This is what the season is all about. After a 162-game marathon season and an October sprint, we are left with a matchup that no one would have predicted at the start of the year. The matchup between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks is exciting with a mix of veterans and young stars up and down both lineups and strong pitching staffs. So here is the 2023 World Series position by position.
2023 World Series Positional Breakdown
Catcher: Gabriel Moreno (ARI) vs Jonah Heim (TEX)
Both of these teams have excellent catchers. Gabriel Moreno is a young star who looks like he will be one of the best backstops in the game for a long time and first-time all-star Jonah Heim broke out to be one of the league’s best catchers in 2023. On a rate stat basis, both players are very similar, both sporting a wRC+ of 103 and the difference in OPS being less than 10 points (.755 for Heim, .747 for Moreno).
However, Heim played 20 more games than Moreno and played better defense leading to a WAR of 4.1 compared to Moreno’s 1.7. Moreno’s WAR is only that low because of his slow start to the season. The real separator here is the postseason, Moreno has upped his game in October while Heim has struggled. Moreno has a postseason OPS of .852 which is not only significantly better than his regular season but also trounces that of Heim at .656. Overall, the edge goes to Moreno.
First Base: Christian Walker (ARI) vs Nate Lowe (TEX)
Christian Walker continues to be one of the most underrated players in the league. He is one of the best first basemen in the MLB and rarely gets recognized for it. On the other hand, after his remarkable breakout season in 2022, Nate Lowe regressed slightly settling in as just a solid MLB player.
Walker is possibly the best defensive first baseman in the league and he has hit at least as well as Lowe if not slightly better. Both have somewhat struggled in the postseason but Walker has still been a little bit better. Christian Walker is a great first baseman and gets the advantage over Nate Lowe and the Rangers.
Second Base: Ketel Marte vs Marcus Semien
Now this is a heavyweight matchup, two former all-stars and MVP candidates facing off in the fall classic. Both had excellent regular seasons, Marcus Semien will get MVP votes with his 6.3 WAR and 127 wRC+ in addition to playing a great second base in all 162 games and Ketel Marte is also excellent, accumulating a 4.2 WAR in 150 games and putting together an excellent offensive campaign. His 127 wRC+ and .844 OPS are both better than Semien’s, however, the Ranger has 103 additional plate appearances.
Defensively it’s no contest, Semien is one of the best in the game while Marte is around average at best. Semien had the better regular season but the postseason couldn’t be more different. He has struggled in October to the tune of a .198 average and .507 OPS while Marte has been on fire. He won the NLCS MVP and is hitting .358 with a .986 OPS in the postseason. Over the next seven games, I’m not sure there is a single second baseman the Diamondbacks would rather have than Ketel Marte.
Third Base: Evan Longoria (ARI) vs Josh Jung (TEX)
These two players couldn’t be more different. One is an old veteran at the tail end of his career and the other is a star rookie looking to make his mark on his first career postseason. Their seasons have been just as different as well. Evan Longoria has struggled in his age-38 season playing just 74 games with below-average offensive and defensive production. Meanwhile, Josh Jung, who was the Rookie of the Year favorite before he got injured, had an excellent season with above-average offensive production and some of the best third-base defense the league has to offer. As well, Jung has taken it to the next level in the postseason while Longoria has struggled mightily with a .403 OPS in 42 plate appearances. This one isn’t close, Texas gets the edge.
Shortstop: Geraldo Perdomo (ARI) vs Corey Seager (TEX)
If it weren’t for Shohei Ohtani, we would be talking about Corey Seager as the frontrunner for AL MVP this season despite missing some significant time this season due to injury. He is pretty much among the league’s top hitters in every offensive category, even home runs despite only playing 119 games. Geraldo Perdomo is a very good player, with above-average hitting and fielding that led to his first all-star selection but he doesn’t compare to the pedigree and production of Corey Seager.
Left Field: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARI) vs Evan Carter (TEX)
12 of Evan Carter‘s 35 career games have been played in the postseason and despite the extremely small sample, he looks like the real deal. In 23 regular season games, he accumulated a 1.3 WAR (equal to around 8.5 for a 150-game season) and had an outrageous 180 wRC+. Perhaps more impressively, he hasn’t missed a beat this postseason putting up similarly ridiculous numbers while cementing his legacy as one of the best postseason rookies of all time and one of the best players in the 2023 postseason.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have veteran Lourdes Gurriel Jr who has put together a solid season himself, putting up a 106 wRC+ over 592 plate appearances with some solid defense. He has fallen off a bit in the postseason though with a .703 OPS and an 85 wRC+. It seems crazy but through just 35 MLB games Evan Carter has possibly become one of the better players in this series.
