(KFDX/KJTL) — With just two teams left standing in Major League Baseball, the stage is set for a meeting of perhaps the two most unlikely teams in baseball for the 2023 World Series.
The Fall Classic between the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will get underway with Game 1 on Friday, October 27, 2023, with the first pitch set to be thrown at 7:03 p.m. from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
The matchup between the Texas Rangers, fifth seed in the American League, and the National League’s sixth-seeded Arizona Diamondbacks marks just the third time two wild card teams have met in the World Series and the lowest-seeded World Series matchup in MLB history.
According to the Associated Press, the betting odds of a World Series between the Rangers and the Diamondbacks was 1,750 to 1 when wagering opened in fall 2022, meaning a bet of $10 would have led to a $17,500 payout.
The 2023 World Series matchup between the Rangers and the Diamondbacks seems even more unlikely considering both teams finished with more than 100 losses just two seasons ago, and that’s not all they have in common.
Started from the bottom, now they’re here
Improbable as it may be, Texas and Arizona will meet in the postseason for the first time in history, and they took eerily similar paths to get to the 2023 World Series. Prior to the 2023 season, both the Rangers and the Diamondbacks had experienced three consecutive seasons with more losses than wins.
For both franchises, their worst record during that stretch came in 2021 when they were among the three worst teams in Major League Baseball. The Rangers lost 102 games that season and the Diamondbacks lost 110.
What a difference two seasons make.
Between the 2021 MLB season and the conclusion of the 2023 regular season, both teams managed to improve their overall win totals by 30 games or more, with the Rangers ending the 2023 regular season with a record of 90-72 and the Diamondbacks with a record of 84-78.
The first-ever postseason meeting between the American League champion Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, winners of the National League, certainly seemed like a possibility through the first three months of the 2023 MLB season.
Both teams maintained a healthy lead in their respective divisions prior to the MLB’s All-Star break in July. However, both teams would end up losing their hold on their divisions.
The Diamondbacks ended up finishing the year with a record of 84-78, just 6 games over .500 and 16 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, but good enough for the second-place spot in the NL West.
The Rangers would end their 2023 season with the same record as reigning World Series champion Houston Astros, who held the tiebreaker by winning the season head-to-head series with a record of 9-4. Because of this, Texas ended the season in second place in the AL West.
Two of the worst teams in Major League Baseball just two seasons ago somehow managed to turn the trajectory of their teams around in 2023 and ended up being the final two teams left standing in search of a World Series victory.
Shockingly similar paths to pennants
It can’t be ignored that the Rangers and the Diamondbacks took practically the same route to earn their way into the 2023 MLB postseason. However, the similarities between these two teams once they began postseason play are somehow even stronger.
Both teams entered the MLB Postseason as Wild Card teams, meaning their first challenge was to face a higher-seeded team from their league for a three-game series, all of which would be played on the road.
The Rangers faced the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida while the Diamondbacks traveled to Wisconsin to face the Milwaukee Brewers.
Both Texas and Arizona would win two straight games in their opponents’ home stadium, sweeping the Rays and the Brewers on the road.
In the next round, the Diamondbacks faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished the regular season with the second-best record in the National League. Meanwhile, the Rangers met up with the Baltimore Orioles, the best team in the American League during the regular season.
Both the Rangers in the ALDS and the Diamondbacks in the NLDS swept their opponents, winning the first two games of the best-of-five series on the road.
In the ALCS, Texas faced off against their in-state division rival Houston Astros. Arizona met the Philadelphia Phillies for the NLCS. After five games, both teams were down three games to two, needing to win the final two games of the series on the road to advance to the World Series.
Somehow, both the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks did just that. What’s even more impressive, the Rangers have yet to lose a single road game this postseason.
With that, the stage was set for an improbable World Series.
Which team has the edge in the World Series?
It may come as no shock that two teams who took virtually the same path into the postseason and went on shockingly similar runs to advance from the Wild Card round to the World Series are fairly evenly matched.
Starting Rotatation (Even) — Texas and Arizona have nearly identical situations with their starting pitching rotation. While both pitching staffs have a below-average ERA, the top two starters for both the Rangers (Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi) and the Diamondbacks (Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly) have been quality, reliable options on the mound. The third starter for each team, former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer for Texas and rookie Brandon Pfaadt for Arizona, has been up and down this season.
