The Top 10 World Series Contenders

The MLB season is a long, sometimes-slow journey. Often by the time we’re approaching the postseason, it’s almost strange to recall the beginning of the season. Similarly, preseason predictions and projections can often be almost comical by the time teams are 100-plus games in and trades, call-ups, and injuries have impacted the picture. Heading into the 2015 season, ESPN’s panel of experts made predictions as usual regarding how the divisions would play out and ultimately who would win the World Series. The combined votes from the analysts and writers at hand ultimately showed that the Nationals were a strong favorite, as far as the media was concerned, to win it all. The Dodgers were the only other team anywhere near the Nationals in terms of total World Series picks. Those picks don’t seem completely ludicrous at this point, but they’re certainly not what any expert would mark down on a ballot heading into the end of August. Now, with nearly a season’s worth of new data at hand and the divisional races narrowing down to the final weeks, we can move past predictions entirely. At Betfair’s online platform, there are already detailed odds listed for reach team’s chance not only to emerge from its division, but to win the World Series. These are of course not definite predictive factors, but they’re up-to-date and based on data rather than strictly analyst opinions. And with that said, here’s a look at the top-10 favorites for the World Series.

  1. Houston Astros The Astros were so bad for so long that it’s still strange to think of them as contenders. Yet here we are late in August, and Houston looks likelier to win the AL West each day. This is a well-rounded club with a reliable pitching staff led by a Cy Young contender in Dallas Keuchel.

My prediction: They’ll make the playoffs, but they’re not getting out of the AL.

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates

A likely NL Wild Card winner, the Pirates are one of the most enjoyable clubs in the MLB. The pitching staff in particular is a wonder, led by a relatively unheralded youngster in Gerrit Cole and bolstered by A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano, both of whom could easily have been out of the league a couple seasons ago.

My prediction: They’re as capable as anyone, but the one-game play-in makes it tough to predict any wild card team will reach the World Series.

  1. Chicago Cubs

These guys are just awesome. It’s got to have Chicago boiling over with excitement that the Cubs’ best team in years is led not by expensive veterans but by a surge of youth in the form of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Co.

My prediction: See the Pirates. It’s just a shame one of these two will likely have to eliminate the other.

  1. New York Yankees

The 2015 Yankees are an enigma. First, they hit with a lineup no one expected anything from. Then, the offense falls off and the starting pitching no one liked suddenly looks rock solid. There’s no telling what to expect, but at the very least the Yankees have shown an ability to win however they need to.

My prediction: The Yankees are going back to the ALCS, and possibly further.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Baseball’s most expensive team is not its best. But the Dodgers’ one-two pitching punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke is the best, which is why they’re this high in the odds.

My prediction: They’ll be upset in the division series. This team is sliding of late and has seemed oddly troubled much of the year.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

Once again, the Cardinals have baseball’s best record late in the year, and they seem to be the most complete club out there.

My prediction: They’ll make the NLCS at least, but I doubt they’ll win it all. We’ve seen this story before.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto has been remarkably good since a trade deadline that brought them David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, as well as other smaller acquisitions. They closed a sizable gap in the AL East in no time and will spend the rest of the season fighting the Yankees for first place.

My prediction: They’ll get beaten in the wild card game. Toronto simply can’t sustain its blistering pace, and the rotation remains suspect behind Price.

  1. Kansas City Royals

They’re going to win the AL Central again and have a shot at baseball’s best record. Their defense and bullpen are almost as good as last year, when they nearly won it all.

My prediction: ALCS or beyond.

  1. New York Mets

The Mets don’t have the record to justify the second-best World Series odds, but they’re going to win the NL East. If there’s one team this year that seems to have that special something, it’s the Mets. From shockingly strong pitching to performances like the three-home run outburst by Yoenis Cespedes recently, they just always come up with something.

My prediction: They’ll be in the World Series.

  1. San Francisco Giants

The Giants aren’t even leading their division, so having the best odds is probably more a result of recent postseason success than anything else. This is still a tough team, but it’s not a top contender.

My prediction: The Giants miss the playoffs.

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