2017 World Series Predictions
The World Series has set up almost as it was supposed to. The best team in the National League is up against the second-best team in the American League - and the Astros were only one win behind the Indians. The Dodgers are an iconic franchise, but they haven't won a title since 1988. Houston has never won a title and has climbed back from the depths of a serious rebuild that felt like it would never end. It has the makings of a really great finale to what has been an intriguing season. And, as we get ready for it all to get going, this is the perfect time for some World Series predictions:
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Bovada has the Dodgers as solid -165 favorites to win the World Series, with Houston at +145. That obviously means that the Dodgers are pretty solid favorites. And so they should be. They have home-field advantage, and Houston made it this far despite not winning a road game in the ALCS. They have a pitching staff that is almost embarrassingly deep. And the offense has been working well. I love to be contrary, I love an underdog, and I have done well the last few years by not believing in these Dodgers. So, let's make the case that the Astros are a good bet shall we? The Astros are the value pick in this year's World Series. Here are five good reasons:
Road success: The Astros lost all three road games in the ALCS and lost a game in Boston in the ALDS as well. The Dodgers have won all four home games, and were the best home team in the majors in the regular season. You think that that would be a strong indicator that the Dodgers are the pick. I'm a little skeptical, though. Home teams are 23-8 this year in the playoffs, which is the best mark we have seen in the wild card era. That era is long enough that the sample size suggests home teams are overachieving. As good as the Dodgers were, they still lost 30 percent of home games. They are tough to beat but aren't unbeatable. The Astros can win in L.A., and it's not like they need to sweep on the coast to come out on top.
Pitching: The Dodgers' pitching staff is obviously a strength, but it isn't as intimidating as it could be at this point. Clayton Kershaw still hasn't found a way to be as good in the postseason as he is in the regular season. His numbers this fall have been okay but not special. Yu Darvish has been very good, but until he was traded he was in the same division as the Astros so he isn't going to sneak up on these Houston hitters and surprise them. And Rich Hill is, well, Rich Hill. Houston is getting better starting pitching overall and is at least as deep as the Dodgers at this point. And in the bullpen the Dodgers are relying heavily on Kenta Maeda as a bridge to Kenley Jansen. Maeda has been very good, but he's a starter with little bullpen experience, so as the stakes get higher it becomes tougher to trust him. All in all the Dodgers aren't in a disadvantaged position on the mound, but nor do they have a real advantage.
Offense heating up: The Astros spent a lot of time in the ALCS struggling at the plate. They turned a corner later in the series, though, and their swagger started to return. The Astros had the top offense in the league in the regular season, outscoring the Dodgers by 126 runs, which is .78 per game. The Astros have a soon-to-be MVP on their roster and proven depth. The Dodgers rely on some youth and don't have the same upside. The Astros have the more impressive offense, and they will be facing a pitching staff they should be able to poke a few holes in. Let me put it this way - for an underdog this is one heck of a batting order.
Dodgers mental game: I haven't trusted the Dodgers mentally for a few years, and I still don't. They have had much better attitudes this year than in the recent past. Remember, though, that we are just over a month away from the end of that stretch of 11 straight losses and 16 losses in 17 games. Over that stretch they just got into their own heads and couldn't get out. The team has had a pretty smooth ride through the playoffs. I don't trust them to react well when they get punched in the mouth, though, and more than any other team in baseball right now the Astros are capable of cold-cocking them. That lack of faith in the favorites is a good reason to back the underdogs.
Nolan Ryan: Nolan Ryan is a senior executive with the Astros. He's also the biggest badass ever to play in the major leagues - as former Dodger Robin Ventura learned the hard way. If you have the choice of being with Ryan or against him there is only one right decision. That's bad news for the Dodgers.
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