They say the third time is a charm. That seemed to be the case for the Los Angeles Dodgers who finally captured a World Series title after appearing in their third fall classic in the last four years. It was an entertaining series that showcased several moments of clutch performances on the mound and at the plate. In the end, the team who had the best record in baseball came out victorious. Nonetheless, the Tampa Bay Rays still deserve a ton of credit.
Here are some takeaways from the 2020 World Series.
Mookie Proves His Worth
The baseball world was shaken when the Dodgers decided to pay Mookie Betts $365 million across 12 years before the 2020 season. But the former Boston Red Sox star proved to be worth every single penny in his first season in Tinseltown, leading the Dodgers to their first title since 1988.
In the World Series he hit .269 with two bombs, but his homer and double in the series-clinching Game 6 were both crucial to LA winning this contest. Not only did he impress at the plate, but he was also a spark plug on the basepaths, swiping four bags throughout the fall classic. In Game 1 he swiped two bags in the fifth inning that set the tone for the Dodgers offense, which went on to score four runs that inning and eventually won 6-1.
Defensively, Betts was also brilliant, making numerous crucial catches thanks to his tremendous athleticism and speed in the outfield. Throughout the postseason the 28-year-old hit .296 with his only two long balls coming in the World Series.
Randy Arozarena is a Star
Although Tampa Bay fell short of their goal, rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena stole the headlines thanks to his historic postseason where he hit .377 with 10 home runs and 14 RBIs. Yes, you read that right. The 25-year-old Cuban recorded 29 hits, the most by any player in playoff history. Talk about making a statement.
This is a player who the St. Louis Cardinals traded away in January for basically nothing after he made his debut for them last season. Best part? He was recalled by Tampa in late August and had just 64 at-bats in the regular season, hitting .288 with seven homers. That clearly impressed manager Kevin Cash, who inserted him in the starting lineup for the postseason.
The fact that Arozarena was only in the big leagues for a handful of games towards the end of the campaign makes his run in October even more impressive. He was spraying balls all over the ballpark, too. A lot of his homers were to right-center, which is typically the deepest part of the field. Pitchers had a hell of a time pitching to him because Arozarena was literally hitting everything.
You better believe he’ll be a key part of this Tampa Bay Rays team moving forward.
Kershaw Finally Gets His Ring
Clayton Kershaw is widely considered one of the greatest pitchers to ever step on the mound. He’s a future Hall of Famer and has been dominant for many years. However, the Dodgers lefty had previously failed to perform on the big stage in the heat of October. This postseason Kershaw went 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA while striking out 37 hitters in just 30 innings.
The 32-year-old changed the narrative that followed him in the playoffs, proving to be an important piece of the Dodgers’ World Series title. He looked a lot sharper, locating all of his pitches much more efficiently while limiting his mistakes.
Even when Kershaw didn’t have his best stuff, he still battled and got his team outs. It’s only fitting that one of the best ever finally got his long-awaited ring.
Blake Snell Should Have Stayed in Game 6
This has been one of the biggest topics since Los Angeles won it all on Tuesday night: Kevin Cash taking out Blake Snell in the sixth inning after the Tampa ace gave up just two hits and one run in the first 5.1 innings. Instantly, this changed the momentum of the game. Snell was unhittable, and the Dodgers literally couldn’t figure him out. The former Cy Young Award winner had nine strikeouts when he was yanked and the next three hitters that were coming up for LA had already been sat down by Snell via the strikeout. He gave up a leadoff single, and like that, Cash took him out even though he’d thrown only 73 pitches.
Nick Anderson came in and gave up a double to Mookie Betts, which put runners on second and third. Then he threw a wild pitch that allowed the runner to score. From that point on, you could tell that LA was going to win this decisive Game 6. One could argue that Snell hasn’t pitched more than six innings for a very long time due to past injuries and such, but in a game of this importance, Cash needs to leave his best arm on the mound.
You live and you learn, but the Rays manager definitely made the wrong decision that potentially cost his team the series.
Corey Seager Put on a Show in the Playoffs
Aside from Betts, Seager was also outstanding for Los Angeles in the postseason, hitting .328 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs. The Dodgers shortstop won both the National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player Award and became just the eighth player ever to win both awards in the same year.
Seager hit .400 with two bombs and played flawless defense at short in the fall classic, making no errors. He also did a great job of punishing off-speed pitches, hitting both of his homers off mistakes from Tampa Bay arms that were left up in the zone.
After missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, it’s extremely impressive that Seager had such a resurgent campaign, topped off with a couple of individual accolades and a World Series title.