The 2021 World Series is set as the Astros and Braves have advanced from their respective Championship Series. They face off starting Tuesday in Houston, so TheLines put together a preview looking at 2021 World Series odds and a statistical comparison.
Will the Astros retake the throne and put the stains of 2017 behind them? Or will the Braves, after more than two decades of playoff heartbreak, finally break through?
We dive into the numbers below, with TheLines’ Eli Hershkovich also sharing how he is betting this series himself.
2021 World Series Preview: The Stats
First, let’s take a look at how the Astros and Braves match up statistically. The following chart compares the two in a variety of key categories, with MLB rank to give a relative idea of where they stood.
|Stat||Atlanta Braves||MLB Rank||Houston Astros||MLB Rank|
|wRC+ vs. LHP||93||25th||117||1st|
|wRC+ vs. RHP||100||11th||116||1st|
|Starting Pitching ERA-||89||7th||85||6th|
|Starting Pitching FIP-||97||12th||96||11th|
|Relief Pitching ERA-||92||10th||96||15th|
|Relief Pitching FIP-||97||11th||99||16th|
|Defensive Runs Saved||49||8th||78||2nd|
The Astros look like the better team almost across the board. That counts as a bit of a surprise considering the preseason markets had Houston as a +2500 longshot while the Braves were among the favorites at +1000.
However, it may undersell the Braves a bit. For one thing, some late-season trades shored up the Atlanta outfield considerably. Eddie Rosario hit for a career-best 133 wRC+ after joining the Braves and has been the hero of the postseason with a scorching 243 wRC+. Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler have also provided boosts.
Also, Houston was dealt a major blow in the starting rotation with the loss of Lance McCullers. Their opening-game starter in the first round, McCullers missed the series against Boston and Jon Heyman reported he can’t go in the World Series either.
In his absence, Framber Valdez looks like the only starter who can give the Astros more than five innings. If the Astros had a strong bullpen, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but that was the team’s closest thing to a weak point in 2021.
What To Watch For
The performance of the Astros pitchers — both in the rotation and bullpen — is probably the biggest wild card of the series. The collection of talent they have left at this point is not the most inspiring.
They’ll start Valdez, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy in the first few games. Valdez and Garcia are solid but Urquidy is a roughly league-average pitcher.
The Braves, on the other hand, have a pretty strong top two and a solid third option in Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson, respectively.
Both teams look likely to turn to a bullpen game in Game 4. That could make for the most interesting matchup of the series from a betting standpoint. Zack Greinke seems likely to lead it for Houston with Cristian Javier following as a sort of tandem starter, while the Braves mix and match various relief options.
Both teams’ bullpens have been good in high leverage this postseason, especially that of the Braves. Tyler Matzek, in particular, has been outstanding. Look for spots where Atlanta might be undervalued live late in games. Houston had a shaky pen in the regular season, and while it hasn’t bit them in the playoffs due to some runaway wins, the issue could still rear its head.
Can both offenses stay red-hot and if so, how fast will the totals adjust? Overs went 9-3 across the two Championship Series. The bats should have their chances. Truist Park played slightly batter-favored over the past three years, while Minute Maid Park played neutral.
Finally, the DH rules might give Atlanta a slight nudge. They can usher strong-bat, weak-glove option Jorge Soler into the lineups in Houston but won’t miss him as much as the Astros will Yordan Alvarez if he sits out of any games in Atlanta. Alvarez started about half of the team’s games in NL parks this year. Keep tabs on how they deploy him.
2021 World Series Odds And Prop Markets
The Astros opened as low as -125 in some spots, but the market quickly corrected upward. The current best price on them is while the best price for the Braves is .
The move makes sense, considering the statistical advantage of the Astros combined with home field advantage.
World Series MVP Futures
Beyond just the straight up World Series winner markets, bettors can get action down in other ways. DraftKings Sportsbook has posted markets for World Series MVP. Here’s a look at the top five MVP options for each team:
|Atlanta Braves||Odds||Houston Astros||Odds|
|Freddie Freeman||+850||Yordan Alvarez||+850|
|Eddie Rosario||+1200||Jose Altuve||+1000|
|Austin Riley||+1200||Carlos Correa||+1100|
|Max Fried||+1800||Kyle Tucker||+1200|
|Ozzie Albies||+1800||Alex Bregman||+1300|
Again, note that Alvarez, as great a hitter as he is, may lose some at-bats or worse, cost the Astros defensively in games at Truist Park. That could hurt his MVP case.
Game 1 starters Valdez (+2500) and Morton (+2500) make for interesting options since both could potentially appear in three games if they pitch Game 5 and then on three days’ rest in Game 7. Morton has showed his mettle in the playoffs before with a career 3.45 ERA across 16 appearances, while Valdez matches up notably well with Atlanta because of their slight weakness against lefties.
Most of the Astros’ top batters project pretty similarly. Bregman and Correa probably have the best combination of projected talent level, RBI opportunity, and price.
2021 World Series Odds: Exact Result
Finally, series props give the option take a shot at a little bit of a longer payout. Clearly, the market leans toward a longer series, with Astros in six or seven the likeliest results.
|Series Result||Braves Win||Astros Win|
After studying Mo Nuwwarah’s statistical analysis, TheLines’ Eli Hershkovich shares his final thoughts on 2021 World Series odds heading into Game 1 and a bet he has in his account.