Baseball can be a funny game. Teams routinely emerge as forces in Major League Baseball—like the power-hitting Twins this season—while teams that look like near-postseason-locks often fail to match expectations. There’s a lot of time left in the 2019 season, but this year has had a few surprising pre-season favorites that are now third, fourth, or fifth in their division standings.
At last place in the NL West, the Rockies are one of those disappointing teams after making the postseason in 2018. But based on the preseason odds to make the playoffs, the most disappointing teams in the majors this year are the Red Sox and the Phillies. Boston had a ludicrous 85% to make the postseason on Opening Day. Currently 8.5 games back of a Wild Card berth in the American League, they now have just a 3% chance to make the playoffs based on the projections from FiveThirtyEight.
The Phillies weren’t nearly as big a playoff favorite on Opening Day, but at a 52.4% chance, they trailed only the Dodgers and Cubs in the National League. They only sit two games back of a playoff spot at the moment, but have a -31 run differential, an injury-riddled bullpen, and would need to jump three teams to get in. Their average playoff chances from the beginning of the year have more than been cut in half, and FiveThirtyEight now gives them just a 1% chance to win their division.
Yes, those numbers look bleak at this point and may not be worth wagering on but just do your due diligence and look into a few sportsbooks to find one that you believe offers the best value. There are a few options listed at Sports Betting Dime that experienced users might want to take a look at. Be smart with picking a site if you’re planning on betting on a non-favorite team this far into the season.
Putting the Twins and Indians competing for their division aside, the American League looks like a three-team race for two wild-card spots unless Boston starts playing more consistently. The National League presents better options.
With the way the Mets are playing lately (just last month, only the Marlins had a worse record in the National League, and now New York is 61-58 and just two games back of a wild-card spot) they are an intriguing squad. However, two other NL East teams behind the frontrunning Braves might be the best bets to take a chance on as things stand.
The Nationals are currently one game up for the first wild-card spot in the National League, and their early-season struggles have become a thing of the past. Ace Max Scherzer is nearing a return, and the team’s +50 run differential and overall talent make them likely to at least hold on to a wild-card spot and make their way into the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Phillies started the season looking like one of the better teams in baseball, but there’s seemingly been no energy lately despite a talented roster. The addition of former World Series-winning manager Charlie Manuel as the team’s hitting coach could be the spark the clubhouse needs to get going. Also, Philadelphia has a superstar-quality player in former NL MVP Bryce Harper, who can carry an offense when he’s on.
Harper has had big second-half runs in the past, including last season when he hit .300 in the second half after struggling before the All-Star break. It just hasn’t happened yet this season, as he’s hitting .231 (below his season average of .248) in the second half. If Harper can catch fire, his presence in the lineup along with a tweak in hitting philosophy under Manuel should boost everyone.
Of course, the Dodgers (+206 run differential) and Astros (+185 run differential) look like the clear World Series favorites, particularly after Houston’s last-minute move for starter Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. But baseball can be a funny game.