Ranking every possible remaining World Series matchup by historical value

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

Every team started the Major League Baseball postseason with 23 possible paths. Those 23 possible paths accounted for each possible round and each possible opponent a team could play in each possible round, given how the bracket set up. Twenty-two of those possible paths would end with a disappointing, season-ending loss. The other one was the path without end — the crowning achievement of a World Series title.

With the 16-team playoff field now half its original size, the array of possibilities has dwindled. We can more easily eye the bracket and think ahead to Fall Classic clashes, the annual matchup that to some extent defines each season, or at least gives each campaign its lasting resonance. The eight remaining teams give us 16 possible World Series combinations, ranging from a recent rematch (Astros-Dodgers) to the first-ever all-Florida series (Rays-Marlins).

One thing we know for sure is that whoever ends up surviving to the final round, they will play in a World Series like no other. Bubble baseball will be in effect, with few fans in attendance and the playing field a neutral site for both clubs. And it will be played at brand-new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where just nine teams thus far have played.

Each fall, when the playoff field comes into focus, I like to list the possible matchups by my personal preference, much in the way my colleague David Schoenfield does in his annual lookahead at the Fall Classic matchups. While my preferences can be complicated by work-related travel demands (not relevant in 2020) and rooting interests that I keep private, by and large I have one criterion: What would be the most classic matchup?

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