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SnakePit Round Table: World Series, baby!

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Diamondbacks are going to the World Series!

ISH95: Why yes, yes they are, aren’t they? Sure is a cool sentence to type. I’ll be honest, I’m still having trouble truly processing it at a deeper level than the shriek of excitement I managed when Corbin Carroll snagged that fly ball. When it is all said and done, we are witnessing one of the greatest moments of franchise history, not just currently, but for all time. Flags fly forever.

DBacksEurope: Wait, what? Are you saying this morning I didn’t wake up in a dream? Man, when it was 3-3, I went to bed and thought…it could happen, you know. But then to see early in the morning that the Diamondbacks actually won and made it, that was just incredible. I am very happy for you all that you got to witness it live! I mentioned it to many people at work today, but no one here was actually able to understand the joy and the complete surprise this is. Very weird. I also thought of Madison Bumgarner and Nick Ahmed today. Crazy.

Keegan: I think we all feel the same. It doesn’t feel real yet. I was nine years old when they won their first World Series. I can remember bits and pieces, but this will be so much more special for me personally. As a side note, for the first time since the pandemic began I knowingly caught COVID after attending Game 3 of the NLCS. Worth the price of admission I’d say.

Turambar: Been a while since I chimed in here in the Pit (life gets in the way sometimes), but …HOLY SHIT WE’RE IN THE WORLD SERIES!!!! This has been a truly magical ride in a truly astounding season. I knew we’d be an improved team going in, and in the depths of July’s doldrums I felt happy knowing we still had a much improved team, but now I’m on Cloud 9 knowing we got a real chance to bring a second championship back to Phoenix.

Makakilo: Watching game 7 against the Phillies was amazing, a little unbelievable, and a big emotional win! Winning felt great! I had a hard time falling asleep after the game.

The next morning, I played in a pickleball tournament. I won first place! Winning is contagious!

As a fan, attending a couple Diamondbacks’ World Series Games is a rare opportunity. I grabbed it. One of my lifetime best memories will likely happen when I attend games 3 and 4.

I don’t intend to get COVID – I received the latest version of COVID vaccine on 25 September and I will wear a mask in crowds.

Steven: Even the most diehard of fans could hardly predict something like this. It took 3 huge mountains to climb, including an impressive 5-2 road record against the three of the top 7 home records. These playoff games remind me eerily of the early season D-backs, with timely hitting carrying them to victory. Add in the bullpen being lights out out of nowhere and you have a recipe for a special postseason run.

Dano: Yup, we are. I find myself not so focused on the seeming unlikeliness of unreality of it–it’s real, we did it, crazy stuff happens, probabilities be damned, YCPB, etc, etc–so much as I am just sorting through the really profound and frankly unexpected emotional significance that this turn of events has had and is continuing to have on me.

I don’t particularly think of myself as a sports nerd. I tend to recognize myself at age 51 as a sports fan, and a pretty informed and literate one, and I was totally a sports geek when I was a kid, but then I wasn’t for a long time, and then I began dipping my toes in that water again around 2004 or 2005. I found myself starting to casually play fantasy football, I discovered the Sunday afternoon respite of football as a break from the intellectual grind of graduate school, I embraced the Diamondbacks once I moved back to Arizona in 2005, and the year and change that I lived with my mom while I was transitioning from eleven years in New York City to the next stage of my life, we’d sit down and watch the Diamondbacks pretty much every day during baseball season.

My relationship with sports fandom really started to change, though, in ways that passed beneath my notice, when I discovered the Snakepit, and stopped lurking and began to participate in comment threads, and then more substantially when I started writing here, first as a recurring guest recapper, and then as a member of the staff. It’s been about 7 years–-I just went and looked, and my first guest recap was on September 17, 2016, recapping a Shelby Miller start of all things. Becoming part of this community changed my relationship with the team and with my own fandom….Ramona and I were talking tonight about our WS berth and what this means for each of us, and I remarked that writing about a team that I know and love very well has become a baked-in component of how I experience being a fan. I don’t think I could follow a baseball team again without wanting and needing to share my thoughts and experiences and impressions with others.

