The Boston Red Sox have a considerable edge on paper over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.
The Red Sox were the runaway leaders in team Box-Toppers points from August on and were serious playoff contenders all season long. Not only did the Red Sox finish far atop Box-Toppers team rankings for the season, they had baseball’s best record in 2018 and won a team-record 108 games.
Red Sox players accumulated 143.6 Box-Toppers points in 2018, ahead of the second-place New York Yankees (135.2).
The Dodgers finished sixth in Box-Toppers team rankings with 128.0 Box-Toppers points, second among National League teams, behind the Milwaukee Brewers (ranked third with 132.4).
The Red Sox have the Box-Toppers points edge over the Dodgers among team batters, starting pitchers and closing pitchers (see the World Series player comparisons chart below). In fact, the likely nine starting batters for the Red Sox have nearly twice as many Box-Toppers points in 2018 as the starting nine batters for Dodgers (50.4 vs. 26.2).
The Red Sox also hold the advantage among starting pitchers. Boston’s likely four starters have 55.6 combined Box-Toppers points compared to 42.9 for the Dodgers.
Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale has the most 2018 Box-Toppers points on either World Series team with 20.1, sixth among all players and fourth among AL pitchers. Sale led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2017 with 25.1.
Walker Buehler leads Dodgers pitchers with 15.1 Box-Toppers points, 15th among all players and fifth among NL pitchers. The Dodgers usual ace, Clayton Kershaw, had a down year in 2018 after earning more than 20 Box-Toppers points for a record seven straight seasons and finishing among the top three players from 2011 to 2017. This season, Kershaw had 8.0 Box-Toppers points, 73rd among all players and 34th among NL pitchers. However, Kershaw has earned Player of the Game honors twice during the postseason.
Red Sox batters are led by designated hitter J.D. Martinez (12.5 Box-Toppers points, first among AL batters) and outfielder Mookie Betts (10.9 Box-Toppers points, second among AL batters). Dodgers’ top batter is shortstop Manny Machado, who earned 5.7 Box-Toppers points in 2018 (only 1.7 Box-Toppers points since being traded from the Baltimore Orioles on July 18), 25th among NL batters.
Last year’s top batter with the Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, had a considerable drop-off in Box-Toppers points in 2018. In 2017, he had 8.7 Box-Toppers points and was NL Rookie of the Year. In 2018, despite playing in 162 games, he earned no Box-Toppers points. He simply was never the key player in any of the Dodgers wins, never earning Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors.
Overall bullpen strength is roughly even with the Dodgers having the slight edge (24.7 vs. 22.1) in combined Box-Toppers points among likely relief pitchers.
The Red Sox edge comes in a season in which the American League had an unusual dominance in Box-Toppers rankings. In 25 weekly team rankings reports during the season, a National League team was the overall top-ranked team just once—and that was April 5, the very first week of the season when the Arizona Diamondbacks had 7.0 Box-Toppers points. Every week since has been led by an AL team—10 of those times by the Red Sox, including each week since Aug. 2.
Seven of the top 10 players were AL pitchers; the other three were NL pitchers. The overall top pitcher and batter both came from the AL (pitcher Blake Snell of the Rays, 27.2 and Martinez of the Red Sox, 12.5).
With the Red Sox having eliminated Box-Toppers’ second-ranked New York Yankees in the AL Division Series and the fourth-ranked Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series, facing the sixth-ranked Dodgers is somewhat of an anticlimax, even though it is the World Series.
However, while the Red Sox seem to hold the advantages in the coming World Series, last year, Box-Toppers determined the Los Angeles Dodgers had the edge over the Houston Astros in the 2017 World Series. The Astros won.
