Most intriguing 2023 World Sequence matchups

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Eight championship contenders stay in 2023, which implies that as we anticipate the 4 Division Sequence to start on Saturday, 16 potential World Sequence matchups are nonetheless in play.

Every would supply fascinating storylines. However after all, some prospects bounce off the web page greater than others.

With that in thoughts, we introduced collectively 4 MLB.com writers to determine eight of the juiciest matchups nonetheless on the board — no less than one for every Division Sequence workforce. Here’s what they picked and why.

Group: Orioles
Opponent: Braves

Previous World Sequence: None

This will likely appear to be a chalk decide, however we truly haven’t seen the groups with the perfect report in every league sq. off within the World Sequence all that always in latest historical past. Throughout the Wild Card period (since 1995), it’s solely occurred 4 occasions: ’95 (ATL vs. CLE), ’99 (NYY vs. ATL), 2013 (BOS vs. STL) and ’20 (LAD vs. TB).

With a homegrown core led by Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Spencer Strider and Max Fried and supplemented by trades for stars reminiscent of Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, the Braves have develop into a Nationwide League powerhouse, successful six straight division titles and a World Sequence crown in 2021. It’s a blueprint the present Orioles are attempting to comply with. The workforce has arrived forward of schedule two years after dropping 110 video games as children reminiscent of Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez have helped to alter the tradition in Baltimore in a rush, very similar to Acuña, Albies and Co. did for the Braves within the late-2010s.

Group: Dodgers
Opponent: Astros

Previous World Sequence: 2017 (HOU received, 4-3)

You would possibly very effectively have a look at this matchup and groan, and to be sincere, that’s honest. There’s no new blood right here, in spite of everything. The Dodgers are of their eleventh straight postseason, and this may be their fourth World Sequence since 2017. The Astros are on the lookout for their seventh straight American League Championship Sequence berth, with an opportunity to make their fifth Fall Traditional look and win their third ring in that span.

Then again, no different potential 2023 World Sequence confrontation carries with it this form of narrative heft. Two franchises which have been juggernauts in recent times. Quite a few star gamers and sure future Corridor of Famers. Excessive-profile managers. And oh yeah, there’s 2017 hanging over the entire thing. It’s true that few Astros are left from the workforce that outlasted the Dodgers in seven video games in a hard-fought Fall Traditional that 12 months, solely to have revelations of Houston’s unlawful sign-stealing cloud the achievement. However in the event you assume that might decrease the temperature at Dodger Stadium for Recreation 1, you then haven’t been paying consideration. Merely put, no potential World Sequence on this listing would carry extra stress or exhausting emotions, and that makes for riveting theater.

Group: Phillies
Opponent: Orioles

Previous World Sequence: 1983 (BAL received, 4-1)

Think about the vibes. On one aspect, you’d have a workforce of 30-year-old males who play with sufficient buttons undone {that a} restaurant has the best to refuse them service. On the opposite aspect you may have a bunch of 20-somethings who have fun like faculty college students. It will be a World Sequence like we’ve by no means seen. Oh, and each groups completed with top-10 offenses, top-15 beginning staffs and bullpens that had been among the many league’s finest.

It looks as if Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos had been constructed for October, whereas the Orioles spent the complete common season calling up younger gamers who hit the bottom working. Oh, and let’s not overlook {that a} mere 100 miles of I-95 separates these two ballparks, bringing some good quaint regional rivalry to each sport.

Group: Braves
Opponent: Rangers

Previous WS: None

You would possibly name this the Ron Washington Sequence — which might be a juicy angle, provided that the Braves’ third-base coach received two pennants in his eight seasons managing the Rangers earlier than lastly successful his first ring with Atlanta in 2021 — however on the finish of the day, it’s the matchup with the best offensive potential. Atlanta and Texas led their respective leagues in runs per sport, hits, residence runs, batting common, OPS — you get the purpose.

No membership’s offense goes to look nice on paper towards the Braves’ bats, and the Rangers stumbled huge time down the stretch. However in the event you’re on the lookout for a superb matchup for Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies and Sean Murphy — amongst others — you possibly can’t do too a lot better than Corey Seager, Adolis García, Marcus Semien and Jonah Heim (amongst others).

