MLB Postseason Predictions: Who's Going to Win the World Series?

Can the Dodgers win their first title since '88? Can the Astros take home the title for the second time in three years, or will a surprise team like the Cardinals crash the Fall Classic? Our experts make their October picks.
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MLB Playoffs2

As we stand on the doorstep of another postseason, it's time to break out the crystal ball and predict how baseball's best time of year will unfold. Below, our experts predict the World Series matchup and winner while discussing a bold prediction and dark horse candidate to reach the Fall Classic.

As you take in the predictions below, remember the beauty of baseball lies in its unpredictability.

Tom Verducci

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World Series Prediction: Dodgers over Astros (seven games)

Los Angeles has a relentless offense and elite starting pitching. The Dodgers will need AL teams to extract a toll out of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole through the first two rounds. Walker Buehler is the difference maker in the series,.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Minnesota Twins

They hit home runs and they don't strike out much, and they have the cover of low expectations.

Bold Prediction: This will be a postseason filled with late-inning comebacks, thanks to several postseason teams with shaky bullpens and the deluge of home runs with the livelier ball.

Stephanie Apstein

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World Series Prediction: Dodgers over Yankees (six games)

I think the Yankees and Astros are probably better teams than the Dodgers. But whichever one emerges from the death match of an ALCS will have sustained a lot of damage. The New York bullpen is so good that I expect it to shut the door on Houston, but three straight series with all hands on deck is a lot to ask of a relief corps that will finish second among contenders in innings pitched.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Minnesota Twins

The conventional wisdom goes that teams that rely on home runs are doomed in October. In fact, the opposite is true. As we move ever farther toward extremes, and as the ball becomes more and more alive, there is reason to believe that a Twins team that has scored 51% of its runs on homers (fourth in baseball) might be particularly well-suited for this kind of postseason.

Bold Prediction: Pedro Báez will win World Series MVP. He will also be the reason that the league and the players' association agree, mid-series, to institute a pitch clock.

Emma Baccellieri

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World Series Prediction: Dodgers over Yankees (six games)

The Dodgers have so clearly been so good for so long that their season has been almost boring; there's been precious little drama or questioning here. (Other than whether they'd finish with the best record and run differential in the NL, or in all of baseball.) Basically, take a team that's made back-to-back World Series, add a few insanely talented rookies, and the results are as good as you'd think. At this point, it seems like the title is theirs to lose.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Atlanta Braves

The talent's certainly in place to make a title seem feasible for 2020 or 2021... or, with the correct mixture of luck, 2019.

Bold Prediction: World Series MVP Clayton Kershaw. Sure, there's, er, baggage. Sure, this has been the worst season of his career (which, it cannot be said enough, is a wild title for a 3.03 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and 137 ERA+... but it's true). But is it still totally possible? Yep.

Jon Tayler

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World Series Prediction: Astros over Dodgers (seven games)

The best lineup in baseball plus the best rotation in baseball should equal its next champion. Houston is a powerhouse in every way, and while Los Angeles and New York are strong as well, they’re just a step below the 2017 winners. The Astros are loaded, and they’ll prove it with a title.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Minnesota Twins

The path to a championship is built on power, and few if any teams supply more of it offensively than the Twins. A homer machine, that lineup will keep them in it and within striking distance at all times. And while Minnesota’s rotation and bullpen are both thin, there’s just enough pitching there to keep things interesting.

Bold Prediction:

The Yankees’ reign over the Twins—like 280 straight postseason matchup victories and being the ones to push the detonation plunger on the Metrodome—comes to an end as Minnesota upsets the Bombers. This Twins team is as good if not better than any of the previous editions vanquished by the Yankees. So why not have this be the year?

Jack Dickey

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World Series Prediction: Dodgers over Astros (seven games)

Truly, I'm going out on a limb with this one... thing is, these are the two best and deepest teams in baseball, by far, and their shared regular-season shortcoming (relief pitching) ought to be less of one in October, as extra starters slide into the 'pen and displace the least effective relievers. Neither team would be a bad pick, but the Dodgers' pitching depth tilts things ever so slightly in their favor.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Minnesota Twins

They have power (the league's top offense by isolated slugging) and a first-rate bullpen (no. 2 overall in FIP). The team was built with the right blueprint in mind. Twins fans wouldn't be wrong in wishing there were another starter here—Michael Pineda's suspension was a killer—but typical October craziness has seen worse teams survive bigger shortcomings.

