The 2017 World Series

Just like last year, I did really well predicting the two Wild-Card Games (2-0), not so well with the four League Division Series (1-3), but then great again with the two League Championship Series (2-0)! Let’s recap:

NLCS Cubs-Dodgers: In the rematch of last year’s NLCS, the defending champion Cubs got significantly outplayed by the Dodgers in five games. I thought it would take a sixth game, but the Dodgers were on a mission. After all, they won more games (104) than any other team in baseball this year, having a 20-game lead in the middle of the summer. The Cubs’ mission to repeat didn’t have the season start-to-end domination that the Dodgers had. In the five games, the Dodgers outscored the Cubs by 20 runs, with the Cubs only scoring more than two runs in one game—the game they won (Game 4), when they won 3-2! In the five games, the Cubs only scored 8 runs, all of them by home runs. Dodgers pitching stymied the Cubs, and the Dodgers offense game through, especially in the 11-1 Game 5 clinching victory. Co-MVPs were named: Dodgers third-baseman Justin Turner and outfielder Chris Taylor.

ALCS Yankees-Astros: This was an amazing series. Because I’m a Red Sox fan, I’m automatically not a Yankees fan, but this Yankees team is a lot different than the ones from many previous years. They’re young, they’re talented, and they play the game right. The same can be said about the Houston Astros. I think it’s impossible to dislike the 2017 Astros, especially second baseman José Altuve. After a few seasons a few years back (2011-2013) where they were in last place, losing more than 100 games each time, the Astros have rebuilt back to this point—and a trip to the World Series. Every game in this seven-game series was won by the home team. After winning the first two, the Astros looked poised to take the series, but the Yankees clawed back. Series MVP Justin Verlander, brilliant in a complete game in Game 2, was just as impressive in Game 6. And the Game 7 combined shut out from Astros pitchers Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, Jr. was just as impressive. And now they become the first team to win a pennant in both leagues.

Now onto the World Series!

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

          

In the regular season, the Astros won 101 games, and the Dodgers won 104 games, so they practically represent the best of both leagues (The AL Central champion Cleveland Indians won 102 games).

The Astros went through a rebuilding phase earlier this decade, collecting smart draft picks that have contributed significantly, but knowing when to make a key last-minute trade for a pitching ace (Verlander). Meanwhile, the Dodgers have some home-grown talent, but also a lot of free agent signings, making them one of the highest salaried teams in baseball. So is this a built-vs.-bought series?

The Astros have only been to the World Series one other time in their 56-year existence, back in 2005 when they were in the American League and were swept by the Chicago White Sox. Meanwhile, the Dodgers haven’t been to the World Series in 29 years, but they beat the favored Oakland A’s with some early series heroics by a hobbling Kirk Gibson.

All these things considered, it makes it easier to root for the Houston Astros to win the Series, but it’s not that I’m anti-Dodgers. In fact, this is an exciting match-up because it contains two teams that have appeared in a combined two World Series in the past thirty years. Until a few years ago, these two teams wouldn’t have been able to meet in the World Series, so this is a match-up we never could have seen until now. And let’s be honest, the prospect of a Clayton Kershaw / Justin Verlander pitching duel sounds super cool.

Prediction: It’s going to be a great World Series. I think the Dodgers have just a little more depth than the Astros, but the Astros are riding a hot streak and have such a solid team mentality, that it’s almost too close to call. But I’ve already predicted this series back in an October 2015 post, so I have to stick with that. Houston Astros in seven games.

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