Your 2018 MLB World Series Champions
I can’t give enough credit to the Boston Red Sox for their outstanding all-around season! 119 wins. Yes, you read that right. They won the third most games in history and dominated the postseason taking only 3 losses en route to a championship ring. Now, was the World Series pretty? Not by any means, but it did prove that this year’s MLB was shaped by outstanding pitching and perseverance no matter what.
I give the Dodgers credit for their ability to climb back to the ultimate stage, but deja vu struck as the Dodgers become the latest team to fall just short of the championship two years in a row. *Cough cough 2010/2011 Texas Rangers* Now when push comes to shove, the Dodgers shouldn’t change anything, I mean they made the World Series twice, right? Hmm… let’s discuss it.
The heart and sole of this year’s postseason was all about who was performing on the mound. Unlike the year before, where we saw hit after hit after home run, 2018 was marked by gutsy pitching. David Price was on a mission to get rid of his career-long reputation for getting rocked in the playoffs and he did just that. He pitched in 4 of the 5 World Series games and had a positive impact on all of them (especially Game 5). The thing is, he could have pulled the old “I’m a starter” move and pitched in his two scheduled starts. He would have been just fine doing so, but his unselfishness gave Alex Cora more depth in the bullpen and the Dodgers’ hitters more lefty matchups to deal with.
Nathan Eovaldi deserves a ton of credit as well. His bullpen innings in a pivotal Game 3 were incredible. Though you may have stayed up to watch the 72 inning game just to see him give up the walk-off home run, he was brilliant. I mean really, even his pitch to Max Muncy had him going opposite field to hit it out. Now, how was that performance important? It’s simple. He soaked up six plus innings of work on the mound and killed it! Plus, he gave the literal definition of relief to his pitching staff for the next two games.
Now, I could give Kershaw credit for doing well in the postseason but… yep, you guessed it - he didn’t come up big in crunch time. In Game 1 he gave up 5 earned runs by allowing 7 hits and 3 walks - all before getting pulled in the 5th inning. Game 5 was his time to shine, right? Wrong. He gave up 3 home runs, need I say more?
The most impressive starter for the Dodgers had to be Walker Buehler. His Game 3 start was magic and at 24 years old, he has a bright future. He went 7 scoreless innings, because he absolutely had to with the offense the Dodgers couldn’t put together all series. Now, the Dodgers need to sign this guy up for a lifetime deal if they know what’s good for them.
Chris Sale was nothing special, but man isn’t he fun to watch!?
Kenley Jansen’s got to go.
Craig Kimbrel is past his prime.
Rich Hill was scared to fail. He basically asked Dave Roberts to pull him in a big time Game 4. The result: bullpen disaster.
This year’s series would have been magic with a surplus of hitting, but we didn’t see that happen in any big way. Now, with that being said - Steve Pearce will never buy a drink in Boston ever again! He was the lone excitement in this series at the plate. An unlikely source of big offense came from the journeyman picked up from Tampa Bay earlier this year. He had 16 plate appearances and went 4-12 with 3 home runs and a double. Considering the lack of offense this World Series provided, this guy’s 8 RBI stat line was fuge. Yeah, FUGE!
Mookie Betts was the big surprise in this 5 game series, because he didn’t exactly show up. He had a drought for 13 straight at-bats before hitting a punctuation mark bomb in the final game of the series, but for a probable AL MVP, his performance was less than average. Nothing much to see here.
J.D. Martinez went 5 for 18 with a double and a home run tallying 5 RBIs. A whopping 13 runs batting in came from Martinez and Pearce which accounted for right around 45% of their RBIs in the series. UNREAL! These two Red Sox newbies can get cozy in Boston, because they’ll be in the fans’ and management’s hearts for years to come.
Manny Machado: Bad.
Justin Turner: Bad.
Peterson & Bellinger (basically the identical hitters): Bad.
