Two teams who had similar paths in the postseason meet up starting Friday. The Rangers and Diamondbacks had to navigate through the Wild Card round while clinching a playoff spot on the second to last day of the regular season. Three-and-a-half weeks later, they meet in the World Series. I teamed up with Steve Zinsmeister, Co-Host of “The Ain’t No Fang Podcast” at ArizonaSports.com, to look at both sides of the 2023 Fall Classic.
How the Rangers Got Here
Alex: The Texas Rangers 2023 season has more twists and turns than a ballet recital. However, the resiliency of Texas steered them through Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and after a crushing Game 5 loss at home to the Astros, they outlasted Houston at Minute Maid Park. Adolis García set an MLB record for most RBI in a postseason series, Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery put the team on their backs, and José Leclerc came in and pitched in every postseason game (except ALCS Games 3 and 4) and allowed runs in just three of ten appearances. Texas became the road warriors of MLB postseason history, winning all eight road games they’ve played and exploding on offense against their in-state rivals. The Astros may have won the Silver Boot in 2023, but the Rangers won the American League Pennant.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 24, 2023
How the Diamondbacks Got Here
Steve: The Diamondbacks were one of the worst teams in baseball in July and August, but they managed to beat the teams they were competing with for a Wild Card spot (6-1 against the Cubs in September and 3-1 against the Reds). After sneaking into the playoffs, the Diamondbacks managed to mash their way through the Brewers and jumped all over Dodgers starting pitchers, giving them a 25.07 ERA for the series. The demoralized Dodgers played from behind the entire series (Arizona never trailed). The NLCS was an entirely different animal. The Phillies did almost everything better than the D-backs. The Phillies scored nine more runs, had six more homers, and walked eight more times. Their starting pitchers were much better, and the bullpen was trustworthy. Yet, the Diamondbacks are the team heading to the World Series.
THE SNAKES ARE ALIVE AND WELL.
We'll see you in Texas! pic.twitter.com/Ag2TChWMzF
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 25, 2023
Why the Rangers Will Win the World Series
Alex: Bruce Bochy has taken his clubs to the World Series four times before this season, and the only time he didn’t win was in 1998 with the San Diego Padres. That year, the Yankees swept the Padres, and in the Postseason, San Diego went 7-7. Since then, Bochy has won each of his three World Series appearances.
On the field, the Rangers have a powerful lineup, much like the Phillies, but Texas is more patient in the zone, which could create issues of Arizona pitchers trying to get Rangers’ hitters to chase. Using the two two-game series these teams played in the regular season as a benchmark is challenging. In May, Corey Seager and Mitch Garver weren’t in the lineup, and in August, Josh Jung didn’t play (Evan Carter was still in the minors during both times). The offense broke out late in Game 6 and Game 7, so it could be a long series for DBacks pitchers.
Steve: The Rangers have a more imposing lineup than the Diamondbacks. Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, and Christian Walker are the only hitters that opposing teams should be scared of. But Carroll didn’t show up until Game Seven in the NLCS, and Christian Walker only hit .091 in the series. However, the Rangers have a reliable baseline with their hitters. It’s an offense that’s built much like the Phillies. There’s not much relief when you get to the bottom of the order. If the Rangers are going to win the World Series, it will be because they mashed the baseball and managed to keep the Diamondbacks off the base paths. Also, I’ve heard that Adolis Garcia guy is pretty good!
ADOLIS GARCIA HITS A GRAND SLAM IN HOUSTON!!
📺: FS1 pic.twitter.com/mXXko7MPXO
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 23, 2023
Why the Diamondbacks Will Win the World Series
Steve: The Diamondbacks are at their best when they play their style of baseball. That may be the most overused cliché in the sport, but it’s true in the desert. This team doesn’t hit a lot of home runs (despite hitting four in one inning for the first time in postseason history). The Snakes win games when they scratch and claw their way on base and then run aggressively. The NLCS was getting away from them after five games (they trailed 3-2) with only one stolen base. Then Arizona turned on the jets and stole eight bases in the final two games in Philadelphia, forcing the Phillies not to make mistakes (Spoiler: They made mistakes). The D-backs bullpen has been completely rebuilt in the past few months with the Paul Sewald trade, the pickup of Ryan Thompson, and Andrew Saalfrank’s call-up. Don’t forget, the Diamondbacks got here despite their two best players having a rough NLCS (Zac Gallen and Corbin Carroll). If they manage to be themselves in the World Series… WATCH OUT!
Alex: Arizona is a scrappy team that loves to play small ball and run. Those create more issues than a power lineup that relies on home runs. The Rangers faced the Orioles and Rays, who are similar to that, but neither could get into a rhythm offensively to utilize that style to its full advantage. The Diamondbacks also have three lefties in the bullpen, which gives Torey Lovullo a chance to matchup against Evan Carter late in the game and force Carter to face lefties, something he didn’t need to do much against the Astros. If the Diamondbacks win the series, it’ll be with their speed and peskiness.
Corbin Carroll can FLY 🏃🏻♂️💨 pic.twitter.com/0U3P2qKClx
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) October 25, 2023
Your World Series MVP if Your Team Wins:
Alex: Corey Seager is back to playing a National League West foe, and his Game 7 performance became a good sign for things to come. While Seager reached base in five of the seven games against Houston, his three-hit performance feels like it’ll carry to the World Series. Corey has a good history against the Diamondbacks, and his nine home runs at Chase Field are the most homers in a ballpark that’s not Dodgers Stadium or Globe Life Field. I like Corey’s chances in this series.
Steve: All he does is hit. Ketel Marte was once 4th in MVP voting in 2019. Now, he has set the MLB record for most games with a hit to start a postseason career. In his first 16 career postseason games, Marte has 26 hits. He’ll have a chance to extend that hitting streak in the first game of the World Series. The longest-tenured Diamondback feels like the unsung hero of this organization. He won’t hit a ton of homers or make incredible Gold Glove-caliber plays in the infield. But all he does is hit!
Corey Seager's wife reacting to his solo HR in the 1st is priceless
📺: FOX/FS1 pic.twitter.com/0Zx8kvjIjZ
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 24, 2023
X-Factor Player to Watch On Your Team:
Alex: The question that arose in the ALCS is, which Aroldis Chapman will you get? Well, that question again comes into play. Chapman hasn’t been the Aroldis that Rangers fans saw at the deadline, and Bochy even steered away from him as the series went on. Now that we’re back to a clean slate, the question becomes if we’ll see Chapman back to his dominant form. If you add that to the mix, then the combination of Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc turns a suspect bullpen into a force at the end of the game.
Steve: I’ll give you a hitter and a pitcher:
Alek Thomas leads the team with four postseason homers, and he doesn’t even start against lefties! Thomas is swinging a confident bat after his Game Four home run that kept the Snakes alive in the NLCS. Factor in his defensive prowess (He might be the best defensive centerfielder in baseball already), and you have a player who impacts the game in multiple ways!
Kevin Ginkel is the king of Phoenix right now. Ginkel has been around. He was a 22nd-round pick in 2016 and has been the most consistent reliever in this bullpen all season. He hasn’t given up a single run in this Postseason and has completely locked down the 8th inning. This team has many good relievers all of a sudden, but none of them show the emotion and passion that Ginkel provides.
Kevin Ginkel strikes out the side in the eighth! pic.twitter.com/MHGTPqaThK
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 25, 2023
Whose Winning It All?
Alex: Rangers beat the Diamondbacks in Six Games
Steve: Diamondbacks beat the Rangers in Seven Games.
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