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Ranking the 25 possible 2018 World Series matchups

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There are 25 potential World Series matchups this year, and we need to find the best one.

Oakland Athletics v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Getty Images

There are 10 teams left, which means there are 25 different World Series matchups. As usual, it is our duty to rank the possible matchups and come up with the best combinations. We could make these rankings up, like a bunch of jerks, or we could deploy a fancy, precise algorithm.

Lucky for you, I have one of those fancy, precise algorithms, and I use it every year.

It works like this: I come up with arbitrary categories and give 1-to-10 rankings based on my whims and general mood. It’s basically a way for me to do this off the top of my head, and I should probably let you know I have no idea what an algorithm actually is.

So how do I come up with my scores for each category? Here’s a brief primer, even though there’s no shame in just skipping to the rankings.

Legacy of sadness

I like watching teams that have waited a long, long time. Your mileage may vary, but we’ve had a great run over the last two years, with the Cubs, Indians, Astros, and Dodgers all bringing varying legacies of sadness to the Fall Classic. Two of those teams are still very sad. Two of them are hella braggy now. I absolutely love those kinds of matchups, where one team gets sadder and the other team gets hella braggy.

It can definitely happen again this season, which means we have to root for the saddest teams to make it.

10 points - Teams that have waited 50 years or more since their last championship.

9 points - Teams that have waited between 40 and 49 years.

8 points - Teams that have waited between 30 and 39 years or have never won in franchise history.

7 points - Teams that have waited between 20 and 29 years.

6 points - Teams that have waited between 10 and 19 years.

4 points - Teams that have waited between 2 and 9 years.

2 points - You just won within the last two seasons, you idiots.

1 point - The Yankees.

Should I make accommodations for the Cubs having waited more than a century? Maybe throw a couple bonus points their way? Absolutely not. They’re now officially spoiled, and no one benefits from them going full Red Sox.

Previous matchups

I don’t like watching the same teams over and over again. There would be a teensy, teensy part of me that would enjoy an Indians-Cubs rematch, but I would be much more in favor of two teams that have never met in the World Series. Teams start the season as total strangers, but if they meet in the World Series, they’ll become inextricably linked for the next few decades.

For example: The Indians and Cubs are THOSE TEAMS from THAT SERIES. The Mariners and Cubs are just a couple of teams. So let’s give extra credit to the former.

10 points - A combination of the original 16 teams that we haven’t seen before. Red Sox/Giants, for example. It would make America barf, sure, but I’m a sucker for history. (And this doesn’t count for the Dodgers and Red Sox if they played when they were, like, the Superbas and Americans. Which they did.)

9 points - A matchup that we haven’t seen in the last 50 years or a matchup that’s happened before and was a super memorable World Series (think 1988).

8 points - A rematch from last season or a matchup of two teams that have played in a World Series before 2000.

7 points - A rematch from a series before 2000 that isn’t remembered as a classic

6 points - A matchup that happened from 2000-2016. Sorry, if you’re hot for, uh, Marlins-Yankees, but it’s just not as fun to see the same teams in the Fall Classic.

Star power

Hoo boy.

I’m defining stars very, very loosely, but we’re talking ...

  • Generational superstars (Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw)
  • Not-sure-if-future-Hall-of-Famer-but-could-be players who are still in their prime (Jose Altuve, Corey Kluber)
  • Exciting, fresh players who are likely to finish in the top-10 for a major award one day (Ronald Acuña, Jr., Gleyber Torres)
  • Players who might win the MVP, Cy Young, or Rookie of the Year this November (Christian Yelich, Alex Bregman)
  • Internet obsessions (Bartolo Colon, Yasiel Puig)
  • Certified dinger gods (Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez)
  • Dudes I want to watch and you should too (Ozzie Albies, Jesús Aguilar)

This is all extremely arbitrary, and there’s a lot of room for debates, but the important thing is that I don’t respect your opinion. With that in mind, here we go:

10 points — Five or more of the above players.

9 points — Four of the above players.

8 points — Three of the above players.

7 points — Two of the above players.

5 points — One of the above players.

2 points — None of the above players, how in the hell did you get in the postseason anyway, get out of here.

Have they been in the World Series this decade?

Instant two-point deduction, unless it’s a rematch of the previous World Series. You might argue that I’m double counting against matchups like Red Sox/Rockies with this category and “previous matchups,” to which I respond, hell yes, I’m double counting against matchups like Red Sox/Rockies.