Group: Astros
Opponent: D-backs

Previous World Sequence: None

The D-backs are a workforce constructed round youth**,** well timed hitting, a workers led by two dynamic arms and a stable but unspectacular bullpen. For Astros followers, that method ought to sound acquainted, because it’s the identical make-up they’d initially of their rivalry window. Whereas it’s not a one-to-one comparability, the similarities are there.

That’s to not say they give the impression of being the identical now, nevertheless. Final 12 months the Astros reached the highest of the mountain by getting as a lot as they might from veterans within the twilight of their careers whereas additionally getting some huge hits from unproven gamers like Jeremy Peña. They’ll possible use that method to attempt to remedy the postseason equation this 12 months, with a roster fairly just like final 12 months’s. That is the equal of the cranky previous neighbor telling their teenage neighbor to maintain the noise down, and I’m prepared for it.

Group: Twins
Opponent: Braves

Previous World Sequence: 1991 (MIN received, 4-3)

With these two groups having squared off within the World Sequence greater than 30 years in the past, a Twins-Braves rematch could be oozing with early-’90s nostalgia, together with copious references to Kirby Puckett’s Recreation 6 heroics and the epic Jack Morris-John Smoltz pitchers’ duel in Recreation 7. However there’s additionally loads of intrigue right here so far as the present-day matchup is worried.

On one aspect, you may have the high-powered Braves, who led the Majors in runs scored (947) and had 4 gamers hit greater than 30 homers in 2023. On the opposite aspect, you may have the Twins, whose main residence run hitter, Max Kepler, went deep solely 24 occasions. It doesn’t precisely appear to be a good combat, however Minnesota’s pitching may need one thing to say about that. Solely two groups allowed fewer runs (659) through the common season than the Twins, who restricted the Blue Jays to at least one run of their two-game Wild Card Sequence sweep.

Group: Rangers
Opponent: Dodgers

Previous World Sequence: None

There are all kinds of fascinating connections right here. Rangers star shortstop Corey Seager was a longtime Dodger. When the Dodgers went on their championship run in 2020, capturing their first title since 1988, Seager was named MVP of each the NLCS and World Sequence — each performed at Texas’ Globe Life Subject (a impartial web site used through the Covid season). Then there’s famous Dodger and Dallas-area resident Clayton Kershaw, who in recent times has left the door open to pitching for his hometown workforce earlier than he calls it quits. Oh, and don’t overlook the potential for one more postseason Will Smith vs. Will Smith battle between the Dodgers catcher and Rangers reliever (see additionally: 2020 and ‘21 NLCS).

However except for all that, this might simply be a flat-out spectacular baseball sequence. Each groups can smack the ball across the yard, that includes dynamic duos (Seager-Semien and Betts-Freeman) fronting a deep lineup. Each groups have expertise — but additionally loads of accidents and query marks — on the pitching aspect. Would the Rangers win their first World Sequence, or would the Dodgers add to their trophy case?

Group: D-backs
Opponent: Orioles

Previous World Sequence: None

Truthful warning, this may be anxious. On this discipline, each Arizona and Baltimore distinguish themselves with their baserunning and well timed hitting. The Orioles led MLB in baserunning runs in 2023 (+14); the D-backs got here in third with +8. Every has one of many common season’s most precious particular person baserunners, with Gunnar Henderson main the pack at +6 and Corbin Carroll tied for second with +5 (Carroll, notably, additionally stole 54 bases). It’s been some time since a World Sequence was settled on the basepaths, however this one might be.

If aggressive baserunning isn’t actually your factor, there’s additionally that clutch gene. Baltimore tied for probably the most come-from-behind wins in baseball within the common season (48, with Cincinnati); Arizona was fourth with 43. Each golf equipment additionally ranked within the prime 5 in workforce OPS in high-leverage conditions. Mainly, this matchup has a reasonably excessive probability of manufacturing memorable nail-biters — who’re we to say no to that?



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