Astros vs. Braves: Who is favored to win the World Series?
With the World Series evenly balanced, we look at both teams and what elements separate and unites them in their battle for ultimate baseball glory.
Nothing about this World Series makes sense. The Braves have had to go through the defending champion Dodgers to get here. The Astros weathered the Red Sox onslaught. Both of these team arrived in the Fall Classic looking stronger than anyone had predicted, indeed even as they won their respective League Championship games there was a sense that somehow things would be put right. Surely not the 88-win Braves? And of course the Red Sox would prove to be too much for the Astros in the end.
Once the improbable series started, oddsmakers were dumbfounded on how to split the two sides. Sports writers, coaches, players, pundits, all were split pretty much down the middle on who would actually finish with the crown. Both teams have gotten to where they are by defying the odds. Base stealing is back with a vengeance in the forms of Kyle Tucker and Ozzie Albies. Infields make no pretense of leaving a fielder at home in this season of playing the shift. So exaggerated are the shifts, that MLB is considering a rule change to force positioning into a more traditional look. Even if that never comes to fruition, and it shouldn’t, sooner or later teams will bring back another anachronism, the bunt, to take advantage of the gaping holes left open. In a game where every pitch, every run, is factored to the Nth degree, where a hot pitcher is replaced because the next batter is left-handed, you have to have an almost religious faith in statistics to make sense of it all. But in a postseason where all the stats have pretty much gone out the window, how can they be relied upon to help us winnow through and find a favorite?
Houston has an offense that can put up big numbers. In the ALCS, they showed that by not just beating the Red Sox in Fenway, already an impressive feat, but by humiliating them. The Astros piled on run after run as if they were flexing their muscles. Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve have been electric at the plate and Houston’s legendary skipper Dusty Baker has shown that even at 72 years old, he is willing to try any new trick to get the runs on the board.
Atlanta is the team that keeps surprising people, going toe to toe with the formidable Dodgers bullpen and showing that they can make magic happen in the unlikeliest of circumstances. They Braves have a better selection of starting pitchers than Houston and at the bat, Eddie Rosario has been playing the postseason of his life.
If you are a betting man, the oddsmakers in Vegas say put your money on Houston. But only just. They edge the Astros as very slight favorites in six or seven games, though with the Braves taking Game 2 that's likely to swing back around. And that seems to be the only thing that anyone agrees on, this series will almost certainly go the full run. No matter which team comes out on top, this year’s World Series is one of the closest run things that we have seen in years. And in the end, isn’t that what makes for great baseball?
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