There are two very different teams in the World Series this year. On one hand you have the Philadelphia Phillies, who had 87 wins this season and made the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Their opponents are the Houston Astros, who finished first in their division with 106 wins. The Astros were one of the best teams in all of baseball this year and they demonstrated that throughout the playoffs. In the two series they played, they didn’t lose a single game. The Phillies, on the other hand, had a terrible start to the season but finished just good enough to make the playoffs. They weren’t as perfect as the Astros, but they did go 9-2 through the postseason so far. The Phillies, though, are surprisingly not that great. In the regular season, the Phillies were top 10 in the league in hits, but also in the middle of the league in terms of runs allowed. They weren’t some crazy powerhouse team like the Astros. But the Phillies for some reason seem like this team of destiny. They remind me of the 2019 Washington Nationals, a team that also started in the Wild Card round and made it to the World Series. That team also wasn’t that great but they just kept winning.
The Phillies are very top-heavy in pretty much every position. Their rotation has two very good starting pitchers and a few wild cards. Starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler are some of the best pitchers in all of baseball. In the postseason so far, Wheeler has pitched in 25.1 innings in four games, and allowed just five runs. Nola had one rough outing but still allowed just six runs in 17.1 innings overall. Then you have pitchers Ranger Suarez and Noah Syndergaard. As a Nationals fan, I have seen both of them pitch plenty of times and I can say they are very hit or miss. They have the potential to be unhittable, but sometimes they are just average. Their bullpen is also very top-heavy. They have Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson to help close out games. Also, you throw in left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarado, and you have a very strong three pitchers to help shut the door. On offense, they are led by Bryce Harper. Harper won the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award last year and had another great year this year considering he was injured for a solid portion of the season. In the postseason this year he has been on another level. His postseason batting average is .419 and he has 11 extra base hits in just 43 at bats. This helped him earn the NL Championship Series MVP Award. Then you have Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins. These two guys are going to do one of two things: they are either going to hit a home run or strikeout. However, the postseason is about two things. One, how good is your team’s pitching? Two, can you hit a home run off the other team’s best pitching?
The Astros, on the other hand, are good at pretty much everything. Their pitching is absolutely elite as they allowed the second-least amount of runs throughout the regular season. In the postseason, they have allowed just 15 runs in 72.1 innings. To put that into perspective we can look at the New York Mets. In the 27 innings that the Mets played, they allowed 16 runs. The Astros have great starting pitching in Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Christian Javier and Luis Garcia. Some of these guys can even come out of the bullpen. But that may not even be needed considering their bullpen is absolutely ridiculous. Relievers Ryne Stanek, Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero all had earned run averages below 2.50 this season. I didn’t even mention some of their wild cards, such as Hunter Brown, who is a rookie that allowed just two runs in 20.1 innings this season. On offense they got plenty of current or former All-Stars in Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Trey Mancini. Alvarez is probably the best hitter in all of baseball right now. These guys are great, but rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena is outperforming all of them so far this postseason. It’s scary to think that the guy who is supposed to be struggling the most in the postseason has been their best player. This offense can do some serious damage.
Now that I have gone over the two teams, which team is better? I think most people would agree that the Astros team as a whole is better, but we can compare position by position. Phillies’ catcher is J.T. Realmuto and the Astros split catching duties between Martin Maldanado and Christian Vazquez. The Phillies definitely win this matchup considering Realmuto is a top five catcher in all of baseball. On first base you have the battle between Yuli Gurriel and Hoskins. Gurriel was not great during the regular season, while Hoskins was 22% better than the average. Although Gurriel has been better than Hoskins in the postseason so far, I would probably still go with Hoskins. At second base, it’s between Jean Segura of the Phillies and Altuve for the Astros. Altuve has been absolutely atrocious so far in the postseason. I almost want to give the position edge to the Phillies, but Altuve has been solid for so long. Yes, he cheated, but even this season he was one of the best second basemen in all of baseball. At shortstop, it’s between Pena and Bryson Stott for the Phillies. No question, Pena is better. Third base is between Alec Bohm from the Phillies and Bregman. Again, no question, Bregman. The Astros outfield mostly consists of Alvarez, Chas McCormick and Tucker, while the Phillies have sent out Schwarber, Nicholas Castellanos and Brandon Marsh. Although Schwarber and Castellanos have the potential to be great, Tucker and Alvarez are just consistently better. The outfield definitely goes to the Astros. At the designated hitter position, there’s Mancini for the Astros and Harper for the Phillies. I think Mancini is a great player and a tough person overall. The fact that he survived stage three colon cancer and then came back to play baseball a year later is crazy. But I have to give the edge to the reigning NL MVP, Harper. I would say the two starting rotations are even. Nola and Wheeler may be slightly better than Verlander and Valdez, but the Astros have much better depth at the position. The Astros bullpen is without a doubt better than the Phillies bullpen. This may be the biggest discrepancy between the two teams. Philadelphia may have two very good relievers, the Astros have five, maybe six. So overall, the Phillies are better in three positions and the Astros are better in six.
Now that we have established that the Astros are definitely the better team overall, let me explain why I think the Phillies are going to win the World Series. In 2019, I watched my favorite team, the Nationals, win the World Series. It was an absolutely surreal moment because it made no sense. They won the Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers after a crazy and lucky hit from Juan Soto. Then a Howie Kendrick grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers sent them past the best team in the NL. In the NL Championship Series, the Nationals made the St. Louis Cardinals look like a minor league team. Then somehow, they won the World Series against the Astros in seven games. The path seemed so improbable. This Phillies team gives me very similar vibes. They beat the Cardinals in a Wild Card series they were unfavored in. Then they beat the New York Mets, who won 101 games. Finally, there was the San Diego Padres, who seemed to be overmatched the entire series. Maybe it’s the energy the team gives off that’s making me lean toward them. Anyway, there definitely is something different about a team that won just 87 games in the regular season. They have nothing to lose. I personally am not sure who to cheer for. Most people probably want to cheer for the Phillies, because the Astros are always evil since they cheated. But the Phillies are a rival team to the Nationals, so it’s hard to cheer for them. I think overall it’s going to be an entertaining series and I believe that there are two possible outcomes. One, the Astros win the series 4-1. All these vibes mean nothing, and they just get outmatched by a better team. Two, the Phillies win the series 4-3, after playing off of their best players. I am definitely leaning toward the second outcome, but the Astros are so good that I am hesitant.