Baseball player throws the ball during a game

MLB Betting Playoff Prediction: Picking A Baltimore Orioles vs. Milwaukee Brewers World Series

In an attempt to appeal to casual fans or bring back those who’d stopped watching the game, Major League Baseball manufactured a series of jolts to the game this season with the pitch clock and the rules changes that made it easier to steal bases.

A more organic approach may start to unfold this afternoon, when a quartet of best-of-three wild card series begins a postseason replete with storylines that should appeal to loyalists and the skeptical alike.

The road to the World Series is likely going to yield at least one team in the Fall Classic chasing a long-awaited championship — possibly against another foe looking to cement itself as the best of its era. 

The 12 MLB teams in the playoff field have combined to win just seven World Series and make 19 Fall Classic appearances in the last 25 years.

In the American League, the Houston Astros are trying to become the first back-to-back World Series champion since the New York Yankees won three straight times from 1998 through 2000. The Baltimore Orioles (last won the World Series in 1983), Minnesota Twins (1991) and Toronto Blue Jays (1993) are trying to end decades-long title droughts and the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are seeking their first championships.

The last two National League teams to win it all, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, are represented in the tournament along the 2022 pennant winners, the Philadelphia Phillies, who are aiming for their first title since 2008.

But the other three teams have combined to win three titles — ever — and it’s been a long time since the Miami Marlins (2003) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) were the last teams standing.

Of course, trying to luring people to and back to baseball may be an impossible task. The three World Series with the lowest television ratings are the three most recent World Series.

And even going back to when baseball still had a realistic claim as America’s pastime, the 2002 World Series — when the Anaheim Angels won their first title by outlasting the San Francisco Giants, who were seeking their first crown since 1954 — set then-standards for meager ratings when it averaged an 11.9 share of the viewing audience.

But for those who want to invest themselves in the next four weeks are likely to be rewarded with intrigue. Here’s our look at the playoff field, along with a World Series prediction.

Houston Astros

Betting odds: +185 to win the pennant, +450 to win the World Series

Repeating in the wild card era is HARD, chapter the infinite: The Astros, who won 106 games before winning it all for a second time last year, went 90-72 and didn’t clinch the AL West and the second bye until the final day of the regular season. But their championship pedigree can never be underestimated, especially with Yordan Alvarez back in the cleanup spot and a postseason-tested pitching staff — led by starters Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander and relievers Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris and Ryan Presley.

Baltimore Orioles

Betting odds: +290 to win the pennant, +700 to win the World Series

The “Baby Birds” — their top 10 players in WAR, per Baseball-Reference, were either acquired before or during the Orioles’ epic rebuild — don’t have a player with 30 homers or 100 RBIs. Forty percent of their games were started by Kyle Gibson and Dean Kremer, who combined for a 4.44 ERA. But the collective effort works for the Orioles, who won 100 games for the first time since 1980 and are in that sweet spot where they’re arriving as legitimate contenders ahead of time.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Betting odds: +475 to win the pennant, +1000 to win the World Series

It’s a long season, part the infinite: The Rays opened a record-tying 13-0 and led the AL East by 6 1/2 games on June 30 but will open the playoffs in the wild card round. No organization in history has done more with less longer than Tampa Bay, whose tallest task will be trying to win the World Series without three of its top 10 players — the injured Shane McClanahan and Brandon Lowe as well as Wander Franco, who is on indefinite administrative leave.

Toronto Blue Jays

Betting odds: +700 to win the pennant, +1600 to win the World Series

The Blue Jays were never a threat in the AL East and didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the penultimate day of the season. But with some playoff experience — they fell to the Seattle Mariners in a wild card series last year — as well as four 20-homer hitters, four pitchers who qualified for the ERA title and the best defense among AL playoff teams per defensive runs saved above average, Toronto is an intriguing darkhorse candidate. 

Texas Rangers

Betting odds: +750 to win the pennant, +1600 to win the World Series

With an experienced manager providing much-needed leadership to a previously underachieving veteran squad, the Rangers looked like the 2022 New York Mets in the first half. Alas, they also looked like the ’22 Mets in the second half, right down to Max Scherzer being banged up and/or ineffective down the stretch, The 2000 New York Yankees and 2006 Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals are three of the many teams who have overcome late-season stumbles to at least make the World Series, but none of those teams had a bullpen as flammable as the one Bruce Bochy is trying to fix.

Minnesota Twins

Betting odds: (+800 to win the pennant, +2000 to win the World Series)

The last time the Twins won a playoff game was Oct, 5, 2004, when Ciara’s “Goodies” was the no. 1 song in the country, her future husband Russell Wilson was a sophomore in high school and my nephew was one day shy of his first birthday. Long time ago! Fortunately for the Twins, the Yankees — who have handed Minnesota 13 of its 18 straight postseason losses — are nowhere to be found. These odds might have some of the Twins’ postseason misery baked in, but the Yankees — who handed Minnesota 13 of its 18 straight postseason losses — are nowhere to be found this month and the Twins rank among the AL’s top five in both runs scored and ERA.

