The Tokyo Olympics will get a boost of familiarity this summer as baseball is back for the first time since 2008.
The Olympic baseball tournament has just six teams. Japan, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic make up Group A and South Korea, Israel, and the United States in Group B. Current MLB players won’t be attending. However, teams are still loaded with professional talent.
With four teams remaining in the tournament, Japan leads the pack with the lowest Olympic baseball medal odds at -160 to capture the gold medal. It is followed by the United States at +280 and then 2008 gold medal winners South Korea (+450) and the Dominican Republic at +1,400.
Baseball gold medal odds
Odds via DraftKings as of August 3, 2021
Japan favored for gold
Japan is the favorite to capture the 2020 Olympic gold in men’s baseball. The NPB will take a break during the Olympics so that hometown players can represent their host nation.
Nearly every top-tier player from Japan will be available to suit up, including some familiar faces in former Yankee Masahiro Tanaka and 2021 posted pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, a two-time pitcher of the year reigning MVP.
After going undefeated in the round-robin, Japan topped the United States in its first playoff round matchup. That sets up the host nation to face South Korea in the semi-finals, with the winner advancing straight to the gold medal game, while the loser could still advance to the finals with a victory over the Round 2 Repechage winner.
US chances at a medal
The Americans were the only undefeated team in the qualifiers and are led by former World Series-winning manager Mike Scioscia. There won’t be any current MLB players on the U.S. Olympic baseball team, but baseball fans will recognize Todd Frazier and pitchers Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir. The Americans won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won gold in Sydney in 2000.
After losing to Japan in playoff Round 2, Team USA will face the Dominican Republic in the Round 2 Repechage. The winner will face the loser of Japan vs. South Korea for the second spot in the Gold Medal game, while the loser will play in the Bronze Medal game.
Canada misses Olympic berth
Canada will not be represented in the 2020 Olympics this summer after they failed to qualify. The Canucks finished 0-3 SU in the Super Round and fourth in the tournament. The Canadians were never a big contender for the gold so their absence in Tokyo is not surprising.
Our best bet: Japan (+175)
Since 1992, Japan has won two bronze medals and one silver but has been eluded by the gold. The Japanese Olympic baseball team will be represented by players mostly from Japan’s professional league the Nippon Professional Baseball League which is the second-highest talent pool in professional baseball.
The Japanese national team also won the Premier 12 tournament in 2019 which is the senior-most tournament in baseball besides the World Baseball Classic. Japan is loaded with pitching talent and will be showcasing some of its elite pitching such as Tomoyuki Sugano who could find himself stateside following the 2021 season. At +175, we aren’t betting against them.
(Pick made July 19, 2021)
Olympic baseball tournament format
With only six teams, the men’s Olympic baseball tournament will be interesting, to say the least. Teams will be separated into two groups of three and play a round-robin. Teams will then cross over and play the same seed in the other group in a modified elimination round.
The two No. 3’s will play each other with the loser of that game being eliminated. After that No. 3 seed team is eliminated, the tournament will revert to a standard double-loss elimination format. Medal games will also be a single game. In total, six group stage games will be played and 10 knockout games.
Olympic baseball rules
The rules of Olympic baseball are pretty standard: no batter minimums for relievers, a 20-second pitch clock, a 90-second inning clock, manager challenges, and umpire video reviews will exist, and the designated hitter rule will be in effect.
Some of the biggest rule differences include the extra-inning tiebreaker where runners start first and second with none out. A mercy rule will also be in play when a team is leading by 15-plus runs after five innings or 10-plus runs after seven innings. The official ball will be an SSK WBSC 540.
How to bet on Olympic baseball
With baseball making its return to the Olympics, many first-time bettors might be drawn to wager on the international tournament. Let us guide you through how to bet on baseball with some basics on reading odds and tips for making smarter baseball bets. If you’re familiar with betting on baseball, but haven’t placed an Olympic bet before, we also offer tips on how to bet on the Olympics.
Where to bet on Olympic baseball
Olympic betting is still relatively new, but the once-every-four-years event will surely attract many bettors. Where you bet on the Olympics is just as important as what you bet, and we review the best Olympic betting sites available to you.
Olympic baseball FAQs
Who will win Olympic gold in men’s baseball?
Japan has a great chance to take the gold medal in men’s baseball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They are the host team and will be loaded with talent from the NPB.
Is baseball in the Olympics?
Baseball will be in the 2020 summer Olympics for the first time since 2008.
Can you bet on Olympic baseball?
Yes. Check out our top Olympic betting sites which will all offer odds on Olympic baseball.