The World Series is upon us and the Houston Astros will be facing the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. This will be the Nationals’ first trip to the World Series while the Astros have been there three times, and twice in the last three years.
This may seem like a David vs Goliath battle; after all, the Astros were the best team in baseball and the Nationals got in via the Wild Card route. But the Nationals did beat out the Dodgers in five games and then went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals. Plus, six Wild Card teams have gone on to win the World Series, so anything is possible. Let’s take a look at these two and see how things look on paper.
The Astros had arguably the best offense in the Majors this season, just edging out the Yankees and the Dodgers with an OPS+ of 119. The Nationals were tied with two other teams at 100. Houston’s slash line for 2019 was .274/.352/495, all three numbers tops in the League. Washington slash line numbers of .265/.342/.454 were all in the Top 10 with their OBP second behind the Astros.
Houston actually led the Nationals in every offensive category except one — stolen bases. Washington has a speedy team, stealing the third most times at 116, while the Astros were pretty far down the list with 67.
Neither team is tearing it up in the postseason, but that’s in the past and this is a whole new series, so all stats reset. I have to give the Astros a big edge over the Nationals with the more potent lineup.
Again the Astros had one of the best, if not the best, pitching staffs in baseball. They sat at the top of the Majors with an ERA+ of 127 and the Nationals were 11th with a 108 ERA+. Houston had the third-best ERA while Washington was 12th with a 3.66 and 4.27 respectively.
The starting pitchers of the Nationals edge out the Astros in the ERA category (3.53 to 3.61) and also in WAR (21.4 to 19.4). The bullpen is where the difference really stands out. The Nationals relievers had the second-worst ERA for the season with a 5.68, while the Astros came in second with a 3.75, and Houston also had the better WAR at 4.3 vs Washington’s 0.9.
The Astros top three starters are all in the top ten in the Majors and are unmatched in my opinion, but the fourth game is a whole other story. But overall, I have to give the nod to the Astros for the better pitching staff.
Prediction: Astros in 6
As we well know, anything can happen in the postseason. Look at the Astros offense in the playoffs compared to what they did in the regular season — a huge dropoff in production. But as I said earlier, it all starts over, it’s a new best-of-seven series. I’m going to predict that the Houston Astros will be crowned the World Series Champions, defeating Washington in six games.