Who’s Winning The 2018 World Series?
Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!
It’s the Dodgers and Red Sox!
Back in April, I had been tempted to pencil Los Angeles in for 100 wins, until I started down the, “But, what about that guy?” list. Clayton Kershaw, Chris Taylor, and Cody Bellinger were all question marks as to whether they could produce or repeat what they had done previously.
And to an extent, they didn’t. Add to that injuries to infielders Corey Seager and Justin Turner and there were a lot of nights spent by Dodger fans wondering how in the hell the bums were going to make the playoffs.
As it turned out, the forecast of 93 wins wasn’t far off of the 92 needed to win the National League West. And Los Angeles came through thanks in part to strong closing stretches by Turner and utility player Kike Hernandez and a healthy starting staff.
A favorable late schedule didn’t hurt either.
Whereas the Dodgers scuffled early, Boston started hot, stayed hot, and finished hot. After a battle with the New York Yankees, the Sox eventually prevailed with superior pitching and more clutch hitting to the tune of 108 wins.
At .346 and .330, outfielders Mookie Betts and JD Martinez had the 18th and 46th-highest batting averages of any player in the history of the club. Think about that for a second.
Also consider Boston is not a one-trick pony. Not only were they first in team batting average, they were fourth in home runs, eighth in earned run average, fourth in strikeouts by pitchers, fourth in stolen bases and first in the American League in runs-batted-in.
Of course neither are the Dodgers one-trick ponies: Second in homers, fourth in ERA.
That said, and with all of the distractions that openers and pitcher usage created in the playoffs, I think the fairly simple concept of defense, putting runners in scoring position and clutch hitting is how the series will be decided.
The Red Sox do a better job of getting runners in. This is part due to their not having a two-headed catching monster that can’t hit. As for defense, Bellinger and Turner made historically-great catches in the NLCS. But, Turner has had his problems at third with greased-hands-of-stone-itis for LA. Of course, so has Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez (two errors in five games).
Though I think the Red Sox have a better offensive club (not including the homer, in which LA has a slight advantage) the problem I have with Boston is with the pitching. Starting pitchers Chris Sale and his funky shoulder and David Price and his funky postseason lack of success worry me as does closer Craig Kimbrell and his insistence on loading the bases every game before getting the 27th out. I’m just waiting for him to Mitch-Wild-Thing-Williams a couple of games.
So, yes, I like the Dodgers relievers better and it doesn’t hurt Kenley Jansen is throwing mid-90s for the first time in two years.
Of course, at this point I’m not crazy about Kershaw and his postseason problems as the number-one starter or manager Dave Roberts’ insistence on pulling starter Rich Hill regardless of how well Hill is pitching.
Also to consider, Dodger Manager Dave Roberts has been in these games before. Alex Cora is in his first World Series as one.
Final decision: Boston has the better offense while Los Angeles has the better pitching. And offense can appear out of nowhere: See Mark Lemke.
In the end, pitching beats offense.
Dodgers in seven.