The Dodgers have fought to the World Series for a second consecutive year. Both 2017 and 2018 have produced an opportunity for the boys in blue to bring home that elusive, World Series championship. After a troublesome start to 2018, the Dodgers rallied back in the summer to produce a respectable 92-71 regular season record. They now face the 8-win Boston Red Sox, who have been preparing for game 1 of the World Series since October 18th when they finished off the Houston Astros in just 5 games. Now, the stage is set, the players are ready, and the excitement commences tonight from Fenway Park at 5:09 pm PST.
The Red Sox have opened the week as favorites in just about every venue. Vegas has them at a -135 betting odds to beat the Dodgers. I have watched the vast majority of sports anchors across the board choose the Red Sox to be victorious by the end of the series. The Sox have more total wins, a higher team average, OPS, run differential, and they have had more days to rest this postseason. There are a lot of sound reasons to believe that the Red Sox will walk away from this October as the world champions. However, the Dodgers will win the 2018 World Series nonetheless. Here are ten solid reasons why the Dodger franchise will bring home its first championship since ’88.
1) The Dodgers have a deeper bench
Here are the Red Sox non-starters:
- Eduardo Nunez
- Brock Holt
- Steve Pearce
- Christian Vazquez
- Blake Swihart
Here are the Dodger non-starters:
- Brian Dozier
- David Freese
- Matt Kemp
- Yasmani Grandal
- Chris Taylor
Trust me when I say that the numbers over the 2018 regular season vastly favor the Dodger’s bench players. The Dodger’s greatest strength going into a most-likely long and taxing World Series is a deep bench from which to choose from.
2) The Dodgers have the position-by-position advantage
Here are the positions in which I believe the Dodgers have the advantage:
1B (Muncy/Bellinger over Moreland)
3B (Tuner over Devers/Nunez)
SS (Machado over Bogaerts)
CF (Bellinger over Bradley Jr.)
SP (Kershaw/Buehler/Hill/Ryu over Sale/Price/Eovaldi/Porcello)
RP (Jansen/Maeda/Wood/Baez/Madson/Urias/Floro/Furguson over Kimbrel/Barnes/Brasier/Workman/Kelly/Hembree/Rodriguez)
Here are the positions in which I believe the Red Sox have the advantage:
LF (Benintendi over Pederson/Kemp/Taylor)
RF (Betts over Puig)
2B (Kinsler over Hernandez/Dozier)
DH (Martinez over Muncy/Kemp)
Catcher is a push between the two teams……both have offensively struggling catchers behind the plate.
3) The Dodgers have experience
The Dodgers have been in the post-season for 6 straight seasons. They have only gotten better each time since 2014 as well.
- 2014: Lost in the NLDS 1-3
- 2015: Lost in the NLDS 2-3
- 2016: Lost in the NLCS 2-4
- 2017: Lost in the WS 3-4
As aggravating as it has been for Dodger fans to fall short each year, there is only one place to go, up. The Dodgers numerically have more postseason experience than any other team in all of baseball in the past decade. It is time for experience to reign king.
4) Clayton Kershaw has solved the postseason
It is time to officially dispel the notion that Kershaw is a post-season dud who routinely disappoints every October. While it may have been true for a time, it has certainly not been true in recent times. Since the 2016 post-season, Kershaw has carried the team by and large with some big-time performances. Check out his stat line from the 2016 NLDS to the 2018 NLCS below:
Those numbers are just plain good. Not only has Kershaw put up good numbers on paper in the past 3 post-seasons, but he has also been a crucial part of the pitching staff thanks to his versatility. He has routinely started on short rest, pitched in relief, and provided the necessary morale and leadership to keep the train moving. Also, he prepares like no other. Don’t believe me? Check out the video below:
No days off for Kersh. ? pic.twitter.com/CTSis5ut8b
— MLB (@MLB) October 22, 2018
Look for number 22 to excel this World Series and pave the way for a 2018 Dodger championship.
5) Fenway Park
Dodger stadium ranked 26th in all of baseball in terms of total runs scored in 2018. Fenway park ranked 9th. Simply put, Dodger stadium is a pitcher’s park, Fenway is a hitter’s park. The fence dimensions are as follows:
|Left Field||Center Field||Right Field|
|Fenway Park||310 ft||420 ft||302 ft|
|Dodger Stadium||330 ft||395 ft||330 ft|
— Kenley Jansen (@kenleyjansen74) October 23, 2018
These vastly different dimensions mean that many of the homers that the Red Sox hit in Boston this year would be routine fly outs in LA, and many of the flyouts that the Dodgers hit in LA this year would be home runs in Boston. In other words, the Dodgers should enjoy inflated power totals assuming they hit similarly to what they have all year, and the Sox should suffer deflated power numbers assuming the same.
Imagine Muncy, Bellinger, Pederson, Machado (who likes to go opposite field) crushing moon shots over the short right field fence all series long.
6) The “DH” factor
J.D. Martinez was the best DH in baseball this year and he plays for the Red Sox. How could this possibly be a reason the Dodgers will win? 3 reasons:
- Routine. The Red Sox are used to never having their pitchers bat. They will effectively lose 1 of 9 batters that they have been playing with all season. The Dodgers are not used to having a hitter for the pitcher. The DH factor favors the NL in the world series every year.
