Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?
Providence College Investigates: MLB
Justin Bishop ’24
San Francisco Giants
The best team in Major League Baseball is, without a doubt, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were the best team in the regular season, which concluded this past Sunday with a dominant record of 107 – 55. The Giants’ +210 run differential is second in the league to their rival division opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a +269 differential. Finishing second in the league in Team Earned Run Average (ERA) 3.24 and Team Home Runs (HR) 241, it is clear that the San Francisco pitching staff is more than capable of handling its own and that the players can hit the long ball with ease. Throughout the second half of the year, the team put together winning streaks of 6+ four times, and their longest losing streak was four and only occurred once. Being able to string along winning streaks of that stature is a necessity in the postseason, and avoiding losing streaks is equally important.
Sitting at (+450) odds to win it all, the Giants are the second in betting favorite, just behind the Dodgers at (+350), according to oddshark.com. San Francisco has no “star player” who carries the team; instead, they rely on the entire team to produce. One could raise the argument that shortstop Brandon Crawford is the “star player,” seeing that he leads the team in every offensive category other than home runs, and he is still third on that list. Brandon Belt leads the team with 29 HR and nine other players have 10+ HR, which ties none other than the Dodgers for most players with 10+ HR. Having this type of offensive production out of so many players is key to having prolonged success in the playoffs.
However, one cannot only rely on offense. Even though putting up almost five runs per game is key, pitching and fielding are also aspects of the game San Francisco have down. The team has seven pitchers on the team that have 50+ innings pitched with an ERA less than 3.00. The pitching staff holds opponents to batting a measly 0.229 average, and only allowing three runs per game will stifle almost any opposing offense. The Giants are clean and efficient in fielding, ranking second amongst playoff teams in fielding percentage. Specifically, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski ranks third in the league in fielding percentage as an outfielder, and Brandon Crawford ranks fourth amongst shortstops in the league in the same category.
Statistics are all great measurements of where a team ranks and how much they produce compared to the rest of the league; however, the only statistic that matters is how many games they win. The San Francisco Giants are the winningest team in baseball, and they will carry that momentum into the National League Division Series and eventually through to the World Series. They will take on the winner of the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Stephen Foster ’22
Los Angeles Dodgers
When looking at the group of talented teams assembled this year in the Major League Baseball playoffs, there are several with superior pitching, hitting, and defense. However, one team stands out from the rest: the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2020 World Series Champions.
The Dodgers started the 2021 season as the favorite to go back-to-back and win it all again. Since then, their President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, has improved the team even further, making several significant moves at the trade deadline. They added starting pitcher Max Scherzer (15 Wins, 2.46 Earned Run Average) and middle infielder Trea Turner (27 Home Runs, 32 Steals, .328 Batting Average) from the Washington Nationals. Both have formed an integral part of the Dodgers’ success down the stretch. Having starting pitchers who go deep into games and keep runs off the board is essential for winning playoff games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the MLB in earned run average and earned runs allowed with a 3.02 ERA and 486 earned runs, allowing a significant 38 runs fewer than the next best team. This feat is primarily achieved by the work of their outstanding starting rotation, which is arguably the best in the league. Led by Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler (15 W, 2.49 ERA), Julio Urias (20 W, 2.96 ERA), and Clayton Kershaw (10 W, 3.55 ERA), the Dodgers’ pitching rotation strikes fear into the eyes of any hitter. Furthermore, their bullpen led by Kenley Jansen (2.22 ERA in 69 games, 38 Saves) and Blake Treinen (1.99 ERA in 72 games) is equally as strong as their starting pitching. The Dodgers are ready to ride the arms of their aces all the way to The Commissioner’s Trophy. If that is not enough, their lineup is stacked with power hitters and players who excel at getting on base. The Dodgers are fourth in both home runs and on base percentage in the MLB with 237 HR and a .330 OBP.
Moreover, Los Angeles is a team known for sparing no amount of money in order to get to the World Series. Their monetary flexibility allows them to go big on many players that other small market teams cannot afford to sign. They lead the MLB with the highest payroll in 2021, which is an astounding $194,839,000. Their ability to sign the best players in the league is a huge advantage that will pay off in the postseason. Small market teams can only hope to compete with the prowess of the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers. Their financial ability combined with their spot near the top of almost every statistics category will bode well for the Dodgers. At the end of the MLB postseason, The Commissioner’s Trophy will once again find its way to Los Angeles.
PCI: Who Will Win the World Series?
