Why Diamondbacks-Rangers is worth watching, from young stars to ring-chasing veterans | ET REALITY


Look, we didn’t expect this either.

Of all the potential World Series matchups, a 90-win Texas Rangers fight against the 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks wasn’t exactly at the top of our wish list. It’s already being criticized as a battle where who doesn’t care, and we understand that.

But we don’t agree either.

Is this World Series tailor-made for primetime? Of course not. But when asked to name a handful of reasons to watch, a small group of baseball writers took about two minutes to analyze more than a dozen stories, personalities and raw talents that will nevertheless be worth following for the next. -however-this-lasts.

Give us another Game 7, we say, because this may not be the series we expected, it may not even be the series we deserve, but it will be a series worth watching.

And here’s why.

These teams actually have star power…

If you were expecting Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, you must not have been paying attention for the last decade.

But Rangers shortstop Corey Seager made a nice Compelling case for American League MVP this season (non-Ohtani division), and Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen will end up somewhere near the top of the National League Cy Young career (he’s already started the All-Star Game), and helped beat his hometown Phillies to get here, even as he reflected on the declining quality of local institution Wawa. That’s pathos.

…and the hardware to prove it

Speaking of All-Star starters, the Rangers had five of them this year, including three-quarters of his daily draw. The Diamondbacks had three All-Star starters, plus their 23-year-old shortstop coming off the bench.

And you may not have noticed, but Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi has the pedigree of a postseason ace and he’s on a mission. to avenge their only loss in the World Series. Casual fans may not know their names, but the league knows these guys can play.

It’s a confrontation of power versus…

Sure, it would have been interesting to see all those great players in the Phillies’ lineup, but the Rangers hit the third-most home runs in baseball this season, led by Adolis Garcia, a guy who was designated for assignment twice before. becoming a must-see offensive beast who went deep 39 times this season and then went crazy with five more home runs and an American League Championship Series MVP award. Do what you do, don’t hit this man with a pitch.

… speed.

The Diamondbacks don’t have the offensive firepower of the Rangers, but they stole 166 bases this season (second most in the game) and led the majors with 44 triples. These guys can and will go crazy (they stole four bases in the decisive Game 7 of the National League Championship Series) and their second baseman, Ketel Marte, has quietly been one of the best shortstop players of the last half-decade. (top 40 in position player WAR since 2019) and earning his spot among the best players in franchise history. When the Diamondbacks need a home run, they still have Christian Walker, who was claimed waivers three times in his career but he hit 69 long balls in the last two years.

The Diamondbacks could have the most exciting young player in baseball…

Corbin Carroll mixes elite speed with legitimate power. (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Diamondbacks may not have many household names now, but give it a few years and their leadoff hitter, Corbin Carroll, might be the name you remember from this series. The 23-year-old is a shoo-in for the NL Rookie of the Year award and has a tremendous combination of speed (54 stolen bases) and power (25 home runs) that could make him a one of the great players of the game for the next decade.

…but you are not alone. There are young stars everywhere.

Carroll isn’t the only one starting to make a name for himself. Rangers third baseman Josh Jung (he and Carroll were selected eight picks between each other in 2019) was an All-Star as a rookie this season, and Rangers left fielder Evan Carter (who turned 21 in August ) reached the Major Leagues in September. and was one of the best hitters in the game in the last month of the regular season. Carter currently ranks as Baseball America’s 10th-best prospect in all sports.

Diamondbacks infielder Jordan Lawler (bench player for now) is ninth on that list, and teammate Gabriel Moreno (one of the best young receivers in the sport) was ranked 12th when the season began, but has since accumulated too much time in the big leagues to qualify. Second-year center fielder Alek Thomas is still only 23 years old and He already has a historic moment in the postseason.

The Rangers did everything they could at the deadline to get here…

This year’s trade deadline was a disappointment for many teams, but not for the Rangers, who spent big in the last two offseasons and still supplemented his rotation with deadline deals for both Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery. They also traded for Royals flamethrower Aroldis Chapman and Pirates backup catcher Austin Hedgers.

