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Justin Turner

  • Good sport
    • 3 posts
    November 2, 2020 10:55 PM PST
    This is the World Series we deserve. Dodgers vs. Rays. Seems like it was meant to be, doesn't it? That definitely didn't always appear to be the case. Right, Dave Roberts? You agree with that, Kevin Cash? World Series Game 1: 8 p.m. ET on FOX Got a little tight there at the end, didn't it, fellas? That just makes it even sweeter. Baseball's expanded 16-team playoff field made getting to the World Series a significant accomplishment, and both the Dodgers and Rays were pushed to the brink. In Tampa Bay's case, that happened twice Jackie Robinson Youth Jersey, first against the Yankees and then the Astros. In the end, the two best regular-season teams are the two teams that'll line up for Game 1 on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Game 1 FAQ You're going to hear a lot about these two franchises being a study in contrasts in terms of payrolls, markets and ballparks. Don't lose sight of the baseball end of it: The Dodgers and Rays are very evenly matched, both featuring young stars, deep pitching staffs and spectacular defense. In short, the World Series we deserve. Rays-Dodgers: World Series position analysis Here are seven bold predictions: 1. Defense: It's what the cool kids are doing, and it's going to define this World Series. Sure, great defense has always had the ability to thrill. In this World Series, defense is a huge part of both teams' success. The Dodgers and Rays were second and fifth, respectively, in Defensive Runs Saved during the regular season. Kevin Kiermaier and Cody Bellinger were tied for third among all players in Statcast's Outs Above Average metric.This postseason, we've been treated to string of highlight-reel plays by players on both teams. Stand by for more. 2. Don't be surprised if a stolen base wins a game. (Yes, they're sort of a thing again.) The Rays stole 34 bases in their last 26 games as Cash searched for something to spark his offense. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have gotten into the swing of things in the postseason by going five-for-five in 12 games. At a time when stolen bases have become less and less a part of team's offensive weapons Joc Pederson Jersey, teams that have fast players -- like the Rays (Kiermaier, Willy Adames, Manuel Margot, Randy Arozarena) and Dodgers (Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor) -- see it as a valuable weapon. 3. Bet we've seen the last of Bellinger's forearm smashes. One shoulder dislocation per postseason celebration is the official limit. That's what happened to Bellinger after a massive forearm smash while celebrating the winning home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Imagine if he had missed time because of that. Thankfully, Bellinger got shoulder popped back into place. Next time, a no-touch high five -- or no-touch forearm smash -- is the way to go. 4. Misery index: Cardinals fans vs. Red Sox fans. Remember what they say about trades involving prospects being impossible to evaluate for, say, two or three years? Tell that to Cardinals and Red Sox fans as they watch Betts and Arozarena in the World Series. Last offseason, the Red Sox traded Betts, and the Cardinals dealt Arozarena, in deals that involved prospects. Neither team expected either of these guys to simply disappear, and they, harumph, haven't. Memo to Red Sox and Cardinals executives: This would be a good time to go on that social media diet you've been talking about. 5. Globe Life Field a neutral site? Not for the Dodgers. Remember you heard it here first: The Dodgers are going to win World Series games because they've played 10 of 12 postseason games at new Globe Life Field, where the Rays have never played. The Dodgers have had plenty of time to learn the park's idiosyncrasies Julio Urias Jersey, especially an outfield that has some odd angles and potentially some odd bounces. Look for the Rays to spend lots of time taking balls in the outfield before Game 1. 6. In MLB's bullpen era, it's starting pitching that can win it for the Rays. Relievers have thrown 49.2 percent of the Rays' innings, and 52 percent of the Dodgers' innings, this postseason. Because both teams have so much bullpen depth, it's easy to assume this World Series will be chock-full of pitching changes. But Tampa Bay's biggest advantage is that they also have three starting pitchers -- Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow -- capable of getting the game into the sixth or seventh inning. It doesn't happen that often because the bullpens are so deep. But if it does, Tampa Bay's pitching staff could dominate the series. 7. So you think the Rays may need more offense to win? Maybe not. The Rays have gotten this far despite hitting just .209 in the postseason and averaging 4.1 runs per game. Cash has shaken up his lineup, benched some players, moved others around, and he still isn't getting much from anyone other than Arozarena. Having survived one round while playing five straight days (American League Division Series) and another playing seven days in a row (ALCS), this World Series with the usual days off built in could play nicely into his hand. With off-days after Game 2 and a potential Game 5, Cash will be able to keep his stable of relievers fresh. This may just be Tampa Bay's advantage and the reason they'll win. Sometimes, we do get the right teams in the World Series. The Rays were the American League's No. 1 seed, and they survived three rounds of playoff series to get to the Fall Classic. The Dodgers were the National League's top seed, and they're here, too. The two best teams in baseball, the top seed in each league, facing off. Just what we expected from a 60-game season and expanded playoffs Justin Turner Jersey, right? Despite the obvious made-for-drama narratives over differences in market size, payroll size, franchise history and so on, there's a lot of similarities between these teams. That starts with Dodger boss Andrew Friedman, who ran the Rays from 2005 through 2014, including building the 2008 edition -- the only previous Tampa Bay World Series team. Both clubs can pitch, ranking first and third in ERA; both managers own Red Sox World Series rings as players. (Dave Roberts in 2004, Kevin Cash in 2007.) World Series Game 1: 8 p.m. ET on FOX If there's a differentiator, it's on offense. The Dodgers had baseball's best bats, while the Rays were ninth-best -- not, of course, that this has stopped Tampa Bay from getting this far. Who has the edge? Let's look position by position. (An important note: We'll take a look at who's been hot in the playoffs, because, you know, Randy Arozarena. But we're also not going to overlook regular-season numbers and track record, either.) Neither Mike Zunino (65 OPS+) nor Michael Perez (34 OPS+) had good hitting seasons, and Rays catchers as a whole were one of the weakest backstop groups in baseball. That said, while Zunino strikes out a ton (46% in the playoffs, after 44% in the regular season), he's still dangerous enough that he's homered four times in the 2020 postseason, including a big one in Game 7 of the ALCS. It's sort of the opposite for the Dodgers, who had one of baseball's best-hitting catching groups, thanks in large part to Will Smith, who in parts of two big league seasons has an outstanding 146 OPS+. He's a great example of how hard it is to worry about postseason numbers: Half of his 11 postseason hits came in a 5-for-6 performance in Game 3 of the NLDS, but he also had a massive go-ahead three-run homer (off his sort-of-doppelganger) in Game 5 of the NLCS. This is mostly going to be a platoon of lefty Ji-Man Choi (106 OPS+) and righty Yandy Díaz (131 OPS+), which is entertaining, because Díaz has played the position more in the postseason (25 innings) than he did in the regular season (14 innings). Choi has hit well in the postseason; Díaz has not at all, though he's still drawing a ton of walks. Meanwhile, what to make of Max Muncy? After two outstanding seasons with Los Angeles, he didn't do that much this year (97 OPS+), but came alive in the NLCS, walking nine times and adding four extra-base hits, including two homers. Did we say bet on talent above? We did.
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