Mid-October MLB Playoff Notes
Best Possible World Series Matchups
JAYS LEAD MLB IN GOLD GLOVES NOMINATIONS:
Blue Jays defenders have been nominated for a major-league leading five Gold Gloves – P-Jose Berrios, C-Alejandro Kirk, 3B-Matt Chapman, LF-Daulton Varsho, CF-Kevin Kiermaier. On the other hand, the Phillies, a team, currently, still alive and dancing in October, were nominated for just three fielding excellence awards – P-Taijuan Walker, C-J.T. Realmuto, 2B Bryson Stott. Interesting to note that last year’s GG winner at first-base, Vlad Guerrero Jr. was not even nominated this year.
With regard to the Phillies and obvious differences with the Jays, yes, Gold Gloves are great, but we know who digs the longball. It has been well-documented, game-by-game, that the Phillies, in this current post-season, heading to Arizona and NLCS Game 3, this version of the Broad Street Bullies had slammed 19 home runs in the first eight post-season games. Digging even further into recent longball history, the Phillies, over their past 60 games, regular-season and playoffs, have crushed 122 homers, propelling them to a 38-22 record over that span. Compare that to the Jays’ final 60 games, including two wildcard losses to the Twins, totalling just 68 homers, leading to a 31-29 record. The Phillies as a wildcard, surely have weaknesses, but they are what they are, and importantly are still playing.
RATING THE MOST APPEALING WORLD-SERIES MATCHUPS:
Following is one man’s ranking re the appeal of the four possible World Series matchups that remain:
1-Rangers vs. Phillies: Would love to see this matchup because of the distinct possibility of runs and late-inning drama. The Phils opened the season swept in three games at Globe Life Field. To show how much the Rangers have changed since that series in late March, their opening day starter was RH Jacob deGrom (now injured) and the relief winner was LH Cole Ragans (included in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Royals). These are the two deepest lineups remaining, with the Rangers bullpen relying on the durable arm of RH Jose Leclerc, while the Phillies come at you with a series of power arms in the pen, until it’s RH Craig Kimbrel time.
2-Astros vs. Phillies: A repeat of last year’s World Series is not the most appealing thought out there, but both these teams are solid and worthy of a return trip. The Phils seem to have improved since last October, while the Astros have taken subtle steps backwards. Butr a rematch would be a rarity. In the last 65 years, the only time there has been a Fall Classic rematch in consecutive seasons was in 1977-78 with the Yankees defeating the Dodgers twice in a row. How old is Dusty? He played for the Dodgers in both ‘77-’78 series, going 12-for-45-.267, with two homers and six RBIs.
3-Rangers vs. Diamondbacks: The D’backs are an 84-win wildcard team that heated up at the right time. They may have been able to win a couple of more games if they had needed to, except that on the final weekend they allowed themselves to be swept at home by the Astros after already clinching their playoff berth and staging a right-field pool party. The list of 84-wins-or-fewer teams to even advance to the World Series in a full season since World War I is quite short – the 2006 Cardinals (83-78) and the ’73 Mets (82-79). The Snakes’ presence of LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and C Gabby Moreno allows for Jays fans to decide if they want to be Diamondbacks fans. Arizona’s manager Torey Lovullo was Toronto’s first base coach in 2011-12 under John Farrell.
4-Astros vs. Diamondbacks: Don’t know what it means that three of the final four teams in the 2023 post-season play in a home ballpark that has a retractable roof. The D’backs only World Series appearance was in 2001 against the Yankees, following the 9/11 caused delay, beating the unbeatable Yankee closer Mariano Rivera in Game 7 at what was then Bank One Ballpark. Back then, the top two starters in the rotation were LH Randy Johnson and RH Curt Schilling. This year’s top pair of RH Zach Gallen and RH Merrill Kelly certainly comes up a little short of that desert dominance.