With the 2022 World Series between the Astros and Phillies set to get underway Friday, it's time for some Fall Classic predictions.
We polled a panel of MLB.com voters with the following questions:
- Who will win the World Series?
- How many games will the Series last?
- Who will hit the most homers?
- Which pitcher will have the most strikeouts?
- Who will record the first stolen base and win America a free taco?
- Who will win World Series MVP?
Here are the results.
Who will win the World Series?
Astros: 58 votes
Phillies: 17 votes
After winning an AL-best 106 games during the regular season, the Astros are a perfect 7-0 in the playoffs, sweeping the Mariners in the ALDS and the Yankees in the ALCS. This is the fourth time the Astros have reached the World Series in the past six years, but Houston lost its two previous trips, falling to the Nationals in 2019 and the Braves in 2021. The majority of our voters don’t see that happening again.
“The Phillies are good at a lot of things, but everything they're good at -- the rotation, the lineup, the bullpen -- the Astros are just a little better at, except on defense, where the Astros are a LOT better,” said analyst Mike Petriello.
Based on regular-season record, this is a historically lopsided Fall Classic matchup, featuring the second-largest win disparity (19) in World Series history.
Alyson Footer, an executive editor, is another voter who expects the Astros to show their might against the Phillies.
"This series is a little less predictable than the ALCS, which was a lopsided matchup that favored the Astros from every angle," writes Footer. "Houston still has the advantage -- no one can outlast the Astros' pitching. But the Phillies have more than one thumper in their lineup, which was not the case for either the Mariners or the Yankees, and for that reason, I do think the Phillies will win one game. But just one."
However, not every MLB.com voter is picking Houston. Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo, for one, is done doubting Philadelphia.
“I picked against the Phillies to make the playoffs. I picked against the Phillies to win the Wild Card Series. I picked against the Phillies to win the NLDS. I picked against the Phillies to win the NLCS. I'm not going to make the same mistake five times,” says DiComo.
Given the Astros’ pitching depth, the onus is on the Phillies’ 1-2 rotation punch of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler to outduel Houston’s pair of aces, Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. Philadelphia’s bats could take care of the rest.
“This Series will come down to which starters pitch better, and I'm going with [the Phillies]," writes executive reporter Mark Feinsand. “I also like Philly's lineup a little better, and the Phillies have a ‘team of destiny’ thing going on this month that I'm just not prepared to pick against.”
How many games will the Series last?
6 games: 39 votes
5 games: 23 votes
7 games: 11 votes
4 games: 2 votes
The Series went to at least six games in each of the Astros’ previous three World Series appearances, twice going to seven. Of our 75 respondents, 50 think this year’s Series is also going to go either six or seven. But Arturo Pardavila III, MLB.com's vice president of content operations, is not one of them.
“The Phillies are good. The Phillies are scrappy. But the Astros are an unstoppable force that will run the table and go 11-0 in the postseason,” says Pardavila, who picked the Astros to sweep.
While editor Scott Chiusano also believes the Astros have the edge, he doesn’t think the Phillies are going to make it easy for Houston.
“The Astros just have too much pitching and are too relentless on offense,” says Chiusano, who picked Houston to win in seven games. “Though the Phillies' magical run stops here, they won't go down without a fight (like a certain other team in the ALCS).”
On the contrary, Adrian Garro, an editorial producer, doesn’t just see the Phillies winning but doing so in five games.
“As strong and seemingly unbeatable as the Astros have looked, the Phillies have that 'team of destiny' feel that's hard to shake,” says Garro. “Kyle Schwarber has been unreal so far, as well, with all the big homers, and the tiny confines of Minute Maid Park seem well-suited for some more mashing.”
Who will hit the most homers?
Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 22 votes
Bryce Harper (PHI): 16 votes
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 16 votes
Alex Bregman (HOU): 9 votes
Kyle Tucker (HOU): 5 votes
Jose Altuve (HOU): 3 votes
Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 3 votes
Jeremy Peña (HOU): 1 vote
There are a lot of heavy hitters in this Series, including the NL home run leader, Schwarber, and the second-place finisher in the AL, Alvarez. Harper and Bregman both have a 40-homer season on their résumés, and Altuve ranks second all time behind Manny Ramírez with 23 postseason dingers, albeit with none in 2022.
Alvarez’s bat has slumped since he hit go-ahead homers in each of the first two ALDS games, including a walk-off in Game 1, but he was the leading vote-getter in this category.
“After a cold ALCS by his standards, Alvarez proves why he -- and not Harper -- is the best left-handed hitter in baseball today,” says reporter/editorial producer Sam Dykstra, who also selected Alvarez to win World Series MVP.
