• Sal Villani

2017 WORLD SERIES PREVIEW


After seven long months of baseball we are down to our final two teams. We will crown a new champion in 2017, with the Los Angeles Dodgers taking on the Houston Astros in the World Series. It will be a best of seven series, with home field advantage belonging to the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers are seeking their first World Series title since 1988, while Houston has never won it all since the franchise’s expansion in 1962. This is set up to be a great World Series, with baseball’s best offense against baseball’s best pitching staff.

Who’s Playing:

AL CHAMPION: Houston Astros, 101-61 regular season, 7-4 playoffs

NL CHAMPION: Los Angeles Dodgers, 104-58 regular season, 7-1 playoffs

Game #1: Tuesday, 10/24/17, 8:08PM FOX

How the Team’s Compare:

Offense:

ASTROS: MLB’s #1 ranked offense in 2017. Their lineup is extremely balanced from top to bottom, with five players posting over 80 RBI this season. The Astros are led by the three-headed monster of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. Altuve is one of the league’s best overall players, and would get my vote for the 2017 regular season MVP. This is crazy when you look at him and realize that he stands at a diminutive 5’6”. Correa is one of baseball’s most talented young shortstops, and still improving at age 23. My fellow UConn classmate Springer provides some major power out of the leadoff spot. Other key contributors: Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Marwin Gonzalez.

DODGERS: While the Dodgers lineup isn’t as deep as the Astros, it is still laden with talent. Six Dodgers had at least 20 HRs in 2017. Justin Turner has been super clutch and hitting the crap out of the ball in the playoffs. Cody Bellinger is the clear-cut NL rookie of the year, blasting an NL record 39 dingers in his first campaign. Corey Seager will add a much needed boost, as he sat out the entire NLCS with a back injury. Other key contributors: Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Austin Barnes.

Advantage – Houston Astros

Defense: ASTROS: Have fun trying to get the ball through Houston’s infield featuring Altuve, Correa and Bregman. Springer and Reddick are Gold Glove talents in the outfield. Players like Gurriel, Gonzalez and Cameron Maybin provide great flexibility for AJ Hinch to mix and match. DODGERS: The Dodgers are no slouch on defense either. Puig boasts the strongest outfield arm in the big leagues. Seager and Turner are a formidable left side on the infield. Taylor acts as their Swiss army knife, playing anywhere the team needs. Catcher Barnes is a huge difference maker, ranking high in many defensive metrics while only playing around half of a season.

Advantage – Houston Astros

Starting Pitching:

ASTROS: Houston is led by 2 former Cy Young award winners in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. Verlander was acquired late season to give the Astros the veteran stud they craved at the top of their pitching staff. Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton are very solid middle of the rotation guys. Even Brad Peacock or Collin McHugh can give you a quality start if needed. They have a great balance of youth and experience in their rotation.

DODGERS: MLB’s #1 ranked pitching staff in 2017. The Dodgers starting four of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood are more proven than their counterparts. Kershaw is a five-time ERA champion and a three-time Cy Young award winner. The only thing missing from his impressive resume is a huge playoff performance. Hill is a true journeyman, playing for 8 teams in his 12 year career before coming into his own in his late 30s. Darvish was acquired from the Texas Rangers at the deadline to add extra depth. He has a history of excellence, but has been very inconsistent these past two seasons. Alex Wood has pitched well above expectation, earning a spot on the 2017 All-Star team.

Advantage – Los Angeles Dodgers

Bullpen:

ASTROS: Ken Giles has been great all season as the team’s closer. After Giles, their other options have struggled. Relievers Will Harris, Joe Musgrove, Luke Gregerson and Chris Devenski need to step their game up if Houston is to go all the way.

DODGERS: This is where the two teams differ greatly. The Dodgers went above and beyond to beef up their bullpen this year. Kenley Jansen has been the best closer in the MLB this year utilizing a ‘Mariano-esque’ cutter. They have a great combo of lefties (Tony Watson, Tony Cingrani) and righties (Pedro Baez, Brandon Morrow, Kenta Maeda) behind Jansen, so manager Dave Roberts can choose his match-ups wisely.

Advantage – Los Angeles Dodgers

PREDICTION: Houston wins in 7 games. The Astros make history and win their first ever World Series. I see Dodgers manager Dave Roberts trying to micromanage his pitching to a fault. Astros manager AJ Hinch will put more faith in his big guns. The team steps up for their city in need that has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Jose Altuve is awarded the MVP.

#baseball #NBL #sports #worldseries #houston #losangeles

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