Long, rambling answer, I know, but it’s what I’ve got at present–a manifestation of my being stunned by this as well, very likely. But I couldn’t sleep last night after our win, and it wasn’t just the team and the game….it was reading and responding to and interacting with the Snakepit community (and visitors from other fandoms) as we all reacted to this moment in our own ways,, and by extension to the grinding and often depressing ordeal that 2019, 2020, 2021, and much of 2022 turned out to be, and we shared those reactions. The shared experience has become intrinsic and indistinguishable to me from the experience itself, and that’s awesome and weird and deeply moving. Thank you, Snakepit!

Now let’s go and win this thing. Four more wins.

Sam: It’s wild. Like many here, I anticipated this year being the beginning of a contention window. After the nine-game losing streak ended and they weren’t far out of a playoff spot, I just wanted them to get in so they’d get a taste of that atmosphere to bring with them into the rest of the window. Then they steamrolled their wildcard competitors, and that gave me the hope that they could turn it on when they needed to in order to make the playoffs.

Side note on that: I don’t want to hear any more about how the Diamondbacks backed into or even snuck into the playoffs. They earned that 84 win threshold by beating up on all of their closest wildcard competitors down the stretch! Here’s how those standings for that last spot finished:

  • Dbacks 84-78
  • Cubs 83-79
  • Padres 82-80
  • Reds 82-80

After their nine-game losing streak, the Dbacks went 3-1 against the Reds, 5-1 against the Padres, and 6-1 against the Cubs for a sparkling 14-3 record in those playoff-like games. Because of how the tiebreakers worked out, just one more loss against any of those three teams would have meant the Dbacks staying home.

Instead, the narrative should focus on how the Dbacks stole that last wildcard spot from the Cubs with their head-to-head games, like how the Braves stole the NL East from the Mets last year with a sweep in late September. Specifically, on September 6, the day before their first series in Chicago, the Cubs were sitting pretty with a 4-game lead on the Dbacks and a 92.4% chance of making the playoffs to the Dbacks’ 31.0% per Fangraphs. Eleven days later, after the Dbacks swept the Cubs in Arizona, they had leapfrogged the Cubs in both the standings by a half game and in the playoff chances, 56.7% to 46.0%.

Anyways, it was that 14-3 (or 16-3 if you include two games against the 79-win Giants) record in a playoff-like setting that gave me some hope heading into the actual playoffs. This team clearly knew how to turn it on, and as frustrating as it was for them to lose games that didn’t matter as much (like they did in September against the Mets, Yankees and Astros), we’d seen that spark of clutch already.

Remember all the times we were just thankful that they’re “playing meaningful games in September”? Unless the World Series ends in a sweep, they’ll be playing a meaningful game in November.

Spencer: Man you wait 1 day to respond and have 8 people go before you! What? Like we won the pennant or something?! OH WAIT! I still can’t really believe it. My coworkers are happy for me (and desperately hoping Cincinnati is the 2024 version of us). My brother agreed in April to watch baseball with me if the Diamondbacks made it to the World Series. He’s less than enthused that his knowledge of the team failed his social life right now! And finally: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! WE DID IT!

Did the NLCS unfold as you expected?

ISH95: Yes and no. Right off the bat, I said that the D-backs would win in five, and that was beyond optimistic apparently. Zac Gallen was also not the key to their success, which I thought he would be. Nor was the bullpen ultimately anything I needed to worry about, though I think those concerns were more past trauma than actual concerns.

There were definitely some parts of my prediction that I got right however. Small ball and forcing the defense was eventually what put the Diamondbacks on top. Corbin Carroll became the youngest player since Ty Cobb to have three hits and two steals in a post season game. And Merrill The Mainstay. That game six performance was incredible.

DBacksEurope: I predicted D-Backs in 7, but I agree that it was maybe a bit wishful thinking. It was a tough series and pretty much 50-50 as I hinted at, so, it unfolded a bit as expected. But I wouldn’t have thought that the Diamondbacks would actually come back from 2-0 and 3-2 and then take the final two games in Philadelphia. That is one hell of a job the team accomplished. Oh, and the Zac Gallen I predicted in game 7…I think Zac Gallen was probably the biggest disappointment in this NLCS.