Center Field: Alek Thomas (ARI) vs Leody Taveras (TEX)
This is an interesting battle between two young defensive studs who have both had big moments in the postseason already. Leody Taveras and Alek Thomas both came up big for their teams in the championship series despite not having big regular seasons. Thomas wasn’t even an MLB regular for part of the season and is only able to stay in the league due to his high potential and excellent defense. Meanwhile, Taveras had an about-average offensive season while also being the starting center field for the Rangers and accumulating 550 plate appearances.
In the postseason though, Thomas has cemented himself as an everyday player by putting up very good offensive stats in the postseason and getting possibly the biggest hit the Diamondbacks had all season. Taveras hasn’t hit quite as well as Thomas but he has played better defense, making some huge catches for the Rangers this postseason. This is one of the toughest calls on the board, but because of his recent performance, Thomas gets the slight edge.
Right Field: Corbin Carroll (ARI) vs Adolis Garcia (TEX)
Now this is a tough call. Two absolute studs who have taken turns carrying their teams at various points in the regular season and playoffs. Presumptive Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll and playoff hero Adolis Garcia are two of the biggest stars in the entire postseason, let alone in the World Series. Offensively they both get it done in different ways, Carroll has a unique mix of speed, power, and hitting ability that makes him one of the most dynamic and athletic players in the game while Garcia has certified himself as one of the most dangerous power threats in all of baseball.
Both had phenomenal regular seasons, Carroll sporting a WAR of 6.0 and a slash of .285/.362/.506 compared to Garcia’s WAR of 4.8 and slash of .245/.328/.508. Those add up to a wRC+ of 133 for Carroll and 124 for Garcia. In October though, Garcia has been one of the best hitters in the entire postseason, regardless of team or position. His playoff wRC+ of 195 is not only stupid good but is also second among all hitters in the postseason with at least 40 plate appearances. Carroll has also been very good in October, especially in the early rounds, but doesn’t even approach that kind of stratospheric production. Just because of recency, Garcia gets a very small advantage here.
Designated Hitter: Tommy Pham (ARI) vs Mitch Garver (TEX)
To be clear, other players will likely DH at some point in the series but these are each of these teams’ primary DHs. Tommy Pham and Mitch Garver are two underrated veterans who are both going to get their chance on baseball’s biggest stage. Both had very good regular seasons with Garver putting together the more productive campaign but neither played a full season. As well, in the postseason Garver has been a revelation for the Rangers’ offense with a .898 OPS while Pham has been terrible with a .590 OPS. At the position where defense doesn’t matter, Garver has been swinging the bat much better.
Starting Pitching: Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Brandon Pfaadt (ARI) vs Nathan Eovaldi, Jordan Montgomery, Max Scherzer (TEX)
As we have learned over many previous World Series, the quality of the starting pitching is one of the most important factors in determining the winner. For the Diamondbacks, the starting pitching has been good but it hasn’t come from the source most would have expected. Rather than Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly leading the way, it has been Kelly and rookie Brandon Pfaadt, who despite batter limits has been a huge part of this team’s success leading the way while Gallen has struggled. If Gallen can turn it around with Kelly and Pfaadt doing what their doing the Diamondbacks will be very hard to beat.
Unlike the Diamondbacks, the Rangers staff is led by established veterans with lots of playoff experience. Nathan Eovaldi has become one of the best playoff pitchers not only this year but also in this generation of pitchers. He is followed by Jordan Montgomery who has been huge for them since he was acquired at the deadline and Max Scherzer who if he’s healthy, can also be a big part of the winning effort. The Diamondbacks likely have the better top of the rotation for this series and despite their lack of depth, that gives them the edge in this category.
Bullpen: Diamondbacks vs Rangers
Neither bullpen is elite, both teams have depth issues and will have to rely on some inconsistent arms to get important outs at some point in the series, but the back end of the pen is what’s going to make the difference. In the playoffs, the Diamondbacks have a 2.94 ERA compared to 3.72 for Texas, but that doesn’t mean everything. Underlying numbers do say the Rangers’ relievers have had some bad luck in October but they still haven’t performed as well as the Diamondbacks group. Purely from a ninth-inning perspective, Paul Sewald has also been more reliable than Jose Leclerc has been for Texas. So, when it comes to holding leads and keeping it close late, the Diamondbacks have the more trustworthy bullpen.
Overall, the final tally is 6-4 for Arizona, including both pitching categories. While many have the Rangers as the favorites because of their better regular season performance and bigger name talents, the Diamondbacks are nothing to sneeze at and could easily surprise some people by walking out away from 2023 holding the Commissioner’s Trophy. In summary, don’t underestimate the Arizona Diamondbacks, some have already made that mistake.