This could be the most exciting MLB postseason ever with 16 teams in the field – the expanded format will see eight teams in each league, with all eight teams playing in the wild-card round, which is now a best-of-three series at the site of the better-seeded club. Then the rest of the postseason is at a neutral site in Houston, Dallas, San Diego and Los Angeles.
The field wasn’t set until after Sunday’s final day as the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers locked up the final two NL playoff spots and the Twins won the AL Central title, sending the White Sox into a wild-card spot.
The Indians haven’t won a World Series title since 1948. The Padres have never won a title. Neither have the Brewers. Or the Rays. It’s been at least 30 years for the Reds, A’s and Dodgers. The Twins haven’t been to the World Series since 1991, the Blue Jays since 1993.
The Dodgers are the +325 favorites to win their first World Series since 1988 and they deserve that title with MLB’s best record and run differential. Walker Buehler will start Game 1 and Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2 for the Dodgers in the Wild Card round vs. Milwaukee. Outfielder Mookie Betts, who might win the NL MVP, didn’t play Sunday after being hit by a pitch on Saturday but will be good to go.
The Dodgers have five good starting pitchers in Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urias. Buehler has the worst ERA of the group at 3.44. On top of that, they have a deep bullpen
However, what fun is it to pick the favorite? The New York Yankees are +650 second-favorites and I’m not a big fan there, either. Just not sure the Bombers have enough pitching after Gerrit Cole. New York did finish with the MLB batting leader in DJ LeMahieu and home-run leader in Luke Voit.
LeMahieu finished at .364, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to lead the majors in batting average. He joined Mickey Mantle (.353 BA in 1956), Joe DiMaggio (.381 in 1939) and Lou Gehrig (.363 BA in 1934). He was the ninth player (10th time) in franchise history to win the AL batting title, joining Bernie Williams (1998), Paul O’Neill (1994), Don Mattingly (1984), Mickey Mantle (1956), Snuffy Stirnweiss (1945), Joe DiMaggio (1939-40), Lou Gehrig (1934) and Babe Ruth (1924).
Voit, meanwhile, hit 22 bombs to lead the majors by three. Voit was the eighth Yankee (18th time/17th season) to lead the majors in home runs (outright or tied): Alex Rodriguez (2007), Roger Maris (1961), Mickey Mantle (1956), Joe DiMaggio (1937), Lou Gehrig (tied for the lead in 1931 and led in 1934, ’36), Babe Ruth (led in 1920-21, ’24, ’26-29; tied for the lead in 1923 and ’31) and Wally Pipp (tied for the lead in 1916).
LeMahieu and Voit became the first pair of teammates to lead the majors in batting average and home runs since Hank Aaron (.355 BA) and Eddie Mathews (46HR) for the 1959 Braves.
So who do we like? Let’s go with the Twins at +1000 to win it all. Minnesota has won the AL Central in two-straight seasons, doing so for the first time since 2009-10. The Twins have now won eight AL Central titles all-time (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2019, 2020). They finished 13-5-2 (.650 winning percentage in series) in series play.
Minnesota is the AL’s No. 3 seed and will open against Houston in the Wild-Card round. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Sunday that the club is hopeful that Byron Buxton (concussion) will be ready for Tuesday’s opener. Buxton missed back-to-back games over the weekend after being hit in the head by a pitch on Friday, but Baldelli said he felt better Sunday that he did on Saturday.
Going back to the second game of the 2004 ALDS, the Twins are 0-16 in the postseason. Thirteen of those losses came against the Yankees. At least they don’t have to face them in Round 1.Expert Pick Twins over Dodgers in World Series
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