Imagine wanting to see Red Sox/Rockies.

Whatever I feel like

In this section, I will use whatever I feel like to screw with the rankings. For example, do you want to spend an entire World Series staring at Chief Wahoo and listening to the Tomahawk Chop? I don’t. I really, really don’t. This means there will be demerits applied to the David Justice Invitational.

For the most part, though, I’ll use this only in extreme cases. Most of the bias is already baked in.

With all that out of the way, here are the official World Series Matchup Rankings.

#25-21

Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
21 Astros Cubs 2 2 20 9 4 -4 33
22 Yankees Braves 1 7 18 7 0 0 33
23 Indians Braves 10 7 17 7 -8 -2 31
24 Astros Rockies 2 8 15 9 0 -4 30
25 Red Sox Rockies 4 8 17 6 -4 -2 29

Nobody wants to watch the Red Sox and Rockies again. It’s the perfect mix of “Ugh, the Red Sox again” and “Oh, right, the Rockies exist.” The negative-four bonus points for whatever I feel like come with the immediate, visceral response I have to the words “Red Sox and Rockies”

That was a bad World Series, y’all.

The Rockies are a fine team that can beat anyone in a best-of-seven series, especially when three of the games are at Coors Field, but I worry that a month of advance scouting would benefit the more talented team, which is clearly the Astros. I’m just looking for a good series, here.

Congrats, Rockies fans. This guarantees your team will sweep the Astros in four games, outscoring them, 39-5. But you know I’m right in principle.

I gave the Astros/Cubs bonus points because it would be like a World Series of the Last Two World Series, which is kind of cool. It’s still not enough to pull them out of the bottom tier.

Yankees/Braves is basically this:

#20-16

Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
16 Red Sox Cubs 4 2 20 10 4 -4 36
17 Yankees Rockies 1 8 17 9 0 0 35
18 Astros Braves 2 7 18 9 0 -2 34
19 Astros Brewers 2 9 18 9 0 -4 34
20 Red Sox Braves 4 7 18 7 0 -2 34

Red Sox and Braves is almost cool, what with the ancient Boston connection, and I love the idea of Ronald Acuña squaring off against Mookie Betts for the first time in what seems like a natural pairing. But there is entirely too much Red Sox in that matchup, and as a kid of the ‘90s, it’s not like I’d be excited to see the Braves in the World Series again.

Any NL Central historians out there who are geeked on that Brewers/Astros matchup? Heck yeah, there are. Derek Bell and Tim Bogar are both 5-for-15 in their careers against Scott Karl, so it’s TIME TO SETTLE THE SCORE.

The Astros and Braves would be a pretty neat matchup, which means this is a good time to point out that there aren’t a ton of awful matchups, here. All of these matchups all pretty compelling, and they’ll get only more compelling as we see the teams sail through the LDS and LCS, overcoming different trials and tribulations.

Except for Red Sox/Rockies.

I added some bonus points to Red Sox/Cubs, though, because even though they’ve shed their loser skins, there’s still a little bit of a sad-sack rivalry going on, at least in the abstract. For most of my life, both teams were rich, big-market teams that patented new and exciting ways to screw up. It would be fun to see them, even if it would make FOX executives way too happy.

#15-11

Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
11 Astros Dodgers 2 9 18 8 0 0 37
12 Indians Cubs 10 2 20 9 0 -4 37
13 Yankees Brewers 1 9 18 9 0 0 37
14 Yankees Dodgers 1 9 20 9 0 -2 37
15 A's Cubs 8 2 19 9 0 -2 36

They’re almost all tied! We have three matchups we haven’t seen before, a rematch from last year, and a classic matchup that we’ve seen in the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. We were a win away from seeing Yankees/Dodgers last year, and danged if that paring doesn’t have a ring to it.

Yankees/Brewers feels like a matchup that would have more historical oomph behind it than it does, although this ALDS seems like it was pretty rad. I sure hate the asymmetry of a matchup like this, where one team would put the trophy in TROPHY ROOM: FEATURING THE ONE TRUE TROPHY and the other team would put the trophy in the basement with all the other ones.

It kinda breaks my heart when the sad team loses in that scenario. But if it makes them feel better, they’ll be better off in these rankings next year!

A’s/Cubs would have a ring to it, too. Josh Donaldson vs. Rich Harden for all the marbles! Can’t wait.

