The World Series is finally and thankfully here. And surprisingly, the two best teams from the regular season will square off. This is only the second time in the wild card era. (The last was the 2013 Red Sox/Cardinals). And wow, these teams couldn’t be more similar and different.
The Dodgers, even though a lot of it is homegrown talent, spent around $108 million dollars this year. Versus the Rays spent just over $28 million. Kershaw gets paid more than the entire Rays pitching staff. In fact, Kershaw and Betts alone cost about $26 million.
But at the same time, both teams produce value beyond what they pay in salary. The Dodgers produced 20.9 WAR which at $8 million/WAR right now comes out to just under $168 million. The Rays produced 16.7 or roughly $132 million in production.
Obviously a larger congratulations is in order for the Rays front office who have finally made a World Series run moneyball style. But don’t underestimate what this Dodger’s front office (which came from the Rays) has done. Expect both of these teams to have their offices and coaching staffs poached by the handful.
In the meantime we have the ultimate breakdown of these two masterfully crafted rosters.
Dodgers: Will Smith
Rays: Mike Zunino
Both of these teams have a clear number one catcher, and both look like they’re performing about the same level. Zunino is slashing .216/.231/.541 this postseason, while Smith has a .222/.286/.356.
But Zunino has basically only produced through homers. He has 4 this postseason which are half of his hits. They account for all 4 of his runs scored and 6 of his 8 RBI so far.
Normally this wouldn’t be a good thing, but he has benefitted from playing in the California parks. Globe Life Field has already eaten up at least a dozen would be homers this postseason.
Whereas Smith is actually second on the Dodgers in RBIs this postseason while be 11th on the team in OPS. He’s been incredibly unlucky and would probably be tied with Seager for the team lead in RBI if his line drives found the ground instead of mitt.
Overall, both catchers have been good for their squads, but Smith has been a little bit better.
Dodgers: Max Muncy
Rays: Ji-Man Choi
Muncy hasn’t been his normal self this year, but his postseason has been better than it appears. He’s only hitting .211, but has an OBP/SLG of .434/.447.
Largely due to 15 walks compared to his 8 hits. And is also the reason he’s scored 9 runs which is good for 4th on the Dodgers this year. He also has 3 doubles, 8 RBI, and two homers, one of which was a grand slam.
And Choi has been a top 3 player for the Rays on this World Series run. He’s slashing an excellent and well rounded .290/.436/.516. But he’s only produced 5 runs, 4 RBI, with the same 2 homers. He does have a nice 7 to 7 walk to strikeout ratio though.
Again, both teams have very solid 1st basemen, but Choi is just a tad hotter.
Dodgers: Chris Taylor
Rays: Brandon Lowe
This one is tough. Lowe was the most valuable member of the Rays this year, and at some moments, competed for the MVP. Taylor had a nice bounce back year and actually came in 3rd on the Dodgers in WAR.
Lowe slugged in the mid low .900’s. Taylor in the mid .800’s. Both were pretty consistent all year if you take out the fact that hot stretches come and go. Yet both are basically abysmal this postseason.
Taylor is OPSing .568 and Lowe has an even worse .366. Both of these guys can win this series for their team, but until one of them turns it on, this is a fair fight in a bad way.
Dodgers: Corey Seager
Rays: Willy Adames
Ok no competition here. You’ve got the NLCS MVP and Hank Aaron Award Finalist against a more glove oriented shortstop OPSing .550 in the postseason.
We will say that Adames was actually one of the Rays better hitters this year, but that could’ve been the small sample size. Still, on paper, at his best offensively and defensively, Adames is no match for Seager right now.
Dodgers: Justin Turner
Rays: Joey Wendle
This is another pretty easy decision, but closer than you would think. Turner on the year, .307/.400/.579. Wendle, .286/.342/.435. In the postseason, Turner has a .209/.327/.326. Wendle a .225/.295/.225.
All of Wednle’s hits this postseason are singles so far. He’s scored 7 runs, has 2 RBI, a stolen base, and has a less than desirable 3/11 BB/K ratio. Turner has 10 runs, 4 RBI, 2 doubles, 1 homer, and a much better 6/7 BB/K ratio.
It seems that Wendle seems to just be a step below Turner every step of the way besides age and speed.
Dodgers: AJ Pollock
Rays: Randy Arozarena
No competition here. Randy Savage was the ALCS MVP and has been an absolute sensation since he hit the scene. Pollock is our comeback player of the year besides maybe Daniel Bard, but his postseason has been lackluster. He’s OPSing a team worst .527.
