Major League Baseball
World Series legacy rankings: Who has the most to gain from this year's Fall Classic?
Major League Baseball

World Series legacy rankings: Who has the most to gain from this year's Fall Classic?

Updated Oct. 27, 2023 1:13 p.m. ET

Baseball is a team sport. Whether the Rangers or Diamondbacks end up hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy after what is sure to be an exciting World Series, the story of their success will be told collectively.

But every team is also made up of individuals who have each taken vastly different journeys to arrive at the game's grandest stage. And while winning the World Series undoubtedly means a tremendous amount to anyone lucky enough to experience it, certain characters become especially intriguing every October as it relates to capturing baseball's ultimate prize. In turn, here are the eight people whose successes and failures in this upcoming World Series will have my closest attention.

[RELATED: Rangers or Diamondbacks? World Series predictions, 5 burning questions; World Series preview: Rangers vs. Diamondbacks — who's got the edge?]

1. Bruce Bochy


Let's make something clear: Bruce Bochy has nothing to prove. The man with over 2,000 managerial victories in the big leagues and a sensational run of three championships in five years with San Francisco was regarded as one of the best managers of his generation long before he took the reins in Texas. But for him to come out of retirement and take on the challenge of navigating a star-studded yet risk-laden Rangers roster at age-68 was commendable at the outset, and has since turned into something even more with their run to the Fall Classic. Along the way, he improved his record in postseason winner-take-all games to 6-0 with Texas' Game 7 victory over rival Houston. 

Bochy now has the opportunity to become just the sixth manager to win four World Series titles, which would elevate him into an even higher sanctum of skippers. Even more importantly, Bochy is four wins from guiding Texas to its first championship in franchise history – the kind of achievement that would make him a living legend beyond the Bay Area. What he has already accomplished in his first year in Texas has been marvelous to watch, but he's four wins away from significantly enhancing a legacy that hardly needed any kind of boost.

2. Torey Lovullo

Whereas Bochy's legacy is secure regardless of this World Series' outcome, Lovullo has an even greater opportunity to definitively raise his profile around the game. Recall that Lovullo's tenure in Arizona began in 2017 with 93 wins and a playoff berth fresh off a 93-loss season in 2016, a resurgent campaign that earned him NL Manager of the Year honors. He's no complete stranger to the October stage, either – Lovullo was the bench coach for the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, a team that had lost 93 games the year before. 

But 2013 was Lovullo's first year in Boston  – he wasn't there to experience the lows of 2012 before achieving glory with much of the same group. In Arizona, though, he's been through a ton since that breakout managerial debut in 2017, including an ugly nadir of 110 losses in 2021. Even as recently as this past August when the D-backs appeared to be squandering a golden opportunity at a postseason push, fans were calling for the team to move on from Lovullo. 

But long-time advocate and GM Mike Hazen stuck by him and Lovullo has rewarded the organization and many of the players he endured the ups and downs with in a profound way. Managers often get a bulk of the credit for any underdog team overachieving its true talent level, and Lovullo is no exception. The success of such teams is often attributed to the manager not just for pressing the right buttons – which Lovullo has deftly done all month with both his lineups and bullpen management – but also for instilling a special sense of belief and confidence despite the odds stacked against them. That's exactly the energy that Lovullo has exuded all month. He's already proven a ton, but finishing this run with one of the more improbable World Series titles in MLB history would certainly cement his status as one of the league's more impressive – and secure – skippers. 

2023 World Series Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Max Scherzer

Similar to Bochy, I don't think Scherzer needs to prove anything further to solidify his status as one of the best pitchers of his generation. Like with his manager, an epic showing in this World Series may just be gravy on top of an already-illustrious career. However, in his feverish work to return from his shoulder injury in time for this Rangers run, Scherzer has demonstrated an intense commitment to delivering for the team that took a big risk in trading one of its top prospects for him at the deadline. 

For someone like Scherzer, the chance to help his team win a baseball game will always mean more than anything he has accomplished up until this point. That is the entire reason he enabled a trade to Texas in the first place. As for whether he is capable of truly delivering a dominant outing at this point? That remains to be seen. But we can be damn sure he wasn't going to just go down without trying. That's not who Max Scherzer has ever been. A successful showing in this World Series after such a volatile season on multiple fronts would indeed be a remarkable addition to his resume – and the ultimate testament to his legacy as one of the game's great competitors. 

4. Corbin Carroll

Trips to the postseason are precious. Some of the best players in the league can go massive stretches of time without even sniffing October baseball, and as such, each player's chance to make a greater name for themselves in the postseason must be cherished. Carroll has already earned ample acclaim this year thanks to a historic regular season as a rookie, but there was no guarantee the spotlight on him would extend far beyond that – especially for a team entering October as a No. 6 seed with just 84 wins. Instead, Carroll has continued to seize the chance to show an even bigger audience what he is capable of, most recently accounting for all four runs in Arizona's stunning Game 7 upset of the defending NL champion Phillies.

Just think about it this way: The last time we saw Mike Trout in October, he was virtually the same age Carroll is now, having also turned 23 in August. That's an extreme example, surely, but it remains a cautionary tale for why we cannot just assume all of the best young players in our game will consistently be on display at this time of year. Perhaps Arizona does become a regular representative in the National League playoffs. But if not, this special Cinderella run in his rookie year may remain one of the pinnacles of Carroll's career. Let's hope he continues to make the most of it.