#10-6

Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
6 A's Braves 8 7 17 9 0 0 41
7 Indians Rockies 10 8 15 9 0 -2 40
8 A's Rockies 8 8 16 9 0 -2 39
9 Red Sox Dodgers 4 9 20 10 0 -4 39
10 Red Sox Brewers 4 9 18 9 0 -2 38

Red Sox and Brewers is cool, but mostly for the Brewers’ drought and the gaggle of talented players the Red Sox employ. The only reason this matchup is higher than Yankees-Brewers, though, is because the Yankees got the biggest demerit for historical success. It’s hard to pretend like you wouldn’t be annoyed if the Red Sox won another one, though.

The Red Sox and Dodgers sound like a classic paring we haven’t seen before, even if they’re both fancypants rich teams we should hate. Technically, the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Red Sox played in the 1916 World Series, so I guess there could be a 105-year-old who watched the series as a little kid, possibly through a grambloscope from a bluff that was 900 feet away. That doesn’t count, though.

The Indians and Rockies doesn’t appeal to me at all, so I probably should have rigged the totals against them, except, wait a sec. There was someone born in 1983 who decided to follow the Rockies as a 10-year-old. That person is now 35 with a mortgage and lower-back pain and has never seen his or her favorite team win the World Series. I can appreciate that kind of drought.

The Indians cannot appreciate that kind of drought. They have absolutely no sympathy.

Which makes it kind of a cool matchup. I’m very much into the idea of Corey Kluber against Nolan Arenado, too.

#5-1

Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
Rank AL Team NL Team Legacy of sadness AL Legacy of sadness NL Star Power Previous matchups Whatever I feel like In the World Series since 2010? Total
1 A's Brewers 8 9 17 9 4 0 47
2 A's Dodgers 8 9 19 9 0 0 45
3 Indians Brewers 10 9 17 9 0 -2 43
4 Indians Dodgers 10 9 18 10 0 -4 43
5 Yankees Cubs 1 2 18 9 14 -2 42

Is this a conspiracy because the A’s are the only team that would allow me to be home for my daughter’s birthday, which I’ve missed for the last two years?

I have no comment. No comment.

Yes, I jury-rigged the Yankees and Cubs more than any other matchup. No, I don’t feel guilty about it. I’m an idiot, OK? I’ll watch Ant-Man 4 when it comes out. I’ll watch a Marvel movie about Asbestos Lady, Doctor Bong, and Triathlon. I’m a sucker, a mark, an absolute rube. And I’d totally be into a Yankees-Cubs World Series, even if it would be the most annoying thing in the world and I would hate myself the whole time.

It also wouldn’t have been great for my personal brand to have a Dodgers team in the winning combination. Although, I have to admit, that I would definitely be excited for it. It’s the 30th anniversary of Kirk Gibson starting an invisible chainsaw as he rounds second. That counts for something, right?

It does, but not as much as the Brewers and A’s playing in cities that baseball likes to forget about. When the Brewers made a GM switch three years ago, it felt like it would take 40 years for them to overtake the Cardinals. The A’s have been the butt of sewage jokes for years, which I guess is better than being the sewage of butt jokes, but still. These are two historically overlooked teams who haven’t won anything for decades. They didn’t get a whole bunch of help from the “star power” category, even though I included both Khris Davis and Jesus Agúilar under the “Dinger gods” and “Dudes I want to watch and you should too” categories. Which I should have. Because they’re awesome.

I would also like to think that the mayors of the Oregon towns of Milwaukie and Oakland would have some sort of wager on the World Series. Lumber or beers or paranoid-but-friendly local hermits or something.

And, this is very important, the matchup is making guys in $1,000 suits absolutely freak out. There’s some guy in sales for Fox named Craig who’s like, “Bruh, I can’t even if the Brewers and A’s are the two teams,” and you have to root against him.

You have to root for the A’s and Brewers in the World Series. In the 28th inning of Game 7, maybe Khris Davis and Jesus Aguilar would agree to end the whole thing with a Home Run Derby. It’s happening somewhere right now, assuming there is an infinite number of alternate timelines, and hopefully we can get lucky. The A’s and the Brewers is absolutely the best possible matchup.

Though, I mean, the Rockies and Red Sox would still be kind of cool.

Oh, World Series. When will you release your talons from my heart? These are all pretty good. Some of the matchups are better than others, though. Print this article out and keep it with you for the entire month, just so you remember what you’re rooting for.