PHOENIX -- The 2023 World Series is now complete with the Texas Rangers winning their first championship in club history.
As is customary in these parts, I'm here once again to rank the last 10 World Series. Why 10? It's a fine enough number to have enough great World Series mixed in with a few minor duds and it isn't too cumbersome.
This ranking is entirely subjective and it's just me doing it. No one else had a vote, so when someone inevitably wants to complain about it on social media, it's Matt Snyder's list, not CBS Sports' collective. I've been in person for the overwhelming majority of games played on this list, so that obviously gives me a better feel for ranking them. For those unaware, Cubs fan, so brace yourself for an easy No. 1 pick.I'm a
What kinds of things make a World Series great? Going seven games helps, but sometimes six packs enough punch. Drama is great. Things we rarely see also helps. Also, it's a crowded list because pretty much every World Series is great. Even the last sweep (2012) provided us with a three-homer game from Pablo Sandoval, joining only Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols on that illustrious list. That's just an example to illustrate that the "worst" World Series still isn't "bad."
Let's get to it.
10. 2020 - Ending an unusual season
Look, the league did the best it could, but it just wasn't the same without seeing packed-to-the-gills home crowds living and dying with every big hit, especially since there have been dynamic crowds in the three seasons since. The dramatic Rays comeback in Game 4 could have been an enduring moment, but they were essentially outplayed in five of the six games. The Dodgers' comeback in Game 6 seemed inevitable. It was a real title and the Dodgers were the best team start to finish that season, but I just can't get excited about this one in my memory. As long as I'm still ranking the last 10 and this is on the list, I have to assume it falls 10th.
9. 2023 - The Rangers finally win it all
As I mentioned in the intro, there is no such thing as a bad World Series. There are bonus points for the Rangers winning the franchise's first title. I always love fan bases finally getting to feel what it's like to cheer for a championship team. Yet even with those bonus points, it lands only one spot ahead of the pandemic series.
Game 1 was legitimately one of the most exciting games in World Series history. The Rangers struck first, but the D-backs took the lead in the top of the third while the Rangers then tied it in the bottom. The Diamondbacks answered right back and had a 5-3 lead until the ninth, when Corey Seager hit a game-tying home run and the ballpark absolutely erupted. Adolis García then walked it off in the 11th with a homer. Just a beautiful game. The next three games were duds, though, were not overly exciting. Game 3 was a good, well-played baseball game and the Seager home run was really cool, as it was shot out of a cannon. Games 2 and 4 were blowouts and Game 5 had the Zac Gallen no-hitter until the Rangers took a 1-0 lead late. But then they blew the game open in the ninth and the bottom of the ninth was just a formality.
This was really fun overall, as I said, all World Series games are fun, but it wasn't an overall great series. I can't shake the feeling of the 84-win Diamondbacks kind of souring things by being here, either.
8. 2018 - Red Sox roll
It only took five games here for the Red Sox to extinguish the Dodgers, but Game 1 needed a late-inning homer from pinch-hitter Eduardo Nuñez to put things away and the Dodgers had a lead in Game 2 until a Red Sox rally in the fifth was capped by a two-RBI J.D. Martinez single. Game 3 was the marathon 18-inning affair. The Dodgers had a 4-0 lead through seven innings in Game 4, looking ready to knot the series at two games apiece, but the Red Sox busted things open with nine runs in the final three innings, thanks in large part to a three-run Mitch Moreland shot while eventual series MVP Steve Pearce homered and doubled.
There were really good games with lots of action, but there were only a few short moments where it felt like the Dodgers had a chance and it only went five games.
This gets the nod over 2023 among five-game series due to it being a battle of titans. The Dodgers won 104 games while the Astros won 101 in the regular season.
7. 2021 - Soler Power for Braves
In Game 1, the Braves had a 5-0 lead through three innings and it wasn't in doubt after that. An Astros' 5-1 lead through two in Game 2 put that one in similar territory. Again, every World Series game is exciting, but these were on a lower scale.
Jorge Soler clubbed three homers in all, including a go-ahead blast in Game 4 and a monster shot that left Minute Maid Park in Game 6. The Astros' comeback after allowing an early grand slam in Game 5, while down 3-1 in the series, was dramatic enough, but it only extended this one to Game 6. In that one, the Braves had a 6-0 lead through five innings while the Astros offense was dormant. As such, there was just very little drama toward the end of the series. This is great for Braves fans and not-so-great for observers without a horse in the race.
