It is easy to choose the Red Sox and the Astros and that makes perfect sense. But is that right way to go about it? Are there other factors to consider to have a more informed opinion before placing a bet.
After a crummy period in early August, Houston has gotten 100 percent healthy and is playing like.
The Rockies run is similar to what they did in 2009 when they had a blazing September and made to the World Series before Boston ended their magical run.
The Brewers and Dodgers are also playing exceptional baseball down the stretch in the National League.
Breaking Down Runs and Run Prevention
One of the best statistics that that speaks to a team's overall strength is Run Differential. This is the margin of victory or total runs difference between what a team scores and what they allow.
This is important for two reasons. One, we know how good any team in all facets of the game, which helped them create a this large of a separation. Some might say what would that matter when you get to the postseason? Here's why. Since 2008, only the 2012 San Francisco Giants won a World Series without finishing in the Top 3 in run differential in their respective league. Here is who the top teams were in each league.
Hitting Numbers that Matter
While baseball has devolved to players often swinging too hard with uppercut swings trying to go yard, there is still one reliable hitting statistic that still matters. While home runs will still matter in the postseason, so will the ability to get on base.
In the playoffs, everything is magnified so if a team has players just swinging out of their shoes and not trying to go the other way and make contact, rest assured that team will not last long in October.
Here is what to look for, on-base + slugging percentage or OPS. This tells you about having a balanced offense. Please note, 10 of the Top 11 teams in this category made the playoffs. (Stat is as of 9/30).
2) NY Yankees
3) LA Dodgers
11) Chicago Cubs
Please note, Washington was the only team to not reach the postseason. It would also seem the Brewers, Braves, and Cubs have not shown their offense are consistent enough this season to survive three rounds of playoff pressure.
Of course, quality starting pitcher still matters, but virtually all managers tend to over-manage in the postseason and will pull a starter at the first hint of trouble.
Bullpens have become such an important part of handicapping and even more so in October. Here is a simple theory to understand. Pitchers have to get outs and not walk batters. This is not revolutionary thinking, but it is a fact. If a reliever can come in and strike hitters out and does not allow free passes, he's an asset to his team.
That is why K-to-W ratios are important. With runners on base, if you fan batters, nothing happens other than ending or getting closer to ending an inning. Walks are always problematic and can lead to multiple runs being scored.
With this in mind, here are the six teams/bullpens still playing that finished (in order) in the Top 10 in this category.