In updated AL and NL Pennant betting predictions, we look at the best bets and underdogs to win each league.
Best Bet to Win the American League
|Win the American League|
Unless you live in Houston, you probably hate the Houston Astros. But hate them or love them, there is no denying how good they look this season. The Houston Astros lead the Majors with a .270 team batting average, are second in OPS at .787, and have the fewest strikeouts in the league.
Their ability to put balls into play put them in the conversation with the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers for the best offence in the league.
The Astros’ pitching has also been quite productive this season. They lead all American League clubs with a 3.67 team ERA and .227 opponent’s batting average. They have four starters (with at least 17 starts) with an ERA of 3.38 or lower. Their other starter is Zach Greinke – a six-time All-Star with 100+ innings of postseason pitching experience. They are the team to beat in the American League.
Best Underdog to Bet to Win the American League
There are only three underdogs to look at to win the American League – the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees. Each team presents a case where they can win the AL Pennant, but since we only want to go with one, it is the Toronto Blue Jays.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 21, 2021
The Toronto Blue Jays top to bottom have the best lineup in baseball. They are the first team since the 2009 New York Yankees (who won the World Series) with six or more players with 20+ home runs and 80+ RBIs. The team also has George Springer and Alejandro Kirk with an OPS over .800.
The pitching has also been surging lately. MLB betting odds now have Robbie Ray as the favourite to win the AL Cy Young Award. The trade acquisition of Jose Berrios is paying dividends – as he has a 3.39 ERA since joining the Jays. He is joined by Alex Manoah – who also has a 3.39 ERA – and Steven Matz who has an ERA of 2.50 since August.
The group is currently without Hyun-jin Ryu. At the start of the year, Ryu was the ace for the Jays. However, since their return to the Rogers Centre, he has been their worst starter by a considerable margin. They could be better off without him when the team goes down to four starters for the MLB Playoffs.
The team fixed up their bullpen. Adam Climber has a 1.45 ERA and Jordan Romano is a legitimate closer with 19 saves and a 2.33 ERA. Tim Mayza and Trevor Richards round out the group with consistently reliable performances. Overall, they are playing as good as any in the AL and – if they make the playoffs – can beat anyone.
Best Bet to Win the National League
|To Win the National League|
Even if they do not catch the San Francisco Giants and win the NL West – the Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team to bet to win the National League.
The Dodgers have the best roster in baseball. To put in perspective how good they are, just look at Julio Urias. Urias is the team’s fifth starter. For the season, he is 18-3 (most wins in the league) with a 2.99 ERA, a WHIP of 1.028, and 180 strikeouts. That is better than 75% of the league’s aces.
The addition of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the trade deadline almost feels unfair. Scherzer should win the NL Cy Young this year. Since joining the Dodgers, he is 7-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 0.655 WHIP. Turner leads the NL with a .316 batting average and 30 steals. Even Albert Pujols – who picked up after his release from the Angels – is contributing with a dozen home runs and a .779 OPS.
Unless they fall apart in the Wild Card game, it is difficult to see any team beating them in a series with their depth in the rotation and stars on offence (we did not even talk about Mookie Betts).
Best Underdog to Bet to Win the National League
After sweeping the San Diego Padres on the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals are holding steady in the second NL Wild Card spot. They also look like the team no one wants to face in the National League.
The Cardinals are currently the hottest team in the National League – picking up 11 wins in their last 12 games. They have beat up on some good teams in that stretch, including two games off the Dodgers.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) September 14, 2021
Their success this season is quite surprising. Their best pitcher is 40-year-old Adam Wainwright. They have no qualifying players with an OPS over .890. What they do have is a team of veterans that knows how to win.
Players like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are some of the best players at their positions. They give the Cardinals Gold Glove defence and effective plate appearances. They also have a great manager in Mike Shildt. He has done a great job this season navigating injuries to field a competent team. If they keep it rolling, they knock anyone in the NL out of the postseason.
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