aces. The fifth, you stand a chance (however if you see how Sanchez has improved under Houston, you might even disagree with that!), but if you win from your first four, congratulations, you’re champions.

+350 is still a completely fair price and is the one I’d confidently put my money on. I’d say they’re underrated in the market and are bigger favourites than the Dodgers. I think the 2017 winners will muscle their way through for winning again.

 

By Jasmine Baba

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