World Series 2017 Odds: Breaking Down the Chances of All 8 Remaining Teams

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

World Series 2017 Odds: Breaking Down the Chances of All 8 Remaining Teams

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    There might be no greater fool's errand than trying to predict the MLB postseason.

    But that has never stopped us before.

    Rather than a full round-by-round breakdown, we're going to take a more broad approach here and lay down odds for each of the eight Division Series participants' chances of winning the World Series.

    Each team's biggest strengths and weaknesses were highlighted to provide some context to those odds and give a preview of sorts for the month ahead.

New York Yankees (91-71, 1st AL Wild Card)

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Strengths

    A powerful offense and a dominant bullpen.

    Those were the Yankees' two biggest strengths during the regular season, and they were on full display against the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Game. They put eight runs on the board behind three homers, while the bullpen allowed just five hits and one run while striking out 13 in 8.2 innings of work.

    However, the Cleveland Indians—who await in the ALDS—were able to keep that offense in check this year. They allowed just 20 runs in seven games and posted a plus-11 run differential while going 5-2.

    If the Yankees can score early runs to back a questionable starting rotation and turn to their bullpen with a lead, they'll be in good shape.

          

    Weaknesses

    Starting pitching has been the biggest question mark for the Yankees all season, and watching Luis Severino get only one out in the Wild Card Game did nothing to ease those concerns.

    Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia will join him in making up the postseason rotation. While all three are capable of pitching well enough to get the team a win, they've been far from dominant.

    Gray (6 GS, 2-4, 4.58 ERA) and Tanaka (5 GS, 3-2, 4.99 ERA) were mediocre in September, and Sabathia has completed six innings in just seven of his last 15 starts.

    That group will be tasked with slowing down a Cleveland offense that averaged 5.6 runs per game over the final month of the season.

    Good luck.

          

    Odds: 12-1

Arizona Diamondbacks (93-69, 1st NL Wild Card)

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    Paul Goldschmidt
    Paul GoldschmidtRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Strengths

    With a 5.19 ERA and just 62 quality starts in 162 games, the Diamondbacks had the worst starting staff in the National League last season.

    What a difference a year makes.

    Zack Greinke returned to ace form, while Robbie Ray joined him as a front-line option. In addition, prized pickup Taijuan Walker slid nicely into the middle of the staff, and Zack Godley turned in one of the surprise breakouts of 2017.

    Meanwhile, the offense ranked fourth in the NL in scoring (5.0 RPG) and took off after the addition of J.D. Martinez as a complimentary run producer to NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers await in the NLDS, and the D-backs got the best of them during the regular season, going 11-8 with a plus-28 run differential. That included a dominant three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium in early September where they outscored them 19-2 amid a 13-game winning streak.

    Arizona was also one of just three teams to win at least 50 games at home this season.

           

    Weaknesses

    Manager Torey Lovullo won't be able to turn to Ray next time his starter gets into trouble like Greinke did in the Wild Card Game. And beyond lefty Andrew Chafin and standout setup man Archie Bradley, the Diamondbacks don't have a deep stable of relievers.

    There's also an inexperience factor as far as their otherwise stellar starting pitching is concerned. Walker and Godley will be making their postseason debuts in the NLDS, while Ray will be making his first playoff start.

    That might not sound like an obvious weakness, but the other three contenders on the NL side all have significant experience on their staffs. Since pitching is a different animal come October, that lack of seasoning could come back to bite Arizona.

    Offensively, the D-backs ranked 25th in the majors with a .243 average against left-handed pitching, and they'll run into two (Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill) and potentially three (Alex Wood) lefties when they take on the Dodgers.

    On paper, they look as dangerous as any wild-card team in recent memory, but it's still an uphill battle.

          

    Odds: 9-1

Boston Red Sox (93-69, AL East Champions)

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    Chris Sale
    Chris SalePatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Strengths

    While they are not the same offensive juggernaut that averaged a MLB-best 5.4 runs per game a year ago, the Red Sox are still plenty dangerous at the plate. Mookie Betts (108 PA, .944 OPS, 15 XBH, 24 RBI) hit his stride in September, and the offense as a whole tallied 5.2 runs per game for the month.

    Defense might be Boston's biggest strength, though.

    According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox were the best overall defensive team in baseball by a wide margin. Betts (31 DRS), Mitch Moreland (10 DRS), Jackie Bradley Jr. (9 DRS) and Andrew Benintendi (9 DRS) were all standouts on an individual level.