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
The Washington Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series to advance to their first ever World Series since moving from Montreal to Washington, D.C.
For many fans, it has been a long time coming since the Nationals came into formation in 2005. After winning the NL East four times in five years from 2012-2017, the Nationals were unable to advance past the NLDS every year. This led to the Nationals losing their coveted All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper to free agency. Many people wrote them off but, the Nationals were able to rebuild without Harper and improve their team for the better.
The Nationals finished the season hot and made it into the Wild Card game where they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers.
Because the Nationals have been underdogs the whole way and because they have certain key players, I believe they will win the World Series.
The Astros do have a superior roster in some ways, but the Nationals are not far off. Again, this is Washington’s first World Series in franchise history. The Nationals were able to overcome the Phillies and find a way into the playoffs. As of this past weekend, the Houston Astros are the largest favorites in a World Series since the Boston Red Sox in 2007 against the Colorado Rockies. The Nationals were underdogs to the Dodgers in the NLDS, then were slightly favored in the St. Louis Cardinals series even though the Nationals were just 2-5 versus the Cardinals this year.
The Nationals have that “October Clutch” factor that not many teams have. Just go back to Game Five of the NLDS where they were trailing on the road 3-1 facing arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball history in Clayton Kershaw. Back-to-back home runs by Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon tied the game and sent the game to extra innings, where Howie Kendrick blasted a grand slam.
In 38 at-bats in this postseason, he has hit two homeruns and has driven nine runs. Those nine runs are the most by a Washington National in postseason history. Kendrick is boasting himself for an early WS MVP award if the Nationals keep going on this track.
Let’s not forget the other stars on the Nationals. Their rotation will include Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Aníbal Sánchez. Strasburg, who is now Top-10 All-Time in postseason ERA with a 1.10, has been phenomenal this October. Sánchez took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in the first game of the NLCS is not something to undermine.
With the Houston Astros lineup holding the likes of Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and José Altuve; it is going to be up to the Nationals pitching to keep them in it. I believe that with the Nationals having the extended break, especially for pitching, they will be rested and have a shot at knocking off the heavily favorited Houston Astros.
By Marc DeMartis ’21
The Houston Astros are headed back to the World Series for the second time in the last three seasons. Coming off a six-game series with the New York Yankees, they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Although the Washington Nationals have quite the batting lineup to compete with the Astros’ strong pitching staff, the Astros easily match the Nationals firepower with a stacked batting lineup of their own. There is no reason why they will not continue their dominance into the World Series.
The Astros were already having a fantastic regular season with a pitching rotation that included two of the best pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (both of whom are coming off of 300 strikeout seasons). Then, making the trade for star pitcher Zack Greinke towards the end of the season was the final piece to the puzzle for the Astros. With a pitching rotation that includes three of the MLB’s best pitchers, it is going to be hard for the Nationals to hit as well as they have been all year. In terms of Washington’s weaknesses, their bullpen is not nearly as deep as Houston’s. With relievers like Will Harris and Ryan Pressly, the Astros have the depth necessary to go deep into games whereas the Nationals relievers are not nearly as reliable.
Not only is the Astros pitching dominant, but with a batting lineup that includes stars such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Michael Brantley it’s hard for any team to stop their hitters. Five out of nine players in the Astros starting lineup hit .296 or above during the regular season which just goes to show how hard it is to pitch to this team. Players like Jose Altuve have been red hot for the Astros this postseason, posting a team-high .315 batting average with two home runs, the second one being his walk-off that sent his team to the World Series over the Yankees in Game Six.
With regards to World Series experience, Houston’s roster carries six position players who were a part of their World Series win back in 2017, which is more than the Yankees, Cardinals, and Nationals combined. With experience on their side, the Astros look to earn their second ever World Series trophy while the Nationals continue to fight for their first ever World Series title.
Another important aspect of this series that must be mentioned is the fact that the Astros will have the home field advantage for this series. Considering the Astros were the best home team in the MLB this season and have only lost one home game this postseason, it seems highly unlikely for the Nationals to pull this one out.
A Look at the Red Sox’ Success Without Big Papi
By Jack Belanger ’21
After Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz retired following the conclusion of the 2016 season, there was a lot of uncertainty as to who would fill his role as Boston’s power hitter, go-to guy in the postseason, and leader. With such a big hole to fill, there was plenty of reason to wonder how long it would take the team to return to the World Series. After all, in Ortiz’s last season, he had one of his best performances of his career and the team still fell to eventual American League champions, the Cleveland Indians, in the first round of the playoffs.