- The Red Sox will be forced to sit one of their excellent outfielders while in LA for games 3, 4, and 5 in order to keep Martinez in the lineup. This means either, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, or Jackie Bradley Jr. will sit each game in LA. Those are some huge potential bats that will be eliminated early for those games.
- The Dodgers will advantageously utilize the DH while playing in Boston. Most likely, Max Muncy will be the Dodger’s DH for the games located in Boston. This has a positive ripple effect on the lineup most likely bumping Bellinger to first, Chris Taylor to left, and Joc Pederson to center. Essentially, the Dodgers gain a key bat each time through the rotation which is somethingthey are not used to.
7) Boston struggles with left-handed pitchers
Don’t get me wrong, the Red Sox are a remarkably good hitting team. Regardless of the pitcher or the handedness of the pitcher, this team is a threat to be reckoned with. However, it is definitely worth noting that Boston has vastly different numbers against lefties than they do against righties. Let’s take a look below to how they compare:
|VS Left-handed pitchers||GP||AB||R||H||2B||3B||HR||TB||RBI||AVG||OBP||SLG||OPS|
|Boston Red Sox||155||1422||212||355||81||7||37||561||201||.250||.325||.395||.719|
As you’ll notice, the OPS, a major “tell the tale” batting category, the Sox are hitting almost a full .100 points lower. The average, slugging, and on-base percentages are also significantly lower.
|VS Right-handed pitchers||GP||AB||R||H||2B||3B||HR||TB||RBI||AVG||OBP||SLG||OPS|
|Boston Red Sox||162||4201||663||1154||274||24||171||1989||628||.275||.344||.473||.817|
Why is this so important? Three big reasons: left-handed starters Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
8) “Slumping” players have righted the ship
Players such as Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, and Kenley Jansen struggled at times during the regular season and even into the playoffs. However, these key players are reviving their poor play at the right time. They have each had their moment so far in the 2018 playoffs and will continue to perform in the World Series.
Bellinger had a relatively disappointing sophomore season this year during the regular season hitting only .260 with 25 home runs. While these are still good numbers, they don’t stack up to 2017. Then, after being literally non-existent in the NCDS, Cody Bellinger finally started making good contact against the Brewers in the NLCS and was the hero of the series. Here’s to Bellinger repeating his heroic performance during the NLCS against the Red Sox.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 17, 2018
Taylor had a major regression in many categories during the 2018 season. He went from batting .288, 21 homers, and only 142 strikeouts to batting .254, 17 homers, and 178 strikeouts in 15 more games played in 2018. Although regular season regression was evident, postseason progression is also evident. Taylor is batting an electric .350 and 1.398 OPS. This is why he finds himself in the lineup every game. Oh, and i’ll just leave this little gem here too…
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 21, 2018
Anyone who watched the Dodgers for any amount of time this year likely witnessed a depreciated version of Jansen then we are used to seeing. Jansen posted career worsts across multiple categories with a 3.01 ERA, only 82 strikeouts, and 4 blown saves. Furthermore, Jansen experienced the lowest average velocity on his cutting fastball in his career at 91.2 MPH.
Across 6.2 innings of high leverage relief in the 2018 postseason, Jansen has posted a perfect 0.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts, and 2 hits allowed. The best part? Jansen’s fastball has averaged 94.8 MPH during the NLDS and NLCS. He’s back baby!
9) They fell short in 2017
Nothing makes me hungrier than smelling a delicious meal brewing in the kitchen. And when I don’t get to eat, I get even hungrier. Cheesy analogy aside, the Dodgers are clearly hungry after getting a taste last year. This hunger was only aggravated by losing in a game 7 in which they exhausted every possible bit of effort. This hunger is the reason why they are back again in 2018 and why they will win this time around.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 27, 2018
Don’t believe the hunger carrying over from year-to-year is a real thing? Ask the 2015 world champion Kansas City Royals. After losing a heartbreaking game 7 to the Giants 3-2, they stormed back the next year and finished the job.
10) Season-long resiliency
Shall I name the obstacles that stood in the Dodger’s way this season?
- Corey Seager lost for the season to Tommy John surgery
- Justin Turner lost for the first month and a half of the season due to a broken wrist
- Every starter on the roster hit the DL at some point this season except Alex Wood
- The Dodgers start the year 16-26, 10 games under .500
Granted, there have been many unexpected blessings that have offset many of these obstacles, namely, the signing of Manny Machado and the surge of Max Muncy. However, this Dodger team has overcome incredible trials and has bounced back time and time again. Even when the division seemed out of hand for the first time in 5 years, they kept fighting and swept the Giants in the last series of the year to earn a chance at a game 163. Finally, this team refused to go down quietly when their season was on the line in a hostile Milwaukee environment in game 7 of the NLCS.
This team has ice in its veins. They will continue to fight back and overcome any obstacles. This resiliency will not fade in the World Series, but rather propel them to a championship in 2018.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/world-series-power-hour-with-rick-episode-27-cp1085/2018/10/23/”]Blue Heaven Podcast: Dodgers Statistician Rick Krajewski[/button]