The 2021 Major League Baseball regular season is in the books and the playoffs start Tuesday with the American League wild-card game featuring the New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox – the fourth all-time postseason matchup between the bitter rivals but first in a wild-card game. In fact, it’s the first time in franchise history the Red Sox are in that game, which seems impossible.
Odds to Win the 2021 World Series
- Los Angeles Dodgers +350
- San Francisco Giants +450
- Tampa Bay Rays +500
- Houston Astros +550
- Chicago White Sox +700
- Milwaukee Brewers +700
- New York Yankees +1200
- Atlanta Braves +1300
- Boston Red Sox +1400
- St. Louis Cardinals +1600
Favorites to Win the 2021 World Series
Neither the Yankees nor Red Sox, though, are among the favorites to win the 2021 World Series with New York at +1400 and Boston +1600. The winner of their game would face the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series as the Rays won the AL East and had the best record in the American League. Tampa of course lost the 2020 World Series to the Dodgers and is +650 to win it for the first time in franchise history.
At 100-61, the Rays have set a club record for wins in a season, lead the majors in runs scored, and lead the AL in ERA and run differential. Tampa Bay is 47-25 since the All-Star break, best in the AL and 3rd in the majors behind the Dodgers and the Giants. Tampa is the 19th AL team in the wild-card era (since 1995) to reach 100 wins. Of the previous 18, seven won the AL pennant and four won the World Series: 2018 Red Sox, 2017 Astros, 2009 Yankees and 1998 Yankees. The Rays had 46 comeback wins this year, a team record.
What makes Tampa’s success even more amazing is the team used 18 rookies this year, including 12 pitchers. The team’s their rookie pitchers have combined for 36 wins, leading the majors by far.
However, Tampa does not have the shortest odds among AL teams to win the World Series – those belong to the Houston Astros are +475. They will face the Chicago White Sox (+750) in one ALDS. Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel won the AL batting title at .319. He became the second Cuban-born player to win a batting title, joining the Twins’ Tony Oliva (AL batting champion 1964, ’65, ’71). At 37 years old, Gurriel was be the second-oldest first-time batting champion behind the Giants’ Barry Bonds (37 in 2002). The only Astros player to win a batting title is Jose Altuve, who did it three times (2014, ’16-17).
The Astros are headed to the postseason for the fifth straight season (2017-21), which extends their franchise record. Houston went 5-2 against the White Sox this season, including a four-game sweep in Houston. The series will feature the top two starting pitching staffs in the AL, with the White Sox staff (3.57) ranking first in starter’s ERA and the Astros (3.60) second.
The White Sox are in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time ever. The AL Central champions finished with a 93-69 record. The 93 wins are the most since 2005 (99) and are tied with the 1906 and 1915 White Sox for 13th-most in club history.
For the first time maybe ever, a wild-card team is the World Series favorite. That would be the Los Angeles Dodgers (+350). They finished with 106 wins yet couldn’t even beat out the San Francisco Giants (+650) to win the NL West. The Dodgers will host the St. Louis Cardinals (+2000 WS long shots) in the NL wild-card game on Wednesday. The 106 victories are the most by any defending World Series champion in the history of divisional play (since 1969).
Dodger skipper Dave Roberts became the first manager in franchise history to win 100 games three times, besting Hall of Famers Walter Alston (1962 and 1974) and Leo Durocher (1941 and ’42). Second baseman Trea Turner won the overall MLB batting title at .328. He is the first Dodger to win a batting title since Tommy Davis won back-to-back crowns in 1962 and 1963. Turner carries a career-high 19-game winning streak into the playoffs.
While the Giants await the Cardinals-Dodgers wild-card winner, the other NLDS features Atlanta (+1400) vs. Milwaukee (+800), with Game 1 from Beer Town on Friday. The Brewers went 3-3 against the Braves during the regular season, going 1-2 in Milwaukee (5/14-5/16) and 2-1 in Atlanta (7/30-8/1).