2023 World Series Preview: Fresh Blood!

Adolis Garcia has been on a tear this postseason for the Rangers and just won ALCS MVP honors. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Just as we all predicted — it’s a Texas Rangers-Arizona Diamondbacks World Series! The Dodgers are long gone. The Atlanta Braves were not far behind. The Houston Astros threatened a legitimate dynasty claim, but fell victim to a second helping of homefield disadvantage. Instead, the Fall Classic will feature two teams that are just two seasons removed from a 100-loss season. Two wild card clubs that won 90 and 84 games is not what everyone had in mind when sizing up this year’s field, which featured three 100-win teams and a few other usual-suspect heavy-hitters like Houston and Philadelphia.

It’s always nice to see underdogs win in sports, and the Rangers and D-Backs certainly fit that bill. This kind of feels like 2010, when two fresh-faced upstarts thwarted a World Series rematch, and Bruce Bochy was front-and-center. Bochy’s Giants knocked off the defending NL-champion Phillies as his Giants would go on to win the franchise’s first San Francisco title, while the Texas Rangers dethroned the defending-champion New York Yankees. 13 years later, Bochy and the Rangers teamed up to do it again — only this time as one. While Bochy’s Giants prevented Texas’ first title in 2010, his Rangers are looking to bring home the goods against the plucky D-Backs.

Without further ado, let’s break down this refreshing World Series matchup between Texas and Arizona:


This seems like a no-brainer. The Rangers racked up the runs in 2023 and posted a +165 run differential, fourth-best in MLB. On the flip side, the Diamondbacks had a -15 (!) run differential. Both teams have found ways to score in October, but the D-Backs can’t hold a candle to what Texas is doing. With Adolis Garcia having a coming-out party and Corey Seager seemingly back to his old self, the Rangers are scary. What makes them more potent is that the bottom of their order with guys like Josh Jung and Leody Taveras are making significant contributions, something the D-Backs can’t say with the likes of Evan Longoria and Geraldo Perdomo. Edge: Rangers.

Starting Pitching

When Jacob deGrom was lost for the season, it threatened to severely dent the Rangers’ postseason hopes. Instead, GM Chris Young retooled with trades for Jordan Montgomery and Max Scherzer, and Nathan Eovaldi turned out to be the real gem of Young’s free-agent signings this past offseason. Scherzer hasn’t quite been himself, but neither has Zac Gallen for Arizona. Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt has done their part, but Eovaldi’s October dominance and Montgomery’s breakout postseason give Texas the more formidable rotation. Edge: Rangers.


An area that has held Texas back all year has been much better in October, but you can’t deny Arizona’s advantage here. The key trade the D-Backs made was for Seattle closer Paul Sewald, who has been lights-out this postseason. The bridges have been stellar as well, as Kevin Ginkel, Andrew Saalfrank, and Ryan Thompson have validated manager Torey Lovullo’s trust. Texas has leaned heavily on closer Jose Leclerc, even though Aroldis Chapman has mostly been solid. Texas’ bullpen wild card is Josh Sborz, and he figures to be a key member again in this series. But it’s anyone guess what guys like Will Smith and Cody Bradford will bring to the table. Edge: Diamondbacks.


Both of these teams have been fantastic defensively all season. In fact, Arizona made the fewest errors in baseball (56), but the Rangers were just one behind with 57. It’s hard to find a definitive edge here. Edge: Even.


The Rangers are searching for the franchise’s first title, losing in back-to-back years in 2010-11. The latter of those was especially heartbreaking as Texas was just one strike away on three separate pitches. But this year feels different. Bruce Bochy is managing his third different franchise in the World Series, having lost once with San Diego and winning three times with San Francisco. His calm and cool and bullpen management is hard to beat. On the flip side, though, it’s not as if the D-Backs aren’t riding some serious mojo as well. They did the improbable, winning Games 6 and 7 in front of a hostile Philadelphia crowd against a previously-undefeated-at-home Phillies squad. Sweeping the Dodgers was no small feat either. For any edge the Rangers may have in experience, the Diamondbacks seem to make it for it with youthful and blissful ignorance. The only reason I lean Texas is the fact that the Rangers not only won two on the road to advance, they did it against the closest thing modern baseball has to a dynasty, and in incredibly-resounding fashion by outscoring the defending-champion Astros 20-6 over the final two contests. Texas is also a perfect 8-0 on the road during these playoffs, matching the 1996 Yankees for the longest unbeaten road winning streak to start a postseason. Edge: Rangers.


The major difference in these two clubs is the upside factor. When Texas wins, it seems to be in dominant fashion. Arizona did beat the Dodgers handily in Game 1, but has mostly specialized in winning the key moments of games to secure close victories. That’s certainly not to say they can’t continue that against Texas, but they are going to have to play even closer to flawless than they did in previous rounds against Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Baseball fans have been spoiled in recent years with mostly competitive World Series; eight of the last 10 Fall Classics have gone at least six games, with half of those (four) going to the full seven. No fan wants to see a World Series sweep (unless it’s their team winning), and this likely won’t be a skunking. But it’s hard to see it going the full seven, and even six feels like a stretch. Prediction: Rangers in 5.

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