Keegan: The fan in me knew they would put up a fight. I think what was most unexpected was the Game 2 blowout, but then again going back to Philly down 3 games to 2 and winning 2 straight to win the pennant seems just as absurd. So no, it absolutely did not unfold as I suspected. That’s chaos baby.

Turambar: I’m a homer at heart, but going in to the NLCS I really only thought we’d make it to 6, maybe push a game 7. How we got to that 7th game shocked me. Who among us had Gallen getting lit up followed by Kelly’s good start get yeeted in to the sun in game two? I expected us to get maybe one game of those first two and then hoped we’d make things interesting back home. We did, and won two of the three at home, but for us to then go back to Philly and win the next two was jaw dropping.


Correctly predicted Diamondbacks in 7 games.

Correctly predicted Diamondbacks advantage in small ball (runs scored from non-homer events). In the four Diamondbacks wins, they scored an average of 3.25 runs per game by small ball (vs 1.75 R/G by small ball for Phillies). In the three Diamondbacks losses, they scored 0.33 runs per game by small ball (vs 3.67 R/G by small ball for Phillies).

Correctly predicted Phillies advantage in starting pitching. The Phillies’ starters allowed 1.71 runs per game while the Diamondbacks’ starters allowed 2.67 runs per game.

Correctly predicted Diamondbacks had better defense. During the championship series, both teams’ defense range factors got worse in the infield (except catchers and Brandon Pfaadt got better) and both teams’ defense range factors got better in the outfield.

Wrongly predicted key to Diamondbacks winning the series was to score an average of 6 runs per game (it did not happen, not even close)

Wrongly predicted evenly matched runs scored via homers. The Phillies scored a lot more (1.71 vs 1.00 runs per game from homers).

Wrongly predicted evenly aggressive baserunning. The Diamondbacks were more aggressive (1.29 vs 1.00 stolen bases per game).

Wrongly predicted evenly matched bullpen pitching. Overall, the Diamondbacks bullpen was much better. Two considerations:

  • The Diamondbacks won game 4 which was pitched entirely by their bullpen. The importance of winning game 4 cannot be understated.
  • Excluding game 4 for the Diamondbacks, a comparison showed the Diamondbacks bullpen allowed more runs per game (1.5 vs 1.29), a slight plus for the Phillies.

Steven: I predicted the D-backs winning in Game 7 on the road, but I really was scared of the Phillies bats continuing to hit home runs. They died down (did the cold weather in Philly have an big impact even more so in a pitcher’s park? Who’s to say.) There’s plenty of things you could nitpick about the D-backs as they head to the World Series, namely 3rd base production and Christian Walker solving the inside fastball, but you’ve got to hand it to them for keeping things together when it easily could’ve unraveled after the 10-0 shellacking in Game 2.

Dano: I managed, with broad success, to stay focused on the fact that we have been playing with house money. I thought we were in deep trouble after the first two games, especially with the deafening roar of “The Phillies are unstoppable!” that was going on everywhere else. I didn’t believe that the Phillies were unstoppable–regular season stats and records don’t lie, and don’t become meaningless. Once Brandon Pfaadt and the team as a whole broke that narrative in Game 3, and then went on to win Game 4, I sort of nodded to myself and thought, “Yeah, I think we could take this.” I figured, as I think I noted in the last Round Table, that taking the last two from the Phillies in their house seemed like a very tall order

But, despite the revised deafening pundit roar of “The Phillies are unstoppable….AT HOME!” I knew we had already proven that first iteration wrong, and so we could do so again. And facing elimination with two games left focuses the mind….I didn’t worry about Game 7 before Game 6. And lo and behold, we won Game 6. And then we won Game 7. I didn’t expect it, but it honestly didn’t surprise or shock me. Odds were long, maybe, but I knew that it was possible. And for a team like ours, I think that’s maybe all one needs.

