2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball Day 2 best bets: Israel pulls upset

The Israel baseball team gather for group pictures before a game against Beimel Elite Athletics at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Olympic baseball
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

Olympics· 1 month ago

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I'm an editor 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.

Olympic baseball is back for the first time since 2008. Group play got underway from Tokyo with host nation Japan taking on the Dominican Republic last night, and Japan emerged with a 4-3 victory. Now we’ve got the second game, a clash between South Korea and Israel early on Thursday morning. These games are a six-team tournament that’s split into two groups. For more information on the format, as well as a futures pick, check out our full Olympic baseball preview.

We’ve only got one game to dive into, but there’s at least one opportunity for value. You can view all of our Olympics picks here, but right now we’re talking baseball. Let’s dive in:

Olympic baseball Day 2 best bet: Israel +270

Call me crazy, but I think Israel has a very good chance to win this game. Nobody expected them to even make the Olympics, and this is a program on the rise. They surprised everybody during qualifiers, and can do so again in the Olympics. For a bet to be profitable at +270, it only needs to cash 27 percent of the time. I certainly think Israel has a better than 1/4 chance.

For starters, the Israeli team has just as much MLB talent as Team USA does. Ian Kinsler is the star of this team, and this is a man that was a four-time MLB All-Star who hit 257 home runs in the big leagues. He’s probably the most accomplished player in this entire tournament outside of arguably Masahiro Tanaka for Japan.

Israel also has Danny Valencia, who spent nine seasons in the majors. As recently as 2018 Valencia was putting up solid numbers in MLB. He’s only 36 (spry for Olympic baseball) so he should have plenty left in the tank physically, and he hit three home runs for Israel during qualifiers.

They’ll start Jon Moscot as their pitcher, another guy who has MLB experience. He was talented enough to make it to the majors at 23, and is still only 29. South Korea will start Won Tae-in, and I suspect he may struggle. His numbers this year in the KBO have been very solid through a half season, but last year he had a 4.89 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.

He’s also only 21, so the bright lights of Olympic baseball could be a bit much for him. Sprinkle a little bit on the underdog here.

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