-By Andrew Brown
As baseball continues on with the grandest of stages with the World Series we see two very competitive and World Series worthy teams between the L.A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros. Both teams are well deserving of taking home the coveted trophy but unfortunately as the great movie quote goes “there can only be one…world series winner?”…close enough. As was the case when the postseason started, there are many thoughts about who might take the crown and while my Indians vs. Nationals World Series match up didn’t pan out, I’d like to weigh in on why I think the Dodgers will still be the 2017 victor.
We are after all coming off of one of the most Cinderella like World Series last year with the Cubs winning it all for the first time since 1904. Now I know most fans and experts have the Dodgers as anything but underdogs but recent history hasn’t been in the Dodgers favor. They’ve been to the postseason five times in the past ten years with a postseason record of 16-19 while having won no more than two games in any NL Championship series. Also, if we dive way back in Dodger history, they are the only team to have suffered a perfect game against them in a World Series thanks to Don Larson back in 1956.
Now after doing my best to paint the Dodgers as underdogs, here’s one word to describe why I think big blue takes the cake in 2017…history. The Dodgers have been inching closer and closer to the World Series as the years have gone by but this year they haven’t simply relied on the old Yankee mentality of buying their talent. They’ve used a great combination of big bucks and internal talent like Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and the almighty Clayton Kershaw among others to vault them to the biggest of stages. Now I reference back to the Chicago Cubs World Series drought and I feel similar magic is in the works for L.A. Even though history hasn’t been kind to them lately, I feel like history has been routing for the big blue this season given the fact that every other NL West team has made a World Series appearance at least once since the Dodgers did so last back in 1988. I would like to add that in their last World Series stint, they won it all quite handily and did so with an eventual Cy-Young award winner in Orel Hershiser.
History also favors the Dodgers from a dollars and cents standpoint. Ever since the Guggenheim Partners regime took the reins, L.A’s wallets have changed from flat line to feeling like a lopsided booster seat. The transition to great play on the diamond has followed and now as big blue rolls in the green, history’s financial side favors L.A.’s $143 million World Series payroll vs $115 million for Houston. Since the 2003 World Series between the then Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees, there have been eight World Series matchups that have included at least a $20 million payroll disparity between the final two teams. History wears an L.A jersey because in all eight matchups, the team with the higher payroll has won.
Finally, I believe mister history is showcasing a similar Dodgers team that took the crown to L.A in 1988 with an emphasis in pitching. Back in ’88, the Dodgers took the pitching world by storm both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. Their bullpen held the top spot in ERA, strike outs per nine innings, and fewest home runs allowed. Flash forward to 2017 the Dodgers pen still showcases dominance with the fourth best ERA and the 3rd highest strikeouts per game total. Shifting that to the starters, the vintage ’88 team led by Hershiser was 4th in ERA and 3rd in strikeouts per game. Meanwhile L.A’s 2017 edition, led by three time Cy-Young winner Clayton Kershaw, entered the postseason with the best ERA in baseball. The saying “defense wins championships” has a very true ring and that has been proven over the past 10 years with 6 World Series winners yielding a better team ERA over their World Series competition. Pitching wins games, and in a World Series not necessarily dominated by offense, the stage is set for a Dodger World Series comeback win.