World Series 2021 – Atlanta Braves or Houston Astros? Who will win MVP? Our expert Fall Classic predictions


The 2021 World Series is set: The American League champion Houston Astros, making their third Fall Classic appearance in five years, face the National League champion Atlanta Braves, who just won their first pennant since 1999.

Who is going to win it all — and how many games will it take? Who will be named MVP? Which player’s breakout performance will make him the talk of baseball? And what one thing will make the difference between winning a ring or going home empty-handed?

We asked our MLB experts all of these questions. Here’s how they responded.

Key links: Complete playoff coverage | Everything you need to know about Astros-Braves | Ranking all 52 players in World Series (ESPN+)


Houston Astros (12 votes) vs. Atlanta Braves (3 votes)

How many games? Astros in 6 (6 votes); Astros in 7 (5 votes); Braves in 7 (2 votes); Astros in 5 and Braves in 6 (1 vote each)

MVP: Carlos Correa (4 votes); Yordan Alvarez (3 votes); Jose Altuve, Freddie Freeman and Kyle Tucker (2 votes each); Ozzie Albies and Luis Garcia (1 vote each)

Breakout star: Kyle Tucker (3 votes); Ozzie Albies and Luis Garcia (2 votes each); Adam Duvall, Kendall Graveman, Cristian Javier, Tyler Matzek, Joc Pederson, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson and Framber Valdez (1 vote each)


Tristan Cockcroft: Astros in 7

MVP: Jose Altuve

The breakout player who becomes a household name: I don’t think anyone really qualifies as a true “breakout,” since I think most of the standouts will be names we know, but I think Luis Garcia should continue his good run. Let’s say him, since he’s hardly a household name.

The one thing that will decide the series: I do think home-field advantage will matter in this year’s Series. After the magical run the Braves have been on, you’d think they’d be a natural choice for a third straight upset, but I think the Astros’ home-field advantage is a significant one and potentially the difference.


Bradford Doolittle: Astros in 7

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Ozzie Albies

The one thing that will decide the series: Slugging against tired pitching. Both teams will have fatigued staffs. The Braves might even have an edge because they have three starting pitchers still throwing well. But the relievers in Atlanta might hit a wall, and the Astros’ offense is the best, deepest and most balanced in the majors.


Doug Glanville: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Kyle Tucker

The one thing that will decide the series: Late-inning heroics. Clutch and timely hitting. Two-out performances. The Astros have done it all year. Dusty Baker focuses on winning the last few innings.


Alden Gonzalez: Braves in 7

MVP: Freddie Freeman

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Tyler Matzek

The one thing that will decide the series: The Braves’ rotation trio of Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton.


Tim Keown: Astros in 7

MVP: Kyle Tucker

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Kendall Graveman

The one thing that will decide the series: Umpiring. From the Wilmer Flores check swing in the NLDS to Laz Diaz’s missed third strike in the ALCS, this postseason feels like a long buildup to a major reckoning. This isn’t necessarily due to incompetence so much as technology. Split-second calls are dissected in super slo-mo and the strike zone is right there on the screen for everyone to see. It feels inevitable that a call or non-call will grab the spotlight in at least one game.


Tim Kurkjian: Astros in 7

MVP: Jose Altuve

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Austin Riley. He will finish in the top four or five in the NL MVP voting. He has tremendous power and has become a well above average third baseman.

The one thing that will decide the series: The wisdom of the Astros, led by Dusty Baker and pitching coach Brent Strom. They will figure out how to beat a really good Braves team.


Joon Lee: Braves in 7

MVP: Ozzie Albies

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Ronald Acuna Jr. receives most of the hype around the young stars on the Braves, but the World Series will be the time for Ozzie Albies to shine. Since making his major league debut in 2017, Albies ranks fourth among all second baseman in fWAR, trailing just Jose Altuve, Javier Baez and Whit Merrifield. Alongside third baseman Austin Riley, Freddie Freeman and Acuna, Albies makes up the core of Atlanta’s offensive attack that will pose a formidable challenge for the short-handed Houston pitching staff.

The one thing that will decide the series: The success of Atlanta’s pitching staff. With Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson, Atlanta possesses a more formidable pitching staff on paper with a higher ceiling for success. Winning will be dependent on the group’s ability to quiet the Houston offensive attack, which proved to be too tall a task for Boston in the ALCS.


Matt Marrone: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Kyle Tucker

The one thing that will decide the series: Pitching. If the Astros can figure out the Braves like they did Boston, that leaves Atlanta’s pitching staff needing to keep pace against a loaded Houston lineup with a World Series-winning core. The Braves held down the Dodgers, so it would be far from a complete surprise if they did it here. Still, the Astros are just too dangerous.


Kiley McDaniel: Astros in 7

MVP: Kyle Tucker

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Kyle Tucker

The one thing that will decide the series: The Astros’ lineup is too much to handle.


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Yordan Alvarez discusses the Astros advancing to the World Series and how much they proved in beating the Red Sox.

Dan Mullen: Astros in 5

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Framber Valdez

The one thing that will decide the series: Houston has Yordan Alvarez — and Atlanta doesn’t.


Buster Olney: Braves in 6

MVP: Freddie Freeman

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Adam Duvall

The one thing that will decide the series: The depth of the Braves’ lineup — markedly better than last year — turns out to be difference-making, along with the lefty relievers to combat Yordan Alvarez.


Jeff Passan: Astros in 6

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Cristian Javier

The one thing that will decide the series: The Astros’ lineup. It’s deep, it’s dangerous, and as good as Atlanta’s is — and it’s good — Houston’s is just better.


Jesse Rogers: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Dansby Swanson. He’s clutch — and will be for the Braves.

The one thing that will decide the series: The Brent Strom/Martin Maldonado combo. Outside of actually being on the mound, the pitching coach and catcher were most instrumental in turning the ALCS around. They’ll keep that up, as Houston’s young pitchers have never been more confident.


David Schoenfield: Astros in 6

MVP: Luis Garcia

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Luis Garcia

The one thing that will decide the series: The Astros have scored 45 of their 67 runs with two outs. Look for more of the same.


Clinton Yates: Astros in 6

MVP: Carlos Correa

The breakout player who becomes a household name: Joc Pederson

The one thing that will decide the series: Baserunning. The Braves are going to have to be aggressive and creative on the basepaths if they want to stay in a series with the high-powered Astros offense. Luckily, they’ve been like that all year, never mind the postseason.



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