6. 2015 - Royals reach the top
This one only lasted five games, but it packed a strong punch in the compressed series.
In Game 1, Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first with an inside-the-park home run. Still, the Mets had a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth when Alex Gordon hit a game-tying bomb. The Royals would walk it off in the 15th. Game 2 gave us the most recent playoff complete game, as Johnny Cueto went the distance. The Mets won Game 3 and nearly evened the series, but a three-run eighth by the Royals in Game 4 moved it to 3-1.
Then there was Game 5. Matt Harvey had shut the Royals out through eight innings. He was going to be removed from the game, but convinced manager Terry Collins to let him finish. The Royals tied it on a heads-up baserunning play from Eric Hosmer at third base. Remember that one? The Royals would then finish things off with a five-run 15th inning.
It was a great five games, but only five.
5. 2022 - Astros win again
This one lasted six games and there was some great drama in those six games. It was a bit of a David vs. Goliath matchup, with the 106-win Astros playing in their fourth World Series in a six-year span while the 87-win Phillies were the upstart team of the playoffs.
When the Astros jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first three innings of Game 1, there was a bit of an "uh oh, this might be a sweep" feeling. Instead, the Phillies stormed back to tie it with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Then they won in extra innings. The Astros evened the series in Game 2 before it shifted to Vibe Central in Philly. The atmosphere there was off the charts. The Phillies hit five home runs, including Bryce Harper's shot in the first, to take Game 3. The Astros threw the second World Series no-hitter in history in Game 4! The Astros took Game 5, 3-2, in a well- and close-played game. Remember the catch at the center-field wall by Chas McCormick in the ninth? That might've been a series saver. And then there was Game 6, where a sixth-inning Kyle Schwarber home run gave hope for a Game 7, but then Yordan Alvarez obliterated a pitch from José Alvarado for a series-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth. This was about as good as it gets for a series that didn't go seven games.
4. 2014 - Giants' even year dynasty
This might seem like a too-low ranking, but there were three all-timers on this list.
It is, however, docked a few points due to the blowouts. The Royals took Game 1 by six, the Giants won Game 2 by five, the Giants won Game 4 by seven, the Giants won Game 5 by five and the Royals won Game 6 by 10. There was just no late-inning drama until the end.
Along the way, we did see Madison Bumgarner dominate twice -- including the most recent individual World Series shutout -- and were treated to a one-run game in Game 4.
Then there was Game 7. The Giants went to Bumgarner to hold a 3-2 lead. He was only on two days' rest from a complete game! And he finished the job, working five scoreless innings. The Royals got the tying run to third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, thanks to a single and two-base error in the outfield.
And, if the Royals had sent Alex Gordon, attempting an inside-the-park Little League home run to tie Game 7 in the ninth inning, it would have been the most dramatic play at home plate in World Series history. He probably would have been out, so I'm good with the hold from the Royals' perspective, but, holy cow, would I have loved to see that play. Regardless, the crowd noise growing and growing as Gordon was rounding the bases is one of my favorite World Series moments. It was a sight to behold.
3. 2017 - Astros win their first title
This was the Dodgers' first World Series appearance since 1988 and that's a big deal. They are one of the marquee franchises in MLB history.
Game 1 gave us a dominant Clayton Kershaw, seemingly flipping the bird to everyone who believed he always shrinks from the pressure of big games. Game 2 looked like another Dodgers win after Corey Seager's big two-run shot in the sixth, but the Astros stormed back to tie the game against Kenley Jansen and then Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa went back-to-back in the 10th. And then the Dodgers tied it in the 10th! And then George Springer hit a two-run homer in the 11th and the Dodgers got a Charlie Culberson homer to cut it to one, but nothing else.
And, hoo boy, were we only getting started.
In Game 3, the Astros rode a four-run second inning in which I learned that Minute Maid Park is one of the loudest ballparks. Game 4 was tied going to the ninth and the Dodgers put a five-spot on the board to win.
Then there was Game 5. I could never put into words the gorgeous absurdity of that game. If we removed rooting interests (so, basically, all Cubs game), this is my favorite game of all time. It was 13-12 in 10 innings. The Dodgers had three different innings with three runs scored and lost. It went from 4-0 Dodgers to 4-4 to 7-4 Dodgers to 7-7 in the span of two innings. The Dodgers scored three runs to tie the game in the ninth and lost. Just going back over it makes me smile and even laugh a little bit. What a game.
