The 2022 World Series begins Friday night with the Philadelphia Phillies taking on the host Houston Astros. The Phillies are coming off a dramatic NLCS win over the Padres, while the Astros are fresh off a shocking sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS. So what should we expect from this edition of the Fall Classic?
Our experts have tackled some of the most important questions surrounding how bettors should approach World Series betting and futures. Here's what they have to say.
The World Series is set, with the Houston Astros (-190) having swept their way into the affair, ready to face the underdog (and loving it) Philadelphia Phillies (+170). Let's start simple: Who do you like to win and why? Do you want to call your shot with the number of games it takes the winner to wrap it all up?
Eric Karabell: As much as I would love for my hometown team to continue stunning the baseball world and completing a magical playoff run, even I cannot logically bet against these Astros. So much pitching. Enough offense to match the Phillies. Better defense for sure and a better, more reliable bullpen. Lots of playoff experience and a team motivated to get a Hall of Fame manager his first title. Phillies take two games and Houston wins in Game 6 at home, though.
Todd Zola: I mirror Eric, but without a hometown rooting interest. From a fan's point of view, I very much enjoy watching Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler pitch, but asking at least one, perhaps both, to defeat the Astros twice is a reach. Houston is too balanced, without a major weakness anywhere. Astros in six feels right.
Tristan H. Cockcroft: I'd love to pick the Phillies to win this series, since they're a fiery bunch in their own right, but can't imagine picking against an Astros team this balanced, especially on the pitching side. I'm with Eric and Todd in that I think it's a six-game series, with the Astros taking their three at home. Home-field advantage seems a huge deal in this particular World Series. But what's interesting from the betting angle is that an Astros sweep doesn't have longer odds, since I expect most people to predict a six- or seven-game series and some even going for the Phillies upset. I'd have figured those odds would be closer to those for a Phillies five-game victory, but I'm admittedly tempted, nevertheless. Hear me out: No team has ever swept a three-or-more-series postseason, the regular-season wins disparity between these teams is the widest in 116 years, and Dusty Baker has never managed a team to a title (he won a ring as a player in 1981). I'm latching onto the prospective storyline, but there's also something about this matchup that feels like it's Astros blowout or close, six- or seven-gamer where the Phillies battle them to the end, and nothing in between. And, hey, if I wind up right, for +650 odds, I can buy Eric a whole cookie in hopes of cheering him up!
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Home runs certainly helped turn the tide for the Phillies in the NLCS, which is probably why the top three candidates to finish with the most postseason round-trippers all hail from Philadelphia. Bryce Harper (+180) and Rhys Hoskins (+250) currently lead with five HRs each so far, while Kyle Schwarber (+450) is next among still-active bats with three. Which one of those sluggers would you back -- or would you place your bet on someone else to suddenly surge past them all?
Zola: Yordan Alvarez has a 60% hard-hit rate in the playoffs but only has two homers, the last being in Game 2 against Seattle. He's due to leave the yard a few more times, so he gets the nod to lead both teams in World Series homers, though he'll be hard-pressed to catch the Phillies trio for most playoff round trippers.
Cockcroft: Framber Valdez is the lone Astros left-hander on the roster, so Schwarber's +450 stands out as good value, comparatively speaking, because of how often he'll have the platoon advantage. I wasn't in on him last round because at the time he hadn't found his hitting stroke, but he certainly did during the NLCS.
Who do you like to take home the series MVP hardware? The current favorites are Yordan Alvarez (+600) and Bryce Harper (+650), with Justin Verlander (+900) and Kyle Tucker (+1000) close behind.
Karabell: I picked Verlander to win MVP against the Yankees, but he only got to pitch once! I think he gets two starts this time around and wins them both, something like 13⅔ excellent innings with 16 whiffs and just a few solo home runs allowed. He's a motivated player at the top of his game.
Zola: Let's double down with Alvarez and say his power will manifest in a World Series MVP.
Cockcroft: Series MVP is one prop I'm not eager to play, since both rosters bring too many solid options, but Verlander would be my favorite for the honor. I do think those going for the Phillies in this series would get good value out of Wheeler (+1700) or Schwarber (+1300), however.
On to Game 1! The Astros are -170 to the Phillies +140 for the first game of the Fall Classic. The total is 6.5. Who do you like in Game 1?
Karabell: Verlander is going to pitch well, allowing a Harper solo home run and little else. Don't expect the Astros to score much off Zach Wheeler, either, but he allows two runs and a 3-1 Astros win sounds about right.
Cockcroft: I'm with Eric in that I like the under for Game 1, and I think the Astros' bullpen provides the edge, probably something like a 3-2 victory.