A Case for Betting Against the Astros to Win the 2019 World Series

| October 21, 2019 11:28 pm PST
2019 World Series - Why The Astros Are Going to Lose

I don’t really understand the narrative that the Houston Astros aren’t supposed to be here. Yeah, the Tampa Bay Rays gave the Astros a tougher fight than expected. The New York Yankees proved to be every bit as difficult to get past, too.

Maybe it’s because the Astros needed two walk-off homers to make it to the 2019 World Series.

But no matter how you spin their journey, they’re the favorites now. That was probably always the case. Outside of perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Sox, there wasn’t a better team to back before the 2019 MLB season began.

Boston didn’t even make the MLB playoffs, though. Anyone who predicted the Dodgers would win it all (sheepishly raises hand) is now wallowing in a pit of sadness and despair.

Fear not, baseball fans. The Astros, as dominant as they’ve been, aren’t the locks to win it all that they appear to be. In fact, I can think of several reasons why the Astros are going to lose the 2019 World Series.

The Washington Nationals have a fantastic case as world champions, and it’s one I handed out back in March.

This is the final series of the year, though. Whether my stance has changed or not, this is a situation that demands another inspection. First, let’s see how the top MLB betting sites are pricing the 2019 World Series.

Latest 2019 World Series Betting Odds

The Houston Astros got past the pesky Rays and perhaps the second-best team in baseball in the Yankees. None of that was easy, so an extremely deep, talented, and battle-tested team heads into the World Series as the understandable favorites.

Regardless of which side you’re rolling with, be sure to shop around for the best 2019 World Series odds. I’ve done most of the work for you, compiling the odds to win across some of the safest MLB betting sites online.

Sportsbook Astros Odds to Win Nationals Odds to Win
BetNow -225 +185
SportsBetting.ag -220 +190
MyBookie.ag -225 +185
BetOnline -220 +190
XBet -225 +185
Bovada -215 +175

Despite the Astros being regarded as fairly heavy favorites, the 2019 World Series pricing is pretty tight. If you want to bet on the Astros, you’ll have to pay to play. That being said, Bovada is clearly the top choice if you like Houston to win their second title in the last three years.

The Nats are the value play by a mile, and their price is pretty similar just about everywhere you look, as well. The top site to bet on the Nationals is easily SportsBetting.ag, while BetOnline also shares the same World Series odds for that wager.

Going into game one, the pricing doesn’t budge. All of the top MLB sportsbooks favor the Astros to jump out to a 1-0 lead. The question is if you’re in agreement with that logic.

Even if you’re on the fence, consider taking a ride on the wild side with me.

Why the Astros Won’t Win

Houston is great; don’t get me wrong. But this is not going to be easy.

The Nationals have a ton going for them and have looked impressive to this point. Not every reason to bet on the Nats is backed by intense data, but there are so many that I felt it was worth writing on.

Here are all of the reasons why the Nationals are winning the 2019 World Series and, in turn, why the Astros will lose.

The Nationals Want to Spite Bryce Harper

I am a big fan of narratives in sports. Even in the face of adversity, it’s important to poke holes in arguments. And as weak as they can be, you need to ask yourself if there is any reason to doubt a favorite.

One funny reason to bet on the Nats in this series is solely to laugh at Bryce Harper. The Nationals saw their prized free agent walk this past offseason, with Harper spurning the Nats by signing with NL East rival the Philadelphia Phillies.

Harper got a massive $300 million contract with the hated Phils, turning Philadelphia into the trendy new World Series bet. Unfortunately, Harper struggled to live up to that deal in year one, while his Phillies didn’t even make the playoffs.

Washington entering the postseason without Harper was already a win for the franchise. The Nats didn’t stop there, however, as they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting past the NLDS for the first time since 1981.

That feat came the season Harper bolted town, which was hilarious enough. But Washington kept on winning, easily dispatching the St. Louis Cardinals and advancing to the franchise’s first World Series appearance ever.

If you don’t love the Astros and don’t care about the Nats, you can at least root for Bryce Harper to get the ultimate slap in the face. The Nats winning the 2019 World Series would deliver just that.

Nationals Narrative Street x2

Want to keep this fun stroll down narrative street going? Forget about spiting Bryce Harper and just marvel at what the Nats are accomplishing here.

There is an argument the Nats weren’t even supposed to be here, as they stormed back in their wild card game to upend the Milwaukee Brewers. They did so against the Brew Crew’s best arm in elite closer Josh Hader, too, making their mere playoff run in general pretty amazing.