There was always going to be a letdown after Game 5, but Game 6 was very good. Verlander had a 1-0 lead going to the sixth and coughed up two runs.
This series had a chance at number one, but two things pull it down. First off, we can't talk about this series -- and sorry, Astros fans, you can avert your eyes for a second -- without mentioning the sign-stealing scandal. It has to be docked a bit for everything we now know.
Secondly, Game 7 wasn't exciting. The rest of the series was so incredible, but the Astros scored five runs in the first two innings and the rest of the game was most just a bunch of outs. The top two here had Game 7s for the ages.
2. 2019 - Nationals prevail after all road teams win
In the moment, it was kind of, relatively, depressing: Sitting in auxiliary press boxes close to fans and seeing those fans so excited to start the game leaving so heartbroken and disappointed. In hindsight, it's very cool to have an anomaly where this series saw seven games in which every single game the road team won. Game 1 was a one-run affair with the Astros threatening multiple times late. Game 2, the Nationals ran away with late, but it was tied going to the seventh. The three games in D.C. weren't all too exciting, but in Game 6, the Nats took the lead in the fifth with Adam Eaton and Juan Soto homers off Verlander. There were comebacks and some late-game action in several games.
Still, this would've been ranked a few pegs lower if not for Game 7.
The Astros had a 2-0 lead going to the seventh inning. Gerrit Cole was in the Astros bullpen. Anthony Rendon homered. Juan Soto walked. Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to go with Will Harris instead of Cole out of the bullpen as many thought he should have. And then Howie Kendrick homered off the foul pole to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead. In a discussion with colleagues, we landed on this as the most important single play in the last 10 World Series.
The Nats would tack on multiple times after that.
What a game and what an improbable champion.
1. 2016 - Cubs finally win it
I already gave the spoiler, but I think even someone like a fair-minded Cardinals fan would agree on this series.
We had the ghosts of 1908 on the Cubs side and 1948 on the Cleveland side. That alone already puts this series in a great position. One of them had to win.
Corey Kluber dominated in Game 1 and we saw an improbable two-HR game from catcher Roberto Perez. The Cubs bounced back in Game 2 behind Bryzzo (Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo) and Kyle Schwarber. And remember, Schwarber had come back from a torn ACL that he suffered that April. He wasn't cleared to play the field, he could only DH. I saw him in batting practice and he didn't have any power. He made things work with singles. What a story.
Game 3 was scoreless until the seventh inning and ended up 1-0. After getting blown out in Game 4, it looked like the Cubs, once again, with their best team in generations -- probably ever -- were going to come up short again. They trailed 3-1 in the series and 1-0 on the scoreboard in Game 5 heading to the bottom of the fourth. Then Bryant homered to tie it. Rizzo doubled to keep things going in an eventual three-run inning. The Cubs would hold on to win by one. They'd feast in a blowout win in Game 6.
And then, Game 7.
Look, I've already admitted bias here, but under the circumstances -- the championship droughts of both teams -- I don't think it's out of the question to the call this the most dramatic baseball game of all-time.
Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run. Have you ever seen that? In a Game 7?
Cleveland tied it in the third. The Cubs took the lead in the fourth thanks to outstanding baserunning by Bryant to score on a very shallow sac fly. Then Willson Contreras hit an RBI double, Javier Baez homered, Rizzo drove home Bryant and it looked like the Cubs would cruise. Oh, and David Ross homered in his final game.
The Indians did get two runs on a Jon Lester wild pitch when he was put into a situation that manager Joe Maddon claimed he wouldn't be, but Lester buckled down and threw great after that.
And then the comeback. Rajai Davis hit one of the biggest home runs in World Series history to tie the game in the eighth. Before the 10th -- yes, a Game 7 went to extra innings! -- there was a rain delay that included Jason Heyward's famed speech. Then Schwarber led off with a single. Later in the inning, Ben Zobrist solidified his permanent place in Cubs lore with a go-ahead double. Miguel Montero added an RBI single. Cleveland got a run in the 10th and had the tying run on base! Bryant slipped on the final throw to first!
The Cubs won the World Series.
Yes, that is easily the best World Series of the last 10 years.
Rangers World Series championship gear now available
The Rangers have won thier first World Series title in five games over the Diamondbacks. Texas hadn't even had a winning season since 2016, making the 2023 World Series title even sweeter. You can already get Rangers World Series championship hoodies, t-shirts, hats, autographed baseballs, and more. Grab your piece of history before it's gone here.
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