The Dodgers’ brightest standout didn’t even get the at-bats he needed to push the momentum for a more efficient offense - David Freese! Through the entire postseason he batted .364 with 8 hits in only 22 at-bats. I mean how do you not throw him out there wayyy more often, he is a postseason wizard!
Podcast and radio co-host, Ruben, would agree 100% when I say that the Dodgers were, without a doubt, out-managed! Dave Roberts officially over-managed his team into the ground for the final series of the year two times in a row. Personally, I think that the righty-lefty match ups were overdone. Lineups were changed so many times it wasn’t funny and pinch hitters (at times) threw off the natural flow of the offense. Now, in his defense, Kershaw, Wood, Jansen, and Madson didn’t do much to help make his job any easier, but his bullpen management was unnecessary about 80% of the time.
Alex Cora, a first-year manager, came out swinging! At this pace he will be the best manager to ever roam the earth. 119 wins is a huge feat for any coach, but he’s super young and has started his managing career at 1-for-1, but if you want to you could add in the fact that he won a ring as a bench coach for the Astros last year also… However you put it, you can’t look passed the fact that he had a monstrous lineup, but his ability to allow his team to have fun all year paid off with huge dividends! He did all he had to do to be successful and nothing more. He let the kids play!
I’m sorry to hit all of you on-the-fencers like this, but I just can’t stand to see people come out of nowhere with a newfound fandom for a World Series team. I totally understand the millions of people that had their team eliminated and chose a team to root for. That’s different. I’m specifically addressing the “fans” that have a Red Sox or Dodger hat on backorder from Lids because they have “always been a fan.” Stop.
To all of the REAL FANS of either team, I want to seriously congratulate you on a heck of a season.
Dodger fans had to buckle in for a roller coaster as they saw their team go from 2nd to 3rd to 2nd to 1st, and so on throughout the year but it paid off. After last year’s Game 7 loss, it had to be hard to see the ups and downs of a slightly hungover team. I salute your loyalty to a Los Angeles team with so much history and yet so many obnoxious players still working on how to be a civil adult. (Machado, Puig, and Bellinger)
Red Sox fans, I can’t give you as much credit. You had a team with the best record and second highest payroll in the MLB. Your team was in 1st place by a mile and almost every game was exciting on both sides of the ball - so your season was much easier to enjoy, but I must say that with a first-year manager you didn’t waiver (after the initial decision sighs). Good luck next year, the world is coming for you.
Next step simplified
You have got to secure a few players if you want to compete at this level next year with a target on your back. A few that come to mind include: Steve Pearce for 1 more year (he’s a journeyman with no business being anywhere for more than 2 years), Nate Eovaldi for a multi-year deal (unless he wants more, I mean who’s going to tell him no?), and Joe Kelly for another year (solid reliever with a smoking gun for an arm).
Unfortunately, you will need to make moves just a bit and load up in your weaker areas: Get the most out of a Blake Swihart trade (tons of potential but went virtually unused in the postseason) and replace Craig Kimbrel as he continues to decline.
I’m excited for your offseason, though Manny Machado won’t yield you anything because he is a free agent you will not have the most hated player in the NL on your team anymore. Some of the players you will need to keep include: Walker Buehler (make him your next Kershaw and the two might take over the world), Julio Urias to a multi-year deal, David Freese for another year of playoff voodoo, and Max Muncy for a multi-year deal to continue putting together solid at-bats.
You will have a lot of work on the other side of things too: Kenley Jansen has got to go (it’s not you it’s him) and Kenta Maeda can be a solid chess piece on your quest to a stronger bullpen. Bellinger or Peterson have got to be shipped off. It doesn’t make sense to have two guys with strikeout rates like they do and zero interest in a 2-strike approach. I understand the hype behind Puig, but if there is a marquee guy up for grabs (Bryce Harper, Carlos Gonzalez, or Andrew McCutchen) - he would be a great way to lure in a trade and win back fans that don’t like annoying players.
Good Luck to all baseball fans as their teams make offseason adjustments! (Especially the Marlins)