Experts pick World Series winner, MVP – MLB.com

The World Series is set to begin, and now the experts’ picks are in.

The 2020 Fall Classic between the Dodgers and Rays starts Tuesday with Game 1 at 8 p.m. ET at Globe Life Field in Arlington (watch on FOX). It’s a clash of the top team of each league — the Dodgers were the No. 1 playoff seed in the National League and the Rays were the No. 1 in the American League, marking just the fourth time in the Wild Card Era that the teams with the best record in the NL and AL meet in the World Series.

World Series Game 1: Tues., 8 p.m. ET on FOX

We polled more than 70 MLB.com reporters and analysts for their World Series predictions:
1) Which team will win the World Series?
2) How many games will it take them to win it?
3) Who will be named World Series MVP?

Here’s what MLB’s experts think will happen when Los Angeles clashes with Tampa Bay.

Who will win it all?

Both of these teams are powerhouses, and both are coming off dramatic seven-game wins in their respective League Championship Series. But among MLB.com experts, there was an overwhelming Fall Classic favorite: the Dodgers.

Fifty-eight of the 71 voters (82%) picked Los Angeles to defeat the Rays and win the World Series. Only 13 voters picked Tampa Bay to win.

“The Dodgers got their scare,” says columnist Will Leitch. “It’s time for them to just overpower someone.”

The Dodgers have star power and experience — they just won their third NL pennant in the past four years, and they’ve won eight division titles in a row. After coming up just short in their last two World Series appearances, MLB.com’s experts think this is finally the Dodgers’ year to win their first championship since 1988.

“It’s just time,” Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo says. “The Dodgers have failed enough on the biggest stage that they know exactly what it takes to succeed.”

But the Rays are no joke. They went 40-20 in a strong AL East, stormed past the Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series, defeated the rival Yankees in the ALDS on Mike Brosseau’s series-winning home run off Aroldis Chapman in the winner-take-all Game 5, and outlasted the Astros in the ALCS after Houston eliminated them from the postseason a year ago and was on the verge of coming back from 3-0 down in the series before Tampa Bay closed it out in Game 7.

“All the pressure is on the Dodgers after their recent near-misses,” says executive reporter Mark Feinsand. “The Rays battled through a top-heavy AL and are ready for anything.”

Still, MLB.com’s experts kept coming back to the Dodgers’ offensive firepower, which they think will be enough to overcome even the Rays and their deep stable of electric pitchers.

“The Rays aren’t the underdog they may be portrayed as — they’re very, very good,” says analyst Mike Petriello. “But outside of Randy Arozarena, the offense has been a weakness. That’s a big edge for the loaded Dodger lineup, and it’ll give them the series.”

“The Rays win at the end by winning every smaller matchup battle along the way,” researcher David Adler says. “But the Dodgers have too many great players. They’ll have all the answers.”

How many games will the series last?

The Dodgers might have the big edge in the polls, but don’t expect the road to a World Series victory to be easy.

“The juggernaut Dodgers finish the job,” Orioles beat reporter Joe Trezza says. “But it’s a grueling, dramatic series between baseball’s two smartest teams where every out matters.”

Of the 58 voters who picked the Dodgers, 49 think the series will last six or seven games. Only one voter predicted a Dodgers sweep. Here’s how the predictions broke down:

Dodgers in 7 games: 16
Dodgers in 6 games: 33
Dodgers in 5 games: 8
Dodgers in 4 games: 1

Rays in 7 games: 6
Rays in 6 games: 6
Rays in 5 games: 1

Overall, 61 of the 71 voters (86%) think the series will last at least six games no matter who wins. And 22 of 71 (31%) think the Fall Classic is going to a winner-take-all Game 7 either way.

“The Rays have tremendous pitching, but with the depth of the Dodgers’ lineup, they may have just enough time to get acclimated and outhit Tampa Bay in seven games,” says Indians beat reporter Mandy Bell, coming down on L.A.’s side.

But other MLB.com experts think the Rays’ pitching — and innovative strategy — will beat the Dodgers’ great hitting in the end.

“I believe the series will come down to, in part, which manager makes the fewest mistakes. Meet Kevin Cash, everyone,” columnist Alyson Footer says. “The Dodgers have better hitters; the Rays have better pitchers. Advantage: Tampa Bay.”

Who will win World Series MVP?

The Dodgers have one thing the Rays don’t. And that one thing is Mookie Betts.

“The teams are very close in overall quality, but one difference is the Dodgers can afford a superstar like Mookie Betts, and the Rays cannot,” says columnist Jon Paul Morosi.

Betts, acquired from Boston in the offseason and now signed to a 12-year megadeal in L.A., is likely baseball’s best all-around player next to Mike Trout. He was the MLB.com experts’ overwhelming pick to win World Series MVP.

Betts received 40 of the 71 votes for World Series MVP (56%). No other player received more than six — that was Dodgers teammate and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger.

Here’s who got World Series MVP votes:

Mookie Betts, Dodgers: 40
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 6
Corey Seager, Dodgers: 4
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 4
Charlie Morton, Rays: 4
Randy Arozarena, Rays: 3
Justin Turner, Dodgers: 2
Walker Buehler, Dodgers: 1
Will Smith, Dodgers: 1
Julio Urías, Dodgers: 1
Tyler Glasnow, Rays: 1
Brandon Lowe, Rays: 1
Willy Adames, Rays: 1
Manuel Margot, Rays: 1
Nick Anderson, Rays: 1

It’s no surprise that Betts was the big favorite — his outfield defense alone helped decide the NLCS, and it’s only a matter of time before his elite bat wakes up.

If not Betts, the voters think it will be one of the Dodgers’ other superstars, like Bellinger, who hit the NLCS-winning home run in Game 7, or NLCS MVP Seager, or even Kershaw, who some experts think will banish his October demons once and for all.

“This will be Clayton Kershaw’s finest moment,” says Rangers beat reporter TR Sullivan, “when he refutes the dubious postseason perceptions of him being a choker.”

Meanwhile, the Rays who have been carrying the team all postseason also received multiple votes — Charlie Morton, who’s 3-0 with a 0.57 ERA this postseason and has now won more winner-take-all postseason games than any pitcher in MLB history, and ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena, whose seven home runs are one shy of tying the MLB single-postseason record.

But most of the MLB experts polled think it will come down to this: Betts and the rest of the stars on the Dodgers will be simply too much for Arozarena and the Rays to overcome.

“Mookie Betts will be the difference,” columnist Jesse Sanchez says. “He’s the best player in the World Series, and his play — on offense or defense — will propel the Dodgers to victory.”