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

Can the Dodgers become the first team in two decades to win consecutive titles?

After six months of regular-season baseball, this week marks the start of the 2021 MLB postseason and all the joy and madness that comes with it.

Sunday's slate of Game 162s did not leave us with the beautiful chaos of tiebreaker games, but it did give us perhaps the most desirable matchup for the win-or-go-home wild-card format. The playoffs begin with the greatest rivalry in sports, as the Yankees travel to Boston to face the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

With the excitement of October baseball upon us, it's time for some World Series predictions from Sports Illustrated's MLB staff.

Sep 30, 2020; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) reacts after singling to score the game winning run against the Cincinnati Reds during the thirteenth inning at Truist Park.

Tom Verducci

Prediction: Braves over Yankees (7 games)
MVP: Freddie Freeman

Call me stubborn. This was my pick in the preseason. Though I never counted on Atlanta losing Ronald Acuña Jr., one of the five best players in the game, most of the reasons to believe in the battle-tested Braves remain. Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson are all capable of shutting down the best teams, and starting pitching plays up in playoff baseball. Stubbornness aside, if it’s the two best and pitching-deep teams, as I picked last year with the Dodgers over the Rays, it will come down to the Giants over the Rays.

Stephanie Apstein

Prediction: Astros over Dodgers (7 games)
MVP: Carlos Correa

This is the scenario that would produce the maximum chaos and most insane takes, so it feels like what we'll end up with. And I look forward to it!

Emma Baccellieri

Prediction: Dodgers over Astros (6 games)
MVP: Walker Buehler

No, the Dodgers may not have been able to secure the NL West, but they still offer such a stacked roster that I have to pick them to repeat in the World Series. (Though it's worth noting that quite a bit here might hinge on the fate of Max Muncy, who was injured in Game 162, with his outlook unknown.) As for the AL, while there's a strong case to make for a Dodgers rematch with the Rays, I think that the Astros have a well-balanced-enough roster to squeeze past and allow Dusty Baker to make his first trip to the World Series since 2002.

Will Laws

Prediction: Dodgers over White Sox (5 games)
MVP: Trea Turner

I'm sticking with my preseason pick for the AL World Series representative despite Carlos Rodón's shoulder soreness, which has sapped him of a few ticks of velocity. Even if Chicago's Cy Young contender isn't available, they have three other starters in Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease who can carry the load before handing the ball to an underrated bullpen that's posted the second-best FIP (3.63) among playoff teams in the second half despite Craig Kimbrel's struggles. I'm not as confident in the current states of the rotations in Tampa Bay and Houston. As for the NL, I still find it hard to believe the Dodgers' top-to-bottom talent won't carry them through that side of the bracket, even without Clayton Kershaw. It's been the year of the second baseman, with Marcus Semien setting a new home run record for the position and Turner, Ozzie Albies, Brandon Lowe, Jake Cronenworth and potential Rookie of the Year Jonathan India turning in career seasons. So I'll say the guy who switched there midseason and is being vastly underrated in the NL MVP discussion will get his flowers in the Fall Classic.

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Matt Martell

Prediction: Yankees over Dodgers (7 games)
MVP: Aaron Judge

I'm sticking with my preseason prediction, though I can't say I'm feeling confident that either of these teams will even make it out of their wild-card games. The Yankees are the stupidest baseball team I've ever seen, because there is absolutely nothing logical to explain their season. But when they're at their best, they can beat anybody, and they seem to maintain their quality of play (good or bad) over the course of a few weeks. As for the Dodgers, well, they shouldn't lose the wild-card game, and they shouldn't lose at all with all their talent. That said, it's incredibly difficult to win consecutive World Series, which is why it hasn't been done in two decades. Aaron Judge is the player to watch for the Yankees throughout the playoffs. He's carried them all year, and if they win it all, he'll be the reason why.

Oct 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner (6) rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam home run in the fifth inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers Dodger Stadium.

Nick Selbe

Prediction: Dodgers over Astros (7 games)
MVP: Trea Turner

Who wouldn't sign up for this? The Dodgers are still the betting favorites to win the title, a somewhat surprising note considering they begin the postseason with a win-or-go-home game against the hottest team in the league. But if Los Angeles survives the wild-card game, I have them becoming the first team in 21 years to repeat as World Series champions. To make things even sweeter, they'll do so against the Astros to avenge Houston's scandal-tainted 2017 title. Trea Turner has had a sensational season and has upped his game since being traded to the Dodgers. He didn't fare too well during the Nationals' World Series run two years ago, but he'll make up for that performance as the standout of a loaded Los Angeles lineup.

Michael Shapiro

Prediction: Dodgers over Astros (6 games)
MVP: Trea Turner

Perhaps 40-year-old Adam Wainwright makes this prediction look foolish Wednesday evening, but barring a wild-card upset, it's hard to bet against the Dodgers. They enter the postseason winning 12 of their last 15, and the deadline additions of Trea Turner and Max Scherzer only reinvigorated what was a looming postseason juggernaut. As for the American League bracket, the Astros are a sneaky contender in an imperfect field. Carlos Correa could cap a fantastic contract push with another postseason to remember, and this is still a deep pitching staff despite the absence of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke's recent decline. Don't be shocked if we see a 2017 World Series redux in 2021, this time with the Dodgers hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy.

More MLB Coverage:
 Yankees, Red Sox Set to Meet in AL Wild-Card Game
• The Blue Jays Build Up Some Scar Tissue

• Trade Deadline Review: Which Moves Made a Difference?
Will the Cardinals' Hot Streak Matter in the Playoffs?

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