The Houston Astros had baseball's best record (107-55) and are looking for their second title in three years. The Washington Nationals rebounded from 12 games under .500 in late May and will try to win the first title for a Washington baseball team since 1924, when they were the Senators and played in the American League.
With the series starting Tuesday in Houston (8:08 p.m. ET, Fox), we asked 29 of our experts -- from ESPN.com, TV, Stats & Information and more -- to give their predictions: World Series winner, how many games and MVP.
Below are the vote totals, along with analysis from some of our experts.
World Series winner
Astros: 22 votes
Nationals: 7 votes
Astros in 7 (3 votes)
Astros in 6 (11 votes)
Astros in 5 (7 votes)
Astros in 4 (1 vote)
Nationals in 7 (1 vote)
Nationals in 6 (3 votes)
Nationals in 5 (3 votes)
What is your pick and why?
Jeff Passan: Astros in six. Great starting pitching. Great lineup. Great fielding. Great baserunning. Sufficient bullpen. The Astros aren't just some modern baseball marvel. They are a team that would be great in any era. And that greatness will manifest itself for a second time in three years against a Nationals team that is excellent in its own right but simply won't match the firepower Houston offers.
David Schoenfield: Astros in six. Well, there is an easy reason to support this: My preseason pick was Astros over Nationals. Why change now? It would have been a more difficult choice if the Astros had needed seven games to beat the Yankees, but they now have Gerrit Cole lined up for Game 1 instead of Game 3. The lineup is a little deeper than Washington's and the bullpen is obviously much deeper.
Sam Miller: Astros in five. The Nationals' rotation makes them a genuine threat -- they'll arguably have the (slightly) better starting pitcher in five of the seven games -- but the rest of the roster counts, too, and the Astros bring the better offense, the better defense, the better bullpen aces, the better bullpen depth, the more accomplished and postseason-tested manager and, for that matter, home-field advantage. There's no shame in being underdogs to these Astros, perhaps the most talented team of this century.
Bradford Doolittle: Astros in six. The end points are arbitrary, but we're talking about a large swath of the schedule: After the Nationals' low-water point of 12 games under on May 23, Washington went 74-38 with a Pythagorean win percentage of .651; Houston was 74-37 and .653. Pretty much dead even. But the Astros have more star-level hitters, strike out less, walk more and hit more homers. The starting rotations negate each other, despite Houston's fourth-starter quandary. The Astros have a better bullpen. In the end, both teams won pennants by mixing in little stuff with the big stuff, but Houston does more of the big stuff.
Dan Mullen: Astros in six. Washington's starting pitching is good enough to make this series interesting, but it's tough to find anything the Nationals really do better than the Astros do. And over the course of a longer series than the Nats have played so far this October, the underbelly of the bullpen is going to get exposed once or twice.
Jesse Rogers: Nationals in seven. Among their frontline players, the Nationals are every bit as good as the Astros. And with the rest they've had since the NLCS, their starters can reduce the bullpen's exposure by going deeper into games, especially in Houston, where a potent lineup will add an extra hitter while eliminating the need to pinch hit for their star pitchers.
Marly Rivera: Nationals in five. I was wrong when I thought that offense would dictate this year's postseason results. I have corrected the error of my ways, and since the Yankees' questionable rotation was able to keep the Astros' bats in check, I believe the Nationals' top three starters, led by Max Scherzer, should be able to do the same, if not better.
Who did you pick for MVP and why?
Passan: Alex Bregman. The best player on the best team gets an MVP award to match the one he deserves from the regular season.
Schoenfield: Gerrit Cole. He has won 19 consecutive decisions and the Astros haven't lost a game he has started since July 12. He has allowed one run in 22.2 innings in his three postseason starts. In his "bad" start against the Yankees, he didn't allow a run. His two potential matchups against Max Scherzer could end up being World Series classics, but I'm betting on the hottest pitcher on the planet.
Miller: Cole. Recent history is screaming "pick a hitter!" at me -- position players have won it 15 times in 19 years this century -- but it's a lot harder to predict who will be This Year's Steve Pearce (random hitter who gets hot) than who will be This Year's Madison Bumgarner (ace starter who takes over two games entirely and, perhaps, closes out another). So I'll take Cole. Pick any two back-to-back starts he has made since the All-Star break, and they'd almost surely make him the MVP.
Mullen: George Springer. With the starting pitchers going in this World Series, playing with a lead is going to be crucial, and Springer has the power to put Houston in front from the very start batting leadoff.
Rogers: Juan Soto. He is already one of the better hitters in the game as there is simply no arm-side advantage against him. His on-base percentage will hover around .500 for the series and the disciplined 20-year-old will take home the hardware.