The last 30 World Series have bestowed glory and immortality to 18 different franchises, none of them the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Assuming that labor discord doesn’t kill baseball and the coronavirus doesn’t kill North American professional sports altogether, what team would you select to win the most of the next 30 Fall Classics?
I’m going with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers, losers of the 2017 and 2018 championships to two teams (the Astros and Red Sox, natch) that were found guilty of illegally stealing signs, appear extremely well-positioned for both the short term and the long term. Let us count the ways:
1. Major league talent. As per FanGraphs’ calculations, the Dodgers’ 58.9 wins above replacement in 2019 paced the National League by a wide margin; the Nationals placed second with 48.3. While they lost pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to free agency and traded outfielder Alex Verdugo to the Red Sox, the latter brought back the mega-talented Mookie Betts as well as David Price, though Price has opted out of this season over coronavirus concerns.
2. Minor league talent. MLB.com ranks the Dodgers system third overall, behind the Rays and Padres, and that’s after giving up some gems to acquire Betts.
3. Ownership. While the Dodgers have received criticism for staying under the luxury-tax threshold each of the last two seasons, they opened up their wallets to trade for Betts and have declared their interest in retaining the impending free agent for the long term. They also attempted to lure Gerrit Cole with an eight-year, $300 million offer. No one questions the Guggenheim’s group financial might.
4. Front office. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman piloted the Rays’ stunning run of excellence from 2008 through 2013, and has guided the Dodgers to five straight National League West titles while overhauling the development pipeline since switching coasts.
5. No nemesis. Whereas the Yankees face worthy near-annual obstacles in the mighty Sawx and ’Stros, no NL team has emerged in a similar fashion. The Nationals, who upended the Dodgers in last year’s NL Division Series, could be that team, as could the historic rival Giants. The Dodgers, however, own a healthy head start.
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