World Series 2023: Who, What, How?
Reading Time: 4 minutes The 2023 MLB season has come to an end, the Texas Rangers defeated the Diamondbacks 4-1. What is to come in the offseason?
The 2023 MLB season has just ended, and thus concludes one of the most surprising and unexpected postseasons in years. Favorites floundered and the underdogs shined, ending with a World Series matchup nobody would have expected. Understanding the World Series is no small task, and to do so, one must understand how the teams got there.
Coming into the 2023 season the Rangers were seen as a mid-tier team at best, coming off a 68-94 season where they missed the postseason, following a 2021 season that was nothing less than an unmitigated disaster, leading to the firing of their manager and team president. For them it did not seem like contention was on the horizon any time soon. However, the landscape changed for the Rangers during the 2021 and 2022 off-season, which is when the team opened its pocketbook. Nearly one billion dollars was spent on signing big names like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Mitch Garver. Additionally, the bullpen was drastically overhauled from previous years, with acquisitions like two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer.
After standout performances of Andrew Heaney, Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi, the sun started to come out from behind the clouds. The 2023 regular season started off as stuff of Texas legend, with the team showing remarkable improvement. Fortunately, the best for them was yet to come, and the star of the Rangers postseason still had not yet emerged, as a waiver player was about to give one of the best postseason performances in MLB history.
“El Bombi,” Adolis Garcia, shot like a rocket out of the Rangers’ dugout and began slugging at a historic rate. He posted a ludicrous 1.293 OPS in the postseason, with a record 15 RBIs in the seven-game series versus the crosstown villains, the Houston Astros. Garcia, along with Seager and Semien, propelled the Rangers forward. They dominated consecutive series against the Rays as well as the American League best Orioles, sweeping both teams. With bats being hot and pitching being serviceable, the Rangers World Series berth was set.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were regarded as a bottom feeder and a basement dweller in the bloodbath that is the National League. In 2021, they played some of the most abhorrent baseball ever witnessed. going an incomprehensible 4-40 over a nightmarish stretch. It seemed that rebuilding was going to be a very long process. However, it looked like at the end of 2022 that this team was ahead of schedule, not world-beaters, but not the disaster they were in 2021. They had some legitimate talent, with prospects showing promise, and signings over performing. It looked like contention might be within five years instead of 10. Perhaps they would even make the postseason this year.
Nobody could have predicted what happened next. The Diamondbacks limped into the postseason with a record of only three games above .500, and so a very good Brewers team was expected to put down the young upstart Diamondbacks. But the Diamondbacks got hot. Really hot.
With bats hitting at a rate not before seen from this team. Ketel Marte, unanimous Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker and ace Zac Gallen would dominate seemingly superior teams. Both the Brewers and the mighty Dodgers faltered before this young Diamondbacks team. The Diamondbacks capped off their run to the Fall Classic with a methodical win against another hot team this postseason, the Philadelphia Phillies. Remarkably, they secured two games in a row in one of the most challenging venues in baseball, silencing a Phillies crowd that was calling for blood. Baseball is a game of runs, and it seemed like this Diamondback team was on fire at the perfect time.
The first game of the series was one of the best seen in years, as the game would come down to extra innings. It was a tight game from start to finish with Garcia continuing his postseason brilliance with yet another RBI to give the Rangers the lead. However, the Diamondbacks responded and took a commanding 5-3 lead going into the 9th, with their bullpen coming alive and not allowing another run.
It seemed like the D-Backs were going to steal this one in Arlington, until Seager of the Rangers had the swing of his life, firing a no doubter to right field to tie the game up at 5-5.
The game was plunged into extra innings as both pitchers played well, not giving up a run on either side. That was until Garcia, who else, hit a walk-off home run to end the game with a Rangers win.
The second game would be a blowout, as Arizona showed that they were not a fluke by blowing out the Rangers 9-1 on their home field. Scherzer had one of his worst postseason games, giving up run after run to the Diamondbacks, whose bats were getting hot once again.
From there, however, it was all Rangers. Texas started playing clinical baseball, with Seagar showing that he was well worth the money. He had a three-game stretch that was desperately needed, batting an average of .286 and hitting three home runs.
It looked like the Diamondbacks’ Cinderella run was over, as their bats would cool off, and the pitching faltered. The Rangers showed their talent and consistency, and the Diamondbacks displayed their inexperience. However, the Diamondbacks have far surpassed expectations, and have an incredibly bright future ahead of them.
The Rangers went on to win the next three games, 3-1, 11-7 and 5-0, clenching their first World Series in their 51-year history. This victory cemented one of the most successful rebuilds in recent memory and brought a close to another baseball season. Seager won his second career World Series MVP, becoming the fourth player ever to do so with two different teams.
“The whole thing just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said after last year he was coaching his grandson’s T-ball team.
And now, all eyes turn to free agency. Headlined by future Hall of Famer, 2018 Rookie of the Year and now two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani, Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, former Rookie of the Year and MVP Cody Bellinger, 2023 Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Matt Chapman, this free agency will be one for the ages.
Ohtani is expected to sign a deal worth nearly $500 million over 10-13 years, which will be the largest deal in American sports history.