It’s been a long October so far — but a fun one! — and we’ve finally made it to the World Series where the Boston Red Sox will face off against the Dodgers. There are 50 players on both rosters combined, that’s just simple math because there are two 25-man rosters, and objectively some of them are better or more fun than the others. So let’s rank them, in the spirt of ranking the teams in each of the previous rounds.
These rankings aren’t a science. As in, we’re not digging into full-year stats or innings played in the postseason. But I’ll give some weight to an extra fun catch or a clutch hit or just being extremely fun. I’ll also fully admit that these rankings might completely fall apart after 32 or so. It’s hard, OK!
Argue with me in the comments about where your favorite player fell, if you want. You probably want.
50. Yasmani Grandal (Dodgers, C)
Hate to kick Yasmani while he’s down but he truly had an awful NLCS, eventually being benched for Austin Barnes after umpteen passed balls and a few errors to go with them. Not every passed ball was his fault but that narrative isn’t going anywhere any time fast.
49. Blake Swihart (Red Sox, C)
Everybody beyond Yasmani kind of melds together quality wise for a bit. They haven’t been completely useless, but they’ve also been complete non-factors. Sometimes that’s not entirely their fault, sometimes they’re just not super fun personalities or getting any playing time. Swihart has one at bat this postseason, so that explains why he’s here.
48. Heath Hembree (Red Sox, P)
After pitching three innings of hitless, scoreless baseball in the ALDS Hembree threw just 2⁄3 of an inning in the ALCS, walking one. That’s barely enough to make a judgement on.
47. Ian Kinsler (Red Sox, 2B)
We could be looking at the final at bats of Ian Kinsler’s career, and boy does it feel like it. Kinsler looked like a great acquisition at the deadline to play second base in Boston, with some awesome defensive plays shortly after he arrived, but he went 2-for-11 in four games in the NLCS and has been mostly upstaged by the likes of Brock Holt.
46. Sandy Leon (Red Sox, C)
Sandy is 0-for-7 in seven games this postseason which is half expected and half a little depressing.
45. Drew Pomeranz (Red Sox, P)
Here comes a run of pitchers that you could honestly take or leave even though they’ve done decently in the postseason. Someone has to be in the forties, sorry. Pomeranz was awful as a starter this year, but has had success in relief before, so... 45 it is.
44. Alex Wood (Dodgers, P)
4 1⁄3 innings, five hits, two runs, three walks, seven strikeouts.
43. Dylan Floro (Dodgers, P)
4 2⁄3 innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
42. Scott Alexander (Dodgers, P)
Scott Alexander pitched one inning in the NLDS, then nothing in the NLCS, and now he’s back in the World Series in place of Caleb Ferguson. This ends the run on relievers in these rankings.
41. Eduardo Núñez (Red Sox, IF)
Nuñez hasn’t met an easy defensive play at the hot corner that he can’t botch, while somehow making higher degree of difficulty plays without breaking a sweat. He’s not lower because he got the final out of the ALDS with just one of those plays — practically hobbling himself in the process. That sums up the Eduardo Nuñez Experience.
40. Christian Vázquez (Red Sox, C)
Vásquez has gotten the lion’s share of innings behind the plate for the Red Sox, starting six games, and is batting .227 with a home run and two RBI. That’s decent. Enough to keep him in the lineup. Also, he’s pretty great at celebrating when the occasion requires.
39. Kenta Maeda (Dodgers, P)
I’d guess the Dodgers wanted more out of Maeda than 3 2⁄3 innings pitched, allowing five hits and two runs. Maybe not much more but more.
38. Pedro Baéz (Dodgers, P)
6 2⁄3 innings pitched, two hits, two walks, 10 strikeouts. Prettyyyy good.
37. Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox, P)
Kimbrel is this low because of the swatch of heart attacks he caused by white knuckling it through just about every save attempt this postseason, although he was apparently tipping his pitches so hopefully Boston fans don’t have to re-live that stress again with him. But until that’s proven otherwise he stays here.
36. Matt Barnes (Red Sox, P)
I just wanted to rank the Barneses (Barnesai?) together, I’ll admit it.
35. Austin Barnes (Dodgers, C)
Barnes took over for Yasmani Grandal in the NLCS and wasn’t much better at the plate (he hit .111 with 2 RBI) but he also didn’t let every other ball by him. That scales tips way in the favor or Barnes’ further involvement in the postseason.
34. Matt Kemp (Dodgers, OF)
It is WILD that Matt Kemp was as good as he was this season. I know everyone and their brother has said this multiple times but he did something at one point this postseason and someone thought I was joking when I said “he’s been decent this year” so that’s where we are on Matt Kemp.
33. Ryan Madson (Dodgers, P)
6 1⁄3 innings pitched, one earned run, six hits, 8.53 K/9. Reasonable, not star-making.
32. Brian Dozier (Dodgers, 2B)
Dozier is hitting .182 with two hits this postseason, which yeesh. But compared to the rest of the Dodgers’ offense in the NLCS that’s not actually that bad. He has two RBI! That’s something!
