The team with the best record in baseball has captured two of the last three World Series after winning just three of the previous 10. Will the 107-win Astros continue that trend this year and hang their second banner in three seasons? This is your 2019 MLB Playoff 6-Pack.
3 PLAYOFF HANDICAPPING TIPS
1. Moneyline rollover strategy pays
A glance at the futures board shows the Astros (+200), Dodgers (+250) and Yankees (+500) as the odds-on favorites to win the World Series. Bettors who want to get the most bang for their buck with one of those short-priced teams would be wise to eschew the futures price in favor of the moneyline rollover strategy. That entails betting your team’s series price prior to the Division Series, and then rolling both the initial stake and winnings over for each subsequent series. For instance, if the Astros are -400 favorites to win their Division Series, -170 in their ALCS matchup, and -140 in the World Series, that cumulative “rollover” price would equate to +240. That’s obviously better than +200 and has the same effect as betting the future price.
2. Wild Card momentum can travel
Since Major League Baseball expanded the postseason format to two Wild Card teams per league in 2012, the winner of the do-or-die Wild Card Game has gone on to win at least one subsequent series in six of 14 instances. That includes an all-Wild Card World Series between the Giants and Royals in 2014. Because Wild Card teams face multiple disadvantages — namely being forced to use some of their top pitchers in the Wild Card Game before dealing with a short turnaround to begin the Division Series on the road — they are accordingly undervalued by the market and will always present strong returns.
3. Road wins create arb opportunities
Playoff baseball series — particularly in the LCS and World Series when the series are best-of-seven and both teams are playing at a high level — tend to ebb and flow, with momentum shifting back and forth. For example, in both the ALCS and NLCS last year, the road teams won Game 1 before going on to lose each series. Whenever home field is cracked, the series price will shift. Bettors who believe a road team is poised to steal one of the first two games should get down on that team’s series price before Game 1. That will create a buy-back opportunity on the higher-seeded team at a more advantageous price — along with the potential to lock in a profit.
3 FUTURES TO TARGET
1. Wild value on the Nats
The Nationals have represented one of the most perennially disappointing teams in October in recent past, losing all four of their playoff series since 2012, including three in winner-take-all Game 5s at home. Despite their status as a Wild Card team, this Nats team may be their best yet. Highlighted by a strong starting rotation anchored by Max Scherzer and an offense boasting both power and speed, Washington ranked second in the NL in run differential behind only the 106-win Dodgers. If the Nats can escape the Wild Card Game, they’re a live dog to win the NL pennant at +800.
2. Twins the juggernaut to fade
The Twins just capped a season in which they won 101 games — the franchise’s most victories since 1965 — and shattered the MLB record for most home runs in a season, clubbing 307 long balls. Their reward is an AL Division Series matchup against a Yankees team that won 103 games and hit 306 homers. Minnesota has never beaten the Yankees in a playoff matchup, losing all five since 2003, culminating with a loss in the 2017 Wild Card Game. The Twins are the fifth favorite on the futures market at +1300, but their season figures to be over in short order.
3. Fall Classic chalk
The Astros and Dodgers were the two best teams in baseball this year, registered the two highest run differentials by a wide margin (Houston +280, LA +273, New York +204) and have both proven capable of carrying regular-season success over to the postseason. A Houston-LA matchup isn’t exactly teeming with value at +250, but these teams will likely be the final two standing for the second time in three years.