The Los Angeles Dodgers took care of business last night against he Atlanta Braves to win their third pennant in the last four seasons. Corey Seager took home NLCS MVP honors, but it was Enrique Hernandez and Cody Bellinger coming up with big home runs in the sixth and seventh innings to seal the win. Our 2020 World Series matchup is now set, as the Tampa Bay Rays will take on the Dodgers, beginning with a pair of Dodgers’ home games (at Globe Life Field in Texas) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Odd at it sounds, it’s rare to see each league’s top seed make it to the World Series in the same season. This year’s match-up achieves even rarer air, however. The Rays and Dodgers boast the highest combined regular-season winning percentage of any World Series contenders all-time, per Stats by STATS. There is, of course, the short season caveat, but the 2020 World Series nonetheless pits two sterling contenders against one another in what should/could be a real barnburner.
In one corner, we have the small market Rays. Run by the finest wunderkinds MLB can offer, this era of Rays baseball has been known for three things: innovation, ridiculously strong farm systems, and a front office of baseball wizards who have thrice been poached by large market clubs (Astros, Red Sox, Dodgers). The best of the Rays prospect pool remains on the farm (Wander Franco), but less-heralded stars like Brandon Lowe, Randy Arozarena, Ji-Man Choi, Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, Joey Wendle, Pete Fairbanks, and others have led the Rays to the World Series. Lest you think they’re merely a ragtag group of underdogs, remember that Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, and Blake Snell make up a surprisingly star-studded rotation for these “measly” Rays.
With manager Kevin Cash pulling the strings, Tampa finished 12th in runs scored during the regular season, 9th in wRC+, and 9th in batter fWAR. Arozarena, Choi, and somehow, Mike Zunino have steered the ship for the offense in the postseason thus far. They’ll look to get more from Lowe at the top of the order, and rest easy in knowing they don’t need to outscore the world forever, they just need to outscore the Dodgers in 4 games. The pitching should help in that regard, as their 3.56 team ERA was third in the majors.
The Dodgers, of course, boast a 3.02 team ERA during the regular season, the top mark in the majors. They also hit more home runs and scored more runs than any other team in the majors over the 60-game season. After coming back from a 3-1 NLCS deficit, they’ve now checked the ’faced adversity’ box as well. Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger lead a star-studded offense, while Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler should be ready to start the first two games of the series. With rest days built in, the Dodgers’ ace duo should be more available to the Dodgers than at any other time this postseason.
And of course, there’s Andrew Friedman, the architect of these Dodgers who came to run a large market behemoth with the restraint and attention-to-detail he used to run the Rays. There aren’t gimmicks here, it’s just process building and sound decision-making. The philosophy works, and now we can sit back and enjoy the show as Friedman’s old team takes on his new one.
Let’s keep this simple, baseball fans: who is going to win the World Series? (Poll link for app users)