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Atlanta Braves

Betting odds: +145 to win the pennant, +310 to win the World Series

What can’t the Braves do? They set a big league record with a .501 slugging percentage and hit a record-tying 307 homers. Ronald Acuna Jr. became the first 40/50 player (and the first 40/60 and the first 40/70 player). Spencer Strider won 20 games and struck out 281 batters. Atlanta was alone atop the NL East for the final 182 days of the season. But nobody needs to remind the Braves — who won one championship during their record run of 14 straight division titles from 1991 through 2005 — how the postseason can be a different and unforgiving beast. Consider the lack of healthy and reliable starters behind Strider the first rumble of thunder.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Betting odds: +200 to win the pennant, +450 to win the World Series

After reducing payroll, the Dodgers did the baseball version of pushing their peas around their plate in the first half before going a baseball-best 49-24 in the second half to win the NL West by 16 games. Freddie Freeman hit 59 doubles, the most in almost 90 years, and Mookie Betts (8.3 WAR) racked up more WAR than Acuna Jr. (8.1). Like the Braves, though, the Dodgers are going to have to piece together a pitching staff this month. Clayton Kershaw, battling shoulder pain, led Los Angeles with 131 2/3 innings, meaning rookie Bobby Miller may have to find his inner Orel Hershiser (or the modern equivalent for 2023).

Philadelphia Phillies

Betting odds: +600 to win the pennant,+1300 to win the World Series

The Phillies never had a real shot at catching the Braves in the NL East but never had to worry about a playoff berth, either, with the rest of the wild card contenders running into walls. Fresh off its Cinderella run to the World Series last year, Philadelphia is loaded with the power (let’s all once again marvel at Kyle Schwarber’s all-or-nothing season) and pitching that plays in October.

Milwaukee Brewers

Betting odds: +800 to win the pennant, +1700 to win the World Series

If the Orioles are winning ahead of time, the Brewers are the gang in the midst of an unexpected last chance. Milwaukee’s window seemed to close last season with the unpopular trade of Josh Hader and a subsequent collapse, but Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta combined to post a 3.61 ERA in 62 starts and manager Craig Counsell coaxed another sum-is-better-than-the-parts season out of the Brewers, who hit as many homers (165) as the Braves’ quartet of Acuna Jr., Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna and Ozzie Albies. But with Burnes and Peralta almost sure to be broken up as they enter their final season before free agency and Counsell a managerial free agent, it’s now or never for Milwaukee.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Betting odds: +1300 to win the pennant, +3000 to win the World Series

If the Diamondbacks were an NFL team, they’d be the AFC South winner playing the first wild card game on Saturday afternoon. Arizona finished 52-110 just two years ago and rebuilt faster than anyone could have expected, but the Diamondbacks went 35-44 after July 1 and scored four runs or fewer in seven of their final nine regular season games. The tank is likely on “E” after a nonsensical last month in which the Diamondbacks played as many games in New York and Chicago (14) as at home.

Miami Marlins

Betting odds: +1400 to win the pennant, +3500 to win the World Series

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but if the Marlins were an NFL team the’d be the AFC South winner playing the first wild card game on Saturday afternoon. Despite the absence of Sandy Alcantara, Miami went 17-10 after Sept. 1 to make up a three-game gap in the wild card race and make the playoffs in a full season for the first time since 2003. Even without Alcantara, promising pitchers Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett are a pretty good 1-2 punch, but Miami’s lack of power — Jorge Soler is the only player with at least 20 homers — doesn’t bode well for October.

PREDICTION

It’s going to be the last day of the 1982 regular season all over again as the Orioles play the Brewers, except this time for all the marbles and not just the AL East crown.

The Orioles are an impressively mature bunch and this feels like the month in which America gets to know 20-something pitching stars Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez. But this might already be the Orioles’ best chance to win it all with this core. Ownership hasn’t done much to indicate it will extend the “Baby Birds” or supplement them, a la the Astros following their tank. 

This is definitely the Brewers’ last chance, and a team with little margin for error already absorbed a big loss when Brandon Woodruff, the projected no. 3 pitcher this month, suffered a right shoulder injury. But Counsell got Milwaukee to the seventh game of the NLCS in 2018, when Brewers starters combined to pitch 20 1/3 innings. Burnes and Peralta can do a lot more than that and Milwaukee gets to the World Series for the first time since that ’82 season before the Baby Birds win it for Brooks Robinson in six games.

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