Sam: Overall, I had the Dbacks in 6 slightly over Dbacks in 7, so that was wrong but not far off. I didn’t expect the Dbacks to both lose with Gallen at home and win with Pfaadt on the road, but if you swap those two results, the Dbacks win in 6 as I expected. In other comments on that round table, I was right to fear Wheeler, emphasize the importance of scoring early, point to a closer psychological matchup than the previous series and finally to emphasize that the Phillies were beatable.

Spencer: I feel pretty good about my answers pre-NLCS. Sure I suggested 6 games instead of 7; I underestimated the floor of Philly’s defense in a big way. But the rest of my thoughts were pretty accurate I think. It was a great series and there are some moments I will remember for a long time (like watching in my favorite bar when a group of Philly fans showed up and all my regulars/friends cheered loudly so that group was drowned out despite not being baseball fans at all). A great week all around.

Past Ketel Marte, who - player or coach - do you want to highlight?

ISH95: There are so many choices. For me, though, it’s got to be Torey Lovullo. That man has been through the ringer since 2017. I read an article a while back about how he would literally sit there nearly in tears during some of the darker parts of this timeline, and, yeah, he was questioned constantly. But you know what? That same manager that we all questioned so many times has pushed all the right buttons to get us to the WORLD SERIES. I mean, just think about that. 110 losses in 2021 and the losing stretch this season must not have been his fault after all…

DBacksEurope: I don’t know…Brent Strom? Except for Gallen, all of them pitchers were rather good. Maybe highlight the bullpen, guys like Kevin Ginkel are pretty underrated. I think Thompson had some good appearances as well, and Sewald is definitely nice to see him close out the games.

Keegan: I’m going with the same guy I went with after the NLDS and will continue to pull for the rest of the way: Brandon Pfaadt. You can’t exaggerate how important he was in this series. Down 2 games he comes back to Phoenix and is so impressive that 48,000 in attendance at Chase Field boo Torey Lovullo for taking him out of the game. How does he top that? He goes back to Philadelphia with the D’backs season on the line, in the biggest game of his career, with 45,000 Phillies fans booing his very existence and puts the team in a position to win the pennant. He’s my guy. Going into the off-season pitching is one of the areas the team probably needs help, but if he continues this ascension it’s a very solid 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation.

Turambar: Pfaadt. Has to be Pfaadt. When Gallen just could not step up somehow the young rookie could. I can’t stress enough how DOMINANT Pfaadt looked in his two starts. That kid is nails. He’s a cold blooded killer on the mound, and we’re seeing him mature in to an ace in the F$&@?&ing NLCS!

Makakilo: Keegan and Turambar are on target! Brandon Pfaadt earned a spotlight!

Steven: Gimme Alek Thomas and Ryan Thompson. Alek is either on a burner or is taking the hitting tips from Pham to heart (the walks are a welcome sight) and what more can you say about the funky righty? Ryan pitched in all four victories, pitching 5 2/3rds innings while allowing a single run but connecting the short starts to a lights out back end of the bullpen.

Dano: I agree with just about everybody, but the fact that we’ve got five or six names being kicked around in other answers, all of them legitimate and valid and eminently worthy and defensible, says to me that I have to concur with ISH. That many different moving and successfully contributing components, you’ve got to pull your focus back from the individual performances and tactics and execution to the strategic overview. If any one of the players mentioned above had faltered or floundered, the whole thing would likely have fallen apart. So it’s gotta be Torey, because he was the one who made the strategic choices that allowed all of the individual players to have the chance they each had to succeed and contribute and help us win the LCS.

Sam: For a player, I’ll give props to Kevin Ginkel. He faced 16 batters in the series and retired 14 of them, giving up just two singles to Bohm. His outing in Game 7 was the climax of the series for me. First he got Turner and Harper on easy fly balls to center in the bottom of the 7th inning with two runners on, and then he struck out the side in the 8th without any of those Phillies hitters even fouling off a pitch. His vertical slider is nasty, and Pitching Ninja did a great breakdown of how he mowed them down here.

