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Yesterday, the World Series kicked off in Houston, where the Astros hosted the Washington Nationals for a game in which the visiting team ultimately emerged the victors. As few as three and as many as six games remain in the best-of-seven series, and sports commentators have been singling out key players to watch during the series since well before the first pitch in yesterday’s game was even thrown. Below, learn all about five players who may well play outsized roles in how the World Series progresses this year.
1. Anthony Rendon (Nationals, third base)
Although Anthony Rendon was a low pick in early-decade drafts due to some injuries, he’ll be ending the 2010s as one of baseball’s best players. Rendon’s presence on the Nationals has truly pushed the team to the World Series, and the shove was desperately needed. This is the first year in which a Washington-based team has made the World Series since 1933, when the Washington Senators (the Nationals have only existed since 2005) did so.
2. Adam Eaton (Nationals, right field)
Like Rendon before him, Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton suffered some severely limiting injuries before making his way back to the diamond. Eaton has absolutely dominated 2019, with 15 home runs throughout his 151 games this season. This home run to game ratio exceeds that of his 2015 and 2016 seasons with his former team, the Chicago White Sox, when he batted 14 home runs each in, respectively, 153 and 157 games. Look for Eaton to continue his hot streak into the World Series.
3. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals, starting pitcher)
Although Stephen Strasburg has pitched for the Nationals since the top of the decade, 2019 has been his best season yet. He racked up 18 wins this season, as compared to last year’s 10. He also set a personal record for strikeouts, preventing 251 players from leaving home plate. And his ERA this season, though not his personal record, is still great at 3.32. Even his batting average – an area in which pitchers often struggle – wasn’t terrible this season, at 0.152.
4. Gerrit Cole (Astros, starting pitcher)
With both Strasburg and Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole participating in the World Series, this year’s title could come down to pitching. During this season, which was Cole’s second with the Astros following six years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he brought in 20 wins for his team and struck out a whopping 326 batters. Both of these figures exceed Strasburg’s, though Cole’s ERA is significantly lower at 2.50.
5. Jose Altuve (Astros, second base)
To understand just how potent a force Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has been for his team, just look at his batting average this season: 0.349. This figure is nearly 5 percent more than 0.300, the baseline often considered to be a good batting average (though recent years have seen arguments that 0.280 is a better baseline). With the odds already in the Astros’ favor, Altuve could well emerge as the World Series’ MVP.
Which players will you be watching most closely in the World Series? Sound off in the comments!