They’ve done it. After 29 long, trying years, the Dodgers have finally reached the World Series. Their counterpart, the Houston Astros, had their challenge as well, but the prevailed and the two teams are set to meet in a World Series for the first time ever. Well, that’s cheating seeing as the Astros couldn’t have played them in the World Series until recently. But it’s the first time they’ve met in the playoffs since 1981.
The Astros are very balanced team, and alongside the Dodgers, were one of the top 2 most consistent teams throughout the year. Around Mid-July, it looked as though these two teams were on a crash course for each other and they did not disappoint.
As per the usual, we’ll continue our review with the position players for each team, wrapping up our two part series.
Yulieski Gurriel, the rare 33-year old rookie, posted a solid 118 wRC+ in his rookie season. Yuli has a high contact approach, so he doesn’t strike out much. He also doesn’t walk much either, as he had just 22 unintentional walks in 564 ABs. His defense isn’t great at first, but his strong contact skill will keep him in the Astros lineup.
His postseason has been hot, as he’s gone 15/41, with 4 2Bs and a 3B. He’s had some key moments, and has also become a little more patient.
It has grown rather tiresome saying it, but Bellinger is en route to a second consecutive Dodgers Rookie of the Year Award. His postseason performance hasn’t quite been as strong as his regular season performance, but that isn’t to say he’s slouched. He’s gone 10/36, with 2 2B and 2 HR. With that said, his walk rate has dropped to half its regular season rate, though that should be accompanied by a small sample size warning.
Overall, Bellinger is superior on offense and far superior on defense. This doesn’t swing into “Big advantage” territory based on Gurriel’s postseason and overall quality as a player, and that should speak volumes.
Jose Altuve has truly grown into one of the game’s best players, as he could be on his way to an AL MVP award after the World Series. He’s now put up 4 consecutive elite seasons, helping propel the Astros rebuild and truly become the team’s best player.
You also might have heard about the postseason that he’s having, as he’s batting .400 with 5 HRs in 40 ABs so far. He’s crushing, and every time he gets up, it will be scary.
Utley and Forsythe should continue their platoon, with Utley likely drawing a start against Verlander. Forsythe did start against some right-handed pitchers in the first two rounds, and he’s actually had a pretty solid postseason in his first ever go, as he’s 6/24 with 5 walks.
But this is Jose Altuve we’re talking about, easily one of the top 5 players in the Majors the past 5 years. Against a positional match up of Logan Forsythe, who even at his prime couldn’t sniff Jose Altuve. And Chase Utley, who maybe in his prime could have, but is quite far removed from his prime years.
Astros… And it’s a big one.
Big Advantage: Astros
Carlos Correa is another one of those really good shortstops that have blessed Major League Baseball. The Astros drafted him with the first overall pick in 2012 out of Puerto Rico and he made his debut a few short years later in 2015. Though he didn’t play the full season due to a torn thumb ligament, he still put up an elite year and would have likely been in contention for MVP alongside his middle infield partner had he not been injured.
And he’s having a pretty solid postseason, as he’s gone 13/44 with 3 HR and 4 2B. He’s really good, and will be the Astros cornerstone for a long time.
Corey Seager, as you may know, is also really good. Problem is he’s injured, and we don’t really know how effective he’s going to be once he’s back on the field. To preserve him, he likely slides to DH with Culberson pulling duty at short while they play in the AL park.
To be honest though, even if Seager were healthy, this one still probably favors the Astros or gets closer to toss-up territory. Correa is just that good.
Alex Bregman is another young star for the Astros, putting up a solid year at the hot corner in his first full season. Drafted as a SS with the 2nd overall pick in 2015, Bregman shot through the Astros system very quick to make his debut last year. He’s not quite as powerful as Correa, but with that comes a bit of a reduction in strike out rate. He’s also less effective versus right handed pitching, so expect to see a lot of late game at bats against Kenta Maeda or Brandon Morrow.
