Welcome to the 2014 MLB World Series Beard Challenge

AL Championship Betting Odds & Picks – Kansas City Vs. Baltimore

The Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles will both be well-rested when they face off in the American League Championship Series which begins on Friday and because both teams sweeped their respective divisional series, allowing the two clubs to rest up their pitchers and set up their starting rotations.

Baltimore swept the Detroit Tigers and their Cy Young Award rotation in the AL Division Series victory to vault manager Buck Showalter into his first ALCS in 16 seasons.

The Orioles will meet the Royals, who reached the postseason for the first time in 29 years and swept the Los Angeles Angels.

This expert betting breakdown on the intriguing showdown between former perennial baseball powerhouses will give you the insight and information you’ll need in order to make the most out of your 2014 MLB American League Series betting opportunities.

Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles
When: Game 1 Friday, October 10
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Opening Pitch: 8:00 PM ET
Radio: KC: KCSP 610, Royals Radio Network 
BAL: 1090 WBAL, Orioles Radio Net

Complete 2014 ALCS Schedule

Game 1 – Fri, Oct 10 @ 7:07 PM
Royals at Orioles

Game 2 – Sat, Oct 11 @ 3:07 PM ET
Royals at Orioles

Game 3 – Mon, Oct 13 – TBD
Orioles at Royals

Game 4 – Tue, Oct 14 – TBD
Orioles at Royals

Game 5 – Wed, Oct 15 – TBD
Orioles at Royals

Game 6 – Fri, Oct 17 – TBD
Royals at Orioles

Game 7 – Sat, Oct 18 – TBD
Royals at Orioles

AL Championship Betting Odds Preview – Royals Vs. Orioles

The Kansas City Royals (89-73) may have finished second to Detroit in the AL Central, but they’ve been second to none ever since the postseason started for them.

First, the Royals took out the Oakland A’s 9-8 in extra innings in their AL Wild Card matchup before going on to sweep the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels in three games in their ALDS matchup.

The Baltimore Orioles won the AL East by a dozen games and finished second in the AL and in all of baseball by recording 96 wins during the regular season. The O’s swept AL Central winner Detroit in three games in their ALDS pairing after setting the stage for the series win with a commanding 12-3 victory in Game 1.

Now, two of baseball’s most beloved franchises at one time are back on the map and looking to finish their respective 2014 seasons with a flourish that ends in a World Series appearance at the very least.

Now, let’s take a look at both teams in this intriguing pairing before I offer up my expert MLB pick on just which team is going to walk away victorious and into their first World Series appearance in nearly approximately three decades.

Why You Should Bet On The Kansas City Royals (89-73) To Win The AL

If you haven’t heard it by now, then you should know that the Kansas City Royals hit he fewest home runs of any team in baseball this season (95) while failing to see a single one of it regulars reach the 20 homer plateau. Only three Royals players even recorded double digits in the home run department, led by outfielder Alex Gordon’s 19 and just one player managed to bat .300 or better during the regular season (Lorenzo Cain, .301)

Nevertheless, what the Royals didn’t have in the power department, they more than made up for at the plate and on the base paths. The Royals ranked fourth in team batting average (.263) and led all of baseball in steals with 153. The next closest team had 31 fewer steals that Kansas City.

In their AL wild-card win over Oakland, the Royals tied a postseason record by recording a whopping seven stolen bases while in the process, becoming the first team in playoff history to steal six bases when trailing and the first team to steal four bases in one inning

Five players recorded double digits in steals with Alcides Escobar (31) and Jarrod Dyson (36) both recording at least 30 and Cain (28) just short of that figure.

In their AL wild-card game against Oakland, Kansas City became the first team in postseason history to trail by four runs in the eighth inning of a winner-take-all game, then come back to win.

Kansas City has been masterful at scratching out runs out of seemingly nothing and ranked 14th in scoring during the regular season (4.02 rpg).

"We’ll bunt, we’ll hit and run, we’ll do it any way we can," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "We don’t really care how we win ballgames, just as long as we get a ‘W’ at the end of the night. And I think I speak for 25 guys in that clubhouse [who] will say the exact same thing. We go out every night with intentions to do whatever we can do to win."

