The World Series came to an end last night, as the Washington Nationals pulled off their second big upset in this post season, winning the Series 4 games to 3 over the Houston Astros. On the way to becoming world champions, the Nationals knocked off two of the so called super teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the aforementioned Astros. Since the middle of May, the Nationals matched these teams victory for victory. The fact that they were able to take it all the way, should not be all that surprising. After the sixth game MLB Network was describing this series as epic trying to increase the hype, and to obscure the fact that this World Series was anything but epic. This is not to take anything away from the Washington Nationals great victory, and a nice win for the National League. In fact, this may have been one of the most deserving victories in a long time. The Nationals played better than the Astros in every phase. The best way to describe this series was odd. Let me count the ways.
The visitors won every game. That has not happened before in any 7 game series in any sport. How about this betting parlay, The Nationals would score 3 runs in 3 home games and win the World Series. There are no wilder and raucous fans than the fans at the World Series, especially a Game 7. After every game that wild and delirious fan base went home sad. The last World Series to be clinched at home was in 2013 by the Boston Red Sox. Home field has seemed to have lost it’s advantage in baseball, and it’s hard to say why, but this was an extreme example. Other than Game 1 the games were not very close. The only games in doubt after the 7th inning were 1 and 7, and that quickly changed in game 7 as the Nats added on in the 8th and 9th, with the Astros not threatening in the bottom of either inning. This series was odd but not very tense or exciting. The smallest margin of victory in each game was 1,9,3,7,6,5, and 4. But despite these lopsided margins in the games, the overall stats of the series, shall we say , was oddly close. Try this on for size. Both teams hit 11 home runs. Both teams walked 27 times. Both teams had the exact ERA of 4.39. The Nats scored 33 runs and the Astros 30 runs. The Astros had a slight edge in OPS .794 to .739. The Astros had the slight edge in Whip 1.34 to 1.50. Every time it seemed that a team was going take the series by the throat and win, they fell flat on their face. After game 2 it looked like the Nats had the potential to sweep the series but then the bats went dead the next 3 games. Going into game 6 it looked like the Astros had righted the ship, ready to win their second championship in three years, but instead the ship sank. Finally the interference call at first base and the reviewing of a non reviewable play in game 6. What more can you say. It was an odd World Series.
Why did the Nationals win. It boiled down to two things. Garrit Cole picked the wrong day to be human. The ace of the decade, who had not lost a game since mid May, just had an off day for him. It was by far the key win of series. The big names for the Nationals performed and the big names for the Astros did not. Verlander continued to have problems in the World Series. Strasberg was the Series MVP. Rendon and Soto had a combined OPS of just over .2000, while Altuve and Bregman’s OPS was just over .1500. The Nationals simply out played the Astros when it counted the most. I don’t think managerial strategy and decision making played a big role in the outcome. But I am going to nitpick and second guess at the same time. Houston manager A. J. Hinch seemed to have no confidence in Zack Greinke. Taking him out in the 7th after only 80 pitches seemed a little premature considering he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. I know about all the reasoning behind the third time through the line up and this is the age of great bullpens, but this is Zack Greinke and he seemed to be getting out of trouble just fine in this post season. If the outcome had been the same, then he would have been criticize for leaving him. I said this was nitpicking and I think the eventual outcome would have been the same, because the Astros bats went dead. Congrats to the Nats. It’s nice to see the World Series trophy back where it belongs, in the National League.