Actually, the Brewers are the favorites in this NLCS
The Dodgers and Brewers meet at last in NLCS Game 1 on Friday night (8:09 p.m. ET on FS1). But, we feel compelled to address a narrative that seems to have gained steam over the last week or two: that L.A., not Milwaukee, is the favorite in this series.
We understand how it happened. The Dodgers have been a perennial presence in the postseason for going on a decade now, and they returned much the same team that came agonizingly close to winning it all last year -- then went ahead and added Manny Machado. They're the big, bad coastal power, while Milwaukee is the small-market upstart.
... or are they? What if we told you that the Brewers, in a just world, would be the favorite here? What if they're neither plucky nor scrappy, but just very good -- nay, the straight-up best team on the field? We've asked our analytics team to run the numbers, and it turns out that the regular season is composed of something called "wins" and "losses." Take a look:
Who's the No. 1 seed in the National League? It's not the Nationals, or the Cubs, or the Dodgers -- it was Milwaukee. And how did the Brewers compile such an impressive record? Oh, nothing major, they just haven't lost in nearly a month. The following is an incomplete list of teams that have in fact lost a game in that span: the Dodgers, including dropping a game to the Braves in the NLDS.
To the top seed goes the spoils, which means that the Brewers get to open up in front of a raucous Miller Park crowd -- the park at which they went an NL-best 51-30 in 2018. After the heartbreak of last October, getting off to a good start will be key for the Dodgers, but they'll have their work cut out for them. (This is also great news for Christian Yelich, who has an OPS more than 100 points higher at home than on the road. Yes, we forgot to mention that Milwaukee also has the likely NL MVP, a man who can do seemingly everything well on the diamond.)
To recap: The team with the league's best record, with the league's best home-field advantage, with the best player on the field riding a historic hot streak ... still gets to come in feeling that it's the underdog because of the discourse.
Which brings us to our final point: The Brewers are playing with house money. They won't be saddled by the history of one of the game's most storied and successful franchises. They won't be answering to a massive media market. They'll just be doing what they've done better than anyone else in the Senior Circuit all year: winning baseball games -- provided, of course, that no one sneaks a confetti cannon into the dugout again.
The Dodgers are the status quo -- the big boss, with a roster dotted with future Hall of Famers and household names. Be brave enough to open your eyes, shed your preconceived notions and see the truth: There's a new king of the National League, and it has a giant plastic slide.