by Mike Hayes - 07/07/2006
As we head to the All-Star break the Mets and Tigers have emerged as solid favorites to represent their respective leagues in this year's Fall Classic and if the oddsmakers have it right, come October the Motor City will be celebrating the Tigers first World Series victory since 1984.
The Tigers, who lead all of baseball with 57 wins and a .671 winning percentage, are 7/5 favorites to win the American League Pennant and a shade better than 2/1 to win the World Series. The Mets, who lead the National League with 51 wins and a .600 winning percentage, are 7/5 favorites to represent the Senior Circuit and 3/1 to win it all according to Bodog.
The White Sox are second choice to win the AL flag at 2/1, followed closely by the Red Sox at 3/1. The Cardinals are around 3/1 in the NL, ahead of the Reds at about 5.5/ 1 and the Dodgers at 6/1.
Of the World Series favorites, the White Sox at 4/1 might offer the best value as it appears they are once again headed to the post season where, thanks to their pitching, they cruised last season.
Historically, 50 percent of teams in first place on July 4 have made the playoffs, so the question for the futures player is which teams currently on the outside looking in have a chance to overcome the current favorites to win a pennant or the World Series?
In the American League, Oakland, Detroit and Boston were in first place on Independence Day while the Mets, Cards and Padres were atop their divisions in the National League.
Of the six, only the Mets, who currently enjoy a 12.5 game advantage in the NL East, appear to be a lock for the postseason. The Tigers or White Sox, separated by just one game in the standings, appear to be a lock for the AL Central, with the second-place finisher the heavy favorite to earn a wild card berth. The Sox currently hold a seven-game edge over the Yankees in the wild card race and as a result it appears likely that for the first time since 2002 the second place finisher in the AL East will not make the postseason as a wild card.
The rest of the playoff picture is a bit murky as the four teams in the AL West and five in the NL West are separated by just five games from top-to-bottom, so this is where to look when searching for futures value.
Of this group, the Rockies, just a half-game behind the Padres in the West and as of Friday the current wild card leader, are the longest price on the board at 25/1 to win the National League and 40/1 to win the World Series.
It's hard to envision the Rockies as NL champs, but half the battle is getting to the postseason and with the division wide open those are nice odds for a team that could actually make the playoffs.
A more realistic possibility might the Astros, who are 10/1 to win the NL and 22/1 to win the World Series. If the Astros make the playoffs, and they are currently just three games behind the Red Birds in the NL Central and two behind the Rockies for the Wild Card, it would be foolish to think they couldn't win the NL and even the World Series because of their pitching.
In the American League, the best value play might be of all teams the Yankees, who are 5/1 to win the Pennant and 9/1 to win the World Series. The Bombers are always over played and as a result their odds seldom resemble reality, but if they make the playoffs, and they are just two games behind the Red Sox in the East, they would be a great value at 9/1.
The Angels and Rangers are intriguing at 20/1 to win the AL Pennant because it would not be surprising if either team won the West and advanced to the post season. The Angels are 40/1 to win the Series and the Rangers are 35/1.
Teams to stay away from are the Phillies and Marlins, who are 12/1 and 10/1, respectively, to represent the NL in the World Series. These odds are remarkably low considering neither team is even playing .500 baseball.
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