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20 October 2014
By Aaron Todd
The Major League Baseball playoffs have been absolutely amazing so far this season, from the Wild Card round right through the League Championship Series. The World Series gets underway Tuesday night, with the San Francisco Giants facing the Kansas City Royals. The Giants are looking for their third World Series title in the last five years, while the Royals are making their first appearance since winning in 1985.
While the online sportsbooks don't come up with as many fun bets for the World Series as they do for the Super Bowl, there are still plenty to choose from. I was already looking forward to watching this series, but nothing makes sports more exciting than making some picks along the way. Here are my top-10 2014 World Series bets.
10. Giants to win Game 1 (-105, Bovada Sportsbook)
Kansas City has been absolutely rolling in the playoffs so far, winning all eight of their games, some in truly stunning fashion. Who would have thought the Royals would be in the World Series when they were trailing the Oaklands A's 7-3 going into the bottom of the eighth inning in the Wild Card round? Since then, the Royals have reeled of seven more wins, including three in extra-innings.
Despite the "team of destiny" feel of this Royals team, I they're going to have a hard time keeping the momentum going against Madison Bumgarner, a tough lefty who has allowed just five earned runs in four starts this postseason. He's struck out 28 and walked just five, and opponents are hitting just .170 against him in the postseason.
James Shields, meanwhile, has struggled this postseason. Kansas City's ace hasn't lasted more than six innings in three starts, and was twice bailed out after allowing four runs in five innings. His ERA is 5.63 in 16 innings and batters are hitting .309 against him. His arm seems dead, and he looks ready for the offseason.
With oddsmakers giving essentially even odds on this game, I'll take the Giants to take an early lead and hold on in Game 1.
9. Giants to have more hits in Game 1 (+105, bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook)
Bumgarner has averaged more than 7.2 innings per start in the postseason, and he's been extremely difficult to hit. Even if Shields bounces back from a tough start to the postseason, he still seems more likley to give up hits than Bumgarner in Game 1. While this bet will still lose in a tie (you can take the tie at +800), I think the best value here, especially when you have to lay -105 to pick the Royals.
8. First home run of Game 1 will be a grand slam (+5000, bet365)
I don't have much reasoning behind this one, other than I love the 50/1 odds you're getting. Yes, this is like betting that the first score in a Super Bowl will be a safety, but sometimes those bets work out.
7. Royals to lead 2-1 after Game 3 (+138, bet365)
I don't expect this series to be a runaway, so I fully expect this series to be 2-1 after three games. Both teams have found ways to win close games, and both have had impressive bullpens, with a slight edge to Kansas City. I like the Royals’ chances to win two of the first three games, even though I think the Giants will win Game 1.
6. Escobar (+1.5) to record more hits than Sandoval (-155, Sportsbook.com)
I'm not a big fan of the price you have to lay for this bet, but I do like Escobar's chances, especially since he essentially starts with a 1.5 hit head start. Escobar's speed may result in an infield single or two that would normally be an out. And with Escobar leading off, he may get an opportunity or two more than Sandoval, the Giants' cleanup hitter.
5. Royals pitchers (+1.5) to record more strikeouts (-120, Sportsbook.com)
The Royals have posted 7.76 strikeouts per nine innings compared to 7.36 for the Giants, and as an American League team, the Royals didn't have the luxury of facing the opposing pitcher in any of their games. In fact, 10 of the Giants' 81 strikeouts this postseason came in the 19 at bats where they faced the opposing team's pitcher.
It isn't just the Royals' starters who have been sending hitters on a long walk back to the dugout. Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera combined for 20 strikeouts in 17.1 innings out of the bullpen.
I like the Royals to win this prop bet, especially with the 1.5 handicap. It almost makes me not mind paying the higher juice.
4. Giants (+1.5) to score the most runs (-105, Sportsbook.com)
I love this bet, because you're getting 1.5 runs and you're paying less juice than you would if you pick the Royals (-125). I think most games will be close, outside of Games 1 and 5, which I think the Giants may win by three or four runs. Even if the Giants end up losing the series, they still might end up scoring more runs than the Royals, so I think you're definitely getting better value with the Giants.
3. Giants to win the World Series (+100, bet365)
Outside of the Bumgarner/Shields matchup, I think this is a pretty even series. However, with that advantage likely to present itself twice, I like the Giants to win the 2014 World Series, especially since you get the bet at even money at bet365.
2. Giants to win 4-3 (+500, bet365)
Like I said, I think this series is going to be close. I know it's hard to win a Game 7 on the road, especially against a team that has had as many late-inning heroics as the Royals have had. But I like the 5/1 price, and expect this to be a truly memorable series.
1. Buster Posey to win MVP (17/2, Bovada)
Even if Bumgarner has two big starts, I think it's going to be hard for him to win the MVP award if the series goes seven games, because he's going to be pitching Games 1 and 5. For that reason, I think a position player will end up winning the MVP award.
The MVP award is voted on by writers, and writers love catchers. It helps when the catcher can hit for average and power. If he gets a timely home run or two and the Giants end up winning, expect him to be at the top of a lot of voters' ballots.
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