- By NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
- Cleveland Indians' Manager Terry Francona
By NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
There were eight teams with at least 91 victories this year, and those are the eight that are still in the running for the World Series title.
There were no major surprises in the wild-card games, with the 85-win Twins and 87-win Rockies cast aside. That leaves four teams left in each league and 16 possible matchups for the World Series. Here’s a list of them all — and what would make each of them noteworthy.
The matchups are listed in descending order of likelihood, using probability figures from Fangraphs.com heading into Thursday’s action.
DODGERS vs. INDIANS (11.2 percent)
The last time both pennant winners won at least 102 games during the regular season was in 1970, when the 108-win Orioles beat the 102-win Reds in the World Series. If the Dodgers (104-58) and Indians (102-60) meet this year, runs would likely be at a premium. The teams finished 1-2 in ERA.
NATIONALS vs. INDIANS (9.3 percent)
When the Nationals moved to Washington, Frank Robinson was the team’s manager, and he stayed in that role for the first two seasons in D.C. Robinson got his managerial start three decades earlier for the Indians.
DODGERS vs. ASTROS (8.9 percent)
These teams produced some drama together when they were both in the NL West. In 1981, the Dodgers beat Houston in a best-of-five NL Division Series, and the previous year, the division race came down to a one-game playoff after Los Angeles took three in a row from the Astros to pull even. Houston won the playoff 7-1 behind Joe Niekro.
CUBS vs. INDIANS (8.2 percent)
A rematch between the teams that needed extra innings to determine a champion in Game 7 a year ago . Would the Indians — without a title since 1948 — be the sentimental favorites this time?
NATIONALS vs. ASTROS (7.4 percent)
There are a number of ex-Detroit Tigers who could make an impact this postseason. A Nationals-Astros World Series could pit Justin Verlander against Max Scherzer.
DODGERS vs. RED SOX (7.4 percent)
Los Angeles vs. Boston is a storied basketball matchup. It’s been less compelling on the baseball field, although the California Angels and Red Sox did play a memorable AL Championship Series in 1986, when Boston rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win.
CUBS vs. ASTROS (6.5 percent)
In 2012, the Cubs and Astros were both in the NL Central. Chicago lost 101 games and Houston dropped 107. The Astros had the No. 1 pick in the next draft and took Mark Appel, then the Cubs nabbed Kris Bryant at No. 2. Imagine Bryant as part of this already-powerful Houston lineup.
DODGERS vs. YANKEES (6.1 percent)
These teams have met in the World Series 11 times, with the Yankees winning eight — but they’ve split four meetings since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. A stolen base by Dave Roberts was a turning point when New York lost to Boston in the 2004 ALCS. Roberts manages the Dodgers now.
NATIONALS vs. RED SOX (6.1 percent)
Several years before they moved to Washington, the Montreal Expos ushered in a glorious era in Red Sox history when they traded Pedro Martinez to Boston.
CUBS vs. RED SOX (5.4 percent)
All Theo Epstein, all the time. Purists weary of that story line can enjoy an entire series at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
NATIONALS vs. YANKEES (5.1 percent)
Remarkable but true: Baby Bombers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were born the same year as Bryce Harper, who is now in his fourth postseason. Judge is actually the oldest of the three.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. INDIANS (4.6 percent)
Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer made his major league debut with Arizona in 2012. The Indians acquired him in a three-team deal when they traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati.
CUBS vs. YANKEES (4.5 percent)
Aroldis Chapman was a Yankee last year before joining the Cubs for their World Series run. He’s back to throwing triple-digit fastballs in the Bronx. The Yankees and Cubs met in the 1932 and 1938 World Series, with New York sweeping both. The ’32 matchup is when Babe Ruth was said to have called his shot before homering.
DIAMONDBACKS vs ASTROS (3.7 percent)
One that got away: J.D. Martinez was released by Houston shortly before the 2014 season. After blossoming into an impressive power hitter with Detroit, Martinez hit 45 home runs this year, 29 of which came in 62 games for Arizona after a July trade.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. RED SOX (3.0 percent)
Torey Lovullo, who guided Arizona to the postseason in his first year after taking over as manager, was previously a bench coach for the Red Sox.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. YANKEES (2.5 percent)
Their 2001 World Series was a thriller, with three games won in the home team’s final at-bat — including Game 7, when Arizona beat Mariano Rivera . More recently, the Yankees acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade after the 2014 season. Robbie Ray went from Detroit to Arizona in that deal.
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