The Los Angeles Dodgers should be considered favorites against the Houston Astros in the 2017 World Series.
The Dodgers were the dominant, hottest team much of the season. And though they slumped in August and September, losing 16 of 17 games from Aug. 26 to Sept. 11, they finished strong, ending with baseball’s best record and the second-highest Box-Toppers point total among all teams.
Dodgers players accumulated 138.9 Box-Toppers points in 2017, behind only the Cleveland Indians’ 140.9. Plus, the Dodgers earned the most Box-Toppers points (10.0) in the season’s final 10 days. And, the Dodgers have gone 7-1 so far in the postseason, sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games in the National League Division Series and eliminating the Chicago Cubs in five games in the NL Championship Series.
And while the Dodgers hold a decided advantage among pitchers, the Houston Astros do hold a slight advantage over the Dodgers among batters. But while seven of the likely nine Astros batters hold an edge over Dodgers batters, when the Box-Toppers point totals of likely batters are added, the Astros edge seems insignificant (see World Series player comparison chart below). The likely nine Astros batters earned 39.9 Box-Toppers points in 2017, compared to the 35.9 points earned by comparable Dodgers batters, an advantage of only 4.0 points. Meanwhile, among the four likely starting pitchers, the Dodgers have 64.5 Box-Toppers points, compared to the Astros’ 39.2, a whopping advantage of 25.3 points.
Still, the Astros did not finish that far behind the Dodgers in season Box-Toppers rankings. The Astros finished fourth among all teams (and second among American League teams) with 131.7 accumulated Box-Toppers points. That’s only 7.2 points behind the Dodgers’ 138.9. During the season, the Astros were the top-ranked AL team in Box-Toppers rankings from May 18 to Aug. 10. That was before the Indians’ 22-game winning streak put Cleveland in the lead in the AL.
The Astros' postseason road to the World Series has been a little longer than the Dodgers’ path. The Dodgers have played eight games and lost one. The Astros have played 11 games and lost four—they defeated the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series, 3-1, and defeated the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series, 4-3.
When the key 15 players from the Astros and Dodgers are matched up position-by-position (see the chart elsewhere on this page), the Dodgers seem to have only a slight edge—the Dodgers have eight players with a point advantage, while the Astros have seven. But when the Box-Toppers points of the key 15 players are added, the Dodgers have a decided advantage. The Dodgers’ key 15 players have 117.4 Box-Toppers points, while the Astros have 93.5.
The two teams have eight players among the top 50 in Box-Toppers points (five Dodgers and three Astros) and all are starting pitchers:
- 3. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers has 23.1 Box-Toppers points, ranked second among NL pitchers, the highest-ranked player remaining in the playoffs and the starter for Game 1.
- 13. Alex Wood of the Dodgers has 15.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked eighth among NL pitchers.
- 16. Justin Verlander of the Astros has 14.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked sixth among AL pitchers. Verlander is scheduled to start Game 2. Verlander was traded Aug. 31 from the Detroit Tigers and earned 6.0 of his 2017 points since joining the Astros.
- 20. Yu Darvish of the Dodgers has 13.0 Box-Toppers points, ranked 11th among NL pitchers. Darvish is scheduled to start Game 3. Darvish was traded July 31 from the Texas Rangers and earned 6.0 of his 2017 points since joining the Dodgers.
- 21. Rich Hill of the Dodgers has 12.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked 12th among NL pitchers. Hill is scheduled to start Game 2.
- 36. Kenta Maeda of the Dodgers has 10.0 Box-Toppers points, ranked 18th among NL pitchers.
- 48. Dallas Keuchel of the Astros has 9.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked 15th among AL pitchers. Keuchel is scheduled to start Game 1.
- 49. Lance McCullers Jr. of the Astros has 9.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked 16th among AL pitchers.
Top batters for each team:
- Dodgers—Cody Bellinger had 8.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked 64th among all players and 10th among NL batters.
- Astros—Josh Reddick had 8.0 Box-Toppers points, ranked 75th among all players and 11th among AL batters.
Five players have earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice so far during the postseason and four of them are in the World Series:
- Verlander of the Astros, who was Player of the Game twice in the AL Championship Series—Game 2 and Game 6—against the Yankees.
- Keuchel of the Astros, who was Player of the Game in the AL Division Series Game 2 win over the Red Sox and the AL Championship Series Game 1 win over the Yankees.
- Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen, who was Player of the Game in the NL Division Series Game 2 win over the Diamondbacks and the NL Championship Series Game 1 win over the Cubs. Jansen had 7.0 Box-Toppers points in the regular season, 102nd among all players, 34th among NL pitchers and second among NL closing pitchers.
- Darvish of the Dodgers, who was Player of the Game in the NL Division Series Game 3 win over the Diamondbacks and the NL Championship Series Game 3 win over the Cubs.