But who knew it would only take two years? Especially with how the 2017 season unfolded.
While the Red Sox still managed to win the American League East, the team lacked a true power hitter without Ortiz. Outfielder Mookie Betts finished second in the MVP voting in 2016, but suffered a down year in 2017. Veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Price were supposed to take over as the clubhouse leaders, but neither could stay on the field due to injuries.
In the postseason, the team bowed out after four games in the first round to the Houston Astros, losing the series three games to one. Outside of a 10-3 win in Game Three, the Sox struggled to score at any consistent rate. The team was lacking the voice that Ortiz brought in the dugout as well as his big bat in the lineup. It was clear general manager Dave Dombrowski had to make changes for the team to return to contention in 2018.
Newcomer J.D. Martinez proved to be the power-hitter Boston needed as he hit 43 homers during the season, and Betts played like he had back in 2016 to lead the offense in the regular season.
In past World Series runs, it was stars such as Ortiz and Manny Ramirez who would heat up come October; this year it was Jackie Bradley Jr. and under-the-radar, mid-season acquisition Steve Pearce who would prove to come up in key moments for the Sox. Bradley Jr. would lead the team with nine runs batted in to lead the team over the Astros and head to the World Series.
Pitcher Chris Sale became the rallying voice the Sox needed in Game Four of the World Series when the team was down 4-0. A moment reminiscent of 2013 when Ortiz voiced his displeasure with the team’s hitting in the World Series, Sale fired up his teammates and sure enough, the Sox were able to come back and win 9-6.
Somehow Pearce became one of the unlikeliest of heroes in Red Sox history after winning World Series MVP. The 35-year-old journeyman came up big for Boston in the final two games of the series. In Game Four, he had a home run and four RBI’s and in Game Five he hit two home runs to seal the series for the Red Sox.
The 2018 Red Sox will likely go down as one of (if not the) greatest teams in franchise history, and while the stars filled Ortiz’s shoes during the regular season, it was the role-players who came up big on the field during the postseason.
Dodgers, Red Sox World Series Match-Up
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
The Boston Red Sox boast the best record in baseball and have found their way back into the World Series after defeating the defending champions, the Houston Astros. They are going up against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were defeated by the Astros in seven games last year in the World Series and look to collect their first title since 1988. The Red Sox have won two World Series, in 2007 and 2013, since breaking the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino in 2004. The Sox look to add another ring into the collection under the leadership of first-year manager Alex Cora.
Both teams have their strengths. The Dodgers possess a strong rotation and bullpen. Lead by three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have a trio of pitchers in rookie Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Buehler started game seven of the NLCS where he threw 4.2 innings and only allowed six hits, one earned run and struck out seven. The Dodgers pitchers are ranked near the top in most categories in the National League, they have the best ERA in the National League with 3.38, first in strikeouts and ranked second in BAA with hitters only hitting .230.
The Dodgers are also one of the leading analytics teams in the MLB, and they love defensive shifting. Manager Dave Roberts loves to use hitters off his bench in crucial situations, especially with the likes of right-hander David Freese, who can combat the Sox lefties Chris Sale and David Price. Freese was the hero in the St. Louis Cardinals’ run to a World Series win over the Texas Rangers in 2011.
The Red Sox have one of the best lineups top to bottom. The Red Sox place near the top in offensive ranks in the American League. The Sox are first in runs per game, average, on-base percentage, and slugging. There may not be any better hitters in the league than Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and Andrew Benintendi does not get enough credit with his glove and at-bats. According to FanGraphs, Benintendi ranks 31st in the league for contact percentage at 86.5 percent, and his ability to make contact with tough pitches out of the zone and extending at-bats is even better at 75.6 percent putting him at 14th in the league. A few key pieces in the lineup are Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce. Pearce loves left-handed pitching so expect him to be in the lineup against Kershaw and other LHPs. This year, Pearce hit .304 and had a .959 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) against LHPs compared to .265 AVG and .828 OPS against righties. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is only 5-27 this postseason. He has come up with some clutch hits in key moments that won the Red Sox a few games. In the ALCS, his OPS was over 1.000 because two of his three hits were home runs and the other was a double. If Pearce and JBJ can get it going in the World Series, this lineup is dangerous and hard to stop. We already saw the Red Sox put up 16 runs against the New York Yankees on the road back in the American League Division Series.