The telling part to me is that I wasn’t even nervous watching it live. Unlike previous iterations of our bullpen – or even previous iterations of Kevin Ginkel – I trusted that he’d get the job done, and he did.

And for a coach, Torey Lovullo should get tons of credit for his excellent decisions this series. Dusty Baker, by contrast, might well have lost the ALCS for the Astros, as Ben Clemens broke down at Fangraphs. I’m thrilled that Torey has already earned the right to manage the NL in the All-Star Game next year! He deserves it.

Spencer: None of the above is a wrong answer. But to be a little different, I’ll highlight Andrew Saalfrank. The kid had 10 appearances at the MLB level before the postseason. And in the NLCS he was thrown into some hellacious moments. He wasn’t always up the task in a dominant fashion, but he stood his ground and kept coming back for more. This included his ability to get important outs on nights after he’d been less than stellar. By the end some of the expectation and nerves got to him, but he highlights just what makes this Diamondbacks team special to me: everyone chips in, and everyone can be the hero. Credit to Stromm, Fetters, Lovullo for helping the kid out, but man we are a team of rookies showing some serious grit and talent right now. Thank you Mike Hazen and thank you Hall/Kendrick for letting us have him.

Are you glad the Rangers won the ALCS?

DBacksEurope: Yeah, I love to see different teams in the World Series. I think everyone has seen the Astros by now. The Rangers were in a pretty similar situation a couple of years ago as the Diamondbacks, although they have turned their luck around with some very aggressive acquisitions. Both Diamondbacks and Rangers show that you can achieve success in very different ways.

ISH95: Yes, I’m tired of the Astros. They’re just as exhausting as the Dodgers at this point. Bring on the fresh blood and make this interesting again.

For the Diamondbacks, I’m also glad they aren’t facing the Astros. No need to complicate things with extra postseason experience.

Keegan: Over the Astros of course. This is good for baseball to have two teams in the World Series that have not been there in some time. I’ll always be a fan of Max Scherzer, and it will be fun to watch our team matchup against him on the biggest stage.

Turambar: Meh, I’m lukewarm on them winning but kinda glad it wasn’t the Stros. I care not who comes out of the AL, only that we beat them.

Makakilo: Yes. The Phillies and the Astros met in last year’s World Series. It’s good to see two different teams in this year’s World Series.

Addendum: The Rangers have two MVPs who are hitting well in this year’s postseason.

  • Adolis Garcia (2023 ALCS MVP), 2023 Postseason OPS is 1.127
  • Corey Seager (2020 ALCS MVP and 2020 WS MVP), 2023 Postseason OPS is 1.102

Steven: They’re both juggernauts and I’m not excited to see that Rangers offense. But, I think the Rangers are the most susceptible. The Astros just terrify me.

Dano: Yes. Like ISH, I’m tired of the Astros. Like DBE, I like to see different teams in the World Series. Like Steven, the Astros terrify me, though less so after watching them get owned at home by the Rangers. Also, I still can’t overlook the team that cheated and still somehow got to keep their rings, and I am very pleased that whichever team wins the 2023 World Series, it’s gonna be a Wild Card team. So bring on the Texans!

Sam: I am, both as a Diamondbacks fan as a baseball fan in general. As a Diamondbacks fan, with the first year of the balanced schedule, we already got to see the Dbacks play every AL team this year. And out of the six AL playoff teams, the Diamondbacks had lost their head-to-head matchup against five of them. They’d even been swept by the Blue Jays, Twins and Astros! So of course I’m happy that they drew the Rangers, against whom the Diamondbacks won 3 out of 4.

As a baseball fan in general, I’m also thrilled to get more fanbases into the mix. The Rangers haven’t won a World Series in their history, so while I’d of course be sad if the Diamondbacks lose, at least it wouldn’t be to a fanbase that simply expects it at this point. Moreover, both of these teams lost 100+ games just two years ago. Fans of literally any team will be able to look at this year’s World Series winner and find hope that their team can turn it around and win it all not too long from now. It’s great for the sport as a whole.

