Home-Field Advantage Is Back! Fox MLB's Kevin Burkhardt Teases What to Expect from World Series

The Atlanta Braves will face off against the Houston Astros starting on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park

Kevin Burkhardt
Kevin Burkhardt. Photo: Courtesy Fox Sports

It's time: the World Series has arrived, and baseball's best will begin their first of seven games on Tuesday night.

The Atlanta Braves will face off against the Houston Astros starting on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, making history in the process. It's the Braves' first series since 1999, and the Astros second return after their 2017 cheating scandal.

Fox MLB Studio Host Kevin Burkhardt will anchor the network's on-site studio pregame and postgame desk during the Series alongside Alex Rodriguez, Davied Ortiz and Frank Thomas. Joe Buck will serve as Fox Sports' play-by-play announcer, joined in the booth by John Smoltz and on-the-field reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci.

It's not Burkhardt's first Series, and he has plenty of thoughts about what baseball fans can expect from this highly-anticipated championship: "This is my 8th World Series on Fox, and I'm so fortunate to be a part of it."

"Each one has had its own personality, but what I love about this one is that we are back to normal with full stadiums in home ballparks," he tells PEOPLE. "I also love the fact that it's a very experienced team (Astros) against a team that hasn't been there since 1999 (Braves)."

Below, the commentator tells PEOPLE readers what to look out for as the 2021 World Series kicks off.

Can you tell us what will be exciting and different about this World Series after the pandemic-affected 2020 Series?

The obvious difference will be full stadiums, but as far as what makes it more exciting is the fact that there will be true home-field advantage back in play for the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. Last year, because of the pandemic, the World Series was held at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas, with limited capacity.

Can you discuss some strengths and weaknesses for each team? What will they need to do to secure victory?

The Astros have the toughest lineup in baseball. They led the league in runs scored and really do everything well. On top of that, this is the third World Series in five years for their core group of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. If the Astros get starting pitching like they did in Game 5 and 6 of the ALCS, they're going to be difficult to beat.

Atlanta Braves - Houston Astros

The Braves are a pretty amazing story. They had the fewest wins of any playoff team and were under .500 on August 4 before getting hot toward the end of the regular season. They lost their best player, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a torn ACL in July but were able to trade for four key players after that. One of those acquisitions was Eddie Rosario who won the NLCS MVP with a performance for the ages batting .571. I think the key for them to win this series is offense and being aggressive on the bases — feel like they have to score five runs a game to beat Houston because their offense is so lethal.

What's the atmosphere typically like at a World Series game?

The atmosphere is electric! You feel every big moment as the drama builds throughout the game with every pitch.

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Reflecting on this season, who were some standout players that you think we'll continue to see excel?

There are so many great young stars in the game it's hard to narrow it down; however, Shohei Ohtani is the guy to watch if I'm picking just one. He achieved things that have never been done this season, becoming one of the best pitchers and hitters in baseball. He was third among the league in homers and was 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels.

What can baseball fans expect from FOX Sports' coverage?

Speaking just from our pre- and postgame show philosophy, I think fans can expect to learn something new and be entertained. Let's face it … we aren't doing brain surgery over here; this is an escape for most people that watch, so the idea is to tell our viewers what to look for and most importantly have fun. I want people at home to feel like they are on our set having fun with us.

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