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World Series Predictions: Who Wins It All Between the Red Sox and Dodgers?

SI.com Staff

The Fall Classic is here. The Dodgers and Red Sox square off in a battle of big-market behemoths (and a rematch of the 1916 World Series, of course). Will Boston secure its fourth championship in the last 14 years? Can Los Angeles end a title drought three decades old?

Our experts make their World Series picks below, including MVP and a bold prediction.

Tom Verducci: Dodgers in 7

This should be a closely-contested series, especially the middle three games under the blessed National League rules. (Dodgers have plenty of firepower to slot into the DH spot in the dull AL-rules games in Boston). When in doubt in today's game, go with the team that hits the most home runs and has the better bullpen. Once again: runners in scoring position is overrated. The Dodgers hit .176 in the Division Series with RISP and .196 in the Championship Series and won the pennant. Why? They throw haymakers: the home run ball.

World Series MVP: Manny Machado

Bold Prediction: Brian Dozier plays a big role in this series. Boston will throw plenty of lefthanded pitcher, and Dozier is familiar with the Red Sox.

Ben Reiter: Red Sox in 7

This is a matchup of formidably deep teams, run by managers who are unafraid to creatively deploy their resources, and I expect the series to go the distance. But the Dodgers simply haven’t contended with a lineup as overwhelming as Boston’s; the two didn’t meet during the regular season, and L.A. didn’t see the Yankees, either. After more than 30 hours of total play, I expect the Red Sox to emerge, with Nathan Eovaldi handing his old club a second straight World Series Game 7 defeat.

World Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Bold Prediction: Mookie Betts will appear at second base in at least two games. The likely MVP (both of the regular season and of this series) is easily the best defensive rightfielder in the league. But he was drafted as a middle infielder, and actually played six innings there against the Yankees on Aug. 3, cleanly handling both his chances. With no DH slot available in Games 3 through 5, J.D. Martinez will have to play right, and Alex Cora will want to keep the lefthanded bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi in the lineup at least against righty Walker Buehler. “There’s always a chance, I guess,” Cora said, of the possibility of Betts getting a start at second. In fact, I’d say it’s certain–and Betts will likely spend time in the infield late in at least one other game, as well.

Stephanie Apstein: Red Sox in 6

The Dodgers have been telling each other that they will be like the 2014–15 Royals, who lost the World Series in seven games and then came back and won it the next year. A better analogue might be the 1991–92 Braves, who ran into brick walls in the form of the Twins and the Blue Jays, respectively. These Red Sox are so, so good. If the Astros couldn’t take them down, it’s hard to imagine that a team that needed a Game 163 to win its division will. But take heart, Los Angeles: The ’95 Braves won it all.

World Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Bold Prediction: One game will take less than three hours. (From our lips to the baseball gods’ ears…)

Emma Baccellieri: Red Sox in 6

Anything can happen in a single series, but Boston's every bit as good as its 108-win record suggests. The Red Sox have breezily dismissed each of their playoff opponents so far, and it's difficult to imagine a different outcome here. For all of L.A.'s strengths, Boston's just a bit stronger, across the board.

World Series MVP: J.D. Martinez

Bold Prediction: Yasiel Puig will put up the highest bat flip in World Series' recorded history, as measured by Statcast.

Jon Tayler: Dodgers in 7

It’s not often you can find two teams separated by 16 wins in the regular season that are nonetheless equal, but that’s where we’ve ended up with the Red Sox and Dodgers. Each team is deep and balanced and powerful, with aces atop the rotation and super closers in the bullpen. Flip a coin, honestly; you could make a strong case for either. So let’s go with Dodgers in a thriller, avenging last year’s loss.

World Series MVP: Manny Machado

Bold Prediction: No starter completes six innings. It’s not necessarily out-of-the-box thinking there, given that this postseason has seen starters do less than ever before. But given the quality of starters involved in this Fall Classic—Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, David Price, rookie Walker Buehler—it’ll come as a mild surprise that no one in that bunch sees the seventh inning.

Jack Dickey: Red Sox in 7

I picked the Red Sox and Mookie Betts in my initial postseason predictions, and I see no reason to abandon them now, even with Betts struggling. Boston, which has a little more pitching depth, is the better team, but not by all that much. Yes, the Red Sox made quick work of the Astros, a team most observers (and the 2017 World Series) would rate as superior to L.A. But the Dodgers quietly had a regular-season adjusted team OPS+ of 109, which was tied with Houston and Oakland for second to the Sox, who were at 112. Both teams will get on base, and both teams will hit with power. But I’d take Chris Sale over Clayton Kershaw and David Price over Hyun-Jin Ryu. (For completion’s sake, Rick Porcello versus Walker Buehler is more of a wash, as is Rich Hill versus Nathan Eovaldi.) That edge, plus the extra home game, should be enough for Boston.

World Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Bold Prediction: In the late innings of a lopsided Game 2, Joe Kelly will bean Manny Machado, and Machado will charge the mound. The Boston crowd, having been let down by Kelly in countless tight games, will not know for whom to root.

Gabriel Baumgaertner: Dodgers in 7

The Dodgers haven't seen an offense quite like Boston's, but they're fresh off limiting the likely MVP in Christian Yelich and one of the NL's most dangerous groups in Milwaukee. Over 41 2/3 innings this postseason, the Dodgers bullpen has a 1.30 ERA with a K/9 rate of just over 11. Pedro Baez has a 13.5 K/9, 0.60 WHIP and hasn't allowed a run over six postseason appearances; Kenley Jansen, somehow, has the exact same numbers as Baez except with three saves; Dylan Floro, maybe the last guy Dave Roberts will use out of the bullpen, hasn't surrendered a run over six appearances.

The Dodgers have lost four games in this postseason; in three of them, the game-tying run was either on-base or at the plate in the ninth inning. Opponents can outhit or outpitch them in the early innings, but somehow, the Dodgers will be there at the end. That's going to wear an effective but untested Boston bullpen out.

World Series MVP: Justin Turner

Bold Prediction: Nathan Eovaldi will have the best start for the Red Sox in the series.

Connor Grossman: Dodgers in 6

The Brewers and A's did not fulfill their destinies to reach the Fall Classic as I initially predicted, but Red Sox-Dodgers isn't too bad of a consolation prize. Plenty of enticing stories live on the National League end of this matchup, from Clayton Kershaw's potential swan song in L.A. to Dave Roberts's lame-duck status to a title drought that turned 30 years old on the day the Dodgers beat the Brewers to win the pennant. The wait is about to be over. Like Jon Tayler said above, the pick here is more of a coin flip than anything else. The Dodgers come out of this series face up thanks to limitless bench depth, a track record of slugging the heck out of the ball this season and a talented lefthander named Clayton Kershaw.

World Series MVP: Clayton Kershaw

Bold Prediction: The Dodgers ace will finally enjoy the moment he's waited his whole career for—and he'll be the one creating it. Clayton Kershaw will throw the last pitch of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Oct. 30. He's likely to start Games 1 and 5, and with a travel day between Games 5 and 6, Roberts will feel OK deploying Kenley Jansen early in Game 6 knowing one of the best pitchers of this generation is waiting behind him. Kershaw has said he's tired of hearing about 1988. Soon he'll be hearing a lot about October 2018.