Next up came the mighty Dodgers, who I felt would finally win it all again in 2019. That wouldn’t happen, as the Nats edged them out (3-2) and then went on to completely wipe the floor with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals have gotten further than they have since 1981 and even reached the franchise’s first World Series appearance. Why stop now?

Nats Are Well Rested

Narratives aside, there is a lot to like about the Nationals. One huge positive is that they’re well rested. They do have to go to Houston to start this series, but they’ve been able to sit back and scout the Astros for the past week.

Houston, meanwhile, just got done with a very tough series with the Yankees. They ran through their bullpen in several games and had their will tested more than once.

Rest doesn’t guarantee a thing, and rest can also always transform into rust. But the Nats will not be fatigued in the slightest. If that can be turned into an edge, the Nats could hop out to a 1-0 lead and control this series.

Washington Is Battle-Tested

Most MLB experts will point to two very challenging series for the Astros to note that they are physically and mentally prepared to beat anyone to win another title.

Noted, but the Nats have had a longer road. Washington faced elimination in their wild card game and beat a more talented Dodgers team. They are no stranger to adversity or relying on clutch play to seal the deal.

Then, in the NLCS, they just flat-out whipped a pretty talented Cardinals team.

Washington has proven they can win in any situation, and they have zero quit. If they can put themselves in position to stage the upset, nobody can really write them off.

The Nats Have Great Pitching

It’s impossible to not be blown away by the elite pitching Houston has. You needn’t look much further than their previous series when they made a loaded Yankees lineup look pedestrian — if not terrible — at times.

The Astros could have the edge here, seeing as the Nats are dangerous but not any better than a New York team they just beat.

The problem with leaning on that is the fact that the Nats are just as nasty from the mound.

Max Scherzer heads a rotation that is top-heavy but as difficult to hit as any in baseball. Stephen Strasburg has also been sensational in the MLB playoffs, while good innings from Patrick Corbin could arguably give the Nats the pitching edge in this matchup.

Nats Can Hit as Well as Anyone

Lastly, let’s not pretend like the Nationals are chopped liver when it comes to their hitting upside. They’re not quite as lethal as someone like the Yankees, but they’re also not some scrub offense.

A quick look at 2019 MLB postseason hitting stats shows you that Washington is dialed in. The Nats rank first in hits, third in total bases, first in runs scored, first in collective batting average, and second in On Base Percentage.

This is compounded by the fact that they swept the NLCS, which means they have more production despite playing two fewer games than either the Astros or Yankees.

Of course, this sample size is tiny. It shows us how good the Nats have been during crunch time, but a look back at their regular season numbers may tell us more.

On the year, the Nats rank a solid 13th in home runs, 6th in team batting average, second in OBP, 7th in hits, and 6th in runs scored.

Translation: this team can hit.

More than that, though, they’re a little more efficient than the Yankees and also can be rather daunting when they get runners on the bases. Washington ranked 5th in steal percentage on the year and third in total steals.

They know how to get guys on, too. The Nats posted the 8th-most walks earned in 2019, while they had the 4th-fewest strikeouts.

That’s a bit troubling for Astros fans to hear, I’d think. The Nats hit well, they have monster power, they’re efficient, they draw walks, and they are out there thieving bases left and right?

Yeah, but the thing I’m more focused on — as interesting as all of that is — would be their success against right-handed pitching. All three of Houston’s pitching maestros (as amazingly stubborn as they can be) are right-handed.

The Nats had the 8th-fewest whiffs versus righties during the regular season. They also ranked 11th in home runs, 8th in batting average, 5th in OBP, 8th in hits, and 5th in runs scored when facing right-handed arms.

None of this says for sure the Nats will go out and destroy some of the best pitching in baseball. But the Nats are fully equipped with an incredibly underrated, efficient, and versatile lineup.

Who Will Win the 2019 World Series?

You might think I’m crazy for taking a stand here, but there is little I love more than a powerful sports narrative. There is so much that goes into this before you get to the fact that the Nats are actually an insanely underrated team.

Washington felt like an awesome World Series value bet prior to the season. It took them a bit (and a really slow start), but they figured things out and clearly lived up to that billing.

This World Series is extra fun if you actually bet on them to win it all prior to the start of the regular season, but there is still value to be had.

Washington has the pitching to stand toe-to-toe with the Astros, and they’re going to be fun to root for. And as I’ve documented, they really may have the goods to counter Houston’s pitching.

Ride the wave and aim high with the Nats at a cool +190 at SportsBetting.ag.

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Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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