By: Daniel Multz
The World Series is here folks (crazy that it happened this fast) and now it’s time to take a look at how the Dodgers and Red Sox rosters stack up at each position in their first World Series meeting since 1916.
Both teams are relatively deep in this category. Boston has Rick Porcello and Nate Eovaldi, who’ve both been incredible for Alex Cora both out of the pen and as starters.
Add on to that a potentially healthy Chris Sale and a David Price who might begin to turn a corner with his pennant-winning performance in Game 5, and this Boston rotation is set to make an impact.
For L.A the depth is just as strong. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, along with a supporting cast of Walker Buehler, who dominated in Game 7, along with lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill. Both rotations contain playoff veterans and playoff rookies, but both rotations can be impactful on the series outcome.
L.A has four relievers who have each pitched in at least six games with one combined earned run this postseason: Dylan Floro, Ryan Madson, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen. Jansen looks to be back at peak performance after a shaky tiebreaker game performance against Colorado.
Add onto that Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood and Julio Urias, who can all give L.A innings and the always possible relief appearance of Clayton Kershaw.
Countering the Dodgers is a Sox bullpen defying expectation in both good and bad ways. Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes, three guys with either shaky or previously blank postseason records have combined for 18.2 innings and two earned runs.
Porcello and Eovaldi have both proven that they can pitch out of the pen and start for Alex Cora for extra versatility. The one question that at first seemed like the one man not to question is Craig Kimbrel, who’s allowed five runs in 6.1 innings and hasn’t had a 1-2-3 inning this postseason. Both bullpens have hot arms, versatile starters and elite closers, so the matchup is as even as it comes for bullpens.
Boston hasn’t had great production at catcher this postseason and L.A’s is 1,000 times worse. Christian Vazquez has come up with clutch hits for Boston both against New York and Houston and his .227 average in only 22 at-bats is solid. Sandy Leon has maintained his reputation as a nearly automatic out going 0 for 7 and is at this point only a defensive replacement.
While Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes are both strong hitting catchers, both are hitting under .150 this postseason (Barnes is 2 for 18 and Grandal is 3 for 24) and Grandal’s defense looks like that of Gary Sanchez lately. Neither team has the overwhelming better catchers, but Boston’s catchers’ defense might give them a slight advantage.
Boston has mostly been starting Steve Pearce at first base and he’s gone 7 for 26. Mitch Moreland is 4 for 9 in limited chances this postseason. L.A has used lots of first baseman this postseason but their main two: Max Muncy and David Freese have had very different postseasons.
Freese has gone 3 for 10 and kept up his playoff reputation while Muncy has gone 6 for 33. Expect most of the first base to be handled by Pearce and Muncy, with limited action featuring Moreland, Freese and maybe even Grandal or Cody Bellinger.
L.A has not had good production from their main second basemen, Brian Dozier and Kike Hernandez. Hernandez is hitting .115 and Dozier .182 (continuing his struggles with L.A from the end of the regular season).
For Boston however, Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt have combined to hit .282 this postseason (including Holt hitting for the cycle vs New York)! Despite the strong production from these two, when in Dodger Stadium, Mookie Betts may dawn the infielder’s glove for the first time in a playoff game. But in order to keep the lethal bat of JD Martinez in the lineup we may see less of Holt and Kinsler and more of Betts.
As much of an advantage that Boston will have at second, L.A will have at third base. While Rafael Devers has hit .350, Eduardo Nunez has hit .188 and both are defensive liabilities to say the least.
Compare them to Justin Turner, who not only has a batting average north of .400 in his postseason career, but has started every game of the postseason for L.A and brings incredible veteran presence and energy to a young Dodger team.
This one’s a pretty even match of high-tier shortstops. Xander Bogaerts has always been underrated not only among MLB shortstops but among the Red Sox hitting core. Machado has played every game and slugged .500 while Bogaerts has hit .278.
Despite the antics and reputation he’ll bring to the field, Machado is an incredibly talented fielder and power hitter. Bogaerts can get on base to be driven in by the big boys (Betts, Pearce, JD and Benintendi) and can play equally superb defense.
Here’s where things get really dicey between these two teams. Boston has the obvious star outfielders, while L.A has the ones that fly under the radar as equally effective players.
Start with Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, JD Martinez and ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. Mookie is probably the best all around player in the league, JD is the best pure hitter, Benintendi is a lefty who can dominate righties AND lefties and Bradley has had nine 2-out RBIs this postseason and is an elite defender.
L.A features many players who can and probably will contribute through platooning in the outfield. The one man you’ll see all the time is Yasiel Puig. While he tends to act crazed with emotion and passion on the field, Puig has hit .333 this postseason and came up with clutch hits all throughout the NLCS.
Next there’s Chris Taylor, who may also have a starting job (in left field) because of his great range in the outfield and his .360 average this postseason. After him there’s the Trio of Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger and Matt Kemp. Pederson has hit .259, Kemp .214 and Bellinger a mere .139 this postseason BUT Bellinger did come through with the NLCS MVP award to possibly earn himself the majority of time in center field. But Kemp and Pederson can definitely be a weapon for Dave Roberts off the bench.
There you have it. The NL Champion Dodgers and the AL Champion Red Sox. The 108-win juggernaut against the team full of passion and energy that keeps on rolling. L.A won’t go down quietly against Boston and this series should be one to remember for a long time.