The Royals also made some more postseason history by becoming the first team in history to win three consecutive extra-inning postseason games and first ever to win consecutive playoff games with an extra-inning home run in each contest.

In the Royals’ ALDS matchup against the Angels, third baseman Mike Moustakas  became the first No. 9 hitter in postseason history to hit a go-ahead home run in extra innings. Moustakas has caught fire at just the right time too after hitting just two long balls over his final 53 regular-season games.

Defensively, Kansas City possesses arguably the best trio of outfielders in the game today and arguably the best bullpen too. The Royals ranked 12th in team ERA (3.51) and eighth in quality starts (95) as four starters recorded double digits in victories with three compiling ERA’s under 3.71.

Why You Should Bet On The Baltimore Orioles (96-66) To Win the AL

You’d apparently never know it as quietly as they’ve gone about their business, but the Baltimore Orioles tied the Washington Nationals for the second-most wins in all of baseball this season (96), just two games behind the now-dispatched Los Angeles Angels.

Ironically, Baltimore is a polar-opposite version of Kansas City, having hit the most home runs in the AL (211) in the regular season while stealing the fewest bases (44).

Six layers reached double digits in home runs for the O’s this season with four of those players hitting 20 or more, including Nelson Cruz’s MLB-best 40. Baltimore ranked ninth in team batting average (.256) while also ranking an impressive seventh in team ERA (.344) and eighth in errors (87).

Not only did the Orioles get a phenomenal season from Cruz, an offseason free agent addition that was viewed as a semi-risk following last season’s PED-related suspension, but they’ll enter the ALCS knowing the sweet-swinging slugger is one of baseball’s best postseason hitters ever.

Cruz has 16 postseason home runs in the past five years and is tied for ninth on the all-time postseason home run list with Carlos Beltran.

Four pitchers reached double digits in wins for Baltimore, though the team clearly doesn’t have a traditional staff ace.

"I think what takes us here is the pitching," said Cruz, who won Sunday’s clinching game in Detroit with a two-run homer. "The pitching has been unbelievable."

Baltimore beat three former Cy Young Award winners (Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price) to beat the Detroit Tigers in their ALDS matchup.

"You dream of the opportunity to pitch in a postseason game and get to the World Series," said Orioles pitcher Bud Norris, who threw 6.2 scoreless innings Sunday.

AL Championship Betting Pick – Royals Vs. Orioles

I know these two teams are polar opposite and that the more explosive Baltimore Orioles are favored to advance to the 2014 World Series, but I’m not buying it.

I love the way Kansas City is able to disrupt opposing pitchers with their speed on the base paths and create runs out of nothing and I think the Royals significantly deeper bullpen gives them the edge in this series, not to mention the fact that they’ve got the best starting pitcher in the series in James Shields.

"The crowd, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere," said Shields, who won Game 3 on Sunday. "It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. This is a special time in this city right now, and they’re enjoying this as much as we are. To be able to win in front of the home crowd is nice. I mean, this is the best atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of. To be able to do it in front of our fans is great."

I know the Orioles have home-field advantage in this series, but Kansas City has already proven to me that they can win anywhere after taking out the A’s and the Angels with their best-in-baseball record.

"These kids are all stepping up big time and putting us in the position that we’re in now," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I mean, we’re going to go to Baltimore and fight for the American League. There’s two teams left standing and it’s going to be a great series. Both teams coming in with a lot of momentum, both teams very, very good baseball teams. It’s going to be a great series.

The Royals took four of seven games from the Orioles in the regular season – and that’s close to what I’m predicting for this series. I like Kansas City to win in six games with the Royals taking Game 1 behind likely starter James Shields.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re old enough to remember (like I am) the Orioles and Royals’ last respective postseason appearances, then you’re probably pulling for both of these former – and once again – powerhouses to win and advance to the World Series.

However, only one team can win – and I say it’s going to be the highly-entertaining Kansas City Royals.

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