The 2017 season will culminate in an epic World Series, matching the Dodgers against the Astros. It is the first time since 1970 that the Fall Classic has featured two teams that each won 100 games or more games — L.A. will have homefield advantage, as the Dodgers’ 104-58 record topped the Astros’ 101-61 mark.
After winning the NL West title and falling short in each of the last four postseasons, the Dodgers finally broke through this year to capture their first National League pennant since 1988. The club overcame scores of injuries (38 DL stints, the most of any team in baseball) to achieve their success, though obviously having the game’s largest payroll goes a long way in securing roster depth. Beyond the expected contributions from established stars like Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and Justin Turner, the Dodgers were also buoyed by Corey Seager’s excellent sophomore year, rookie Cody Bellinger’s 39 homers, Yasiel Puig’s bounce-back year, and utilityman Chris Taylor’s emergence as an everyday threat. If this wasn’t enough, the Dodgers added Yu Darvish at the trade deadline to enhance an already-outstanding rotation.
This is the Dodgers’ 19th World Series appearance, tied with the Cardinals for the third-most in history. By contrast, this is only the Astros’ second trip to the Fall Classic, though they now have the unique distinction of being the only franchise to represent both the American League and National League in the World Series.
This pennant represents the culmination of the Astros’ scorched-earth rebuild under GM Jeff Luhnow. Due to a complete focus on building up the farm system, the Astros went only 162-324 from 2011-13, a brutal stretch of play that saw fan interest in Houston almost evaporate and Luhnow’s methods questioned by many around the game. As with last year’s champion Cubs, however, a long rebuild resulted in an enviable core of young talent. George Springer, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Alex Bregman and AL MVP favorite Jose Altuve are all homegrown Astros, and the team further supplemented that core with under-the-radar trade pickups (i.e. Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Devenski) and bigger-ticket acquisitions (Yuli Gurriel, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran). The final piece of the puzzle was trading for Justin Verlander at almost literally the last second prior to the August 31st waiver deadline, and Verlander has been nothing short of spectacular since coming to Houston.
With two days to go before Keuchel vs. Kershaw at Dodger Stadium in Game One, we post the question…what is your prediction for the 2017 Series? (link to poll for MLBTR mobile app users)