Harper tied Schwarber for the lead among Phillies players. Harper has had a postseason for the ages so far, recording five homers and a 1.351 OPS and winning the NLCS MVP Award after hitting a go-ahead, two-run blast in the eighth inning of Philadelphia’s pennant-clinching win.
“Getting big 2009 A-Rod vibes from Harper these playoffs, a generational talent playing at his top level during a deep October run where every at-bat has become a can't-miss event,” writes editor Brian McGrath, referencing Alex Rodríguez’s big 2009 postseason for the World Series-winning Yankees.
Which pitcher will have the most strikeouts?
Justin Verlander (HOU): 39 votes
Zack Wheeler (PHI): 17 votes
Framber Valdez (HOU): 12 votes
Aaron Nola (PHI): 4 votes
Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU): 1 vote
Ryan Pressly (HOU): 1 vote
Ranger Suárez (PHI): 1 vote
Unsurprisingly, all but three votes in this category went to the four pitchers most likely to start multiple games in this Series -- Verlander and Valdez for the Astros, and Wheeler and Nola for the Phillies.
Verlander, who reclaimed the all-time postseason strikeout lead in Game 1 of the ALCS, fanning 11 Yankees to move his career playoff total to 219, got 35 votes.
“Wheeler and Nola rack up the K's, but Astros hitters had the second-fewest strikeouts in the Majors in the regular season while the Phillies were in the middle of the pack, so I went with Verlander, who looked locked in vs. the Yankees and is likely to start more games than Valdez,” writes Andy Werle, an editor.
Who will steal the first base of the World Series and win America a free taco?
Jean Segura (PHI): 18 votes
Jose Altuve (HOU): 17 votes
Kyle Tucker (HOU): 13 votes
Jeremy Peña (HOU): 7 votes
J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 7 votes
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 4 votes
Bryson Stott (PHI): 3 votes
Yuli Gurriel (HOU): 2 votes
Alex Bregman (HOU): 1 vote
Bryce Harper (PHI): 1 vote
Brandon Marsh (PHI): 1 vote
Chas McCormick (HOU): 1 vote
Taco Bell’s “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion is back for the 2022 World Series, which means the first stolen base of the World Series will win a free taco for everyone in the United States.
While the list of past “Taco Heroes” is filled with speedy players like Ozzie Albies (2021), Mookie Betts (2018 and 2020) and Trea Turner (2019), editorial producer Daniel Conroy had a strategic reason for going with Schwarber.
“Schwarber isn't known for his wheels, but he had a career-high 10 stolen bases this year (caught stealing only once), and he just swiped two bags in the five-game NLCS,” says Conroy, one of four voters to pick the NL home run leader. “And he likely leads off Game 1.”
It could be a smart call. Albies stole second base in the top of the first inning of Game 1 a year ago, marking the fourth straight year that the taco-clinching steal came in the first game of the Fall Classic.
Segura edged out Altuve for the lead here with 18 votes. Reporter Michael Clair expects Segura, playing in his first postseason after more than 1,000 regular-season games, to be aggressive early.
"No active player had more career games without a postseason appearance than Jean Segura [before the 2022 playoffs]," Clair writes. "With the free taco stolen base having gained a healthy amount of bragging rights among players, this is where Segura -- who was on a 20 SB pace if he was healthy for the full season -- will look to shine."
The World Series MVP will be …
Alex Bregman (HOU): 20 votes
Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 14 votes
Jose Altuve (HOU): 8 votes
Bryce Harper (PHI): 7 votes
Kyle Tucker (HOU): 7 votes
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 4 votes
Justin Verlander (HOU): 4 votes
Yuli Gurriel (HOU): 2 votes
J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 2 votes
Jeremy Peña (HOU): 2 votes
Framber Valdez (HOU): 2 votes
Zack Wheeler (PHI): 2 votes
Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 1 vote
Bregman is a career .188/.247/.400 hitter in the World Series, but he’s produced 15 RBIs in 20 World Series games, including a walk-off single during the 10th inning of Game 5 in 2017. The third baseman is locked in this postseason, with identical .333/.375/.600 slash lines over 16 plate appearances in each of Houston’s first two rounds.
“Bregman has sneakily been the Astros’ most consistent offensive performer this postseason, but was overshadowed by Yordan in the ALDS and Peña in the ALCS,” says Rangers beat reporter Kennedi Landry, one of 20 voters to pick Bregman for World Series MVP. “Perfect time for him to break through in a big, clutch moment (or two or three) in the World Series.”
Alvarez was another popular MVP pick.
"Alvarez was fairly quiet in the ALCS, but he's the best hitter on the better team, and one of the better hitters on the planet," says executive editor Matthew Leach. "No need to get too cute when thinking about MVP."