Finally, we know the four teams that will participate in each of our league series. We have the Phillies, a loud, brash, cheerful, cheerful team with a home crowd to match their unique charisma and buzz. We have the D-backs, the team most likely to make it this far, who, it must be said, have yet to lose in the postseason. We have the Rangers, a team that has yet to lose in October And He has some of his key players returning from injury just when they are needed most. And we have the Astros, the defending champions, trying to do something that hasn’t been done this century: win two World Series in a row.
Each of these teams has their own dramas, stories and narratives, but it’s what happens when you put these teams together, in theoretical World Series showdowns, that they are the most fascinating. As the ALCS prepares to begin Sunday night (and the NLCS on Monday), here’s a look at the main theme for each of the four potential World Series showdowns. One of these will actually happen. Here’s what we’ll talk about when that happens.
Phillies Rangers: Free agency is working! series
Every Hot Stove season, you hear it from efficiency experts: Signing players to huge contracts is a risky strategy! These are players who are entering their decline with contracts that are destined to end badly! Well, the Phillies and Rangers would be two very notable refutations of that idea.
These were teams in many ways building With free agency. The Phillies spent big to bring in all of their stars: Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Zach Wheeler, and even Craig Kimbrel. The Rangers were tied more All in all on free agents. This franchise announced its determination to emerge from the AL West basement by paying Corey Seager and Marcus Semien (plus John Gray) big money before 2022, then followed that up a year later with Jacob deGrom (who, of course, won’t be here) and Nathan Eovaldi. The next time a team executive tries to argue that they shouldn’t spend money on the offseason, if this game happens, you’ll simply need to point to the World Series. Spending is how they got here.
D-backs-Rangers: Rapid rebuilding series
We’ve already identified how the Rangers have transformed themselves – spending! – But we haven’t looked closely at how to do it quickly they did it. The Rangers lost 102 games just two seasons ago, with a team that provided regular hits for players like David Dahl, Eli White, DJ Peters and Brock Holt. (This team got 24 starts from Mike Foltynewicz!) It’s not like last year was much better: They lost 94 in 2022.
But that’s still a better overall record than what the D-backs have achieved over the past two seasons. They have lost an astonishing 110 games in 2021, a year in which Zach Gallen went 4-10. (It’s hard to even imagine Zach Gallen going 4-10.) They weren’t exactly bad last year, losing 88 games, but this certainly wasn’t a team that would qualify for the World Series anytime soon. But Corbyn Carroll – this year’s Premier League leader – has given the team a real star. Ketel Marte got healthy and played like an all-star. Christian Walker has continued to show that he is one of the best late bloomers in recent history. Oh, and Galen was a Cy Young contender. Voila, you have a competitor.
If your team is struggling, even if it has been struggling for a while, these two are evidence that a turnaround for you may be just around the corner.
Astros-D-backs: David vs. Goliath series
It’s hard, in a league with only 30 teams, and in a sport where last-place teams beat first-place teams all the time, to try to find a team TRUE Massive underdog there. But this is as close as you can come, isn’t it? The Astros just reached their seventh straight berth in the ALCS, and are trying to reach the World Series for the fifth time in seven years. They are also trying to become the first team to win two consecutive World Series since the 1998-2000 Yankees. This was a long time ago. It’s been a long time since the D-backs — in their last World Series appearance — were the team to end that streak. The D-backs won just 84 games in the regular season, considered by some to be the worst team heading into the season. They will face a juggernaut, a team trying to make history. It would be hard to find a bigger underdog. And everyone loves an underdog.
Phillies Astros: Series rematch
You would think World Series rematches would happen more often than they do. The Braves and Yankees essentially dominated the 1990s, but they never met for two consecutive seasons (and only twice overall, in 1996 and 1999); Same thing with the Astros and Dodgers over the past decade, and they’ve only met once (2017) in the Fall Classic. But if the Phillies and Astros can win the LCS, we’ll have our first World Series rematch since… 1978.
That was Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin’s Yankees victory over the Dodgers in six games in two consecutive World Series. Before that, we hadn’t had one since 1958. (You can see the full history of World Series games here.) Last year’s World Series was fun, but with franchises like the Astros and Phillies, there’s too much drama here for me. If these two teams meet again, there is every reason to believe this team will be better.
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