Major League Baseball
Rangers-Diamondbacks: Ben Verlander's World Series preview, prediction
Major League Baseball

Rangers-Diamondbacks: Ben Verlander's World Series preview, prediction

Updated Oct. 27, 2023 1:37 p.m. ET

For as much grief as I sometimes get about my predictions — and in fairness, I have missed on quite a few, including in this stunning MLB postseason — I would just like to call attention to what I tweeted (X'd? X-posted?) last December.

I later doubled down on this take, with one of my bold predictions for the 2023 MLB season being that the Arizona Diamondbacks would make the playoffs. 

But even I never expected that they would reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all back in 2001. I could not have foreseen that this team would deserve to be on baseball's biggest stage after sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series and beating the Philadelphia Phillies twice on the road to win an epic seven-game NLCS. This team is no slouch; it's dangerous.

The D-backs got to this point by doubling down on their (quite literal) team identity: embracing the chaos. They created a bunch of that chaos on the basepaths in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS, using their youth and speed to full advantage. They are not afraid to try to leg out a bunt, or take a single and then aim for stealing second base as soon as they reach first. Shoot, they could steal third and score on a sacrifice fly.


There is an old-school feel to this team that draws a contrast to their World Series opponents. Arizona is probably not going to hit more home runs than the Texas Rangers in this series, nor should it try to. The D-backs do damage by getting on base and creating chaos. They make pitchers uncomfortable. They make catchers uncomfortable. They make defenses uncomfortable. They just get teams out of their rhythm, and that's a big reason why they have come this far.

Another big reason they're here is who they have atop their rotation. Arizona ace Zac Gallen has been one of the best pitchers in baseball all year long. Merrill Kelly has also had a fantastic year and came up huge in Game 6 of the NLCS when his team needed him most. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt has answered the call as a much-needed third starter, and was excellent on the mound in both Games 3 and 7 versus the Phillies.

If you have followed me or listened to me on "Flippin' Bats" for any length of time this season, you probably know who I am going to credit next with the D-backs' surprising success: NL Rookie of the Year favorite, #MVPCC himself, Corbin Carroll. I have been singing his praises since January, and I am sure people listening back then were just ready for the season to start, so I could stop talking about this kid in Arizona. 

Guess what, the joke's on you, guys, because here we are at the World Series and I'm not going to shut up about Carroll any time soon. I created a nickname for him. I met his parents at the All-Star Game, and they approved of that nickname. I got the Diamondbacks to post #MVPCC from their social media accounts. And now they're in the World Series. Coincidence? I think not. The Diamondbacks are not here without this guy, who looks like the next face of their franchise — and it could not happen to a more humble human being.

Arizona Diamondbacks heading back to first World Series since 2001

As for the Rangers, they are the longest-running team in baseball to have never won a World Series. That franchise has gone 62 years without a ring. Rangers fans have never had it easy, twice coming one strike away in their previous World Series appearance in 2011, only for the St. Louis Cardinals to rip it from them.

I'm excited to be back in Arlington and listen to that crowd, which is going to be fired up. Nathan Eovaldi will get another chance to burnish his big-game October pitching credentials by taking the ball against Gallen in Game 1 on Friday (8:03 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App). The bullpen still has question marks, but Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery have been excellent at the top of the rotation this postseason, and that top four in the lineup with Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Evan Carter and ALCS MVP Adolis García is always dangerous.

Not to mention, the Rangers have far more World Series experience on their side, not only through past champions like Seager, Max Scherzer and Aroldis Chapman but also through Bruce Bochy, one of the greatest managers of this era. 

Remember, we are not far away from both of these teams racking up more than 100 losses. In 2021, the Rangers went 60-102 and the D-backs went 52-110. In 2022, the two clubs finished fourth in their respective divisions. In 2023, they experienced rapid rebuilds. While Torey Lovullo deserves all the credit in the world for sticking in Arizona and shepherding this Diamondbacks' revival, Texas' turnaround can be traced first and foremost to general manager Chris Young convincing Bochy to come out of retirement and pursue a fourth World Series title.

2023 World Series Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Yes, the Rangers also did so with how they spent in free agency, not only by adding Semien, Seager and Eovaldi but also ace Jacob deGrom, who helped this 2023 squad start out on the right foot before suffering a torn UCL in late April. Texas' team-building is vastly different from the Diamondbacks' homegrown-heavy approach. But it worked. That half-a-billion dollar middle infield of Seager and Semien helped the Rangers win both Games 6 and 7 in Houston's hostile home ballpark. García is one of the best stories in baseball right now and has become a star after being designated for assignment by multiple teams.

But I think this series is going long, just like both league championship series did. And that favors one team in particular — the Diamondbacks. One big factor in their playoff success is a familiar name to Astros fans: pitching coach Brent Strom, who spent years in Houston before joining the D-backs in 2022. Closer Paul Sewald said it himself — Arizona would have lost to the Phillies if the series was a best-of-five. Since it was a bet-of-seven the D-backs' pitching staff had more time to make the necessary adjustments against the Phillies' powerful lineup. You had best believe that Strom was one of the driving forces behind those adjustments that shut down Philly's bats in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS.

I think that will prove to be an even tougher task than slowing the Rangers' offense. Texas' lineup is obviously very good, but this was Philadelphia's biggest strength. The longer this series goes on, the more that favors the D-backs. This is why I am going out on a limb and telling you all to watch out for the Snakes one more time. 

Give me the Diamondbacks winning the World Series in seven games.

Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the "Flippin' Bats" podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.


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