In the postseason though, he hasn’t done too much with the bat. He’s batting a pretty gross .190 and slugging .381. His defense has remained above average, and he’s made some pretty clutch plays to save runs.
Justin Turner, though. I mean, that’s not a complete sentence and it’s going to make some English teachers very mad but what else can be said? On his way to an NLCS co-MVP award, Turner ran an 1.177 OPS, with 3 HR and 12 RBI. He got his own Kirk Gibson moment in game 2 of the NLCS, and he’s been playing like he’s ready to top that off with a World Series ring.
This should be a big advantage for the Dodgers, but Bregman is really good and could breakout at any moment.
Marwin Gonzalez and Kike Hernandez are both very similar players, in that they played every non-battery position on the field this year. Gonzalez had the far superior offensive year, but he’s struggled mightily in the playoffs, running a .162 batting average and a .460 OPS.
The real story here is Granderson, who has performed so poorly over the course of the last 8 weeks. Andre Ethier could step in at left, but he’s still a big question mark himself. Dre has only 80 plate appearances in the last 2 years, and even though he has had a little bit of success, he’s also had a little bit of failure. He could be a big wild card here, as you’re not going to start Hernandez against right handers unless he hits more grand slams.
Joc Pederson could pull a start here, but that doesn’t necessarily inspire much confidence either. Hernandez playing postseason hero truly is a “that’s so Dodgers” moment. And that feeling could very well propel him to more heroics in the World Series, but ideally you don’t want him taking 3 ABs off Justin Verlander.
Springer has been an underrated part of this Astros attack for a few years now, but he’s finally driven the stake home. He smacked 34 HRs this season and he hasn’t stopped in the postseason. Though his numbers don’t quite match the phenomenal regular season he’s had, he’s still got 2 doubles and a dinger. He can charge the ball, and is pretty well due for a breakout.
Chris Taylor has been a literal baseball godsend this season for the Dodgers. And yet the most impressive thing so far has been this postseason, where he’s become a catalyst at the top of the lineup. Taylor has worked at-bats so well that the TBS announcers actually gave him credit for it, as opposed to pining over every action by a Cubs player.
This one is close, but it swings LA way based on Taylor’s postseason performance thus far.
Where does one even start with Josh Reddick? Some dingus was a strong supporter of Reddick last year, even though that never actually panned out. It’s pretty rich for him to actually bash the fans over their booing of him, as if he didn’t understand that he performed pretty poorly in Los Angeles and gave the fans little to cheer for.
And he’s been pretty dismal this postseason too. Though he played pretty well against Boston, he struggled against the Yankees and there should be more of that to be expected. The Dodgers will run with plenty of lefties, and even though Reddick had a strong season with Houston, he’s still prone to exploitation by lefty.
Yasiel Puig, in addition to being must watch postseason TV, has leapt back into the hearts of Dodger fans with his stellar postseason performance. Puig could have won the NLCS MVP, and I doubt many people would have questioned it. If he can maintain this level of performance through the World Series, this match up isn’t even close. Puig’s the better defender, and if he can maintain this current focus he has, the sky could be the limit.
The Astros are one of the few teams in baseball that have the level of depth that the Dodgers do. They’ll have Carlos Beltran in reserve off the bench, though he’s morphed into a shade of his former self as father time has caught up with him. Behind that, they have Juan Centeno, Evan Gattis (or Brian McCann), Derek Fisher (not that Derek Fisher) and Cameron Maybin.
The Dodgers bench will consist of whichever outfield isn’t playing that day, whichever second baseman isn’t playing that day, whichever catcher isn’t playing that day, Charlie Culberson, Joc Pederson and Kyle Farmer. If you end up DHing Corey Seager in the AL, that moves Culberson to short and hardens the already top defense in baseball.
Dodger fans have seemingly been waiting for this forever. A long 29 years, and a World Series is within the team’s grasp. For the first time since 1970, two 100-win teams are facing off for baseball’s championship.
This will be a battle.
Prediction: Dodgers in 7
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