The only other player to earn Player of the Game honors twice in the 2017 postseason was Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Two Dodgers players will be included in Box-Toppers season-ending NL All-Star team:
- Kershaw as starting pitcher.
- Corey Seager as shortstop. Seager ranked first among NL shortstops with 7.0 Box-Toppers points. He was injured and not on the Dodgers’ NL Championship Series roster but is expected to make the World Series roster.
The Astros will have one player on Box-Toppers season-ending AL All-Star team:
- Reddick as third-ranked outfielder.
Rosters shown below are based on how players have been used in postseason starting roles, especially during the league championship series. When in doubt about who might start, Box-Toppers gave teams the benefit of the doubt and inserted players with more Box-Toppers points in the role. Curtis Granderson was inserted into the Dodgers designated hitter role because he had the highest 2017 Box-Toppers point total of all batters who were not expected to start at another position (though Granderson has started three games in the outfield for the Dodgers this postseason).
World Series player comparisonsLikely starting players for the Astros and Dodgers listed by position with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2017 regular season and their overall rank among all players:
|1B||Yuli Gurriel||2.7||384||Cody Bellinger||8.7||64||✓|
|2B||Jose Altuve||2.5||387||✓||Logan Forsythe||2.0||444|
|SS||Carlos Correa||7.0||100||✓||Corey Seager||7.0||104|
|3B||Alex Bregman||3.0||345||✓||Justin Turner||2.5||393|
|CA||Brian McCann||4.0||250||✓||Austin Barnes||1.0||358|
|CF||George Springer||5.0||192||✓||Chris Taylor||4.5||228|
|LF||Marwin Gonzalez||6.7||115||✓||Enrique Hernandez||1.0||373|
|RF||Josh Reddick||8.0||75||✓||Yasiel Puig||6.0||140|
|DH||Evan Gattis||1.0||561||Curtis Granderson||3.2||314||✓|
|SP||Justin Verlander||14.7||16||Clayton Kershaw||23.1||3||✓|
|SP||Dallas Keuchel||9.4||48||Alex Wood||15.7||13||✓|
|SP||Charlie Morton||7.7||83||Yu Darvish||13.0||20||✓|
|SP||Brad Peacock||7.4||92||Rich Hill||12.7||21||✓|
|CP||Ken Giles||5.0||203||Kenley Jansen||7.0||102||✓|
|PI||Lance McCullers||9.4||49||Kenta Maeda||10.0||36||✓|
World Series Game 1, Astros at Dodgers
Tuesday’s starting pitchers:
Astros—Dallas Keuchel, 9.4 Box-Toppers points, 48th among all players, 15th among AL pitchers.
Dodgers—Clayton Kershaw, 23.1 Box-Toppers points, third among all players, second among AL pitchers.
Keuchel has appeared three times in the postseason and won Player of the Game honors twice:
- ALDS Game 2 on Oct. 6—Keuchel started and earned Player of the Game in the 8-2 win over the Red Sox with a Box-Toppers game score of +4.1 (5.2IP 3H R 3BB 7K W).
- ALCS Game 1 on Oct. 13—Keuchel started and earned Player of the Game in the 2-1 win over the Yankees with a Box-Toppers game score of +12.0 (7IP 4H 0R BB 10K W).
- ALCS Game 5 on Oct. 18—Keuchel started in the 5-0 loss to the Yankees. He had a Box-Toppers game score of -3.8 (4.2IP 7H 4R BB 8K L).
Kershaw, the dominant regular season pitcher of the decade, has historically struggled in the postseason. While the Dodgers have won all three games he’s started this postseason, Kershaw has not earned Player of the Game honors in any of them. In addition, after starting hot in 2017, earning 20.1 Box-Toppers points by July 4, he fizzled down the stretch, earning only 3.0 more points the rest of the season. He last earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors (regular or postseason) on Sept. 1.
Kershaw has made three appearances in the postseason:
- NLDS Game 1 on Oct. 6—Kershaw started and had a Box-Toppers game score of -2.9 (6.1IP 5H 4R 3BB 7K W) in the 9-5 win over the Diamondbacks. Player of the Game went to teammate Justin Turner with a Box-Toppers game score of +5.0.
- NLCS Game 1 on Oct. 14—Kershaw started and had a Box-Toppers game score of 0.0 (5IP 4H 2R BB 4K ND) in the 5-2 win over the Cubs. Player of the Game was Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen with a Box-Toppers game score of +5.1.
- NLCS Game 5 on Oct. 19—Kershaw started and had a Box-Toppers game score of +5.0 (6IP 3H R BB 5K W) in the 11-1 win over the Cubs. Player of the Game was teammate Enrique Hernandez with a Box-Toppers game score of +9.0.
Tracking who most helps their teams win the most games, based on box score stats. A method to measure & compare baseball's top players.
Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. Players earn Box-Toppers points for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.