And then there were two.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers are the last MLB teams standing. Before the 119th World Series begins Friday in Arlington, Texas, here are 10 things to know:
From 100 losses to World Series champions?
For the first time in baseball history, the World Series features teams that are only two seasons removed from 100-loss seasons. Per Sarah Langs of MLB.com, four teams — the Boston Braves (1914), Boston Red Sox (1967), New York Mets (1969) and Tampa Bay Rays (2008) — have reached the World Series two seasons after eclipsing the century mark in losses. Ultimately, only the Braves and Mets secured titles. Soon, either the Diamondbacks or Rangers will join them.
Eliminating the Brewers might be a good omen for Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks swept the Milwaukee Brewers in two games in the National League wild-card series, which might be a promising sign for Arizona. The last three teams to knock the Brewers out of the postseason — the Washington Nationals (2019), Los Angeles Dodgers (2020) and Atlanta Braves (2021) — won the World Series. Six of the past eight teams to beat Milwaukee in the playoffs went on to win the title. The Brewers may not be a participant in the Fall Classic, but if you believe in odd trends, they could indirectly impact the result.
This year’s matchup is one of the most improbable in sports history
The Diamondbacks and Rangers snuck into the postseason as wild-card entrants, helping create one of the most unlikely World Series matchups. However, finishing a combined 174-150, their unbelievable runs stand out across all pro sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL.) Per OptaStats, Arizona and Texas have the lowest winning percentage (.537) between championship opponents since the 1991 Stanley Cup Final, pitting the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Minnesota North Stars, who boasted a combined winning percentage of .488.
Rangers can break World Series futility
Including the Rangers, six active MLB franchises have yet to win a World Series. Counting their 11 seasons as the Washington Senators upon their inception in 1961, the Rangers have waited the longest to win one. The next closest is the San Diego Padres and Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers (1969), followed by the Seattle Mariners (1977), Colorado Rockies (1993) and Tampa Bay Rays (1998). Among World Series winners, only the Cleveland Guardians (1948) have a more extended drought.
Full-circle moment for Rangers manager Bruce Bochy?
Making his fifth appearance in the World Series as a manager, Bochy is looking for his fourth consecutive title in as many tries. He came up short his first go-round in 1998 with the San Diego Padres, who were swept by the Joe Torre-led New York Yankees, which was the start of a three-peat dynasty in the Bronx. If the Rangers can beat the Diamondbacks, Bochy will tie Torre (and Walter Alston) for the third-most championship wins by a manager. Only Connie Mack (five), Joe McCarthy (seven) and Casey Stengel (seven) would have more.
Diamondbacks bucked a historic offensive trend by reaching Series
The Diamondbacks overcame the odds several times on their way to the Fall Classic but also defied an incredible trend on offense. Arizona is only the second team in MLB history to reach the World Series with a negative regular-season run differential (-15), joining the 1987 Minnesota Twins (-20), per ESPN Stats & Info. The Twins won the title that season in seven games, outscoring the St. Louis Cardinals, 38-26.
3B Evan Longoria is back in World Series, joining an exclusive list
Playing in the Fall Classic as a rookie in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Longoria is back 15 years later as the grizzled veteran on the upstart Diamondbacks. Longoria is only the fourth position player in baseball history to appear in the World Series 15 seasons apart or more, joining Dennis Martinez (1979-1995), Jim Kaat (1965-1982) and Babe Adams (1909-1925). After falling to the Phillies as a 22-year-old, the now 38-year-old Longoria has one more shot at a ring.
Diamondbacks 2B Ketel Marte is on the brink of making MLB postseason history
Named the NLCS MVP after a standout performance in the Diamondbacks’ seven-game series victory over the Phillies, Marte is also approaching an incredible MLB mark. Having already set the record for consecutive playoff games with a hit to start a career (16), Marte will tie Manny Ramirez (2003), Derek Jeter (1998) and Hank Bauer (1956) for the longest hitting streak in postseason history if he gets a hit in Game 1 on Friday.
Bigger in Texas?
The 2023 World Series marks the fifth season in a row the Fall Classic will be held in Texas, the longest such streak since 2001, when the Yankees played in four straight, including the 2000 “Subway Series” against the New York Mets. The Houston Astros reached the October final three times (2019, 2021, 2022, 2021) and the 2020 showcase between the Dodgers and Rays was played at the Rangers home, Globe Life Field, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heavily favored Rangers hope home-field isn’t a disadvantage
The Rangers own home-field advantage in the World Series, but despite having the fourth-best record at home in the majors during the regular season (50-31), they’re only 1-3 at Globe Life Field and 8-0 away from it this postseason. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are 6-2 on the road and 2-2 at home. Neither the Rangers nor the Diamondbacks were favored in a postseason matchup on their way to the World Series. However, Texas is the heavy favorite in the World Series, according to OddsChecker.
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