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Monday, May 21, 2018

Phillies Are Rightful World Series Favorites

From the moment the postseason odds were listed up until right before the beginning of the playoffs, the Philadelphia Phillies have been favored to win the World Series. Currently, the Braves, Reds, Rangers, and Twins all have the longest odds of winning the thing (though nobody is worse than 12:1 underdogs when it comes to sports betting). The Phillies are nearly a 2:1 favorite to win it all, while the Yankees and Rays are generally a 3:1 or 4:1 favorite. The Giants are the one team in between; because of their stellar pitching (best in MLB), they’re around a 7 or 8:1 favorite.

The Phillies are favored to win it all for four reasons: they finished the year strongly and wound up with the best record in baseball, they have the consensus best 1-2-3 pitching punch, the competition in the NL is easier than the AL, and they’ll have homefield advantage throughout the postseason (including the World Series). They have the best combination of pitching and hitting in baseball and will likely make it to their third straight World Series.

After running through a stretch mid-season when the offensive was in a collective slump, the bats started to pick it up in the second half. Ryan Howard OPS’d .977 in September, Chase Utley did .967, Raul Ibanez went .962, Carlos Ruiz had a .925 line, Jayson Werth went .920, and Shane Victorino was .823. Almost their entire lineup was on fire the entire final month of the season. Plus, you know Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins can come up big in the postseason too.

As if the Phillies’ offense wasn’t good enough, their pitching has been equally good. Roy Halladay went 11-3 after the All-Star break and is the Cy Young favorite. Roy Oswalt posted a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts with the team. Cole Hamels posted a 2.23 ERA after the break, and even Joe Blanton picked it up going 6-1 with a 3.48 ERA after the break as well. On top of the starting pitching, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson were lights out in the bullpen to end the season. I’m honestly getting intimidated just thinking about what the Phillies run out there.

The Phillies, like all other seven teams, are by no means a lock to reach the World Series. All the teams playing in October have strengths and weaknesses. It’s just that the Phillies’ strengths are better than the competition’s, and their weaknesses are harder to find. I would be surprised if they don’t make it to their third straight World Series; this is a dynasty in the making.

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