While every series this weekend will technically be “October baseball,” the real games we all care about officially begin next Tuesday (Oct. 6) with the AL Wild Card game. “November baseball” awaits the survivors of the AL and NL playoffs, with the 2016 World Series slated to begin about a month from now.
This postseason crop boasts some fresh new faces, highlighted by some long suffering fan bases. Will the Kansas City Royals end a 30-year title drought? Will a Texas team win the first Pennant in the state’s history? Perhaps the Cubs can finally end their century old World Series shutout. Heck, it’s been four whole years since the cheatin’ Cards have won, so they’re probably due.
We don’t know our entire playoff field just yet, but we certainly know who the favorites are. So let’s run through the odds of each remaining team’s chances of winning a World Series this year.
World Series Futures:
Toronto Blue Jays: 3/1
- Boasting the league’s best run differential by a wide margin, Toronto has gotten hot at the right time. With the league’s best win percentage since the All-Star break, they’ve charged back to not only claim the AL East, but likely the top seed in the American League. The Jays roster can put up runs in a hurry, led by this year’s AL MVP favorite Josh Donaldson; it also has shut-down pitching in the form of CY Young contender David Price. Toronto is 53-28 at home, and the American League has home field advantage for the World Series. Throw that all together, and you have a bona fide front-runner to win it all.
St. Louis Cardinals: 5/1
- The only team in the Majors to hit triple-digit wins, the Cards are in their usual spot as NL Central Champs. A team that has winning rooted in their DNA, St Louis has been the model of consistency over the year, winning over 62-percent of their games pre- and post-All-Star break. While the Cards rotation doesn’t boast star names like their NL rivals, Michael Wacha and company have combined for the lowest team ERA in the MLB. With the best home record in baseball, St. Louis will be a tough out once again.
New York Mets: 11/2
- Pitching wins in the playoffs, at least that’s what the New York Metropolitans are hoping. Their young rotation may lack postseason experience, but dang do they look dominant. What gives this team the edge over the oft-choking Dodgers is the new-found pop in the Mets’ bats. Since the All-Star break, New York has the most runs in the NL and much of that can be attributed to the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes. A guy who can change a game with the single swing of a bat, Cespedes could be the difference in the many pitching duels that likely lie ahead for New York and L.A.
Kansas City Royals: 6/1
- I can recall a time where it looked like the Royals were going to breeze through the American League playoffs, but that’s why we don’t crown champions in June. Despite some high-profile trades at the deadline, this team is reeling at the wrong time. Johnny Cueto has been a complete bust. Ben Zobrist has been good, but he can’t plug all the holes that injuries are poking in this lineup, especially the one that’s sidelined closer Greg Holland. To top it all off, K.C. also has a losing record against Texas teams this year. They better hope they can reel in the one-seed this weekend.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 6/1
- They have two of the top-three pitchers in the NL (Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke). But it’s still so hard to trust this Dodgers group come October. Kershaw may be a beast right now, but his playoff ERA of 5.12 is going to be the elephant in the room until he finally goes out and dominates in October. And it looks like he’ll need to because these Dodger bats are not frightening anybody; even if Yasiel Puig can return for the playoffs, LA is one of the lightest hitting teams in the bigs.
Texas Rangers: 8/1
- Another team peaking at the right time, the Rangers hit all the check marks: good batting, good pitching, and a roster with plenty of postseason experience. Though they still haven’t wrapped up an ALDS berth, they could do some damage should they get there.
Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs: 10/1
- This year’s NL Wild Card marks a real tragedy in the playoff format. Despite having the second and third-best records in the entire National League, either the Pirates or Cubs will be going home after this intense one-game playoff. Both these teams have stacked lineups and rotations. Jake Arrieta vs. Gerrit Cole will be a heavyweight pitching matchup. But the winner will still have to overcome the Cards, who have a winning record against both clubs (10-9 vs. the Pirates; 11-8 vs. the Cubs).
New York Yankees: 12/1
- Any team coming in through the Wild Card game can’t love their chances. The unpredictability of baseball means their playoffs could be over as quickly as they began (imagine me snapping my fingers for emphasis). The unpredictability of the Yankees’ starting pitching means this team could be easily swept aside in the one-game playoff or make a surprising October run. They do have one of the best lockdown bullpens, but against a high-powered Toronto, Texas, or Houston, the game could be out of reach by the time they call on Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller.
Houston Astros: 14/1
- Houston has yet to clinch a berth but could really do some damage in a weaker-looking AL. If they go the one-game playoff route, there aren’t many pitchers you’d rather call on than Dallas Keuchel. And this team’s feast or famine approach at the plate could bode well in a longer series.
Los Angeles Angels: 20/1
- Mike Trout can’t win a World Series by himself. It will be a short run if this team manages to weasel in.
Minnesota Twins: 25/1
- Ditto for the Twins. At least the future is bright!
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)