One Month To Go: Here Are Your 2021 World Series Winner Odds

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Ages ago in a television series called “Batman and Robin,” there was a villain named The Penguin. One of his most favorite turns of phrase was “The time is nigh…”

No one uses the word “nigh” much these days, but it’s appropriate for where we are in MLB playoff races. Indeed, the time is nigh for teams to make their push to the post-season. The time is nigh for clubs to get their rosters ironed out and firing on all cylinders. The time is most assuredly nigh for teams to start playing their best baseball if they hope to be crowned champion.

The odds listed below are from FanDuel for each of the 12 teams who are listed as at least +7000 to win the Fall Classic by the sportsbook.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-250)

Why they can win the World Series

The defensing champs are the best run scoring team in the NL, and also the best run preventing team in their league. You need superstars in October, and LA has them: Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Max Muncy, and Walker Buehler to name the most prominent. The Dodgers currently trail the Giants by one game, but it doesn’t even matter if they enter the playoff tournament as a wild card: they will be favored to repeat based on the depth of their roster.

Why they won’t win the World Series

No NL team since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds has repeated as champions. No team since the 1998-2000 Yankees have done it at all. But beyond history, the other reasons LA could fail is if Kenley Jansen slips as their closer. In his last 13 postseason games going back to the 2018 World Series, Jansen has a 4.26 ERA and has blown three saves.

Houston Astros (+450)

Why they can win the World Series

The World Series we all need is Astros vs. Dodgers, in a grudge rematch of the controversial “Garbage Can Banging” 2017 Fall Classic. The Astros are loaded on the offensive side. They have six legitimate superstars in their lineup: Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman (finally healthy), Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yordan Álvarez, and Kyle Tucker. Add in veteran slugger Yuli Gurriel (having another superb season with the stick), and exciting rookie Jake Meyers (who could be to the ’21 playoffs what Randy Arozarena was to the ’20 playoffs for Tampa), and there just isn’t any breathing room when facing the Houston offense.

Why they won’t win the World Series

Manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Brent Strom have worked their staff into a top unit in 2021. The Astros rank second in the AL in ERA, and with a good defense behind them they rate first in runs prevented. Sounds good, right? But the vulnerability exists in the bullpen depth. The Astros have just three guys Baker can rely on heavily, and only one lefty. If the ‘Stros falter, it will most likely come in the late innings.

Tampa Bay Rays (+750)

Why they can win the World Series

They made it there last season and are hungry to reverse the outcome. The Rays play smart baseball, with excellent defensive positioning, and they get more advantageous pitcher/batter matchups (and batter/pitcher matchups on the offensive side) than any other team. More than any other team, the Rays can weather a slump by their offense and still win low-scoring playoff games.

Why they won’t win the World Series

The Rays starting pitchers only produce a quality start 24% of the time, one of the lower rates in MLB. Which means they rely heavily on their bullpen. The bullpen is excellent, but they have blown 17 saves this season, and their best relievers have logged a lot of high-leverage innings. Will they tire in October?

Chicago White Sox (+750)

Why they can win the World Series

The quartet of Carlos Rodón, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, and Dylan Cease are not too shabby in the starting rotation. That type of depth from the starters could make manager the ChiSox a tough matchup in the post-season.

Why they won’t win the World Series

The White Sox are 8-15 against the Rays, Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox. They have a 32-10 record against the Orioles, Twins, Rangers, and Tigers. This is an overrated team. If they win the World Series, I’m a Choo Choo train.

New York Yankees (+950)

Why they can win the World Series

Unusual for the Yankees, this is a pitching-first team. They lead the AL in ERA, and rank second in strikeouts and saves. The Yankee staff is built for October: Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman leading the way.

Why they won’t win the World Series

The Yankee offense is very inconsistent and prone to periods of low production. There’s a reason this team was only three games over .500 at the All-Star break. And can any team win a World Series with this outfield: Joey Gallo, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge? Someone has to catch the baseball, no?