…as the Diamondbacks built from within.

The Diamondbacks made smaller deals at the deadline (closer Paul Sewald was their biggest addition), but they mainly grew their team from within. In total, the Diamondbacks’ postseason roster includes four different players (Lawler plus pitchers Brandon Pfaadt, Andrew Saalfrank and Slade Cecconi) who made his major league debut this season (and two of them weren’t in the majors until September). Saalfrank pitched just 10 times in the regular season and has already made eight playoff appearances.

The veterans ride into the sunset…

I didn’t call Scherzer old, you did! But seriously, Mad Max is 39 years old, joined the Rangers at the trade deadline, and He hasn’t been able to do much this postseason.. He has already won three Cy Young Awards and a World Series ring in his career, but one more dazzling performance in October It would be an exclamation point.

…as he chases one last shot into a ring.

In the other dugout is Evan Longoria, 38 years old. He hasn’t played in a World Series since his rookie year with the Rays in 2008, and he’s more of a complementary role player today than the hot corner superstar he was a decade ago, but he has a legitimate chance to finally win. . a ring in what could be his last season.

“Most of the time when you hear about the guys’ legacy, it’s about a ring.” Longoria said this month. “This is a World Series. It’s about the impact they’ve had in the playoffs. That’s more of a legacy thing for me.

The fantasy football fight guy is here…

There’s also Diamondbacks outfielder Tommy Pham, 35, an intense veteran perhaps best known to casual fans for his role in a fantasy football-inspired fight last season, seeking his first championship. He is joined by Rangers reliever Will Smith, 34, who is seeking his third consecutive title (all with different teams).

…while a certain big lefty with huge postseason credentials is not.

And, if you’re the type who looks for awkward ring ceremonies, Madison Bumgarner could win the fourth ring of her career after the Diamondbacks released him in April with a 10.26 ERA.

The Diamondbacks front office is worth supporting…

Seven years ago, the Diamondbacks cleaned house and hired longtime Boston Red Sox executive Mike Hazen to run the show. He brought with him some Red Sox connections, including manager Torey Lovullo, and many in the industry support him after his wife, Nicole, He died of a rare form of cancer. in 2022.

“What good, real people,” one longtime executive said of the Diamondbacks’ top decision-makers.

Hazen has challenged Curse of the athletic one Ken Rosenthal himself to lead his team to its first World Series since 2001.

…but believe it or not, the Rangers front office is also fascinating.

Chris Young has completed his first full year as general manager of the Rangers. (Jim Cowsert/USA Today)

No one tunes in to see the GM applauding in his suite, but Rangers GM Chris Young should be in contention for Rookie of the Year at 44 years old. Young is in his first full year on the job after being promoted to the top job at the end of last season. He was still playing (he was a good major league pitcher) in 2017, worked in the league office for two years and has been a front office executive for only three years, but Young was aggressive at the trade deadline to help push Rangers to the top and to this position.

And if you can’t identify the man behind the curtain, there’s always Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, back in the dugout after three years of semi-retirement. trying to win their fourth World Series title and force another line on his inevitable Hall of Fame plaque.

You could just watch because… it’s the World Series.

OK, we’ll acknowledge that this isn’t the matchup anyone outside of Dallas and Phoenix wanted when the postseason began. The Braves were the perceived monster, the Orioles were the young and striking upstarts, the Dodgers were the iconic franchise with an ace of all time, and the Phillies had the world’s offense with a great advantage of playing at home.

But it’s the fall classic! With a tone clock, So the kids can watch more than half an inning before bed!

Think of the mother of Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and look with a touch of sentimental optimism. think of everyone The key players your least favorite team gave up. and observe with a healthy dose of vindictive cynicism. Or just watch because it’s baseball in October, a team hasn’t won in two decades, and the other has not won anything. The Rangers are trying to make history. The Diamondbacks are trying to shock the world. Divine grace, live snakes!

(Top photo by Evan Longoria: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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