The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros are set to start the 2022 World Series on Friday night at Houston's Minute Maid Park. The Astros will be vying for their second championship in the last six years and second in franchise history, while the Phillies are looking to reach the top of the MLB heap for the first time since 2008 and for the third time in franchise history. The Astros reached the Fall Classic by sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS. Across the league, the Phillies took down the Padres in five games in the NLCS.
In this series, the Astros come in as the heavy favorites. That's because during the regular season Houston topped Philly by 19 games in the standings and by 157 runs in run differential. Yes, the Phillies played the tougher schedule as measured by opponents' average winning percentage, but that's not enough to make up the aforementioned gaps. As well, the Astros come in more rested -- they've played seven playoff games to Philly's 12 -- and they have home-field advantage.
All that said, baseball is built to defy such expectations, and the Phillies have done a lot of expectations-defying this October.
As for how it might play out, your four CBS Sports MLB scribes and two editors are here to provide (theoretically) educated guesses as to who wins the 2022 Fall Classic. Do note that accuracy is not guaranteed or even encouraged.
2022 World Series staff picks
R.J. Anderson: Anything can happen over the course of four to seven games. I'm picking the team that was demonstrably better during the regular season, and picking them in the maximum amount of games, so that I have plausible deniability if/when I get it wrong. (Plus I do think Houston is the better team.). PICK: Astros in seven; World Series MVP: Kyle Tucker.
Mike Axisa: I think the Astros are the better team, but if this postseason has shown us anything, it's that the better team doesn't always win a short series. The Phillies have two studs atop the rotation, a lineup that is deeper and more well-rounded than it gets credit for, and immaculate vibes. Similar to 2019, I'm predicting a long, entertaining, and hard-fought series that ends with an NL East team celebrating a title at Minute Maid Park. PICK: Phillies in seven; World Series MVP: Kyle Schwarber.
Dayn Perry: By any reasonable standard, the Astros are the better team, and they're much more rested overall coming into this series. That said, the vibes gap between these two teams is nigh incalculable, and that's what matters most of all this time of year. PICK: Phillies in seven; World Series MVP: Zack Wheeler.
Matt Snyder: I have very little conviction on this. The Astros are much better. They have more talent and more depth. The Phillies are also on a special run and I can't shake the feeling that winning seven in a row on the Astros' end means a cold streak is coming. Then again, for much of the season I said the Phillies are the most variably good team we've seen in a while; they could win the World Series or lose 12 in a row and miss the playoffs. There's a greater likelihood of a cold streak falling on the Philly end. I'll go with Jose Altuve taking MVP. He started the playoffs 0 for 25 and he's better than this. A hot string of games is lurking right around the corner. PICK: Astros in six; World Series MVP: Jose Altuve.
Stephen Pianovich: At the beginning of these playoffs, I picked the Phillies to win the World Series. In the 20 days since, the Phillies have gone 9-2 and eliminated two division winners and another upset-minded darling. Bryce Harper had the swing of his life. Rhys Hoskins has a bewitching new bat flip seemingly every game. Kyle Schwarber hit a ball 488 feet. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are putting up zero after zero. Three of my colleagues are picking the Phillies based on vibes. Sure, the Astros are the more well-rounded team on paper, but you don't need an elaborate camera-and-trash-can scheme to know what's coming for my pick. PICK: Phillies in five; World Series MVP: Rhys Hoskins.
Kate Feldman: The Astros are better than the Phillies in pretty much every measurable way and yet there is no doubt in my mind that the Phillies are going to win the World Series. The vibes are simply too good. Bryce Harper is going to hit a 500-foot bomb in Game 4 and the Phanatic and Miles Teller will recreate a scene from "Top Gun" and the city will burn and from the ashes will rise Rob Manfred's piece of metal. Men will cry and women will tell stories to their grandchildren and the streets will be spilled with beer and there will be joy in the world for one night. PICK: Phillies in six; World Series MVP: Bryce Harper.