Major League Baseball
2023 MLB odds: Why you should bet on Astros to win the ALCS, MVP pick
Major League Baseball

2023 MLB odds: Why you should bet on Astros to win the ALCS, MVP pick

Updated Oct. 15, 2023 2:04 p.m. ET

By Will Hill
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

What a wild postseason it has been so far, as just four teams remain.

It feels appropriate to refer to these teams as the "Final Four," considering this postseason format has created what feels like MLB's version of March Madness. 

From April through September, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers bullied the rest of baseball, combining to stack up an impressive 204 wins, as they seemed to be on a collision course for what would have been a star-studded National League Championship Series. 


But a funny thing happened along the way: When the calendar flipped to October, the two NL powerhouses got emphatically vanquished from the playoffs, losing six out of seven games, all by multiple runs, with the lone victory coming from the Braves in a game in which they trailed by four runs. 

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers had an eight-game losing streak and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost nine in a row in August. Now, both enter the LCS round unblemished in the postseason, going a combined 10-0 so far. 

The Philadelphia Phillies finished 14 games out of first place and now remarkably have home-field advantage in the NLCS. You get the point — these playoffs have been wildly unpredictable, and maybe that's going to be the norm going forward. With the extra playoff spots being added, perhaps randomness is to be expected. 

With that being said, let's try to predict the unpredictable and take a look at the ALCS (Game 1 is Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App).

Ben Verlander, Alex Curry break down the ALCS between the Rangers and Astros.

RELATED: Rangers-Astros by the numbers

The Inevitable Astros

While I rant and rave about how unpredictable the playoffs have been, there was one team I hadn't mentioned — the defending champion Houston Astros

None of that seemingly applies to them. The format, the layoff, the randomness of a short series — they are immune to all of it. The Astros are impervious to the surrounding carnage, as they continue to be the one constant, year after year. 

Astros baseball is becoming like Halloween because it is just an inevitable part of October. Granted, this is not a typical Astros juggernaut — they were only in first place for 24 days this season — and, at one point, trailed their LCS opponent, the Rangers, by 6.5 games in the standings. 

They were only 39-42 at home, where they also got swept in September by the lowly Kansas City Royals

Yet, here they are.

Jeter, A-Rod react to Astros earning another ALCS berth

The Astros were in second place as they entered the last day of the regular season, needing a win vs. the Diamondbacks as well as a Rangers loss to the Seattle Mariners in order to capture the AL West.

They got both, finishing at 90-72, winning the division via a tiebreaker based on winning the season series. 

While there is certainly an intangible with the Astros and a reason they win year after year, there is also a tangible advantage that I think will be the difference in this series: the bullpen. 

The Astros had the sixth-best bullpen ERA this season (3.56), while the Rangers were 24th (4.77). These teams had identical records, playing in the same division. With two teams so evenly matched, the bullpens are often what decides these close games. 

The Astros are eight wins away from entering themselves into the "are they a dynasty?" conversation, as another championship would give them three titles in the past seven years. Four more wins would put them in their fifth World Series in that same seven-year span. 

With home-field advantage, their experience and the better bullpen, I'm certainly not looking to bet against them here. I think the Astros are heading back to another Fall Classic.

PICK: Houston Astros (-140, bet $10 to win $17.14 total) to win ALCS 

ALCS MVP José Abreu (+2000, bet $10 to win $210 total)

I'm riding the hot-hand with Abreu, who went 5-for-16 (.313) with three homers and eight RBIs in the ALDS against the Twins. If an MVP award were given for that round, he woud have been the likely winner. 

Here's the thing about the Astros lineup: You can't pitch around all of them. And with Abreu slotted behind Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, he is likely to come to the plate with runners on base, especially as teams likely become more cautious about pitching to the terrifying Alvarez. 

Another reason to think Abreu is a good sleeper for this award is that he hits left-handers very well, going deep eight times in 162 regular-season at-bats against southpaws. 

With Alvarez and Tucker (both lefty bats) hitting directly ahead of Abreu, and MLB's new rule that requires pitchers to face a minimum of three batters (or to end an inning), Abreu is likely to see some left-handed pitching, starting in Game 1 against Jordan Montgomery

At +2000, the way the 2020 AL MVP is swinging the bat, it's worth a shot to bet that Abreu can continue his hot hitting and add some more hardware to his trophy case. 

Will Hill, a contributor on the Bear's Bets Podcast, has been betting on sports for over a decade. He is a betting analyst who has been a host on VSiN, as well as the Goldboys Network.

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