After a long and arduous season, we are now at the business end of the MLB campaign, and the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be still the team to beat. Last year’s World Series winners have been in very consistent form throughout the regular season, and their total of 106 wins put them just one behind NL West winners San Francisco Giants.
While it’s true that the Dodgers ended their run of eight-straight NL West crowns, they are still very much the team to beat as the MLB season enters the postseason phase. So who could offer them the biggest challenge?
An interesting bet could come in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers, who sit at (+800), having started the season at around the same as the Miami Marlins betting odds on opening day. This season saw the American Family Field based side clinch the NL Central for only the third time since 1994.
The Giants were the first team to reach 100 wins and sit at odds of (+600) with most sportsbooks, and that may be a tempting option, but they’ll have to get past the Dodgers in the Division Series first, that’s assuming they get past the overperforming Cardinals.
Second favorites, the Houston Astros (+475), arrive in the postseason off the back of a strong run of form that saw them win their division by five games. Veteran manager Dusty Baker will hope to take his side long into the postseason of what might be his last season in charge of the Astros.
Baker made history when he led the Astros to the AL West title as he became the first man to take five different teams to the playoffs and the only one to win at least five division titles with five different clubs.
It’s quite an accomplishment and one that made the well-respected baseball great quite emotional:
“I ain’t gonna cry,” he said. “But I get emotional; I’m human…That’s why I came here. I’m glad [Astros owner] Jim Crane and the organization saw fit to let me manage this team.”
Baker had called time on his time in the game back in 2017, only to be lured to the Astros in 2020, and he now has another shot at finally clinching a World Series title as a manager, having won one in 1981 as a Los Angeles Dodger.
This leads us neatly back to the favorites, who have to battle through the wild card lottery before they can progress, having failed to secure a top spot in the NL West for the first time eight seasons, and that’s despite their 106-56 record.
Manager Dave Roberts believes his Dodgers side is playing the best baseball in a long time, and they’ll need to continue doing so if they are to get through St Louis and then San Francisco towards the World Series.
“We’re having a lot of fun. We’re certainly winning, but I think a lot of it is that we’re playing good baseball. I think this is collectively the best baseball we’ve played. pitching, catching the baseball, the at-bats, and just the team offense.” Roberts stated, and he’ll have to bank on his team continuing to do so for a little while longer.