Diamondbacks Corbin Carroll's welcome to the major leagues story

5. Evan Longoria

Speaking of 23-year-olds, it was 15 years ago that a 23-year-old rookie third baseman arrived in the World Series with the Rays fresh off a huge ALCS in which he homered in four of the seven games against Boston. Now 38, Longoria is back in the World Series for the first time since, becoming just the fourth player ever to go 15+ years between Fall Classic appearances. Having come up short to the Phillies in 2008, Longoria admitted amidst the celebration how extra sweet it was to win the NLCS at Citizens Bank Park earlier this week. 

He's undeniably struggled at the plate this month – even he joked that he "didn't even do anything" to help Arizona get to this point – but that image of him partying hard over postseason success with his younger teammates is one that was clearly foreshadowed when he first signed with Arizona last off-season

"I watched this team from across the diamond a lot last year," the long-time Giant Longoria said. "And I really do believe that this team has a chance to make a run, has a chance to be special." GM Mike Hazen added, "I think players like Evan contribute in major ways — that aren't always seen — to those winning moments. Whether it's helping a young player pick out a pitch they're going to get or surviving a tough loss and making sure your team bounces back the next day, I think those are the biggest areas that we feel there could be an impact here off the field." Longoria's on-field impact this season may have been less than hoped, but it's clear they were confident what he could be for this team beyond his WAR or OPS. That belief has aged tremendously well for both sides. 

On a broader level, Longoria will also have more than just D-backs fans cheering him on. Nearly every World Series features at least one beloved late-30's veteran that has never won it all that every fan is rooting for to finally claim a championship ring. Longoria is this year's premier example.  

6. Corey Seager

Seager's 73 postseason games are already tied with Chipper Jones for the sixth-most all-time for a player through their age-29 season. If this World Series goes seven games, he'll climb to fourth on that list behind only Derek Jeter, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. We've seen a ton of this guy in October, but it's worth remembering that his playoff track record with Los Angeles beyond his epic 2020 run was spotty at best. For him to show up to this degree in his first October with his new team – the one that invested $325M in him – has been especially encouraging. Though this run has featured more on-base than slug relative to 2020, his 1.127 OPS in 12 playoff games this month is nearly identical to the 1.125 OPS he posted through the NLCS three years ago, and we know he didn't cool down at all in the World Series last time.

Whether Globe Life Field is the secret doesn't matter anymore; these are the moments the Rangers signed him for, and he's delivered. His production has also proven especially vital amidst the offensive struggles of Marcus Semien (.507 OPS with 0 HR this postseason). As incredible as Semien is and has been for Texas, there's a reason Seager signed for nearly double Semien's mega-deal, and we've seen that on full display this month. Adolis Garcia's hot streak has deservedly been the story for Texas recently, but it's Seager whose presence demands respect atop the Rangers lineup like few hitters in baseball can. And if he stays healthy, that's going to be true in Texas for a long time.

Corey Seager on Rangers' ALCS victory: ‘Resilience, this team’s tough'

7. Adolis García

As we know, Seager's 2020 run that included an NLCS and World Series MVP ended with him holding the Commissioner's Trophy. David Freese, the only player to drive in more runs in a single postseason than the 20 Garcia has already produced this month, also ended his memorable October in 2011 with a championship over this same Rangers franchise that Garcia is now carrying. Garcia's closest friend in baseball, fellow Cuban outfielder Randy Arozarena, did not have such luck in 2020 when his 1.273 OPS and 10 homers in the postseason were denied a happy ending by Seager's Dodgers.

Will Garcia's historic individual postseason performance conclude with collective team glory and the franchise's first World Series title? Will Garcia replicate Seager's feat and become the 10th player in MLB history to win LCS and World Series MVP in the same year? The answers to these questions could be the difference between Garcia's month being a fun footnote and an iconic performance that is talked about for decades.

Rangers hoist trophy after winning ALCS; Adolis García wins MVP

8. Brent Strom

Rather than highlight any individual Arizona arm – so many of whom have contributed in significant ways during this postseason – I think Strom is more appropriate for a mention in this exercise. Having turned 75 earlier this month, Strom is the oldest pitching coach in baseball and has held that title dating back to 2018. After years bouncing around several organizations as a coach and coordinator, Strom's extended stint as Houston's pitching coach beginning in 2014 earned him a sterling reputation as one of the game's best communicators and teachers, particularly at a time when technology was rapidly becoming a crucial component of development. 

Strom was the perfect mind to combine decades of experience with more modern ideas of the craft, and he is widely credited for maximizing a Houston pitching staff that was vital to its extended run of success atop the American League. Such efforts were understandably overshadowed by the sign-stealing scandal cloud that hangs eternally over the 2017 title, but that shouldn't take away from what he was able to help build with the Astros on the mound.

Strom then left the Astros organization following their defeat in the 2021 World Series, only to watch them win it all the next year after he had taken the job with Arizona. Now he's back in the World Series with a team more lovable than any of those he was a part of in Houston, and he's once again done an excellent job getting the most out of a pitching staff that doesn't have nearly as many household names. A ton of Arizona's success this month can be attributed to their pitchers' game-planning and execution, something we know Strom has been intimately involved in throughout. Should Arizona's arms successfully navigate their toughest task yet in Texas' high-powered offense, Strom should be applauded and celebrated emphatically. Better yet, he'd forever be associated with a championship that no one could put an asterisk on.

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He has covered baseball for his entire adult life, most notably for, DAZN and The Ringer. He's a Mariners fan living in the Eastern Time Zone, which means he loves a good 10 p.m. first pitch. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.


Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more