31. Rick Porcello (Red Sox, P)
Porcello did well in the ALDS, and seemed like he would be reliable. Then the ALCS happened and he got lit up for four runs and seven hits in four innings, looking like he didn’t have any of his stuff. That’s not the last start you want from someone before the World Series! Not at all!
30. Joc Pederson (Dodgers, LF)
Pederson hasn’t had a very good postseason, but he did become a dad! That counts for something.
29. Eduardo Rodriguez (Red Sox, P)
Rodriguez has only pitched 3.2 innings in four games this postseason, allowing three runs and striking out two. Boston would probably like to be able to bring him in to a game with confidence a little more often but that’s fine.
28. Ryan Brasier (Red Sox, P)
Brasier might have pitched seven scoreless innings in seven games this postseason, but he’s definitely here because he told Gary Sanchez to “get back in the f***ing box” during the ALDS and in that moment cemented himself as one of the bullpen “boys” when you refer to the Red Sox bullpen as “Dirty Craig and the Boys.” That counts for a lot.
When you tell Gary Sanchez to get in the f***ing box and then you strike Gary Sanchez out pic.twitter.com/TDb0m3dpVD— SB Nation MLB (@SBNationMLB) October 7, 2018
27. Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox, P)
Eovaldi pitched six innings of six-hit, two-run ball in ALCS Game 3 and then came back in Game 5 to contribute another inning of scoreless baseball. He’s here mostly because it feels great to watch him free of the Rays’ bullpenning shenanigans and thriving. Another successful extraction from Tampa.
26. Kiké Hernández (Dodgers, 2B)
Kiké is hitting a measly .111 this postseason, and only .071 in 14 at bats in the NLCS. That’s ... really bad. But if you don’t bank likability points for amazing engagement photos and a season of calling Chase Utley your dad then the system is incredibly broken.
25. Max Muncy (Dodgers, 1B)
We’ve reached the stretch of players who are performing just well enough that we still get to use their nicknames and/or a fun phrase when they do something good without feeling like we’re mocking them. For Muncy it’s “That Funky Muncy” ...
24. Mitch Moreland (Red Sox, IF)
... for Moreland it’s “Mitchy Two Bags” ...
23. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox, SS)
... and for Bogaerts it’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.” These players just aren’t allowed to completely tank because that’s half of the fun of watching them.
22. Julio Urías (Dodgers, P)
Urías came back to the Dodgers in September after a year in the minors thanks to a shoulder injury. He pitched four innings total, and looked decent enough to get a spot on the postseason roster. He then pitched 3.1 innings in the NLCS, allowing only three hits and a run. The last bit of that coming on short rest right after his grandmother died. So ... wow.
21. Joe Kelly (Red Sox, P)
Joe Kelly has not fought anyone this postseason. If Kelly had fought someone, he’d be way higher. He came close to scrapping with Alex Bregman, it seemed. Points were added. He also cut his hair in the middle of the postseason for no clear reason. Points were taken away.
20. Kenley Jansen (Dodgers, P)
Kind of feels like, somehow, Jansen having definite heart surgery imminent after the postseason and still putting up 6 2⁄3 innings of 2-hit relief work (with 10 strikeouts to boot) isn’t getting the credit it deserves.
19. Justin Turner (Dodgers, 3B)
It kind of feels like Turner has disappeared this postseason, despite hitting .279 with 12 hits and a home run. He even has a stolen base. Turner’s presence (and his beard’s presence) also let’s us continue making completely unoriginal Gritty joke and that’s a true public service.
18. J.D. Martinez (Red Sox, DH)
Martinez is hitting .313 with two home runs and nine RBI in the postseason so far, drawing seven walks in 41 plate appearances. In case you were concerned before, he’s worth the money Boston is paying him.
17. Steve Pearce (Red Sox, 1B)
Thanks to the at times questionable, at times unlucky defending from other people in the Red Sox infield (cough, Eduardo Nuñez, cough) Steve Pearce’s time at first base has featured a whole lot of stretching. “How does he do that” stretching. “That’s basically a split ohhhhh wow that looked like it hurt” stretching. In short I’d like to do yoga with Steve Pearce.
16. Rich Hill (Dodgers, P)
In the NLCS, Rich Hill grunted a whole bunch on the mound and also destroyed a bucket of Hi-Chews. Hero.
15. Rafael Devers (Red Sox, 3B)
Devers (finally) took over from Eduardo Nuñez at third base for the Red Sox and and is making routine defensive plays, something Nuñez for some reason has a problem with all of the time. He went and won Game 5 of the ALCS with a three-run dinger and is extremely adorable. Devers constantly looks like he’s at a new school and is just absorbing everything that’s happening in the lunch room so he knows who to be friends with.
14. Walker Buehler (Dodgers, P)
A 24-year old rookie has allowed 10 runs in 16.1 innings this postseason, improving every start and winning Game 7 of the NLCS because of it, deserves a high spot. His 5.40 ERA is iffy but at this point looks deceiving. If his World Series looks more like the end of his NLCS than the beginning he could be the spindly hero for LA.
13. Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers, P)
Ryu did not have a good NLCS Game 6 in Milwaukee, getting lit up for five runs off of seven hits in just three innings. It’s not his fault he wasn’t pulled earlier, but it’s still a marred series for him because of that. I’m expecting him to bounce back in a scary good way in the World Series because Ryu’s season has been far too good for him to go out and stink up the place twice in a row.
12. Brock Holt (IF)
Holt became the first ever player to hit for the cycle in the postseason in ALDS Game 3 against the Yankees, and then looked like this afterwards.
That screenshot goes a long way towards keeping him at the upper levels of these rankings despite his 1-for-9 ALCS performance over four games. When he does something good you get to yell “BROCK HOLT” and put your arms up like it’s the Steve Holt move from Arrested Development and how fun is that?
11. Chris Sale (Red Sox, P)
Sale didn’t have his best ALCS — he lost his one start and then got hospitalized overnight for a stomach illness — and because the Red Sox wrapped things up in five games he didn’t get the chance to pitch again. Yet, and you can fact check me on this, he’s still Chris Sale. He’s not Top 5 because he’s still a bit of an unknown heading into the series (the team says he’s back to normal but you never know) but he also joked about a belly button ring being the cause of his hospital stay. So.
10. David Freese (Dodgers, IF)
Freese has been deployed primarily against lefties this postseason so hasn’t had a ton of opportunities to be a hero, but hit a leadoff home run in NLCS Game 6 that ended up not mattering in a lopsided win for the Brewers to force a Game 7. He is exactly this high because he also hit home runs in NLCS Game 6 and World Series Game 6 in 2011. So if this World Series makes it to another Game 6, far be it from me to anger whatever Cardinals Devil Magic is still lingering in Freese that will give him another Game 6 dinger.
9. Cody Bellinger (Dodgers, CF)
The NLCS MVP, Bellinger wasn’t red hot at the plate or anything. And he wasn’t above making mistakes in the outfield. But he went 5-for-25 with a home run, four RBI and two stolen bases in the series. In a series which featured anemic hitting from just about everyone, Belli still stood out. Good enough for MVP at least.
8. David Price (Red Sox, P)
David Price finally got the weight of the postseason win problem off his shoulders, with a six-inning, three-hit, nine-strikeout shutout performance in Game 5 of the ALCS to win the series for Boston. If there’s a better way to do that short of a complete game or a no-hitter, let us know. That win came at the perfect time and now he’s poised to pitch just as well with (I presume) a lot less stress despite it being on the biggest stage.
7. Chris Taylor (Dodgers, SS/LF)
Another game-saving catch-maker, Taylor flashed the leather in right field to save the Dodgers’ lead in Game 7 against the Brewers in the NLCS. Normally found at short or center, if in the outfield, Taylor made a scream-worthy stretching grab that robbed Christian Yelich of an RBI double and might have saved the Dodgers’ season. He didn’t win NLCS MVP but he easily could have.
6. Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox, LF)
Benintendi wasn’t the most productive Sox player at the plate in the ALCS, hitting .208 with two doubles and an RBI, but he saved Game 4 in Houston with one of the ballsiest, Boston fans-had-their-stomachs-in-their-throats catches you’ll probably see this postseason and endeared himself even more than usual to Bostonians while awing everyone else with his talent. If you make Jose Castiglione fall out of his chair in excitement, you get ranked this high.
5. Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox, CF)
There aren’t T-shirts with JBJesus on them for nothing. The ALCS MVP drove in nine runs in the series, third-most behind only David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez for most in a Championship Series in Red Sox history. Bradley is one of the streakiest players on the Sox and right now he’s on a hot streak. A “baseball version of getting a Super Star in Mario Kart” hot streak.
4. Manny Machado (Dodgers, SS)
Machado finally escaped the Orioles, where he could already be a bit of a nuisance or more than that at times, and found himself in a major media market on a team in the World Series. How is he handling that? By becoming part of the best villain tag team baseball’s seen in years. He egged on boos, he went after players on the other team, the words “dual crotch chops” were said during Game 7 in Milwaukee. That’s more than enough to deserve this ranking.
3. Yasiel Puig (Dodgers, RF)
Like Machado, Puig is mostly here for his perfect, flawless heel behavior during the NLCS. Unlike Machado, Puig has been doing this stuff for years and his most recent postseason series refined his beautifully villainous behavior to a T. He was successful enough at the plate, and shaky in the outfield. His bat flips and crotch chopping made up for the defensive issues though. The Wild Horse better not slow down in the World Series.
2. Mookie Betts (Red Sox, RF)
Betts is the probable AL MVP and he’s showing why this postseason, especially in the ALCS against the Astros. He made one incredible catch in right field, another almost-catch, and a play to get a tag out at second that we’re still watching on repeat. He has star power and talent and might play second base in the World Series so J.D. Martinez can be in the lineup at Dodger Stadium. Yes, please.
1. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers, P)
It would have been very hard not putting Kershaw first. For a second, he wasn’t. But it just felt wrong. He’s Clayton Kershaw. He allowed nine hits and six runs in 10 innings during the NLCS and closed out Game 7 in relief without allowing a baserunner. The postseason narrative may not be very fair anymore despite sticking to him, so the least we can do is rank him first.