If the oddsmakers are right, two Los Angeles teams will be the only ones left standing when the World Series starts in late October, in a “Freeway Series.”
But there’s talk of a “Beltway Series” back east, where two teams — the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles — are coming off strong seasons. And you can count on the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers to derail everyone else’s plans.
Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are listed as 2-1 favorites to win their leagues and play in the World Series, according to the oddsmakers at Bovada. Both teams are given 5-1 odds of winning it all.
Baseball’s playoffs start Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET, with a one-game matchup between the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals. A day later, the San Francisco Giants play the Pittsburgh Pirates. The winners of those games will advance to the five-game division series.
The wild-card games mark the first time in history that both the Pirates and the Royals have reached the playoffs in the same year. It’s the Royals’ first since 1985, when they won the World Series.
Because baseball’s a game of stats, here are a few that might make the playoffs more interesting, as we look down the road to the first World Series game, scheduled for Oct. 21:
- The Angels have the game’s best offense, averaging 4.8 runs per game.
- The Nationals have the game’s best pitching, with a 3.03 staff ERA.
- The Dodgers have the fourth-best offense (4.4 runs per game) and the third-best pitching (3.40 ERA) in the playoffs.
- The Baltimore Orioles are balanced, with solid hitting, fielding, and pitching — and an MLB-best 211 homers.
- While the Cardinals scored more runs than only six teams in baseball this season, its pitchers are tied for the sixth-best ERA in the playoffs, at 3.50.
- The weakest staff ERA in the playoffs (4.01) belongs to the Tigers. But the team’s hitters averaged 4.7 runs per game, good for second place.
- The Oakland A’s have the second-best pitching in the playoffs (3.22 ERA), and scored 4.5 runs per game.
- The Pirates have the fifth-best pitching (3.47 ERA) and the seventh-best offense in the playoffs.
- The Giants are just ahead of the Royals in both pitching and runs scored, with a handful of teams ahead of them in each category.
- The American League has home-field advantage in the 2014 World Series.
Feel free to add your thoughts on who’ll win it all in the comments section.