Who deserves a ring more: Clayton Kershaw or Curtis Granderson?
A year ago, in his 20th and final Major League season, Carlos Beltran won his first World Series ring as a member of the Astros. While winning a World Series is an incredible achievement for any player, the moment when certain players -- like Beltran -- raise the Commissioner's Trophy can be extra special in the context of his career.
So which players remaining in the 2018 postseason deserve to raise the trophy the most? Here are the best candidates on each remaining Championship Series team:
No player remaining in the postseason has played more career games without winning a World Series than Granderson (1,919 games), who arrived in Milwaukee via trade and has been a solid bench bat for the Brewers down the stretch. In his 15th Major League season, Granderson represents the most similar situation to Beltran last year. He's a player who has compiled an impressive regular-season resume, has played a significant amount of postseason baseball without winning a World Series and is hailed as one of the all-around great people in the game.
Thames' journey to reach this point has hardly been linear, as the 31-year-old spent three seasons playing in Korea before signing with the Brewers before the 2017 season. Plus, who wouldn't want to see Thames in another celebration after his epic performance following Game 163?
After getting oh-so-close a year ago against the Astros, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and arguably the greatest pitcher of his generation is still in pursuit of his first World Series title. Though just 30 years old, Kershaw is now in Year 11 with the Dodgers, and he just helped them win a sixth consecutive NL West crown. He's thrown 130 postseason innings, the most recent of which were his eight impeccable frames against Atlanta in the NLDS. Will this be the year Kershaw finally raises the trophy?
The remarkable trajectory of Hill from the independent Long Island Ducks to the Los Angeles Dodgers has been told many times, but its plot points remain a marvel of recent baseball history. Now 38 years old and the oldest player on the Dodgers' postseason roster, Hill now has an opportunity to write the perfect ending to his fairytale baseball story.
Much like Granderson, Kinsler is in the twilight of a lengthy, statistically stellar Major League career and has an opportunity to win his first title. The four-time All-Star came close in 2011 with the Rangers when they fell in seven incredible games to the Cardinals and David Freese -- whom he may have to rematch in the World Series this year if the Red Sox and Dodgers both advance. His 2011 Rangers teammate and current Red Sox teammate Mitch Moreland would probably also enjoy that opportunity to avenge that heartbreaking series loss.
Sure, Betts is only 26 years old and is in his fifth Major League season. But he was not a part of the last Red Sox World Series team in 2013, and he's now the face of the current Boston group that posted the best record in baseball. Plus, as Jose Altuve showed us a year ago, it can feel especially perfect to have a player lead his team to a World Series title in the same year that player wins the MVP Award, which Betts appears likely to win this November.
While the vast majority of the Astros' roster experienced the World Series glee a year ago, Cole is one of the few new faces that has a chance to feel ultimate October magic for the first time. The former No. 1 overall pick has done nothing but dominate since arriving in Houston this past winter, taking his game to a whole new level and putting up Cy Young-level numbers alongside fellow ace Justin Verlander. Getting a ring in his first year with his new team seems almost too good to be true, but Cole is in a very good position to do just that.