The World Series Favorites In Mid-September

Unfortunately it's looking as if the Phillies will miss out on the playoffs. A late surge isn't out of the question, but there are a few too many games to make up for a wild card berth for anyone to be particularly comfortable, which means a fairly strong season may come up short.

Progress is progress though, and the Phillies are on their way back to being a contending team. And in the meantime, it may be time to look toward the postseason from a standpoint of more general interest.

With the playoff picture quickly coming into focus, these are the apparent WorldSeries favorites as of mid-September.

Houston Astros
The Astros are not the best team in baseball, and won't be by season's end. That distinction - and almost certainly the top World Series odds - belong to the next team on our list. However, as a defending World Series champion that looks every bit as good as it was a year ago, Houston gets our top mention.

Way back in July, a Texas sports site predicted that the showing so far boded well for the repeat. And since then itâ s hard to say anything has changed. Jose Altuve remains arguably the best all-around player in baseball not named Mike Trout, Alex Bregman is a regular power threat, and we've all seen what Justin Verlander can do in the playoffs. If there are concerns, they may be that George Springer has had a slightly down year and the bullpen is nothing special, but a rock solid rotation and versatile lineup can get the job don e. We wouldn't bet on anyone else first.

Boston Red Sox
Itâ s hard to find a weakness in a Red Sox team thatâ s been poised to flirt with the all-time wins record all season. Boston just clicked this season, such that the pitching was better than expected (outside of the setup role) and the lineup was explosive from top to bottom. The only concern is, as one guide to baseball betting pointed out, they'll see some great pitching in the playoffs. That may sound simplistic, but we've seen great lineups falter against playoff pitching before, and if this lineup slips even a little bit, Boston becomes one of many good teams, instead of a clear favorite. We'll have to see if Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Co. can keep hitting like Hall of Famers against, say, playoff Verlander or a Masahiro Tanaka or Luis Severino on a hot streak.

New York Yankees
At one point these still-young Yankees looked like the best team in baseball. Despite a somewhat fragile starting rotation, New York was firing on all cylinders through about half the season, with a consistent lineup, good defense and an incredible bullpen all making them seem unbeatable in a series. More recently however, theyâ ve been struggling. An article about a month ago correctly pointed out that the Yankees had to focus on getting healthy and hosting a wild card game. The health was due to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez among other key players suffering injuries, and the wild card preparation is due to the fact that Boston simply ran away with the AL East. This all puts the Yankees in some degree of peril, but they do appear to be getting healthy just in time for the playoffs. If they win the Wild Card game they'll likely host, they'll still be a very tough out in a series.

Chicago Cubs
Thereâ s been a ton of focus on the American League, and with good reason. The argument can even be made that the fourth team on this list should be the Cleveland Indians. But given that someone from the National League is going to be in the World Series, and the Cubs are probably the league's best, we're going with Chicago. The Cubs still boast a balanced, dynamic lineup, and an experienced rotation. That rotation has been rock solid, though it seems to lack a true shutdown ace, at least based on regular season performance. Jon Lester is probably the guy to watch here. If he finds a groove early in the playoffs, he can help carry Chicago to legitimate contention.

No comments: