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Author: Trent Steffes

 

DISCLAIMER: If you’re looking for  wiffle-metrics filled, stats galore type of breakdown article previewing the World Series: too damn bad.  That’s not what I do. If you want one, write it yourself or talk to Chester from the DBacks!

 

I’m just going to give you the deets about the 2018 World Series straight up, verbatim, no gimmicks because I am an ELITE WIFFLEBALL MIND.

 

THE SKINNY:

 

It’s the Eagan Dodgers vs the Hopkins Rays (yeah, yeah Biscuits, whatever.  Rays is easier to type.) Dodgers road to the World Series was through the Eagan West Division where they had a record of 31-7 and ended up half a game behind the Reds for the division titles because no one would give them another Game 3.  In the first round, they beat the #2 seed Yankees whose season success relied mainly on two former Dodgers, Hardball and Old Yeller. The Eagan Championship Series had all kinds of intrigue leading up because the Dodgers couldn’t get it done last year in the ECS against the Kards and the Marlins were the people’s team, living out a Cinderella story in their first playoff appearance.  Well Cinderella was cast aside for someone younger and more attractive as the Dodgers handled the Marlins for a three game sweep including a 10-0 mercy rule Game Two. So now the group of young veterans head their way into their first ever HRL World Series.

The Rays run roughshot through the Hopkins West finishing 35-4, once again coming one game short of the all-time best record of 36-3 2012 Nationals.  For the third year in a row, the Mippey5/Huck Finn duo dispatched a group of MNWA veterans for their first round victory as they beat the DBags in a 2-1 series.  They then went on to sweep the Mets (FKA Phillies, Padres, other thousands of names) which featured the sellsword duo of former Rays and multiple time champions Taco and Hondo.  The games had plenty of drama with late inning heroics from everyone, including a Mippey5 walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 3 to seal the deal and head to the franchise’s second World Series.

 

THE PITCHING:

 

Without question, this World Series is going to feature some elite pitching.  Of all the probable starters, the highest ERA among them is a 3.09, owned by World Series virgin Twobat.  Of course the experience factor favors the Rays with Huck Finn and Mippey5 having only let in 3 and 4 runs, respectively in the World Series last year against a potent Kardinals lineup.  And so far these playoffs, Mippey has an impressive 1.30 ERA with 20 K and only 2 walks against two very formidable lineups in the DBacks and Mets. The Dodgers on the other side have been just as impressive throughout the post season with Eagan MVP Psych posting a 1.20 ERA with 36 K in 3 games without only 2 walks.  Epstein has less inspiring stats but only compared to Psych because the dude has a 2.32 ERA and sub 1 WHIP.

 

Who’s favored?

On paper and in person, it really seems like a push.  All four starters pass the “eye test” meaning if you watch them play: it’s pretty damn clear that all these guys are elite. The Dodgers were able to finish up their series in one night while the Rays had to dispatch of the Mets over two nights.  Initially, it looked like the Rays pitchers were going to have to pitch on four consecutive wiffle nights, but Mother Nature smiled down on them and blessed the Rays (ironically) with a couple of rain-outs, pushing their Game 3 back 10 days, giving Mippey5 some time to rest his arm which had been reportedly hurting since nationals in July.  So at full strength, I’d give the slight edge to the Rays because in my estimation, the road to the World Series in Hopkins was paved with much more capable hitters to retire. And also, the possibility of Twobat starting one of these games bodes very well for the Rays because it will give them a nice change of pace pitcher and that could prove to be invaluable in what I expect to be a long series.  The less times you face an opponent as a pitcher, the better.

 

THE HITTING:

Poetically, both cities’ Yellow Slammer award winner are featured in this WS matchup with Epstein and Smallpox winning those awards.  Both are feared hitters at the plate and both can get the job done in crunch-time. I saw first hand what Epstein can do when he hit an MNWA Championship clinching grand slam off of Lulu from the DBacks (with no speed limit) and Smallpox has been one of the best hitters in the whole country since he joined the HRL in 2013.  Looking from a pure stats perspective, the Dodgers have much more impressive numbers. The only one in their four man lineup not hitting over .300 is Cheerio, and Fez is hitting over .500 in the post-season. Will that figure last this WS? I highly doubt it. If it does it’ll be damn impressive but eventually his bat will have to cool off when he faces a former Cy Wiffler and Huck Finn.  Having a four man lineup is very beneficial because as stated, the more times you see a pitcher, the more comfortable you get. And riding with four guys and even a three man lineup as it’s been rumored for Monday, they’re going to get a lot of looks at the plate. On the other side, the Rays boast just as many big hitters as the Dodgers with Smallpox and Griz, and no one can say they don’t fear Mippey5 when he steps up to the plate.  The scariest part of the Rays lineup is that top-to-bottom, any one of those hitters can take over a game and come up big against any level of pitching.

 

Who’s favored?

I’d have to give the edge here to the Rays because like I said: every out the Dodgers need to get will be a tough out.  And while I’m not trying to say that he’s a bad player and incapable of being clutch; my man Cheerio definitely leaves something to be desired at the plate.  He’s posting a sub .100 .avg through these playoffs but the positive part about that is that he doesn’t have to be the focal point, because he’s got two top notch hitters and a man on fire ahead of him in the lineup.  So the bulk of the Dodgers’ offense is going to fall to Epstein and Psych, but even the Rays will admit that they are more than capable of winning a World Series on their two bats alone.

 

Are there any X-Factors?

Each team has a couple worth mentioning or mentioning again.  For the Rays, the biggest X-Factor is going to be Twobat. Twobat has been in the league since 2007 and is making his first appearance on the big stage.  And you know he’s going to be expecting the best out of himself. Like I said before, his potential role as a #3 pitcher for the Rays rotation could prove to be the series defining variable.  He’s definitely underperformed at the plate this postseason but that can turn on a dime. Conversely, the Dodgers’ main X-Factor is going to be Fez. He’s been on fire so far and unfortunately for the Dodgers, he’s only available for Thursday night.  It’s on him to make it his best night of the season and help them not go winless on the first night because if the Rays are in the driver’s seat, it is going to be a tall order to win four of five straight games. Similarly, Cheerio also is set up to be a big wild card in this matchup.  He’s got to be able to have productive at-bats in order to be a productive part of the offense, and he is absolutely capable of that and I am personally rooting for him to play spoiler when he’s at the plate.

 

So what’s your pick, Chatty Cathy?

My official prediction is going to be the Rays in six games.  They are going to have to pounce on them early and take control of the series.  The Rays have been there, done that and the Dodgers are trying to get their first of what they hope are many cups.  Honestly, fans and players of the HRL better get used to seeing “Rays vs Dodgers in the World Series” because neither team is going anywhere and no matter what happens this series, both teams are going to enter 2019 as favorites to go back to the next World Series.  I honestly don’t believe this will be anything resembling the World Series last year. Even if it’s a sweep one way or another, every win is going to be won late in the game. If you polled everyone’s honest opinion, I don’t think anyone would be predicting a sweep in this series.  We are going to have our first competitive series since 2016 and it is going to be some ridiculously cold and entertaining September/October wiffleball.

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