Randy has the highest OPS of either team this postseason with a 1.288. He has an unbelievable 14 runs, 10 RBI, 7 homers, 3 doubles, and a triple. He does have a caught stealing, and his 4 BB/15 K ratio isn’t great. But when you’re hitting as much as he is, it’s a wonder he’s walking non-intentionally at all.
Put simply, the Rays would not be in the World Series without Arozarena. He needs one more home run to tie players like Bonds, Beltrán, and Cruz for the single postseason record. He already holds the record for most by a rookie. He’s had four 3-hit games becoming the 5th player ever to do that in a single postseason.
The Dodgers have gotten below average production from Pollock and even his ceiling won’t touch what Randy Savage is doing.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger
Rays: Kevin Kiermaier
Normally Bellinger’s defense would help give him a leg up, but Kiermaier is a three time gold glove center fielder himself. Good luck to anyone hitting balls to center field this series.
But Bellinger is also the better hitter and baserunner. He had the series winning homerun that sent the Dodgers to their third World Series in 4 years, and he did the same thing last time.
And for all the “Bellinger sucks in the postseason” people, he has 10 RBI, 5 runs, 3 homers, 2 triples, a stolen base and a 8BB/14K ratio. All to go along with a .911 OPS. Kiermaier hasn’t been bad, but there is a big difference between .911 and his .605.
Dodgers: Mookie Betts
Rays: Manuel Margot
You would assume Betts has a huge advantage here, and he definitely seems to have an X factor that Margot lacks, but the difference is minuscule this postseason.
Margot has an OPS of .967 thanks to 5 homers, 11 RBI, and 7 runs. A fantastic postseason but he’s been very boom or bust and he’s about to hit in a park that is hard to boom in. And his 3BB/10K is not where he needs it to be.
Which is why we still think Betts has been more impressive with his .852 OPS. And it’s because he doesn’t have a hit that has gone for more bases than a double. But he’s had 6 of them. Other than that he’s produced 10 runs, 5 RBI, 2 stolen bases, and a 8BB/9K ratio.
And if you didn’t see his game winning catch, you missed half of the NLCS because he did it 3 times.
Dodgers: Joc Pederson
Rays: Austin Meadows
So we need to say that these are just the primary DH’s in our opinion. Both of these teams are famous for using their players in utility roles, and these players are apart of it.
Joc will DH if he isn’t playing in left or if there’s a lefty on the mound.
Meadows can also play the outfield, but will likely see a starters worth of ABs between that and DHing. If he’s in the field the Rays can basically match whoever the Dodgers have.
Overall these teams can’t throw 9 of the players above at you in almost any way they want.
Dodgers: Kike Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty
Rays: Yandy Diaz, Michael Brosseau, Hunter Renfroe, Michael Perez, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Brett Phllips
Both of these teams could use anyone off their bench and their fans won’t be upset. But since the Rays chose to add extra bats to their roster for the World Series, they have the edge here.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin
Rays: Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Ryan Yarbrough
This series actually has scheduled days off which means both teams will probably use 4 starters, which is great for the Rays in particular. It just adds another moving part for Dave Roberts and co.
But we do have a rough idea of what’s set in stone and the probables.
Game 1: Kershaw v Glasnow
Game 2: Snell v (Urias/May)
Game 3: Buehler v (Morton)
Game 4: Yarbrough v (Urias/May/Gonsolin)
Game 5: Same as Game 1
Game 6 = Game 2
Game 7= Game 3
Basically, no matter who these teams decide to start, it’s a great rubber match on paper.
Dodgers: Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, Victor Gonzales, Joe Kelley, Adam Kolarek, Jake McGee, Alex Wood
Rays: Diego Castillo, Nate Anderson, Peter Fairbanks, John Curtiss, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Slegers, Shane McClanahan, Aaron Loup, Josh Fleming, Ryan Sherriff
Again, this feels like a cop out, but both of these teams just have so many guys they can throw at you out of the pen. They both have had their ups and downs, but when they’re right, they’re lights out.
Both of these teams could pitch complete bullpen games, and no one would be surprised if it was a shutout.
Overall, the Rays are the underdogs on paper. But hey, they were underestimated all season long and finished as the top seed in the AL.
If we had to make a prediction (and yes this is a Dodger page) we say the Dodgers win this series in 6.
- Dodgers Win 4-2
We’re expecting a very low scoring series, and a chess match of bullpen moves. But in the end, the Dodgers seem laser focused on ending the drought this year.
As for MVP, we’re keeping an eye on Kershaw tonight. A win and quality start in game 1 will set him up perfectly for possibly pitching the winning game of this World Series. And considering how overdue this feels for him, it will have to be overwhelmingly wrong for him not to win this award.
- Kershaw for World Series MVP