I feel like I say this every year, but this World Series matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers certainly isn’t the matchup I expected. The D-backs barely finished the season above a .500 winning percentage, finishing at 84-78. The Rangers are also a Wild Card team, as they finished with 90 wins on the season. Besides the COVID-19, shortened season of 2020, we’ve never seen a World Series matchup with as few wins as this one, combining for 174 wins in the regular season.
As the No. 6 seed in the National League (NL), the Diamondbacks upset all of their matchups to this point: the No. 3 Milwaukee Brewers, No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers and No. 4 Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers were also the lower seed in each of their series, as they beat the No. 4 Tampa Bay Rays, No. 1 Baltimore Orioles and No. 2 Houston Astros en route to the Fall Classic.
My personal pick is the Rangers to win in 5 games. I said it in the NLCS as well, but this is where I truly see the Diamondbacks’ Cinderella run coming to an end. This team is so young and inexperienced and lacks some of the veteran leadership found in most championship-winning teams.
The most veteran-like figure in that clubhouse is Evan Longoria, but he hasn’t made it to a World Series since his rookie season in 2008 and has hit .172 in the playoffs over the course of his career. Tommy Pham has been in the league for a while but has the reputation of being a bit of a clubhouse cancer, most notably slapping Joc Pederson in the face before a game in May last year. This roster is extremely youthful at its core, which features guys like Corbin Carroll, Zac Gallen, Ketel Marte, etc.
Meanwhile, this Rangers squad has loads more experience. And I know what you may be thinking, “The Diamondbacks beat two of the more experienced playoff squads in the league between the Dodgers and Phillies.” But here’s the thing … no stage is as big or as bright as the World Series. If anything will expose a young team and its nerves, it’s the biggest series in the baseball world.
Corey Seager has already won a championship and won the World Series MVP. Nathan Eovaldi won the 2018 World Series with the Red Sox. Marcus Semien is a great, veteran hitter with much playoff experience. Max Scherzer is one of the best pitchers of his generation and won the WS in 2019 with the Nationals. I could go on.
But the icing on the cake is the upside of the Rangers’ offense. When clicking on all cylinders, the Rangers’ lineup is unstoppable. Seager and Semien might be the best offensive middle infield duo in the league, Adolis Garcia is the best hitter in the world right now and guys like Josh Jung, Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim serve as very solid, reliable bats to surround them. Pair that with veteran workhorse pitchers like Eovaldi and Scherzer, and that’s a recipe for success.
The only worry for the Rangers is the consistency of the bullpen. As this October has shown us, managers aren’t afraid to go to their bullpens early. Guys like Jose Leclerc and Aroldis Chapman will need to show up in big spots at some point in this series if they want to win. If the Rangers lose, I suspect it will be due to faults of the pitching as opposed to the lineup. But for all I know, the Rangers’ lineup could all of a sudden go ice cold, because that’s just how baseball works.