Metro's odds on which team will own the Commissioner's Trophy by Halloween night:
Los Angeles Dodgers: 4/1
Despite having the second-fewest wins among National League playoff teams, the Dodgers likely have the best chance of winning the World Series. After a rough first three months of the season, going 38-43, the Dodgers had the best second half of any team in the game, going 54-27 over the last three months to claim the NL West division crown. Pitching has led the way for the Dodgers as they have the second-best starter’s ERA in baseball at 3.25, led by ace Clayton Kershaw’s 16-9 record and 1.83 ERA. Their offense might need to pick it up a bit in the playoffs as they averaged 4.01 runs per game, seventh in the NL, but when you have a pitching staff as dominant as they do, you don’t need to score many runs to win games.
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Boston Red Sox: 5/1
Following a 69-win season in 2012, no one expected the Red Sox to have the type of season they had in 2013 as they won the AL East with 97 wins, the most in the American League, and tied for the best record in baseball. They didn’t do it with superstars either, just a number of players who play the game the right way and grind day-in and day-out. The Red Sox led the American League in runs per game with 5.27, and got solid pitching, as they were sixth in the AL in team ERA with a 3.79 mark. Their rotation of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy will be tough to take down in a playoff series, but there are still questions with their bullpen beyond closer Koji Uehara. If they can find success in middle relief, the Sox could certainly find themselves in the Fall Classic in a few weeks.
Detroit Tigers: 6/1
Even though Detroit won the AL Central with 93-69 record, the third-best record in the American League, they might have the best “playoff built” team in the league. As everyone knows, pitching is the key in the postseason and the Tigers have four pitchers capable of throwing gems each time they take to the mound. Justin Verlander didn’t have one of his best seasons, going 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA, but Max Scherzer was arguably the best pitcher in the game, going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA. In addition, Anibal Sanchez led the league in ERA with a 2.57 mark. If their rotation can pitch like they have all season, they will be very tough to take down in a playoff series.
St. Louis Cardinals: 7/1
The Cardinals won the NL Central, arguably the best division in baseball, with a 97-65 record and will take on the winner of the NL wild card game in the first round since they had the best record in the National League. Balance was the key for St. Louis this season as they led the NL in runs scored per game with 4.83 and were fifth in the NL in team ERA, posting a 3.43 mark. They also had tremendous depth in their lineup as four players hit .300 or higher in Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig and Matt Holiday. Unfortunately for St. Louis, Craig may miss the entire postseason due to a left foot injury. Still, the Cards' pitching staff was led by their ace Adam Wainwright who went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA, while Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller also had solid years with 15 wins apiece.
Atlanta Braves: 8/1
Atlanta led the National League with the best record for the majority of the season, but tailed off down the stretch, going just 13-14 in the month of September. They will take on the Dodgers in one of the NLDS series’. As has been the case with many Braves teams in the past, they are led by their starting pitching, which posted a major league best, 3.18 ERA this season. Three of their five starters had sub-3.21 ERAs, while four of the five had ERAs below 3.91. Atlanta has struggled in the playoffs of late, making the postseason five times since 2002, but never advancing past the first round.
Oakland Athletics: 10/1
Oakland finished the year strong with a 19-8 record in September to claim its second straight AL West title and the A's will have home field advantage in their series with the Tigers. The A’s were third in the American League in runs scored, averaging 4.73 runs per game. Their offense was led by first baseman Brandon Moss who belted 30 home runs and knocked in 84 runs. Oakland’s pitching was key to its success this season as its starters had the second-best ERA in the AL at 3.56, led by Bartolo Colon, who had a sensational year going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA.
Cleveland Indians: 18/1
Led by manager Terry Francona, the Indians closed the season winning 10 straight games to claim the top AL wild card spot. Francona deserves strong consideration for manager of the year in turning around the Indians, who won just 68 games last season and don’t have any superstar players on their roster. Francona's bunch also dealt with multiple injuries this year. They didn’t have one starting player in their lineup hit higher than .284 and their best pitcher, Justin Masterson, finished the year with 14 wins and a 3.45 ERA.
Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds : 20/1
The Pirates will host the Reds Tuesday night in the wild card game for the right to advance to play the Cardinals in the ALDS. It has been a remarkable year for the Pirates as they made the postseason for the first time since 1992, which was also their last winning season period. The Reds, however, may have underachieved this season with a talented roster, but were unable to ever really challenge the Cardinals for the NL Central crown. They won’t have their ace pitcher Mat Latos for the game because of a bone chip in his elbow, so Johnny Cueto will get the nod and oppose Francisco Liriano.
Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays: 25/1
These two teams will play in a one-game tiebreaker Monday night for the right to play the Indians in the wild card game, so technically they haven’t even made the playoffs yet. It will take more than a miracle for these two teams to not only make the World Series, let alone win it.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84