2023 MLB World Series preview
⬅️ The road to the World Series
The Rangers and Diamondbacks are the last ones standing from the 12-team MLB playoff field, and both Wild Card (WC) squads knocked off juggernauts to make it this far.
- Texas swept the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-three WC, then did the same to the Baltimore Orioles — the best regular-season AL team — in the best-of-five Divisional Series (DS), before bouncing the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros from the AL Championship Series after seven games.
As for the DBacks, they barely slithered into the postseason, but have made the most of their unlikely berth. Arizona swept their WC series vs. the Milwaukee Brewers and their NLDS against the high-powered LA Dodgers, then outlasted arguably the hottest team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, in the NLCS. Snakes alive, baby.
👊 The matchup
It’s downright improbable that these squads made the Fall Classic. In fact, this is just the third World Series in MLB history to feature two WC squads. Plus, the combined 174 regular-season wins between them is the fewest in a World Series matchup ever. Expect the unexpected, right?
As for their head-to-head record, the DBacks and Rangers met four times this year, with Arizona taking three of those contests. But the battles were close — games were decided by less than three runs on average, and one even required extra innings. TL;DR? This is going to be good.
🤠 Texas Rangers
The storylines: You don’t go from 100+ losses to the World Series in two seasons without making major changes. Texas executed a series of massive moves to reach the game’s biggest stage, including signing star shortstop Corey Seager during the 2021 offseason, luring three-time champ manager Bruce Bochy out of retirement, and trading for pitcher Max Scherzer at this year’s deadline.
- This squad also embodied a “no pressure, no diamonds” mentality, overcoming a season-ending injury to top hurler Jacob deGrom.
Players to watch: Who else but ALCS MVP Adolis García, the Rangers’ right fielder. El Bombi blasted five homers in the final four games of the Astros series, notching a postseason record-setting 15 total RBI across the ALCS. Beyond locked in.
- And on the bump, Texas boasts a dynamic duo of lockdown hurlers with Game 1 starter “Big Game Nate” Eovaldi and southpaw Jordan Montgomery.
Key to success: Consistency. As evidenced by their rough 4-16 midseason slump, the lows can be quite low for this squad. But now that they’ve taken things “Higher,” they’ll need to maintain that level of play when the lights shine the brightest.
🐍 Arizona Diamondbacks
The storylines: Hey, look at them. From posting a negative (!!!) regular-season run differential, to a dismal 16-34 stretch, to a brutal gauntlet of postseason opponents, no one had the DBacks advancing to the Fall Classic — their first since they won it all in 2001.
- Yet here they are, thanks in large part to their “find a way to win” mindset. Whether through small ball or an unexpected hero stepping up, these Snakes just keep on hissing.
Players to watch: Continuing their unconventional pattern, Arizona’s run hasn’t been led by any one player. That said, second baseman (and NLCS MVP) Ketel Marte has been as steady as they come, and enters the World Series on a record-setting 16-game postseason hitting streak.
- The other name to know? NL Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll. The outfielder slumped a bit in October, but can change the game with his speed and awe-inspiring defense. This kid is certainly alright.
Key to success: Keep games close, which they’ve done all postseason long. If their starting hurlers — namely, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly — can hold the Rangers’ offense at bay, the DBacks can certainly manufacture enough runs to slither away with the ultimate upset — and the Commissioner's Trophy.
📺 How to tune in
First pitch for tonight’s Game 1 is a very precise 8:05 p.m. ET. Catch all of the action on Fox in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada. And if this series goes the full seven games (fingers crossed), the winner will be crowned on November 4th.
- So, bundle up and buckle up: The Fall Classic is just getting started.