The 2020 World Series will feature the two best teams in their respective leagues for just the fourth time in 25 years since MLB expanded the postseason to include wild-card teams.
The Los Angeles Dodgers posted the best record in the National League (43-17), while the Tampa Bay Rays (40-20) won the most games in the American League. This is right where the season should end up, perhaps.
We know the payroll disparity here: L.A. spent almost $108M on its team this year, the second-highest number in baseball behind the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s roster cost the club barely $28M—the third-lowest cost in the sport.
In addition, we know the facts: Since 1998, only two World Series winners have been in the bottom half of the league in payroll: the 2003 Florida Marlins and the 2017 Houston Astros—and we know now that one of those teams was cheating.
Those Marlins resemble these Rays in many ways, including facing a big-money favorite in the Series. So don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that Tampa Bay does not have a chance. It is baseball, after all. But the math also doesn’t lie here: The Rays have less than a 1-in-3 chance to win.
We made our initial predictions on September 28, before the whole 16-team tournament thing began for MLB, and we cannot deviate from it now. This is what we said then:
We think the Dodgers will prevail in six games against the Rays, but either way, a social injustice will be corrected with the winner of this World Series. Los Angeles may have been robbed by the cheating Astros in 2017, and Tampa Bay would prove that small-payroll teams really can win it all.
So maybe the MLB season will turn out to be a win-win situation after all.