Who should Phillies fans want to win the 2018 World Series?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 23: Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers acknowledges a standing ovation before his first at bat in the second inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 23, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 23: Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers acknowledges a standing ovation before his first at bat in the second inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 23, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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With the world series beginning on Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers will face off. Who should Phillies fans root for?

The 2018 World Series begins on Tuesday night, and it features the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. Yes, the exact two teams I really didn’t want to see here are here. But, since they are, I’ll provide my input as to which team Phillies fans should want to win.

The Red Sox, who defeated the Houston Astros in five games in the ALCS, got off to a hot start and never looked back. Boston began the season going 17-2 in the first 19 games, kept a brisk pace the entire season, and rode through an easy September, winning the AL East by eight games and putting up a domineering record of 108-54.

Boston is led by personally-often-mentioned Mookie Betts, who led all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement with 10.9. Just how good is that? While they are calculated differently, Betts beats out all pitchers, too, including Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola’s 10.0 WAR.

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I would argue that Betts isn’t a flashy player. He just does everything very well. He was tied for first in the majors in runs scored, first in WAR, second in OPS, seventh in total bases, third in doubles, first in runs created, sixth in times on base, second in offensive win percentage, and first in situational wins added. Oh, and he stole 30 bases, posted a +21 defensive runs saved while missing 26 games.

Mind you, that’s just the first batter. Don’t forget about J.D. Martinez, who posted an OPS of 1.031, hit 43 home runs, and drove in 130. Martinez is a terrific offensive player but is a slightly below-average outfielder, which may carry a slight liability for the Sox when they play in Los Angeles.

Boston has a solid remainder of the lineup with players like deadline acquisition Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and more. They are led behind the plate by catcher Sandy Leon, who is a solid defensive catcher, and Christian Vazquez, who is replacement level.

Pitching-wise, the Red Sox are good, but I wouldn’t call the starting rotation great. Outside of Chris Sale and half of David Price, the rest of the rotation doesn’t wow me. Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi are fine, but the back end of the bullpen is terrific. Between Hector Velazquez and Craig Kimbrel, it will be tough for the Dodgers to score in late innings. They must do their best to chase the starters early and try to find some runs from the middle relievers.

Yes, Boston is stacked. But, if their bats go cold (albeit unlikely), they could see themselves in trouble.

The Dodgers underperformed throughout the regular season riddled with injuries and snuck into the playoffs by defeating the Colorado Rockies 5-2 in game 163. Their Pythagorean W-L was 102-63, meaning that they played 10 games worse than their run differential suggests.

Everyone thinks of one player in the postseason when it comes to the Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw. The question is, will he be the 2.39 regular season ERA Kershaw or the 4.09 postseason ERA Kershaw?

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Kershaw came out of the bullpen in Game Seven of the NLCS against the Brewers and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning. However, in the World Series, he will be starting. In Game One of the NLCS, he allowed five runs (four earned) in three innings pitched. That won’t cut it against the Red Sox.

Since the All-Star Break addition of Manny Machado, the Dodgers have been a completely different team.

Machado provides Los Angeles with so much more depth than they previously had. For example, Chris Taylor can play multiple positions, David Freese in the postseason is a force to be reckoned with, Max Muncy, in his first full season in the big leagues, has been terrific.

The Dodgers also have some solid hitters in Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger, two commonplace names nowadays amongst baseball fans.

All that said, one place where I believe that the Dodgers have an advantage over the Red Sox is the pitching. In addition to Kershaw, the Dodgers have a solid starting rotation that has the potential to feature Walker Buehler, Hyun Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, and potentially others.

I’m not sure how the Dodgers will handle their starting rotation given that the Red Sox pose so many threats from the right-handed side of the plate, and three of the four pitchers that I mentioned above are left-handed.

My guess is that manager Dave Roberts is going to do everything to use his bullpen to his advantage. After all, he has so many pitchers who are just outstanding. Those include Julio Urias, former Phillie Ryan Madson, Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, Caleb Ferguson, Alex Wood, and deadline-addition Dylan Floro.

As we saw in the NLCS, Dave Roberts was not afraid to put starters in late-inning situations out of the bullpen. As I mentioned before, we saw it with Kershaw. We have also seen it with Rich Hill in Game Six.

With Los Angeles’s mid-summer additions, they have taken their team to the next level. These are two fantastic teams, and this will be a fantastic series.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

Who to root for? Geez, as a Phillies fan, if they could both lose, I’d pick that. But, someone will win this series. The Dodgers were one game away last season before losing Game Seven at home to the Houston Astros and are now in the postseason for the sixth year in a row. They have not won a World Series since October 20, 1988, when Orel Hershiser threw a 117-pitch complete game over the Oakland Athletics.

Of course, you have to mention the former Phillie appeal of the Dodgers. Not only do they feature Madson, but fellow teammate from the 2008 World Series club Chase Utley. Even though he hasn’t been active in the postseason, seeing Utley a World Series ring to end his career would be great, even though it’s not in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox, in the postseason for the third year in a row after a two-year hiatus, last won a title in 2013, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. They won previously in 2007 and 2004.

Personally, I’m a fan of seeing long droughts come to an end. With the Astros last year, the Kansas City Royals ending a 30-year drought back in 2015 (and ending a 29-year playoff drought the year before), the Phillies’s 28-year drought in 2008, etc.

If you are a fan of the National-League Style of the game, great pitching, and droughts coming to an end, I’d put my fandom behind the Dodgers for the next week and a half. If you like aggressive offense, good pitching, and the American-League Style of game, go for the Red Sox.

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Personally, I’d root for the Dodgers, but if I am being completely honest with myself, I feel like the Red Sox will take this in 6. Buckle up, everyone, because this is going to be a fantastic series.

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