Kyle Smedley is a freshman journalism and telecommunications major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
Now that the Wild Card and Divisional rounds are over, and we have our final four teams for the Postseason Championship series, is there a real chance any team could win the World Series? This MLB Postseason is one of the most unpredictable times in sports. I truly believe that each and every one of the four teams in the running right now has a real shot at winning the World Series. The real question is how each team could bring home the 2021 World Series title.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Depth
Let’s just get them out of the way now. The common reader may view the Dodgers as the heavy favorites going into this Postseason and rightfully so. Although they didn’t win their division, they still won 106 games, which was the second most in the MLB. But, the Dodgers lost arguably their best position player outside of Trea Turner and Mookie Betts, and that’s Max Muncy. The Dodgers are optimistic he should return by the NLCS if they make it that far. The reason the Dodgers aren’t sweating the loss of Muncy too much is their INCREDIBLE depth. The Dodgers are loaded. Their lineup includes Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Will Smith, Corey Seager, and they even have guys like Chris Taylor, who hit a walk-off home run in the Wild Card game to make it to the NLDS. Their pitching staff is unreal with names like Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias rounding out the starters, and one of the best closers in the game, Kenley Jansen, in their bullpen. Even without Clayton Kerhshaw, their pitching staff still looks lethal. The Dodgers are the favorites in this Postseason, purely because of their depth of starpower.
Atlanta Braves: Pitching
The Atlanta Braves punched their ticket to the NLCS based on their stellar pitching performances. This is the same factor that could bring them their first World Series title since 1995. In the NLDS, the Braves shut out the Brewers 3-0 in two of the three games they won. Starting pitchers like Max Fried and Ian Anderson tossed shut-outs, and a pitcher like Charlie Morton with Postseason experience has been key to the Braves’ success thus far. Along with that, their bullpen has remained strong, anchored by arms like A.J. Minter, Tyler Maztek, Luke Jackson and closer Will Smith. Just like in 1995, the Braves can win the World Series due to their pitching. Having bats like Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley doesn’t hurt their chances either.
Boston Red Sox: Power
Boston’s favorite team may have gotten shut out in game one of the ALDS against their division rival, the Tampa Bay Rays, but did they ever fire back. Since that game, Boston won three straight to punch their ticket to the ALCS against the Houston Astros. In those three games, the Red Sox have scored 26 runs backed by nine home runs in those three games. Boston has showcased their power all season through guys like J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber. The hero through the ALDS for Boston has been former Dodger Kike Hernandez. If these bats can stay hot, and their pitching keeps them in games, as it has done so far, the Red Sox have a real chance to win the World Series this year. To add to that, never count out the home-field advantage of playing at Fenway Park.
Houston Astros: Experience
Even though Houston is everyone’s least favorite team (if you don’t live in Houston or if you like proven cheaters), this is a team with a wealth of experience on their side. Not only do the Astros have much of the same core they had when they won a World Series in 2017 and went back to the Fall Classic in 2019, but they have a new manager who has been to a combined four World Series both as a player and a coach. That manager is Dusty Baker, A.J. Hinch’s replacement after the cheating scandal was ruled upon in the 2019-2020 offseason. Dusty went to three World Series as a player, winning one, and 1 as a manager in 2002 with the Giants. Baker has been to countless playoff series’ and yes he is a huge factor, but you can’t count out the experience of the men playing the game. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel, among others, were all a part of the 2017 championship team. Just because they were caught stealing signs and using other methods to gain an unfair advantage then, they still took part in those games. That means more than meets the eye, they will know how to handle many situations that just don’t take place during the regular season. So like them or not, the Astros experience could very well land them their second title in 5 years.
The next few weeks will tell whether or not these opinions are, in fact, valid. The MLB Postseason is the most unpredictable of all major sports, and this year, we have seen some great baseball. Look for that to continue and for these major X-factors to show.
Contact Kyle Smedley on Twitter @smedley1932 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org