    While there may be some questions about the pitching staff, having Chris Sale as the Game 1 starter and the dynamic duo of Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel at the back of the bullpen is also a clear strength.

          

    Weaknesses

    The starting rotation behind Sale is clearly the biggest concern for the Red Sox.

    Drew Pomeranz went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 173.2 innings to earn the No. 2 spot in the playoff rotation, but his velocity dipped down the stretch and he has already reached a career-high in innings.

    Behind him will be some combination of Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65 ERA), Eduardo Rodriguez (6-7, 4.19 ERA) and Doug Fister (5-9, 4.88 ERA) to round out the staff.

    Fister proved to be a solid addition off the scrapheap and has a 2.60 ERA in 55.1 career postseason innings, but he was crushed to the tune of a 9.18 ERA over his last four starts.

          

    Odds: 9-1

Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58, NL West Champions)

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    Cody Bellinger
    Cody BellingerNick Wass/Associated Press

    Strengths 

    The Dodgers were baseball's best home team with a 57-24 record at Dodger Stadium, and they'll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are no strangers to the bright lights of the postseason after anchoring the playoff rotation a year ago, and they'll return to that role once again this October.

    Yu Darvish has a chance to be a real X-factor as a third ace-caliber starter. He looked sharp down the stretch, going 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a .218 opponents' batting average in September.

    Offensively, the Dodgers have no shortage of weapons, and the power bat of Cody Bellinger gives the lineup a different complexion after no one on the team topped 27 home runs a year ago.

    With a deep rotation, lights-out closer and dangerous lineup, all of the pieces are in place for a World Series run. There's a reason this team looked like a runaway freight train earlier this year.

    But can the Dodgers flip that switch again?

          

    Weaknesses

    The health of shortstop Corey Seager is one significant area of concern for the Dodgers. He's playing through a shoulder injury that will likely require offseason surgery, and he hit just .179/.261/.321 with five extra-base hits in September as a result.

    However, he wasn't alone in struggling over the season's final month. The entire lineup batted .223/.306/.399 and averaged 3.7 runs per game.

    While the starting rotation is a clear strength, the bullpen remains an enigma. Lefty Luis Avilan will be unavailable in the NLDS, and it's been a revolving door all season as far as getting the ball to Kenley Jansen in the ninth.

    With all of that said, the biggest knock on the Dodgers right now is their lack of momentum.

    Playoff baseball is not always about the best team, but instead the hottest team. L.A.'s 13-22 record to close out the season is impossible to ignore.

          

    Odds: 8-1

Chicago Cubs (92-70, NL Central Champions)

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    Kyle Hendricks
    Kyle HendricksKamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Strengths

    This is not the Chicago Cubs' first rodeo, so to speak.

    Despite the relative youth of the team's core, this group is getting set to kick off a third straight postseason run. Game 1 of the NLDS has to feel like a breeze compared to Game 7 of the World Series.

    After a sluggish start, Chicago hit its stride after the All-Star break, going an NL-best 49-25 in the second half with a dominant plus-127 run differential.

    The offense led the majors with 5.7 runs per game after the break.

    The World Series hangover is a real thing—just eight of the past 17 winners made it back to the playoffs the following year—but this team did a good job of rolling with the punches and eventually playing up to its potential to claim another division title.

          

    Weaknesses

    While they picked it up in the second half, this is not the same juggernaut we saw a year ago, particularly on the pitching side.

    Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) wasn't the same pitcher who finished second in NL Cy Young voting last season, and Jake Arrieta won't take the ball until Game 4 as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

    That leaves a lot on the shoulders of Kyle Hendricks as well as Jose Quintana, who will make his playoff debut in Game 3 of the NLDS.

    Then there's the bullpen.

    Wade Davis has been stellar in converting 32 of 33 save chances, and electric right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. once again looks like a shutdown setup option after some midseason struggles.

    The rest of the relief corps has been a crapshoot all season, though, and that sort of thing tends to get exposed in October.

          

    Odds: 7-1

Washington Nationals (97-65, NL East Champions)

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    Trea Turner
    Trea TurnerJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    Strengths

    Is pure desperation a strength?

    As I wrote last month, there's no team with a greater sense of urgency to win now than the Nationals as they stare down a 2019 free-agent class that will include Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez.