The key for the Dodgers is to get to the Red Sox pitching early and get to the bullpen. The pitching has been unreliable in September and thus far in the postseason with only a few viable options. Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has struggled mightily this postseason. In 6.1 innings pitched this year, he has allowed six hits, five earned runs, and six walks. His ERA is just under eight with 7.71 and his WHIP at 1.89. These are unusual numbers from your closer, who is typically one of the better relievers on the team, so it will be interesting to see how Alex Cora will use Kimbrel in this series.
The Red Sox want to score early and score often. Teams this postseason who score first are 21-6. The Dodgers bullpen this postseason has been lights out. In the NLCS against the Brewers, the bullpen had a 1.45 ERA with hitters only hitting .180 off them. Kenley Jansen solidifies the back end of this bullpen; he has allowed no runs this postseason with ten strikeouts in 6.2 IP.
Providence College Investigates
The Boston Red Sox Will Win the World Series
By Scott Jarosz ’21
2018 has been a memorable year for America’s favorite pastime, and especially for Major League Baseball. Virtually every division in the National League is showing a tight race for the top spot. The Oakland Athletics continue to chase down the Houston Astros in the American League West as playoffs loom around the corner. There is one team, however, that has handily separated itself from the rest, and that team is the Boston Red Sox, who I predict will win the 2018 World Series.
Coming into the 2018 season with a brand-new manager, former MLB infielder Alex Cora, no one knew what to expect from the Red Sox. Cora had previously been a part of the Red Sox as a player from 2005-2008, and his only prior coaching experience was as a bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017. Nonetheless, the Boston Red Sox offered Cora the position of manager after the Astros had just recently knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs in the 2017 ALDS, and Cora accepted the offer, which lasts through 2020.
Despite a lack of previous experience as manager, Cora took the helm in Boston with confidence, and it has showed. The Red Sox have racked up 100 wins this season for the first time since 1946, and are still the only team to have reached 107 wins this season. The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth back on Sept. 11 with a win over the Toronto Blue Jays. On Sept. 20, they clinched the AL East title by beating the New York Yankees 11-6. As if this was not enough to cap off an incredible regular season, the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 21 to tie the franchise win record of 105 wins, which was set back in 1912.
While capturing the division title and tying the franchise win record are great accomplishments, one question remains: do the Red Sox have what it takes to be successful in the playoffs and ultimately bring a World Series title back to Boston? The Red Sox have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball, led by the league’s batting average leader Mookie Betts, RBI leader J.D. Martinez, as well as shortstop Xander Bogaerts and leftfielder Andrew Benintendi, who have both proven to be integral parts of Boston’s lineup. The Red Sox also have a dominant starting rotation featuring Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez. If the Red Sox continue to play as they have since opening day and the bullpen is able to hold off playoff opponents late in games, the Boston Red Sox will be the 2018 World Series Champions.
Providence College Investigates
The New York Yankees Will Win the World Series
By Sullivan Burgess ’20
While some teams that have clinched a playoff berth this season have continued to shine, the New York Yankees will be very successful this October, as the team looks forward to winning the 2018 World Series and adding their 28th Championship to the clubhouse.
What started as an exciting season slowly turned gloomy in July, after a wild pitch hit the wrist of Yankee outfielder and All-Star Aaron Judge, and put him out for two months. Recently, Judge has been entered back into the lineup and is currently providing clutch hitting for the Yankees, with his .278 batting average and 26 homeruns.
In the past few weeks, injuries have been plaguing the Yankees, such as outfielder Aaron Hicks with a tight hamstring and shortstop Didi Gregorius with a cartilage tear in his right wrist. Both players are hoping to be back by the end of the regular season, just in time for the postseason.
Yankees’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is entering the postseason for the first time in his career, has been leading the charge for his team in last the two months of Judge’s absence. Stanton is sporting a .293 batting average across the months of July and August, as well as 35 homeruns this season. When asked about the tools to keep the momentum going for the Yankees this postseason, Stanton stated, “There’s no feeling like it, till you get a couple more in you down the stretch here… It’s good. It’s a good point we’re at now and just keep pushing forward, step by step.”
The Yankees will most likely face the Oakland Athletics in the wild card game. Although the A’s have arguably been the hottest team in baseball this season, the Yankees’ 3-3 record against them so far and a roster almost at 100 percent gives them a solid chance against them should they come face-to-face.