San Francisco Giants (+1000)

Why they can win the World Series

Want the definition of disrespect? One week into September, the Giants have baseball’s best record, yet two teams in their own league are listed as better than or equal in odds to win the Fall Classic. I get it: the Giants are hard to figure, with a no-name group of players seemingly overachieving and winning games with clutch hits and door-slamming pitching performances. You know what sounds like? 2010, 2012, and 2014. All years the Giants won the World Series. Could 2021 be more of that for baseball fans in the Bay Area?

Why they won’t win the World Series

The Giants are essentially winning under the old philosophy of Earl Weaver: pitching, defense, and the three-run homer. They lead the NL in home runs, and their ERA trails only the rival Dodgers. The bad news? Weaver’s teams only won the World Series once, losing three times. All-or-nothing offense is tough to sustain in a three-round postseason that requires a minimum 11 victories.

Milwaukee Brewers (+1000)

Why they can win the World Series

The franchise is overdue: they have never won a World Series, and if you believe in karma, it may be their time. Their pitching staff in incredibly deep: they rank first in MLB in bullpen ERA, and third overall in ERA.

Why they won’t win the World Series

Is there enough run-scoring pop in their lineup to win the low-scoring games of the postseason? The Brewers are fifth in the NL in runs scored, but a lot of that comes from the home run, which might be harder to come by in the low-scoring, high-strikeout games we’ll see in October.

Atlanta Braves (+1600)

Why they can win the World Series

Since July 31, the Braves have baseball’s best record. They’ve successfully withstood injury and slow starts to key players. In Freddie Freeman they have one of baseball’s best sluggers, and the ageless Charlie “Good Grief” Morton is having a resurgent year on the hill. This sort of feels like a team that could surprise people in October.

Why they won’t win the World Series

The Dodgers, Giants, and Brewers are more talented, healthier, and deeper in the bullpen. Atlanta feels like a team that’s still one dominant pitcher away from being a championship contender.

Boston Red Sox (+3000)

Why they can win the World Series

Few teams keep the line moving on offense better than the Red Sox, who rank second in baseball in slugging, and third in runs scored, batting average, and on-base percentage. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are superstars, and J.D. Martinez is back swinging the way he should be following a down COVID-19 year in 2020.

Why they won’t win the World Series

Boston will have to defeat two of those three teams to get to the World Series: Rays, Astros, Yankees. The Sox are 19-21 against the three other good teams in the American League. I would also question whether Boston has the requisite pitching ace you need at some point in October: the candidates are Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, and Garret Richards. Blech.

San Diego Padres (+5000)

Why they can win the World Series

The Padres have baseball’s most thrilling position player in Fernando Tatis Jr., and one of baseball’s ten best players in Manny Machado. Star power is on their side.

Why they won’t win the World Series

Tatis has been injured, and while he looks pretty good since his return late in August, there are questions about a pitching staff that let the Padres limp to a 22-29 record in July and August. It will take a lot of work to get past the Dodgers and/or Giants in the playoffs if San Diego even makes it into the postseason round.

Cincinnati Reds (+5000)

Why they can win the World Series

The Reds possess three exciting bats in Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker. The modern Big Red Machine is going to cruise past the 200-HR mark, they rank second in the NL in runs scored, and they have enough starting pitching to win games in October.

Why they won’t win the World Series

The Reds bullpen is atrocious, and in the postseason you better have a good bullpen. The Reds haven’t hoisted the World Series trophy since 1990. Once again, The Curse of Pete Rose will stay in effect for one more season.

Toronto Blue Jays (+6500)

Why they can win the World Series

Starters Robbie Ray and Hyun Jin Ryu form one of the better 1-2 punches in the game. Add in rookie Alek Manoah and Steven Matz, and the Jays have a formidable group of starters to use in the playoffs. Plus you have Vlad Guerrero Jr. and a scary offense.

Why they won’t win the World Series

This is a club playing seven wins under their expected total based on run differential. There’s something going on in Canada that makes this Jays team underperform.

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.

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