Almost no MLB betting odds could have predicted this: A 2021 World Series matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. Make no mistake, most billed the Astros as championship contenders. But the Braves came largely out of nowhere, jumping well ahead of schedule relative to expectations.
Naturally, our 2021 MLB World Series picks focus on that question: Do the Braves have the firepower to take down the Astros? Linemakers aren't so keen on their chances. Here's a look at the latest 2021 MLB World Series odds, courtesy of BetOnline:
|Houston Astros||-123||+113||Atlanta Braves|
Definitely remember to double-check these MLB betting odds prior to settling on your World Series picks. The numbers on the series will continue to move at BetOnline and other top online sportsbooks leading into Game 1 on Tuesday and as the best-of-seven showdown progresses.
2021 World Series Predictions
Before getting to our official 2021 World Series predictions, we will lay out the case for both the Braves and Astros winning it all and then ultimately decide who has the more compelling argument.
The Case for the Houston Astros
Can anybody stop the Astros offense? That was, in fact, the primary question entering the 2021 MLB postseason. It remains the biggest topic now.
Houston was a borderline unstoppable force in the regular season. They led the league in on-base percentage and finished third in slugging percentage. They have largely maintained that level of dominance during the playoffs. Only the Boston Red Sox, who they just dispatched in the American League Championship Series, have a higher on-base plus slugging percentage for the postseason. Their overall batting average of .281 is incredibly high for such a long playoff run, as well.
Whether Houston can remain this potent versus the Braves' pitching staff remains to be seen. But their performance in the ALCS suggests they can. They were held to fewer than five runs only once in six games and average a whopping seven runs per contest through their four victories.
The Case for the Atlanta Braves
Strong pitching can win championships, and boy, do the Braves have some seriously strong pitching.
This is not a development everyone saw coming. The Braves' pitching staff was good but not great in the regular season, posting an ERA of 3.88—just inside the top 10. But they have reached another level in the playoffs. Led by Max Fried and Ian Anderson, they have limited opponents to a .228 batting average while allowing just 1.21 walks and hits combined per nine innings.
Atlanta's arms will, of course, be facing a tougher challenge in Houston's batting order. That's a legitimate concern. The Los Angeles Dodgers were largely depleted and underachieving by the end of the National League Championship Series, so the Braves are further removed from going up against some truly heavy hitters.
Still, if this postseason has taught us anything, it's that Atlanta has plenty of capable innings eaters on the mound, both within their starting rotation and their bullpen.
Astros or Braves? Our 2021 World Series Pick
To be brutally honest, we're a little surprised the Braves aren't more than +120 underdogs in this fight. Though their pitching has been spectacular, they haven't needed to face anything close to the blend of power and savviness within the Astros' batting order.
Oddsmakers might be reading into the shakiness of Houston's own pitching staff. What was a fairly reliable rotation during the regular season has devolved into a little bit of a wild card in the postseason. Only one team has allowed more total home runs in the playoffs, and the staff's 4.50 ERA is middle-of-the-road to flat-out bad for this time of year.
Fortunately for Houston, Atlanta's offense has not exactly been lighting it up. Their .250 batting average is nothing to write home about, and they have seen a dip in their power hitting during playoffs. That the Braves were unable to thoroughly capitalize on a banged up Dodgers rotation in the NLCS is something to think about ahead of the World Series.
Maybe the Braves are able to hold their own from the offensive side of the plate. They were a top-10 slugging percentage squad during the regular season, and they did piece together a nine-run explosion in Game 4 of the NLCS. We're just not sure any of it matters. Houston fields legitimate on-base threats in roughly seven of its nine batting slots every single night. That is depth and consistency the Braves cannot hope to match.
If Atlanta does win it all, we believe it'll be because they turned this into a pitching duel. We just don't believe that'll be the case. Houston has enough bats to wear down the starting rotation earlier than most opponents. They deserve to be the favorites.
OSB Prediction: Houston Astros (-140)
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your MLB betting: