2021 World Series Odds, Betting Guide

MLB futures odds and more at Illinois sportsbooks

The World Series marks the culmination of the lengthy MLB season. The pennant winners from the American and National leagues square off in a best-of-seven duel to determine a champion. Affectionately known as the Fall Classic, it’s filled with history and excitement.

The anticipation is always high, but interest will increase because it’s legal and safe to bet on the World Series in several states, including Illinois. Our complete guide to World Series betting will explain what bets you can place and how the odds work and direct you to the best places to bet on the Fall Classic.

World Series futures odds at Illinois sportsbooks

Best IL sportsbooks to bet the World Series

The Illinois sports betting marketplace has been growing by leaps and bounds. Bettors have several options for where to take their business, though some are better than others. Here are our top three picks for betting on the World Series:

DraftKings Sportsbook Illinois

DraftKings online sportsbook has emerged as a go-to destination for betting on baseball games. The platform is slick and filled with features. You’ll find an outstanding live betting experience on the app and online:

  • In-game bets on all World Series games
  • A constant flow of MLB-related promos
  • World Series prop and futures betting

FanDuel Sportsbook Illinois

FanDuel online sportsbook is another operator that has quickly become a market leader in sports betting. It’s a user-friendly platform and has innovative offerings, such as single-game parlays. Here are some other highlights:

  • Single-game parlays for World Series games
  • Wide range of MLB promo offerings
  • Props and live betting throughout the World Series

Best ways to bet on the World Series

There are several ways to bet on the World Series. You can focus on each game’s outcome, live bet as the action plays out, and even make your predictions beforehand. Here are the top ways to get in the game:

  • Individual Games: You can bet on each game in the series with the main MLB bet types of moneyline, run line and totals.
  • Series Outcome: Once the matchup is officially announced, you can place your bets on which side will win the whole thing.
  • World Series Futures: Futures are available year-round. You can place a futures bets on several future events, e.g., the next year’s World Series game soon after this year’s wraps up.
  • Props and Live Betting: Beyond the game outcomes, you can dive deeper into the individual contests with assorted prop bets and live betting.

While you can certainly focus on one of the main ways, there’s a lot to be said to spread out your betting risk and explore various World Series betting markets. You could make one bet type your priority while allocating the rest of your bankroll in other areas.

MLB betting odds explained

For every MLB game, including the World Series, sportsbooks will post the odds. The main listing for the games will look something like this:

TeamMoneylinePoint SpreadTotal
Chicago White Sox +120+1.5 (-110)O 8.5 (-110)
Chicago Cubs -130  -1.5 (-110) U 8.5 (-110)

Next to the two names is a series of numbers representing the odds and lines for the big three-bet types: moneyline, run line and totals. Here’s how they work.

  • Moneyline: This is a simple bet in which you have to pick the winner. In our example, the Chicago Cubs are favored and have negative odds, while the positive odds on the side of the White Sox indicate their underdog status.
  • Run Line: A run line works like a point spread bet that is used in other sports. The side you pick has to cover the run line for the bet to be a winner. If you bet the Chicago Cubs, they have to win by two runs or more. For the White Sox, they cover by keeping the margin to a run or less or by winning outright.
  • Totals: This is a wager on the total runs scored in the game. Oddsmakers set an estimated number, and bettors then get to choose the over or under. For example, nine runs or more is great for over bettors, while under bettors are hoping for eight runs or less.

Beyond the game outcome, you can also get even closer to the action with props and live betting. Props are like side bets on the game. Many of them revolve around individual player performances, such as:

  • Who will have more hits plus walks: Anthony Rizzo or Jose Abreu?

Live betting lets you place bets in real-time as the game plays out. There will be updated lines for the main bet types, as well as opportunities to bet on smaller snippets of the game.

  • Which side will score three runs first: Cubs or White Sox?

In short, you’ll have lots of opportunities to explore for each game of the World Series. The Fall Classic happens at a busy time for sportsbooks, but you can rest assured that you won’t lack options.

Betting on MLB World Series futures

You can bet on the winner of the next World Series all year round. The futures market makes it possible. Odds for the next edition are released soon after the current one is in the books. There will be numbers for all 30 MLB teams, ranging from favorites to long-shots.

As bets come in, the World Series odds may fluctuate in response. Many bettors stay engaged throughout the season to find the best prices on certain squads. When you visit the board, you might see odds that look like this for a few favorites:

Los Angeles Dodgers  +400
New York Yankees  +550
Atlanta Braves  +900

You can make some lucrative returns when you make the right call with futures. For example, if you place a $100 bet on the Braves at odds of +900 and they go on to win, you’re looking at $900 in profit coming your way.

Futures require a long-range perspective, so it’s important to only wager with funds you can afford to have tied up for a while as bets aren’t settled until a champ is crowned. In the unlikely event of a complete cancellation of an entire MLB season, futures bets will be voided with wager amounts returned to bettors.

Latest odds to win 2021 World Series

As you look forward to a season ahead, it’s normal to attempt to project how things might play out. Oddsmakers at the sportsbooks do the same thing, and they release their findings to the public in the form of betting lines.

The oddsmakers have a wealth of data at their disposal when setting the numbers. They’re going through every factor you can think of to find the most likely outcome. Of course, the betting public won’t always agree, and that’s where line movement comes in.

If one team sees lots of action come in, the odds for that club may be reduced. For the squads that aren’t getting much attention, the odds can lengthen even further. For sportsbooks, the goal is to reduce liability on their end while evening out the action as best as possible.

Bettors can also take advantage of the movements by doing a little line shopping. By checking the prices at multiple books, you can zero in on the most attractive opportunities before actually placing your bets.

Favorites to win the 2021 World Series

So, which teams appear to be in line for a run toward a World Series win in 2021? If we take a gander at the futures market, we find the following clubs at the top of the board.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers won it all in 2020, the team’s first World Series crown since 1988. A lineup that’s laden with talent, an impressive rotation, depth on the bench and in the bullpen add up to a team that could potentially repeat. The betting market concurs as the Dodgers are at the top of the futures odds board.

New York Yankees

The Yankees were expected to advance to the World Series last season, but the Tampa Bay Rays had something to say about that in the ALDS. A potent lineup will once again lead the way, while there’s plenty of talent to be found on the hill and in the bullpen. New York is hunting for its first title since 2009.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves fell to the Dodgers in a thrilling seven-game NLCS last time around. The stinging defeat led the club into the offseason on a down note, but it can also serve as more fuel for the fire in 2021. As with the other two favorites, Atlanta brings plenty to the table with offense and pitching.

American League Pennant contenders 2021

The Yankees are the favorites on the AL side, but the league as a whole is deep with several viable contenders. Here’s a trio that could make some serious noise in 2021.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays stunned the Astros with a seven-game in the ALCS last year to complete an unexpected run to reach the World Series. This is a well-run club who knows how to maximize its roster while filling in gaps where needed. The Yankees may be the favorite, but the Rays will have lots to say about how the AL plays out.

Chicago White Sox

Chicago was bounced in the wild card round by the Oakland Athletics last season, but the year as a whole was still a step in the right direction. Jose Abreu took down the AL MVP award and leads a talented offense, and the “Pale Hose” added Lance Lynn via trade to shore up its starting pitching depth.

Houston Astros

The World Series champs of 2017 and runners-up in 2019 remain one of the most talented teams in MLB. A defeat in last year’s ALCS left the Astros with plenty to think about in the offseason. There may be some moving pieces in free agency, but Houston looks poised to be a top contender once again.

National League Pennant contenders 2021

Once you get past the Dodgers and Braves, some other intriguing squads could be in line for a lengthy stay in the postseason. Here are three to keep in mind.

San Diego Padres

The Padres made it to the NLDS last season before being swept by the Dodgers. The club has made some substantial investments in free agents in recent years, and it’s beginning to bear fruit. Manny Machado and company lead the way on offense, but some help may be needed on the mound to take the next step.

New York Mets

It has been a tough few years for the Mets. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, but help is on the way in the form of new owner Steve Cohen, who has pledged to do whatever it takes to bring a winner to New York. We’ll patiently wait to see what moves are made, but the Mets are already a team to watch in 2021.

Chicago Cubs

Since finally winning the World Series in 2016, the Chicago Cubs haven’t been able to make it back to the Fall Classic. That’s not due to a lack of talent. Chicago has a solid array of bats and arms, but additional changes may be needed to get back over the hump. For now, the team is at least in the mix on the NL side of the equation.

Dark horse picks for 2021 World Series

If you can find a dark horse that goes on to win the World Series, you could be in for quite the score in the futures market. Here’s a club from both leagues worthy of your consideration as you explore World Series futures opportunities.

Washington Nationals

The 2019 World Series champs had a tough time in the condensed 2020 campaign. The club finished last in the NL East and missed the postseason altogether. There’s still pop in the lineup and a bevy of arms led by Max Scherzer, so a quick bounce back is certainly within reason.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays snagged a wild card berth for the expanded playoffs in 2020, but the Rays made quick work of them. The taste of the postseason could be enough to inspire additional strides from this squad that features an intriguing mix of productive veterans and youngsters.

Who has more World Series wins AL or NL?

Beginning in 1903, the pennant winners of the American and National leagues have met in the World Series. It has been held annually ever since, except in 1904 and 1994. On an all-time basis, the AL holds a 66-50 advantage.

Through the years, there have been periods of dominance for both sides. For example, the AL won every year from 1947 through 1953, while the NL did the same from 1979-82. Since the turn of the century, things have been pretty even.

  • Since 2001, NL has led AL 11-9.
  • The longest streak was three years by NL from 2010-12.
  • There have been no repeat winners over this span.
  • Two teams have lost in back-to-back years: Texas Rangers 2010-11, and Dodgers 2017-18.
  • The World Series has gone a full seven games seven times over this span.
  • There have been four World Series sweeps since 2001.
  • For the last 10 years, the NL has a 6-4 lead.
  • Over the past five years, it’s 3-2 for the NL.
  • The World Series has gone a full seven games in three of the last five years.

In 2021, the futures market has a pair of NL teams — Dodgers and Braves — as two of the top three favorites. The Yankees are the top favorite on the AL side.

Which team has won the most World Series titles?

All but one of the 30 current MLB teams have made it to the World Series at least once. The Seattle Mariners are the lone franchise in that category. For the rest of the clubs, some have made frequent appearances in the Fall Classic. Others? Not so much. Here’s the full list of World Series records by the team, along with their last appearance and how it went.

New York Yankees4027-132009-W
Los Angeles Dodgers217-14 2020-W
San Francisco Giants208-122014-W
St. Louis Cardinals1911-82013-L
Oakland Athletics149-51990-L
Boston Red Sox139-42018-W
Detroit Tigers114-72012-L
Chicago Cubs113-82016-W
Cincinnati Reds95-41990-W
Atlanta Braves93-61999-L
Pittsburgh Pirates75-21979-W
Baltimore Orioles73-41983-W
Philadelphia Phillies72-52009-L
Cleveland Indians62-42016-L
Minnesota Twins63-31991-W
Chicago White Sox53-22005-W
New York Mets52-32015-L
Kansas City Royals42-22015-W
Houston Astros31-22019-L
Miami Marlins22-02003-W
Toronto Blue Jays22-01993-W
Texas Rangers20-22011-L
Sand Diego Padres20-21998-L
Tampa Bay Rays20-22020-L
Los Angeles Anges11-02002-W
Arizona Diamondbacks11-02001-W
Washington Nationals11-02019-W
Colorado Rockies10-12007-L
Milwaukee Brewers10-11982-L

5 top tips for betting on World Series

The stakes may be much higher for the players come World Series time, but you can lean on the same handicapping principles for betting on the games. You’ll want to research the matchups from top to bottom, study the odds, look for edges and much more. Beyond the basics, here are some other tips to keep in mind for World Series betting:

  1. Spread the Risk with Futures: It’s normal to have a top pick for a World Series futures bet, but should you be putting all of your eggs in one basket? It’s a long season in which anything can happen, so zeroing in on a few choices makes more sense.
  2. Keep an Eye on Hot Second-Half Teams: As the postseason gets underway, be sure to go much deeper than overall records. Teams that soared in the second half could be in much better shape than the clubs that hit cruise control after a hot start to the year. The momentum can and will carry over to the playoffs.
  3. Bullpen and Depth: Once again, we’ll point out that the MLB season is a lengthy one. When scrolling through the teams and trying to figure out which ones are built to last, make note of those with deep benches and strong bullpens. These two factors can be huge difference makers throughout the season and into the Fall Classic.
  4. The Arms Race: A potent offense is fantastic, but a club that can trot out a couple of aces over a short postseason series can be even better. The right pitcher can be unhittable when they hit their stride, so clubs that have a few arms that fall into that category could be in line to make some serious postseason noise.
  5. Bats of Postseason Past: When the World Series rolls around, it’s time to zero in on the two teams in depth. While doing so, make note of the players whose bats seem to come alive when the stakes are highest, as well as those who seem to wilt under pressure. These are trends that could well continue under the bright postseason lights.

Anticipation for the World Series grows stronger as the season moves along, while the futures market keeps interest high nearly all year round. Finding the winner ahead of time is far from easy, but some solid clues have been left behind by previous Fall Classic winners.

Chicago Cubs World Series history

For decades, the Cubs held the mantle of the team with the longest World Series drought. The monkey is now off of the back, but there’s not a ton of success to be found from previous World Series appearances on an overall basis.

  • Total Appearances: 11
  • Record: 3-8
  • Last Time: 2016

The Cubs won the 2016 series in seven games over the Cleveland Indians. Ben Zobrist was named MVP for the club’s first title since 1908. The team has made it to the postseason in three of four seasons since that point, most recently losing to the Marlins in the 2020 wild card round.

Chicago White Sox World Series history

The White Sox also had quite the drought on the title front that ran into the current century, but they managed to snap the streak before their crosstown rivals did. Like the Cubs, there hasn’t been a lot of World Series victories.

  • Total Appearances: 5
  • Record: 3-2
  • Last Time: 2005

The 2005 edition of the White Sox swept the Astros, who were in the NL at the time, in four games to win the franchise’s first title since 1917. Jermaine Dye was awarded series MVP honors. The club’s most recent postseason came in 2020 with a loss in the wild card round. That was the first time the White Sox made the playoffs since 2008.

World Series FAQ

Is there a chance for the Cubs and White Sox to meet in the World Series?

The two Chicago clubs take up residence in opposite leagues with the Cubs in the NL and the White Sox in the AL, so they could meet in the Fall Classic someday. Looking ahead to 2021, they are both among the top few favorites in their respective leagues, so we’ll see if a Windy City World Series finally materializes.

Which team was the last to repeat as World Series champs?

It has been 20 years since we had a repeat World Series winner. The New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. Before that, the Toronto Blue Jays won two in a row from 1992-93. All told, it has only happened 14 times in MLB history. In recent times, the San Francisco Giants have come the closest, winning three out of five series from 2010-14.

How do the MLB playoffs work?

Heading into the 2020 season, the format was expected to remain the same as it had since 2012: three division winners and two wild cards from each league advanced to the postseason. The 2020 campaign wound up being condensed with the postseason format altered to include a total of 16 teams. There has been debate about expanding the annual field to 14 teams – seven from each league — but nothing has been finalized as of this writing.

When is MLB Opening Day in 2021?

Opening Day of the next MLB season is penciled in for April 1, 2021. The year will get underway with all 30 teams slated to play on day one. The Cubs are scheduled to open the year at home with a visit from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The White Sox kick things off by hitting the road to face the Los Angeles Angels.

Why is the 1919 World Series so famous?

This was a meeting of the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds that was won by the former. Unfortunately, this series is notable for much more than the final results. A scandal erupted in which the White Sox were accused of conspiring with gamblers to ‘fix’ the series by throwing games. After a lengthy investigation, eight members of the White Sox were permanently banned from MLB. In the aftermath, the events have often been referred to as the Black Sox Scandal.

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