Fans saw one player reverse his reputation for years to come…
The Boston Red Sox are back on top as World Series champions after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game series. This year’s World Series provided plenty of highlights and some stunning performances that helped determine both teams’ fates.
Fans will remember this matchup for a number of reasons. From an 18-inning battle that went down as the longest in postseason history to some late-inning drama scattered throughout.
This year’s World Series also offered a unique tale for both teams. It will not be entirely remembered for star-studded performances. In fact, it was the opposite of that for many of the game’s best players. Fans saw several stars disappoint, unheralded players shine and one player reverse his reputation for years to come.
Here are the winners and losers from Boston’s World Series victory over the Dodgers.
Winner: David Price
While Kershaw’s playoff narrative will stay with him, Price exits the World Series with a championship ring and a hammer to destroy all negative perceptions still held against him.
He showed signs of a turnaround in a game-clinching Game 5 win against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. He brought that same stuff in Game 2 of the World Series, then dropped the hammer on Los Angeles with a sensational Game 5 start to win the World Series.
Once one of the least popular players in Boston, Price will now be beloved by the city for years to come and may have a chance to help this team repeat next season.
Loser: Dodgers’ bullpen
While several relievers slipped up in this series, a majority of the blame at the end should go towards Ryan Madson and Kenley Jansen.
A reliever with 50-plus innings in the postseason shouldn’t have had the issues we saw from Madson. Yet when the World Series rolled around and Dave Roberts put him into a critical situation, the veteran reliever blew it. He faced seven inherited runners, and all of them scored. That’s a stat that will haunt Los Angeles this offseason.
In the rare moments when Los Angeles held a lead late in the game, its best closer erased them. A night after he was called upon in Game 3 for a six-out save and promptly allowed a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, Jansen repeated the mistake in Game 4. One of the game’s best relievers, Jansen failed in the biggest moments.
Winner: Nathan Eovaldi
It may be years before fans witness another performance like Eovaldi’s miraculous outing in Game 3. Boston already used him the first two games of the series, and it wanted to avoid using him at all cost.
An extra-inning battle forced manager Joey Cora’s hand and made him turn to Eovaldi. He went six innings and was essentially perfect on the mound until one mistake on the 97th pitch of his relief appearance, and Boston lost.
If Eovaldi escapes this offseason without any long-term damage to his pitching arm, the 28-year-old made himself one of the most coveted pitchers in this year’s class of free agents.
Loser: Clayton Kershaw
At this point, it’s no longer unfair for skeptics to criticize Kershaw’s performance in the playoffs. He is one of the best pitchers in the regular season we’ve ever seen, but he fell short in October once again.
Kershaw collapsed in Game 1 of the World Series with 10 baserunners and five runs allowed in four innings to put Los Angeles in an early hole. He came back out for Game 5 in a must-win game and allowed three home runs to sink Los Angeles for good.
He’ll likely exercise his opt-in clause this offseason so he can get another crack to reverse the narrative next year. It also helps that Kershaw will make $70 million over the final two years of the deal.
Winner: Dave Dombrowski
Dombrowski has been one of the league’s best decision makers for years. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t had the hardware to back it up since the Florida Marlins won a World Series title in 1997.
Finally, Dombrowski can now celebrate two decades later with another championship ring and the knowledge he brought a championship to Boston. While an offseason addition like J.D. Martinez played a pivotal roles throughout the season, Dombrowski’s lesser-appreciated acquisitions stand out.
Eovaldi, Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Ryan Brasier and Ian Kinsler were all essential to this championship. Dombrowski took risks, and the farm system has taken a hit, but his actions brought another championship to a city where that’s all that matters.
Loser: Dave Roberts
Yes, plenty of the blame must go on the players. Roberts put them in situations where they should have executed. When it became clear they couldn’t get it done, he threw them back out there in the same situations the next game.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Roberts is an experienced manager at this stage. His choices to keep going back to his trusted guys despite all the evidence pointing to them being inadequate proved costly.
Winner: Steve Pearce
When Boston acquired Pearce at the end of June, it attracted little attention because he was expected to play a minimal role. Fast forward to October and he is the biggest reason why Boston is the World Series champion.
The 35-year-old won Game 4 for Boston thanks to his game-tying home run and a three-run double. Those magical moments clearly weren’t enough for him as he shined once again in Game 5 with a two-homer game. Pearce only needed two games to become the best hitter in this series, and it was remarkable to watch.
This is what October is all about — unheralded players becoming a folk hero in a city with his heroics in a title run.
Loser: Yasmani Grandal
The postseason presented Grandal with the chance to further strengthen his market in free agency. Instead, he had one of the worst October stretches in recent memory.
Grandal’s miscues first popped up in the NLCS, where he struggled defensively and posted a .182 batting average and .455 OPS with six strikeouts in 11 at-bats. He saw limited playing time in the World Series and came up empty with runners on base.
This is still a very talented player, he just cost himself a chunk of money with a miserable postseason. Now a savvy front office will scoop him up in free agency and get a bargain in free agency.
Winner: Joe Kelly
Boston came into October with nearly everyone questioning its bullpen. This October showed that it had the pieces who could step up when it needed outs and overcome the narrative.
Kelly was simply phenomenal against the Dodgers. Boston called upon him in every game of the World Series, including Game 5 when he struck out the side. He shutout Los Angeles’ lineup each time. The 30-year-old who struggled to record outs in the regular season, became one of the best relievers in October.
Loser: Manny Machado
Whether the focus is on his antics, lack of hustle or just a poor performance, Machado’s entire experience in the World Series will be difficult to forget.
Fans ripped into him for his lack of hustle on a single, and he drew criticism for stepping on Pearce’s heel in Game 4. Even beyond the additional drama, the impending free agent went 4-for-22 in the series with more strikeouts (five) than RBI (three). In every conceivable way, he fell short in this series.
Machado will still become one of the highest-paid players in baseball this offseason. Unfortunately for him, he blew an opportunity to become one of MLB’s biggest stars with a strong performance in the World Series to back it up. No matter how fans want to look at it, Machado lost badly this October.