After a couple of cycles out of the competition, baseball has returned for the Tokyo Games. The odds board for 2020 Olympic baseball features a pretty balanced six-team group with only one real longshot.
We’ll take a look at the field, odds and format for 2020 Olympic baseball. Odds below come from DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Olympic Baseball Odds
In what come as a surprise to many, Team USA is not favored or even second in the pre-tournament betting markets.
Instead, host nation Japan sits at +175 as of July 22. That distinction comes in part from a mechanic that figures to greatly aid two teams.
In both Japan and South Korea, domestic leagues have paused action during the Olympics. That allows many of the top players from these leagues to compete. By contrast, mostly affecting the US roster, the MLB plays on through its 162-game regular season.
Players to Watch
Generally speaking, as far as MLB players and prospects go, those a few years past or in advance of their primes comprise some of the rosters.
In any case, Japan’s group features many stars from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), generally considered the second-strongest league in the world. They also rank No. 1 in the world and feature former MLB star Masahiro Tanaka and several other of the league’s best arms.
South Korea ranks just a hair ahead of the US in the markets at +300 and ranks third in the world. They also pull from a strong domestic league filled with MLB hopefuls and past players, and feature a pitching staff with multiple arms capable of MLB-level velocity.
Team USA, Mexico and the Dominican Republic sport more of a mixture of older vets and prospects, some with real star potential. In particular, prospect watchers should keep an eye on Team USA’s Shane Baz, Simeon Woods Richardson and Triston Casas, as well as Dominican Republic’s Julio Rodriguez.
Finally, there’s Team Israel all alone on the board. At +3000, the market only gives them a ~3% chance of capturing gold. Even still, they do have players with MLB experience like Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia.
Links to full rosters can be found on the official NBC page.
Format And Schedule Of The Competition
The Olympic powers that be have set up a somewhat odd and non-intuitive format for 2020 Olympic baseball.
The six qualifying teams play round-robin in groups of three. Everyone advances to the bracket stage, which is mostly double-elimination. The mostly qualifier comes into play in two main parts:
- Last-place group finishers play an elimination match to open the bracket
- Winner’s bracket and loser’s bracket finalists just play one game to determine who wins gold
As for the schedule, baseball begins with group play starting on July 28, airing late on July 27 in the U.S. if it’s broadcast live. Team USA opens July 30 in the evening locally, morning for the US (6 a.m. EDT).
Bracket play begins Aug. 1 (July 31 in the US) and plays through Aug. 7. See the full schedule here.
Whatever you do, if you enjoy betting on and/or watching Olympic baseball, be sure to lock in on the 2020 competition. Baseball hasn’t graced an Olympic field since 2008, and it can’t return until 2028 at the earliest as it’s off the schedule for the 2024 Games.