2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball betting preview: Odds and best bets

USA players pose for a picture after defeating Venezuela in the Super Round of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier series game at Clover Park, and qualifying for the Olympics Games in Tokyo Japan Israel
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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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We had to wait an extra year, but the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are finally almost here. The games will be unlike any other before, without any fans in the stands. Fortunately we can still watch from home, and even more fortunately we can still bet on them. Here at Pickswise we’re going to be bringing you all sorts of Olympics content to get you ready, but right now we’re talking baseball.

This is the first time that baseball will be in the Olympics since 2008, so it’s a special treat. Team USA won bronze in those Olympics, can they get to silver or gold this time around? We’ll break that down in a second, but first let’s take a look at the format and then the odds.

2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball format

There are six teams competing in this year’s games, split up into two groups of three. Japan, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic make up one group, while USA, Israel, and South Korea are in the other. Each team will play two games initially against the other two teams in their group.

Every team then makes the knockout stage, but the winners of each group get a bye. The third-place teams from each group will play in the first elimination game. The first and second-place teams from each group will have to lose twice in the knockout round to be eliminated from contention for gold. You can view the full official bracket here.

In all, there will be a total of 16 games. The first six in group play, and then 10 more in the knockout stage. Now, let’s view the odds:

2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball odds

Japan +175

South Korea +300

USA +350

Mexico +500

Dominican Republic +550

Israel +3000

Oddsmakers seem to believe every team except Israel has a legit chance. Japan finds itself as home favorites, and winning gold in Tokyo would surely mean a ton to the massive amounts of baseball fans in the country. If MLB players were playing for Team USA they wouldn’t be +350 underdogs, but alas they’ve got their own seasons to worry about right now.

USA won’t have any current MLB stars, but there will still be some familiar names. Todd Frazier provides a big-name bat, and you’ll recognize some of their pitchers like former MLBers Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson. They’ve also got a crop of minor leaguers and prospects to give them a blend of youth and experience. Now for the fun part, the best bets:

Best bet: Japan +175

I’ve got to go with the chalk here. Japan hasn’t won gold in Olympic baseball before, and everything is shaping up perfectly for them here. They’ve got more MLB quality players than Team USA does, and the fact that these games are being played in Japan certainly doesn’t hurt. The emotional narrative is there. Japan’s professional league, the NPB, has also paused their season to let players participate.

Former Yankees star Masahiro Tankaa will be pitching, as will Tomoyuki Sugano, who will become very familiar to American baseball fans soon enough when he comes stateside shortly. The competition is weak, and Japan is the favorite for a reason. They most recently won the Premier 12 tournament in 2019, and getting any plus-money at all is decent value. Don’t overthink this one.

Best longshot bet: Dominican Republic +550

The Dominican Republic has the second-highest odds outside of Israel, but they shouldn’t. They are being written off because they barely snuck into the Olympics, but they also have a lot of momentum. The Dominicans became the last team to qualify after running through the final qualifier in June. They’re hot right now, and have some notable bats with guys like Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera playing. Julio Rodriguez, a 20-year-old outfielder who is one of the top prospects in minor league baseball with the Mariners, is also playing. They’ve got confidence, upside, and low expectations. Don’t be surprised if they make some noise.

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