World Series Race Springing a Few Surprises

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A number of shock contenders are bidding to reach the World Series

The Houston Astros are serious contenders to reach the World Series.

The All-Star break is officially in the rear view mirror, which means soon we’ll be approaching the home stretch of the 2021 MLB season.

The trade deadline is right around the corner, but even before that dust settles we’ve already got a pretty good idea of where things stand.

Let’s take a look at how the World Series race is shaping up, before a couple of potential best bets for Sunday’s slate:

Astros Emerging as Major Challengers

Things in the American League haven’t gone exactly as oddsmakers expected. The New York Yankees were widely viewed as the team to beat in the AL entering the year, but they certainly haven’t looked the part.

Instead the Houston Astros, 13/5, have emerged as the favourites to make the World Series, with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox not too far behind.

Houston is in the midst of a resurgent revenge tour and they have easily the best run differential in the AL at +139 – Chicago is the only other team to be above even +87.

Boston – 9/2 – has been the most pleasant surprise of the bunch. You could’ve got them at around 20/1 just to win the division prior to the season and now they are legitimate World Series contenders.

The Toronto Blue Jays, 13/1, are an interesting dark horse team. They are chasing a wild card spot, but have the best OPS in all of MLB. If they can add some pitching at the deadline, watch out.

Giants a Real Surprise Package

In the National League, the San Francisco Giants, 7/1, have shocked everybody to have the league’s best record.

While the LA Dodgers are surprisingly in second place in the NL West, it’s clear they’re still the best team in the NL. Their +144 run differential is the best in the majors, and they’ve done that despite struggling with a ton of injuries and bad luck.

When healthy, they’re still the top dogs in this race at 7/4, while it’s not clear if the San Diego Padres will have enough starting pitching to get it done with Blake Snell being such a disappointment.

The Milwaukee Brewers are 57-41, but aren’t legit contenders in my opinion. They are 21st in OPS and their pitching isn’t that special.

The New York Mets are leaders in the NL East, and although their starting rotation has been great, they’ve scored the second-fewest runs in MLB.

That doesn’t scream ‘World Series’ contender and there’s no real reason to believe it won’t be the Dodgers representing the National League once again.

MLB Sunday best bets

The first play I like for Sunday is the Philadelphia Phillies, as now is the time to face the Atlanta Braves coming off their 15-run outburst on Saturday.

For starters, Philly has stark home/road splits this season. They are only 20-30 on the road, but have a 28-19 record at home.

Atlanta will send Touki Toussaint to the mound here for just his second appearance of the season. In 101 and 2/3 career big league innings, he has a 5.67 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.

Philadelphia won the first game of this series 5-1 and expect something similar here, with the Phillies 11/10 at -1.5 in the Run Line.

I also like the Giants to bounce back from a big loss as well. They surprisingly got shellacked by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, but that was a fluke.

Pittsburgh has still scored the fewest runs of any team in the majors and they’ve also lost each of the last seven times that starter JT Brubaker has taken to the mound.

Across his last three outings, Brubaker has given up 15 earned runs in just 14 and 2/3 innings and against a Giants offense that has been elite all season and ranks fourth in OPS league-wide, that’s a recipe for disaster.

San Francisco are 23/20 at -1.5 in the Run Line.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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