Bold Prediction: The Nationals will lose at home to the Brewers because of a disastrous performance by their bullpen and fire Dave Martinez after the game.

Connor Grossman

Astros-Cardinals-World Series

World Series Prediction: Astros over Cardinals (six games)

The Jeff Luhnow Cup is not one most will see coming. Specifically, what are the Cardinals doing in the World Series? Especially in October, baseball deviates from what we think will happen and spits out something else. The Cardinals are something else. The Cardinals are not better than the Dodgers. They’re probably not better than the Braves. Yet they’ll reach the Fall Classic against the Astros, who are too well rounded to lose to the 91-win Cardinals in a seven-game series.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Washington Nationals

Every October for the Nationals seems to be an exercise in rinse, repeat. Come in with hype, inevitably disappoint. But why can't this year finally be the time they win a postseason series? Heck, they only need to win their first game of October to do that. An exciting core headlined by Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and a handful of others make this a fun, talented team to watch—as long as the bullpen doesn't get involved.

Bold Prediction: I’ll reach for some low-hanging fruit with this “bold” prediction: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will share World Series MVP honors a la Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. If nothing else, here’s hoping this year’s World Series approaches the excitement of the Fall Classic in 2001.

Matt Martell

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World Series Prediction: Yankees over Braves (seven games)

The Yankees are the better team than the Braves, and they'll win it all this year because of significant help from their rotation. The strong return of Luis Severino is especially promising after the team failed to acquire a starting pitcher at the deadline. James Paxton has turned into the ace the Yankees were expecting him to be, and Masahiro Tanaka has always performed well in big games. And then there's the bullpen, with four arms with wipeout-closer stuff. That deep bench will help New York tremendously on the road in the World Series, with any number of 20+ homer guys ready to pinch-hit for pitchers.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: St. Louis Cardinals

There's something I like about the Cardinals being the playoff team different than all the others. They aren't reliant on the home run, but they can definitely do it when needed (just look at last weekend's sweep of the Cubs). They have a strong rotation with perhaps the hottest pitcher in baseball (Jack Flaherty), the perfect pitcher for their strong defense (Dakota Hudson) and the experienced veteran who's successfully transitioned to a finesse pitcher (Adam Wainwright).

Plus, if the logic is that any team can hit home runs with the baseball the way it is this year, then maybe the best dark horse pick is the team with guys that steal bases and hit the ball to all fields (Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman).

Bold Prediction: The Nationals win the wild-card game and upset the Dodgers in the first round. This Nationals team has a different energy than those of previous years, with previous superstars and previous managers. Max Scherzer was well on his way to winning the Cy Young before he got hurt, and now that he’s returned, he’s the type of pitcher than can carry a team to victory on his own (he hits and steals bases, too!). Following him, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin complete the NL’s best starting trio. Their bullpen is atrocious, which is why it’s a lot to expect this team to advance through the playoffs with its rotation and lineup alone—shouts to Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Trea Turner—but there’s enough talent there to thrive through the NLDS.

Michael Shapiro

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World Series Prediction: Astros over Dodgers (five games)

Perhaps the rematch is a touch boring, but both teams have the talent edge in their respective leagues. The Dodgers should roll past the rest of the NL barring a dazzling performance from the Nationals' rotation, and outside of the Yankees, nobody will sniff Houston in the National League. The Astros' bats are more potent than the Dodgers' and any rotation fronted by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole is an elite one. Houston should be the favorite to win its second World Series in the last three seasons.

Dark Horse World Series Contender: Washington Nationals

Los Angeles' toughest National League matchup could come in the NLDS. The Nationals boast perhaps the NL's best playoff rotation, one that could deploy Max Scherzer in Game 3 after a wild-card matchup. Anthony Rendon is sprinting to a top-five finish in the NL MVP. Juan Soto will join the club early in the next decade. Washington certainly has the talent to dethrone the Dodgers and sprint to the World Series.

Bold Prediction: The Astros will not lose more than one game in a single series. The winner of A's-Rays will quickly face elimination after two games at Minute Maid Park, and a set rotation will slow down New York's potent offense in the ALCS. This version of the Astros is deeper than their 2017 squad, now armed with a second ace behind Justin Verlander. Expect Houston to waltz through October.