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The Dodgers Are Big Favorites In Our MLB Forecast — But Anything Can Happen In October

Baseball’s postseason is finally upon us, and that means it’s playoff prediction time for our MLB forecast model. Before first pitch in today’s wild card quadruple-header, let’s run through how our Elo-based projections see the October (and November) action playing out.

Who’s favored in the wild card round?

Elo ratings and series win probabilities for the 2022 MLB wild card round, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast

Seed Team Elo Seed Team Elo Favorite Win%
3 Guardians 1526 6 Rays 1530 Guardians 54.8%
4 Blue Jays 1552 5 Mariners 1522 Blue Jays 63.7
Seed Team Elo Seed Team Elo Favorite Win%
3 Cardinals 1528 6 Phillies 1527 Cardinals 57.4%
4 Mets 1553 5 Padres 1525 Mets 66.2

As of Oct. 6.

The first round of the new expanded postseason will be over in the blink of an eye — by Sunday, we’ll know who gets to keep playing and whose season has gone up in flames. Interestingly, the teams with the best chances to move on in both leagues are not the highest seeds: The No. 4-seeded New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays each have more than a 63 percent chance to win their wild card series, while the No. 3 seeds in each league — the St. Louis Cardinals and especially the Cleveland Guardians — are facing noticeably lower odds. 

This is part of a theme with the current playoff format; the best wild card teams are likely to be significantly better than the worst division winners, but all of them get tossed into the best-of-three gauntlet right away. If the Mets and Jays do win, their World Series odds would immediately get boosted to 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively. And if the Rays pull off our model’s most likely first-round upset (45 percent), they would pose an interesting matchup in the division series for the Yankees, a team Tampa Bay ousted from the playoffs en route to the World Series two years ago.

Who will face off in the World Series?

Odds of each matchup of National League and American League teams in the World Series, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast

Team Dodgers Braves Mets Cardinals Phillies Padres
Astros 17.8% 8.8% 4.1% 2.0% 1.4% 1.2%
Yankees 16.6 8.2 3.8 1.8 1.3 1.1
Blue Jays 6.5 3.2 1.5 0.7 0.5 0.4
Guardians 3.7 1.8 0.9 0.4 0.3 0.2
Rays 3.4 1.7 0.8 0.4 0.3 0.2
Mariners 2.5 1.3 0.6 0.3 0.2 0.2

As of Oct. 6.

Once the wild card chaos clears, we’ll have a slightly better sense of who might capture the pennant. Unsurprisingly, the model sees the Los Angeles Dodgers as overwhelming favorites to come out of the National League, with a 51 percent chance to make the World Series — well ahead of the defending-champ Atlanta Braves (25 percent) and the Mets (12 percent going into the wild card; 18 percent conditional on making the division series). On the American League side, there is more uncertainty: The Houston Astros (35 percent) and New York Yankees (33 percent) are practically in a dead heat to represent the league in the Fall Classic, and there’s a 39 percent chance the two are on an ALCS collision course. Just like their fourth-seeded NL counterpart Mets, the Blue Jays come up next with a 13 percent chance to make the World Series, a number that would rise to 20 percent if they escape the wild card round.

Multiplying all of those various probabilities together, the two most likely World Series matchups are Dodgers-Astros — a rematch of 2017 — at 18 percent, and Dodgers-Yankees — itself a classic rematch — at 17 percent. Next up are a Braves-Astros rematch (9 percent) and Braves-Yankees (8 percent); the only other combo above 4 percent is Dodgers-Blue Jays, at 7 percent. (The much-anticipated Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees has a 4 percent chance of happening.) As we’ve learned from past versions of this exercise, though, anything can (and often does) happen in the MLB postseason, odds be damned.

The Dodgers are heavy favorites to win the Fall Classic

Odds of winning the 2022 World Series for each playoff team, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast

Team League chance of winning the world series
Dodgers National 34.4%
Astros American 16.0
Yankees American 14.2
Braves National 13.3
Mets National 6.0
Blue Jays American 4.9
Guardians American 2.3
Rays American 2.2
Cardinals National 2.2
Mariners American 1.6
Phillies National 1.5
Padres National 1.3

As of Oct. 6.

Source: ESPN

Finally, we get to the big number — the chance to win it all. Again, the star-studded Dodgers are major favorites (34 percent) after winning 111 games and dominating our Elo rankings for the second half of the season. That’s nothing new; they were favored going into the playoffs in 2021 and 2020 as well, never dipping below third going back to 2016. Obviously, they only have one title to show for all that, and if the 66 percent contingency happens and L.A. falls short, the most likely beneficiaries are the Astros (16 percent), Yankees (14 percent) and Braves (13 percent). As mentioned earlier, the Mets and Blue Jays wouldn’t quite get into that tier even if they survive the wild card round, though they would be the best of the rest.

But it’s worth noting that every team in this expanded postseason field has at least a 1.3 percent chance to win the World Series. That might not sound like much — but in a sport like baseball, far stranger things have happened than any of these 12 teams getting hot and riding that momentum all the way to a championship.

Check out our latest MLB predictions.

Neil Paine is the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

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