Spencer: Sure. I said I’d rather face them because they are similar to Philly last time. That’s still true given our showing in games 6&7, but man they do scare me. Semien is a sleeping giant. I’ve seen more Seager than I care to over the years. Adolis Garcia might be one of the greatest stories in the MLB, but I say walk him 20 times right now. Then you’ve got to deal with Scherzer, Eovaldi and Montgomery… I’m excited to see these two teams play against each other.

Predict the World Series result.

DBacksEurope: Pretty similar to the LCS and most likely Diamondbacks in 7 again.

ISH95: I’m going to say Dbacks in six. I think they’ll either be able to steal a win in Arlington without the intensity of home field advantage that the Phillies had, or they’ll take all three in Phoenix. The rest of the series will play out pretty much the same.

Keegan: D’backs in 7.

Turambar: Dbacks in 5. CWalk awakens and Gallen remembers he’s an ace.

Makakilo: Diamondbacks win in 7 games.

Steven: After sleeping on it I’m going Diamondbacks in 4.

Dano: Nope, not gonna even go there. Just like Monday, just like Tuesday, we need to win the next game that’s in front of us (or lose it), and then move on and try to take care of business in the game after that. We can win this. We can also lose it. We are playing with house money, still. I refuse to start caring unduly about Game 2, much less Game 4 or 5 or 6 or 7, until Game 1 is in the books.

Sam: I’ll say Diamondbacks in 7 again. Storyline to watch out for: Pfaadt’s major league debut was against the Rangers in Texas. Torey tried to leave him in long enough to get the win and he ended up giving up 7 runs in 4.2 innings, but the team rallied and won 12-7. It’d be epic if he was on the mound there again for Game 7 to cap a season of redemption.

Spencer: I vote Steven loses his right to participate in roundtables…. (**Added later: somebody who has been named originally said some team from the second largest state in the Union**) Diamondbacks in 6, cause it may have been wrong last round, but it worked out right?

There’s a World Series game on Halloween. What are you dressing up as?

ISH95: That’s the question of the hour for me right now. I’ll be at the game, so it is vitally important. Right now, I’m leaning towards my Corbin Carroll Serpientes jersey. I’m hopefully going to wear my World Series hat, if it comes in the mail in time. If not, probably my generic postseason hat I got. Under the jersey, though, I’m going to be wearing my charcoal gray and teal, off-market shirt I’ve worn for years through bad seasons and good seasons that were never this good. Seems like the right choice to me.

DBacksEurope: Halloween…come on, man, that is just a commercial event. I don’t even celebrate it.

Keegan: Nothing spectacular. Will either be at Game 4 or 5. Bless my bank account.

Turambar: Thulsa Doom from Conan the Barbarian

Makakilo: I will be dressed in an Aloha shirt, perfect for almost any occasion!

Dano: Either as a conscientious educator of young people, or possibly Arthur Dent (it’s easy….bathrobe, towel, pajamas, slippers, Kindle case with a comforting message on the outside in large, friendly letters, possibly a modified yellow rubber fishing lure poking out of one ear). And my grizzled and battered Diamondbacks hat, of course. That I’m going to be wearing every day until the World Series is finished, one way or another.

Sam: The last time the Diamondbacks were playing on Halloween, I was ten years old. I had a costume prepared, but decided not to go out trick-or-treating so I wouldn’t miss a pitch of the game. As many of us remember, that game was much more trick than treat for Dbacks fans, with the first of two consecutive blown saves by Byung-Hyun Kim on a game-tying homer in the ninth, and it ultimately ended in heartbreak with Derek Jeter’s 12th inning walk off home run shortly after the clock struck midnight. For me, the decision not to trick-or-treat that evening was a turning point: I’ve never dressed up for Halloween again.

Spencer: On the actual day? Probably my normal clothes… I am recapping that game, so it means I’ll be at home after work - no need to dress up. But I’m going to a party on Saturday October 28 and I’ll be dressed as a 1940’s sports reporter complete with khaki pants, suspenders and a leather fedora.

Makakilo: Spencer, your 1940s sports reporter outfit sounds so cool! Could you please post a picture?

Spencer: I’m sure a photo will find its way out onto the internet somehow someway.