By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers delivered a World Series for the ages and could be seeing a lot more of each other as both clubs boast young, talented rosters that should make them contenders for years to come.
The Major League Baseball championship had everything from wild rallies, close games, marathon battles, and home runs aplenty before fittingly ending in seven games on Wednesday when the Astros won their maiden World Series title.
“This was a great series between two hundred-win teams, two great teams, two great offenses, two great defenses, two great pitching staffs, and two great pens,” said Astros outfielder George Springer, who was named World Series MVP.
“And that’s a good team over there. I don’t expect them to go anywhere anytime soon. I’d expect them to be competing for a world championship for years to come.”
The Dodgers, who had MLB’s best record this season, would definitely agree with that assertion as their roster boasts young standouts like Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager as well as one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball led by Clayton Kershaw, considered the best pitcher of his generation.
But even though the Dodgers fell short of capturing their first World Series title since 1988, the team remained upbeat that their time as champions will soon come.
Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts, who this year became the first Asian-born manager to reach the World Series, insisted his team will not suffer a hangover from the loss but rather have more incentive for next year.
“The character of the guys, the talent and the nucleus is still intact,” said Roberts. “I like our guys. I believe in our team. And I expect us to be in the same position next year.”
Houston, who entered this season only four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, have since assembled a cast full of likable players up and down a roster featuring both young standouts and savvy veterans.
Diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve has been the heartbeat of the team for the past seven seasons and is among the team’s elite young core — all in their 20s — that includes Springer, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.
So with the Astros nucleus returning in 2018, plus a full season from six-times All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander, who was acquired minutes before the trade deadline in August, the first-time World Series champions will be a popular pick to repeat.
“You look around this ballclub and we’re going to be coming into Spring Training next February with most of the guys here, so really good chance of defending it, and I think we all realize that trophy could stay in Houston for a few years,” said Astros outfielder Josh Reddick.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Graff)