With their game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71) clinched their second consecutive World Series appearance— this time they’ll be taking on the league’s best team, the Boston Red Sox (108-54).
The Dodgers became the first National League (NL) team to make the World Series in back-to-back years since the Philadelphia Phillies did so in 2008-2009.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are coming off of handling the New York Yankees 3 games to 1 before dispatching last year’s World Series champion Houston Astros in five games in the American league Championship Series (ALCS).
The Boston vs. Los Angeles sports rivalry is well known by basketball fans as the Celtics and Lakers did battle in 12 NBA finals. Now the Red Sox and Dodgers will open a new chapter to the rivalry this time on baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series.
While their best of seven series kicks off in Boston Tuesday night on 10/23, the journeys each team took to make it to this point were quite the opposite.
A year after winning 104 games and then losing to the Astros in last year’s World Series, the Dodgers season got off to a rocky start. They had a below .500 record over the first two months of the season, when they lost numerous players for various amounts of time due to injuries, which included ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw for months and former Rookie of the Year Corey Seager for the season.
The team turned the corner in July and August led by a red-hot offense that saw players like Matt Kemp, Max Muncy and Yasiel Puig that lifted the Dodgers up the standings.
Despite this the team still needed to play a 163 game to win their division and avoid the one game wild card.
The playoffs have seen two different sides of this Dodgers team in each round.
In their 3-1 series win over the Braves, the Dodgers offense scored at least five runs in three of those four games. Whereas in the NLCS it was the bullpen and some timely starting pitching that helped play a role in winning the NL pennant for the second straight season.
While not being the same team they were a year ago, the Dodgers are back in the Fall Classic. Led by a strong offense and stout pitching, the Dodgers look to win their first World Series title since 1988.
Meanwhile, the American League (AL) saw the Boston Red Sox bounce back from losing to the Houston Astros 3-1 in last year’s American League Division Series (ALDS) to become arguably the best team in all of baseball.
Boston’s high-powered offense was led by two potential AL MVP candidates, power hitter J.D. Martinez who hit 43 home runs this season and all-around superstar Mookie Betts who led all of Major League Baseball with a .346 batting average.
At one point, the Red Sox were 50 games above .500 (92-42) and they were the first team to win at least 100 games this season, eventually winning a franchise record 108 games.
What may be the biggest difference compared to last season is the Sox starting pitching core.
Their trio of all stars: Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price, were all finally healthy during the regular season, as all three of them had at least 177 strikeouts during the season.
More importantly, all three have won at least one postseason game during their current playoff run, most notably David Price got his first official career postseason win in the ALCS clinching game five.
While these two teams will be focused solely on the World Series for the next week and a half, there is one thing that both teams will have to face eventually — the future.
The Dodgers are closing out what could be the end of their present championship contending window for the time being, as Clayton Kershaw could leave the team following this season.
Meanwhile the Red Sox have the potential to field one of the best all-around teams in baseball over the next five years if they are able to pay for all their main players.
With two cities that have a lot of history in winning championships, and two teams that need to win with their current core, this World Series is shaping up to be just as interesting and dramatic as it’s been the last two years.