    The window is still open, but it's closing fast.

    Luckily, they look like the team to beat on the NL side thanks to a loaded offense, a deep starting rotation fronted by a pair of Cy Young candidates and a vastly improved bullpen.

    Speedy Trea Turner is the sort of player who can transform a series. He did just that when the Nationals took on the Cubs—the team's NLDS opponent—earlier this year as he went 5-of-10 with seven stolen bases and four runs scored over the series' last three games.

    Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will make things tough on Cubs hitters, and the casual fan might not be aware of how good Game 3 starter Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) was this season.

    It's the bullpen that could make all the difference in the world, though.

    This is the first time the relief corps has been a real area of strength for the Nationals heading into October. The pen was a disaster early on, but the midseason additions of Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler have made it dominant.

          

    Weaknesses

    Harper is back in the Nationals lineup, but it remains to be seen if he's back to 100 percent.

    After missing 42 games with a knee injury, he returned to action for five games at the end of the season, going 3-for-18 with seven strikeouts.

    Then there's Scherzer.

    The reigning NL Cy Young winner left his final start of the regular season last Saturday with a leg injury, which likely gives Strasburg the Game 1 start in the NLDS.

    "I tweaked my hammy," Scherzer told reporters. "They wanted me to get an MRI. Went there, got the MRI, showed exactly what we thought. Nothing major—I can walk and run around on this. It's not a major strain or anything, where it's debilitating, so I'm pretty upbeat and positive about going forward here."

    Even if it is just a minor injury, it's the sort of thing that could nag him all postseason.

    While there is no clear weakness from a roster standpoint, the health of perhaps the two biggest stars on the roster is a question mark.

          

    Odds: 6-1

Houston Astros (101-61, AL West Champions)

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    Justin Verlander
    Justin VerlanderTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Strengths

    Some players change the complexion of a team after being acquired in a trade.

    Yoenis Cespedes did it for the New York Mets in 2015 when he helped lead the team to a World Series appearance, and Justin Verlander is having a similar impact in Houston.

    The 34-year-old went 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five starts after joining the Astros, and he brings 98.1 innings of playoff experience to an otherwise green staff.

    Meanwhile, Dallas Keuchel gives the rotation a second ace, and Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. have all pitched well enough to warrant a spot in the rotation.

    That group will be backed by an offense that led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282) and OPS (.823) while trailing only the Yankees in home runs (238).

    The bullpen was the glaring weakness last time the Astros were in the playoffs, but it's rock solid this time around. Ken Giles gives the team a lockdown closer, and multi-inning guys Chris Devenski and Joe Musgrove will be versatile weapons.

          

    Weaknesses

    If there's one thing that could be the Astros' undoing, it's defense.

    According to FanGraphs, only the Oakland Athletics were worse defensively this season.

    The Astros also had a tough time controlling the running game, allowing an MLB-worst 87.9 percent success rate on stolen base attempts.

    The Indians, Red Sox and Yankees are all capable of taking advantage of that. Manufacturing a run is sometimes the difference between winning and losing in October.

          

    Odds: 6-1

Cleveland Indians (102-60, AL Central Champions)

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    Jose Ramirez
    Jose RamirezTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    Strengths

    The Indians have lost four games since Aug. 23.

    If momentum is the great equalizer when it comes to October baseball, then the Indians have no equal as we begin Division Series play.

    A healthy Carlos Carrasco behind ace Corey Kluber gives the starting rotation a completely different look than a year ago when Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin were thrust into far bigger roles than expected.

    Then there's the bullpen, a group that was nothing short of dominant once again this season en route to a MLB-best 2.89 ERA and 10.1 K/9. Manager Terry Francona knows exactly how to deploy his relief corps in October, and they'll be just as much a factor as the starting staff once again.

    Throw in an offense that plated 5.7 runs per game in September and has more punch this time around thanks to the offseason addition of Edwin Encarnacion, and there's not a weakness on this roster.

          

    Weaknesses

    Hmm...let's see.

    The Indians were 6-14 in interleague play, including series losses to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.

    So that's something.

    Umm...

    We've seen time and again that being the best team during the regular season is far from a guarantee that a World Series title awaits.

    That's more of a vague sentiment than a weakness, though.

    It's hard not to consider the Indians overwhelming favorites, and finding a clear area of weakness is not easily done.

    They're the team to beat, no doubt.

          

    Odds: 4-1

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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