In the American League Division Series, the Yankees will have to face Boston, the team with the best record this MLB season. The Yankees are currently 7-9 against Boston this season, although last series they won 2-1. The road may be tough, but if the Yankees play to their strengths, they can beat Boston in six games. Though the Red Sox may have clinched the AL East, Giancarlo states to his rivals, “They can celebrate now…We have time to celebrate later.”
The American League Championship Series will have a Cleveland Indians-Yankees matchup. If played to their strengths, the Yankees can also win this series versus Cleveland in six games, which would allow them to possibly face the Atlanta Braves, coming out of the National League, in the World Series.
New York’s heavy-hitting lineup will be the difference between an unexpierenced Atlanta team, and give them a chance to win the series in five games.
Overall, the Yankees will rise their 28th pennant in their storied history at Yankee Stadium this season.
By Jack Belanger ’21
By winning Game 7 on Nov. 1, the Houston Astros officially won the 2017 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston scored five runs in the first two innings off of Los Angeles starter Yu Darvish, to put the Astros ahead early and take the life out of the crowd.
The Dodgers threatened to score multiple times throughout the game, but left 10 men on base and would only score one run.
The Astros dominated all nine innings and won the game 5-1. Outfielder George Springer was named World Series MVP. He tied a series record by hitting five home runs and set a record for extra-base hits with eight and total bases with 29.
This is Houston’s first World Series title in team history, dating back to 1962 when they were known as the Houston Colt .45’s.
Since 2013 when they lost 111 games, the Astros have been improving every season to the point of winning 101 games this year.
A World Series to Remember
By Jack Belanger ’21
What a series it has been. Every game in this World Series was a hard fought battle; neither team got blownout. The Dodgers and Astros won over 100 games this year and couldn’t have been more evenly matched. The teams have three Cy Young Award winners in Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, and Justin Verlander. Neither team lacked any firepower as 14 different players hit at least one home run, and through five games the teams combined to hit 22 home runs which set a new World Series record.
In Game One, we saw Kershaw and Keuchel square off. Kershaw managed to put on one of the better pitching performances in recent years as he went seven innings only allowing one run on three hits, while striking out 11 Astros. Keuchel also seemed to be cruising, allowing one run through the fifth inning. In the sixth inning, Dodger Justin Turner hit the go-ahead two run home run to give LA a 3-1 lead which they would hold onto.
Game Two foreshadowed the late game theatrics we would see later in the series. This game featured eight home runs, including five in extra innings. Down 3-2 in the ninth inning, Houston left fielder Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo shot to tie the game. Houston then took a 5-3 lead in the top of the tenth with home runs from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. In the bottom of the tenth it was the Dodgers’ turn to rally as they tied the game with a home run from Yasiel Puig and a RBI single from Kike Hernandez. Houston finally took the lead for good in the 11th on a two-run homer from center fielder George Springer, making the lead 7-5.
Game Three did not feature any late game drama as Houston grabbed four runs early in the second inning off starter Yu Darvish, with a home run from Yuli Gurriel and RBI singles from Gonzalez and catcher Brian McCann. The Dodger close the gap with runs in the sixth but couldn’t gain any more ground on Houston.
Game Four saw the Dodgers rally for five runs, after a 1-1 tie, in the ninth inning off closer Ken Giles, to tie the series at two games apiece. Dodger Joc Pederson hit the dagger, with a three-run shot to make the game 6-1, and eventually tying the series at two games apiece.
Nobody could have expected how Game Five turned out. With Kershaw and Keuchel squaring off again, no one could have imagined the firepower that would be on display. The wild game featured seven home runs, three ties, and four lead changes. The Dodgers managed to grab a 4-0 lead but the Astros rallied to tie it in the fourth inning on a three-run shot from Gurriel. In the fifth, each team traded three-run home runs to make the score 7-7. In the seventh inning, the Astros managed to make it 11-8, but the Dodgers were not out yet. Down 12-11 in the top of the ninth inning with a guy on third and two outs, Dodger Chris Taylor hit a game-tying single to keep LA’s hopes alive and send the game into extra innings. Then, in the bottom of the 10th inning, Houston put the game to rest when Alex Bregman hit a walk-off single as Derek Fisher scored all the way from second base.
In game six, Verlander looked to seal Houston’s first ever World Series title, and through five innings that is what it looked like. Going into the sixth up 1-0, Verlander allowed the first two LA batters reach base. Then Taylor hit a double to tie the game. Seager hit a sacrifice fly to put the Dodgers up 2-1. Joc Pederson hit a homer in the 7th to make it 3-1 and the bullpen for LA was able to shut down the Astros to force a game seven.