Sneaky Snakes Slither into a World Series Matchup with a Tough Texas Team
By William McDermott
If someone told the average baseball fan that this year’s World Series matchup would pit the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Texas Rangers, they wouldn’t have believed them. I certainly wouldn’t have. But multiple upsets and shocked fanbases later, the last teams standing in October are a five and a six seed.
With the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 4-2 win over the Phillies in Game Seven of the NLCS, the matchup for this year’s fall classic is set. They’ll face a a surging Texas Rangers team who dethroned the reigning AL champs, the Houston Astros, in game seven of the ALCS. The ALCS was the second series in postseason history, which saw the away team win every single game. Both teams played very strongly on the road in hostile environments to secure their spot in the World Series. They’ll have to keep up their winning ways to guarantee the pennant.
Coming into this season, neither of these teams was a likely candidate for the World Series. In 2021, both teams had a 100+ loss season. Just two years later, they’re in the World Series. The Diamondbacks had just 84 regular season wins this season. Combined with Texas’ 90 wins, these teams have the combined worst record of any World Series matchup ever played excluding shortened seasons.
The Rangers were coming off an extremely disappointing 2022 season in which they finished 26 games below .500, finished fourth in the AL West, and missed the playoffs. After big offseason signings like Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, last year’s season was a huge let down for the Rangers. The front office, determined to not have another failed campaign, went out on a huge signing spree this offseason, signing All Star pitchers Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. They also traded for Cy Young winning pitcher in Max Scherzer from the Mets. The combination of strong pitching and timely hitting has put the Rangers in position to win their first World Series ever.
The Diamondbacks were an extreme dark horse coming into the 2023 season. With much anticipated rookie sensation, Corbin Carrol, playing in his first full season, there was a glimmer of hope for the Diamondbacks. They lived up to hype early in the season, keeping the Dodgers out of first place in the NL West for much of the first half. This was in part from strong pitching from their ace Zach Gallen and first year pitcher, Brandon Pfaadt, who made his debut this spring. They fell off after the All Star break, and their playoff hopes dwindled. They were still in the hunt at the trade deadline and added power threat, Tommy Pham, and blustered their bullpen with closer Paul Sewald from the Mariners. The Diamondbacks started playing well again down the stretch, which, combined with the Chicago Cubs’ implosion, allowed the Diamondbacks to sneak into the playoffs.
A key storyline for the Diamondbacks will be Ketel Marte. The NLCS MVP has a 16-game hit streak to start his postseason career. Coming into the World Series, “El Niño” is hitting .358, with two home runs, and a .986 OPS. His speed and base stealing ability have been extremely influential for the Diamondbacks offense, as they’ve been able to manufacture a lot of runs. They will continue to be important as they go into a matchup with another high-powered offense in the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers got a lot of offensive production from all parts of their lineup in the ALCS. Their 11-run outpouring in Game Seven was led by ALCS MVP, Adolis Garcia’s two home runs and 5 RBIs. “El Bombi” already has seven home runs and is hitting .327 with an OPS north of 1100. His teammate Corey Seager, who won World Series MVP with the Dodgers in 2020, has a lot of postseason experience and success. He has also been a huge part of this Rangers offense. Although he only has three home runs, which pale in comparison to Garcia’s monstrous number, he’s hitting .333 with 1127 OPS. The tandem of these two, along with Marcus Semien at the top of their order, could be what makes or breaks the World Series for the Rangers.
The World Series is the culmination of the entire season. This final series is what it all comes down to. The Diamondbacks and the Rangers fought hard through a grueling 162 game slate during the regular season and defied the odds throughout the postseason to make it here. Will the Rangers win their first World Series in franchise history, or will history repeat itself for the Diamondbacks? The only thing to do now is to sit back and watch the hottest teams in baseball battle it out in late October. I love this sport so much.