Offense (Advantage Texas) — The Rangers have been an offensive powerhouse throughout the 2023 MLB season. They finished top five in every major offensive statistical category, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and home runs. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, were in the middle of the pack. Over the course of the season, the Rangers scored 165 more runs than their opponents while the Diamondbacks scored 15 fewer runs than theirs.
Bullpen (Advantage Arizona) — While each team has a quality trio of relievers in its bullpen, the Diamondbacks have the advantage over the Rangers once their starters leave the game. There’s no doubt that Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc bring the heat when they step on the mound, but relief pitching has been a struggle for Texas all season, including those three. The Diamondbacks bullpen may throw with less velocity, but Arizona has more depth behind Paul Sewald, Kevin Ginkel, and Ryan Thompson. While the bullpen isn’t necessarily a strength for either team, the precision and depth of the Diamondbacks relievers give them the edge.
Defense (Even) — The Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks were the top two teams in Major League Baseball. Both teams finished the regular season with a .990 fielding percentage. The Diamondbacks only committed 56 errors in 162 games and the Rangers committed just 57 errors. The two teams have a total of eight Gold Glove finalists.
Arizona has the head-to-head advantage over Texas this year. During the 2023 regular season, the Rangers and the Diamondbacks faced off four times with Arizona coming out on top in three of the four games. However, the Rangers ended the season with the better overall record, giving them home field advantage in the World Series.
According to BetMGM, the Rangers are the betting favorites to win the World Series. The odds for Texas are -175 ahead of the first pitch of the series while the Diamondbacks have +145 odds to win the Commissioner’s Trophy.
With two teams so evenly matched, both of whom entered the 2023 MLB postseason as underdogs, the Fall Classic between Texas and Arizona certainly has the makings of an exciting World Series.
What a win would mean for Diamondbacks fans
For the Diamondbacks, it’s the team’s second time in their history that they’ve been named champions of the National League and a chance to win the franchise’s second World Series title in as many chances.
After joining the MLB as an expansion team in 1998, they defeated the New York Yankees in seven games during the 2001 World Series, becoming the fastest expansion team to win a World Series in MLB history and the first Phoenix-based professional sports franchise to win a title.
After claiming the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2001, they’ve yet to return to the Fall Classic. The 2023 World Series marks the first time Arizona has been back in more than 20 years.
What a win would mean for Rangers fans
Unlike the Diamondbacks, the Texas Rangers haven’t been to the World Series in 12 years. The team has appeared in the Fall Classic two other times, in 2010 and 2011, yet they are still seeking their first World Series title in franchise history.
That’s due to a moment all Rangers fans wish they could forget when Texas was one strike away from winning the World Series at two different times in Game 6, but they were unable to get that final strike, losing the Fall Classic in perhaps the most heartbreaking fashion.
For Rangers fans, another trip to the World Series means another chance at redemption.
The Rangers are the only major professional sports franchise based in Dallas-Fort Worth that hasn’t won it all, with the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Finals in 2011, the Dallas Stars winning the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999, and the Dallas Cowboys with five Super Bowl rings.
When and where to watch
The 2023 World Series between the Diamondbacks and the Rangers will begin with Game 1 on Friday, October 27. All games are scheduled to begin at 7:03 p.m. and will be aired on FOX unless otherwise noted.
The World Series, like the ALCS and the NLCS, is a best-of-seven series, meaning the first team to win four games will be crowned champions.
The schedule for the 2023 World Series can be found below:
- Game 1 — Friday, Oct. 27 at Globe Life Field (Arlington, TX)
- Game 2 — Saturday, Oct. 28 at Globe Life Field (Arlington, TX)
- Game 3 — Monday, Oct. 30 at Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ)
- Game 4 — Tuesday, Oct. 31 at Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ)
- Game 5 — Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ)*
- Game 6 — Friday, Nov. 3 at Globe Life Field (Arlington, TX)*
- Game 7 — Saturday, Nov. 4 at Globe Life Field (Arlington, TX)*
AUTHOR’S NOTE — * denotes if necessary