Five players have earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice so far this past season and two of them are in the World Series, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Kershaw was Player of the Game in:
Bradley was Player of the Game in two consecutive games:
World Series player comparisonsProbable players for the Dodgers and Red Sox listed by position with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2018 regular season and their overall rank among all players:
|1B||David Freese||4.5||230||1B||Steve Pearce||3.0||320|
|2B||Enrique Hernandez||3.0||338||2B||Ian Kinsler||6.0||149|
|SS||Manny Machado||5.7||158||SS||Xander Bogaerts||5.5||164|
|3B||Justin Turner||2.0||431||3B||Rafael Devers||2.5||394|
|CA||Austin Barnes||1.0||427||CA||Christian Vazquez||2.0||413|
|CF||Cody Bellinger||0.0||749||CF||Jackie Bradley Jr.||3.5||295|
|LF||Chris Taylor||0.0||779||LF||Andrew Benintendi||4.5||219|
|RF||Yasiel Puig||5.0||185||RF||Mookie Betts||10.9||39|
|PH||Joc Pederson||5.0||200||PH||J.D. Martinez||12.5||28|
|PH||Matt Kemp||4.5||222||PH||Mitch Moreland||3.5||288|
|PH||Yasmani Grandal||4.5||231||PH||Brock Holt||3.5||297|
|PH||Max Muncy||4.5||235||PH||Sandy Leon||1.0||571|
|PH||Brian Dozier||2.5||375||PH||Eduardo Nunez||0.0||811|
|SP||Walker Buehler||15.1||15||SP||Chris Sale||20.1||6|
|SP||Hyun‑Jin Ryu||10.1||49||SP||David Price||14.4||18|
|SP||Rich Hill||9.7||53||SP||Rick Porcello||11.4||36|
|SP||Clayton Kershaw||8.0||73||SP||Nathan Eovaldi||8.7||66|
|CP||Kenley Jansen||2.0||402||CP||Craig Kimbrel||7.0||108|
|PI||Kenta Maeda||10.7||41||PI||Eduardo Rodriguez||13.4||24|
|PI||Alex Wood||5.0||178||PI||Matt Barnes||2.0||427|
|PI||Caleb Ferguson||5.0||210||PI||Heath Hembree||0.0||927|
|PI||Ryan Madson||1.0||562||PI||Joe Kelly||0.0||1145|
|PI||Dylan Floro||1.0||687||PI||Brandon Workman||0.0||1465|
|PI||Julio Urias||0.0||899||PI||Ryan Brasier||0.0||—*|
|Starting 8 batters||21.2||Starting 8 batters||37.9|
|Starting 9 (with DH)||26.2||Starting 9 (with DH)||50.4|
Note: Five bench players are all listed as pinch hitters (PH), even though one will likely serve as a designated hitter (DH) when games are played in an American League park. J.D. Martinez has served as the Red Sox DH most of the season. Box-Toppers uses the Dodgers’ highest-ranked bench player, Joc Pederson, as DH, when figuring team strength with DH.
Four starting pitchers are listed (SP), along with the the team’s usual closer (CP) and all other pitchers (PI) who appeared in each team’s league championship series games.
• “Totals” shows the number of Box-Toppers points among all players listed here.
• “Starting 8 batters” shows each team’s Box-Toppers point totals in a National League park (without a designated hitter) and “Starting 9 batters (with DH)” shows totals with a DH included.
• “Starters” is the combined Box-Toppers point totals of the four likely starting pitchers.
• “Bullpen” is the combined Box-Toppers point totals of pitchers not listed as starters (SP) or closers (CP).
World Series Game 1, Dodgers at Red Sox
Tuesday’s starting pitchers:
Dodgers—Clayton Kershaw, 8.0 Box-Toppers points, 73rd among all players, 34th among NL pitchers.
Kershaw has appeared three times previously this postseason, earning Player of the Game honors twice:
He was Player of the Game in the NLDS Game 2 win over the Braves on Oct. 5.
He appeared in the NLCS Game 1 loss to the Brewers and had the game’s lowest Box-Toppers game score of -12.0 (3IP 6H 5R 4ER 2BB 2K L).
He was Player of the Game in the NLCS Game 5 win over the Brewers on Oct. 17.
Red Sox—Chris Sale, 20.1 Box-Toppers points, sixth among all players, fourth among AL pitchers.
Sale has appeared three times this postseason. He has earned Player of the Game honors once:
He was Player of the Game in the ALDS Game 1 win over the Yankees on Oct. 5.
He pitched one inning in the deciding Game 4 ALDS win over the Yankees, but did not earn Player of the Game on Oct. 9.
He started the ALCS Game 1 loss to the Astros on Oct. 12.
This is a matchup of previous Box-Toppers Player of the Year winners. Kershaw led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2011 (26.1), 2013 (21.7) and 2014 (31.5). Sale led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2017 (25.1).
About Box-Toppers—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. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point 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.
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