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2011 MLB Predictions: 5 Sleeper Teams That Will Shock the League

It seems like every year a surprise team competes and makes a run at the World Series. In 2010 it was the San Francisco Giants who shocked the league by beating out all of the favorites for a title.

The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are the favorite in each league, but undoubtedly there will be a team that will shock and surprise.

Here are five teams that will surprise in the 2011 MLB season.

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World Series 2010: Should Tim Lincecum Start 3 Times for San Francisco Giants?

When the starting pitchers were announced for the World Series it was no big surprise. For San Francisco it was ace Tim Lincecum getting the nod. For the Texas Rangers it was postseason superstar Cliff Lee toeing the rubber to start things off. The biggest shocker may have been the rest of the rotations for either team.

The Rangers manager Ron Washington won’t change his rotation, deciding to follow Cliff Lee with C.J. Wilson in Game 2 and then Colby Lewis in Game 3. Washington also decided that Tommy Hunter would get the start in Game 4 of the Series.

This worked for the Rangers in the ALCS well enough that they are now favorites to win the Series. BetMania released the latest odds on World Series, and the Rangers are -140 to win the series, and -130 to win Game 1.

The Giants released a similar rotation, choosing to go with what got them to the World Series. Lincecum will go first, though he briefly pitched in relief Saturday night in the Series clincher at Philadelphia. Lincecum will be followed by Matt Cain in Game 2 and Jonathan Sanchez in Game 3. Then Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound for Game 4 on Sunday.

This is a bit puzzling to me.

When scouting both of these teams it’s very easy to make an argument for either pitching staff, but it’s obvious that Texas has the better offense. One mistake to nearly anyone in the Rangers lineup can cost dearly.

The offense can hit the long ball and score runs in bunches,  and the best way to combat this is strong pitching. While the rotations are not set in stone, for the Giants to have the best chance to win the Series, they need to start Lincecum three times.

Lincecum can go on three days’ rest, and this will allow Matt Cain to get another game in if needed. It will free up Bumgarner to work relief or add to the bullpen if needed. The rotation is the strength of this team and the reason they have come this far.

The Rangers can counter by starting Cliff Lee three times, but that most likely won’t happen unless he has rest and an elimination game is on tap. With the home field advantage, the Rangers will be without the designated hitter, and this will give the Giants a chance to win with strong starting pitching and solid relief from the bullpen.

To win the World Series, the Giants have to win at home and they have to win early. If they can’t beat Cliff Lee they will be in a tough spot and already behind in the series. The answer to winning the World Series will be letting the best pitchers lead the way.

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World Series Odds: Scouting the Teams in the American League

Major League Baseball’s regular season is winding down and the playoff teams are getting ready for the postseason.

BetPhoenix has the latest odds for the MLB playoffs and the World Series. During the playoffs, any team can surprise and make it to the World Series, but it takes solid pitching, great hitting, and a little bit of luck to bring home the trophy.

Here is a look at the teams in the American League and their chances to win a World Series.

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World Series Odds: Scouting the Teams In the National League

Major League Baseball’s regular season is about to end, and the postseason is about to begin. BetPhoenix has the latest odds for the MLB playoffs, and the odds of each team to win the World Series. Once the playoffs begin, any team can make a run for the World Championship.

Here is a look at the teams in the National League, and their chances to win a World Series.

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The Dream Is Over: The 2010 Boston Red Sox Are Done

Being a fan of the Boston Red Sox is never easy. After spending decades of relishing in the role as the lovable losers, the Red Sox finally won a World Series ring. In fact they went on to win more than one championship and people began to expect them to win. As a fan, I also began to believe that every year the Red Sox, my team, could win it all.

I began a ritual of placing a wager on the Red Sox every year to win the American League East and the World Series. This year, Just Bet listed the Red Sox as 3-1 underdogs to win the A.L. East, and 10-1 to win the World Series.

I placed my bet and began to dream about a big payout, and another World Series ring for the Sox. I have come to realize that in late August, the dream is over. For those of you that still believe, you would be thrilled to know that at Just the Red Sox are now18 to 1 to win the A.L. East and 35 to 1 to win it all!

At the beginning of the year if you were to tell me the Red Sox would have a slew of injuries throughout the year, and still have over 70 wins in late August, I would be thrilled.

That is exactly what has happened.

The problem is in the AL East that is just good enough for third place and roughly six games behind the leader. In any other division in baseball the Red Sox would own the lead, or be fighting for the lead, but not in the A.L. East.

The Red Sox are trailing both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays as the season winds down and things are looking grim. It’s not that six games is an insurmountable lead, but the obstacles that stand in the way of the Red Sox are very daunting.

The first place to start is the schedule.

The Red Sox schedule to end the year is frightening. The Sox have struggled against the teams remaining on the schedule. That last stretch includes 12 games against division rivals the Yankees and Rays, a short six game trip to the West Coast, and seven out of the last ten games are on the road.

For those that would argue the Sox can make up games against Baltimore and Seattle, two cellar dwellers on the schedule, think again. The Sox are a woeful 8-8 against those teams this year and Baltimore is playing much better since Buck Showalter was hired as head coach.

I do applaud the way that the Sox played this year with all the injuries they had to endure, but it’s only gotten worse. Kevin Youkilis, Mike Cameron, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all done for the season taking both offense and defense away from this team. Dustin Pedroia recently returned from injury, but was placed back on the disabled list just three days later.

The injuries have dismantled the offense, and if you’re looking for pitching to bail out the Sox, guess again. The Red Sox are currently 20th in the league in Earned Run Average (ERA) behind several opponents that they play again before the year is over to include Oakland and (you guessed it) New York and Tampa Bay. The once unhittable Jonathan Papelbon has six blown saves on the year and an ERA over three. In short, the pitching is not living up to the hype.

The dream is over Red Sox nation; the 2010 version of your favorite team is not going to the post season. We as a nation can blame it on injuries, being in the toughest division in baseball, or just bad luck, but it’s over.

The best we can hope for is that we play spoiler in the last three game set of the season and stop the hated Yankees from winning another division title.

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