What a Major League Baseball regular season it was with young players stepping into starring roles, some preseason contenders being unable to overcome injuries, and the Atlanta Braves hitting home runs at a frantic pace. There are 12 teams left vying for the World Series title and the MLB betting lines favor Atlanta, Houston, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The playoffs begin on Tuesday with Texas playing at Tampa Bay, Minnesota playing host to Toronto, Arizona traveling to Milwaukee and Miami clashing with National League East rival Philadelphia. When looking at the MLB odds, the most competitive of the playoff opener could be the Blue Jays-Twins matchup that is currently priced as a Pick’em.
Both Toronto and Minnesota have -115 odds to win that series while Tampa Bay is priced at -175 to win the series with the Rangers. Milwaukee is favored at -175 versus Arizona and Philadelphia comes in at -210 against Miami.
Before going all in on Atlanta, keep in mind that just one of five teams with the best baseball record ever based on winning percentage won the World Series.
When looking at the potential World Series matchups, a showdown between Houston and Atlanta leads the way at +600, followed by Baltimore facing Atlanta (+700) and the Houston Astros meeting up with the Los Angeles Dodgers (+800).
Team to Beat: Atlanta Braves (+275)
Atlanta came away with the best baseball record thanks to a batting order that features three players (Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna) who hit at least 40 home runs.
Acuna is listed by the MLB lines as the National League Most Valuable Player front-runner while Olson led the majors with 54 home runs and 139 RBIs.
Injuries have impacted the pitching staff so that could be a concern for the team that won 104 games during the regular season.
Tripling Their Pleasure
Among the other teams to win at least 100 games, one (the Los Angeles Dodgers) was expected to be in the playoffs while the other (Baltimore) came into the season tied for the 19th-best odds to win it all according to the sportsbook
The Dodgers are priced at +450 to win the World Series with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman leading the offense. Other than future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, this is another team with starting pitching questions going into the postseason.
Baltimore saw youngsters Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson live up to the hype while Anthony Santander led the Orioles with 95 RBIs.
Orioles closer Felix Bautista will be missed during the postseason and it will be interesting to see how the starting pitching rotation holds up.
What About the Defending Champions?
Reigning World Series champion Houston claimed the American League West Division title on the final day of the regular season.
Injuries slowed down the Astros during the early portion of the regular season. Now they are healthy and the lineup is loaded with proven playoff producers.
The starting pitching has been somewhat mediocre. The addition of Justin Verlander at the trade deadline will be a huge boost. Yordan Alvarez has been on a tear since coming off the injured list for the Astros.
The Astros are tied for second at +450 to win the title.
Division champions Milwaukee (NL Central) and Minnesota (AL Central) come in at +2000 in the championship odds.
Wild Time Ahead
Six of the teams with the top 12 odds to win the World Series made it to the postseason.
Tampa Bay won 99 games and is not only the top wild-card team in the American League but comes in fifth at +1100 in the odds to win the World Series. Will this be the time of the year when the injuries to pitchers Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen catch up to Tampa Bay?
Philadelphia, which represented the National League in the 2022 World Series, has +1200 title odds.
Texas (+1600) and Toronto (+1800) in the American League as well as Arizona and Miami in the National League could be dangerous since they have been in playoff mode for the last month trying to secure postseason berths.
Who Will Be Missing?
The results of the wild-card round series could be determined by the health of the teams. Here’s a look at some of the injuries to monitor.
Miami will be without 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara while Luis Arraez, who became the first player to win batting titles in different leagues in consecutive seasons, is now dealing with an ankle injury.
Keep an eye on updates for Minnesota infielders Carlos Correa, Joey Gallo, Jorge Polanco, Royce Lewis, and designated hitter Byron Buxton.
McClanahan and Rasmussen are out for the season for Tampa Bay and Texas is in a wait-and-see pattern when it comes to pitcher Max Scherzer.
The Biggest Disappointments
Entering the season, the New York Yankees had the second-best odds to win the World Series with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres among four teams tied for third at +850 in the championship odds. None of those teams will be in the playoffs.
Seattle (+2000), St. Louis (+2000), Cleveland (+2200), and the Chicago White Sox (+3300) are other teams that were viewed as playoff contenders when the season started. Seattle almost snuck into the American League field while the others were nowhere near competing for a postseason berth.