The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night by a 3-1 final behind timely hitting and a strong joint outing from their bullpen, thus earning their first title since 1988. The Dodgers had previously lost two of the past three World Series, making this victory all the more sweeter.
One of our favorite aspects of any World Series winner is highlighting the players whose regular-season contributions, however forgettable or trivial they may have been, will net them a championship ring. The lack of a minor-league season this year means that the Dodgers don't have as many truly random names, but there were still five individuals who qualified in our estimation. Consider this our opportunity to share their stories.
Over the last decade, Terrance Gore has become synonymous with the concept of a designated pinch-runner. He spends the year out of sight, then pops up on some contender's bench in September before serving as a late-inning weapon in October. You might've thought Gore had a chance for more burn this season, what with the extra-inning rules and the larger rosters. That proved to be wrong. He made just two appearances during the regular season, with both coming in July: one as a defensive sub in a blowout, another as a pinch-runner in extra innings. Gore was a member of the Dodgers' playoff roster in the early rounds, yet he didn't get into a game. Nevertheless, he'll likely put this ring on display next to the one he won in 2015 with the Royals.
Zack McKinstry, originally a 33rd-round pick out of Central Michigan University, has turned himself into a viable bench candidate thanks to his defensive versatility. Last season, he made appearances at every position except catcher, first base, and pitcher. McKinstry received burn in four games with the big-league team this year, seeing action at the keystone and in right field. He probably won't hit enough to be more than a protean reserve, but that shouldn't be an issue.
Of the five players featured here, Keibert Ruiz has the highest probability of being part of another Dodgers' championship victory. He has an unusual profile that is highly dependent on making contact, but he's nonetheless considered one of the better catching prospects in the game. Ruiz, who turned 22 in July, appeared in two games with the Dodgers in August: he recorded two knocks, including a home run on the third pitch he saw in the majors.
Josh Sborz was the 74th pick in the 2015 draft, which is notable because of who was selected after him. Think back to the NL Championship Series, and you might remember Braves lefty A.J. Minter tearing through the Dodgers in a surprise Game 5 start (that the Dodgers won anyway). Yes, Minter was selected 75th, literally one after Sborz, back in 2015. Ah well. While Sborz isn't likely to deliver a performance that memorable anytime soon, if ever, his fastball-slider combination could be enough for him to have a career in middle relief. The average score differential upon his entrance in his four big-league outings this season was 4.75 runs, suggesting the Dodgers view him as their version of a prevent defense.
We played this game with Sborz, so it's only fair to play it with Mitch White, too. Do you know who was selected right before White in the 2016 draft? Pete Alonso. Do you know who was selected right after White? Bo Bichette. The Dodgers have ample reasons to suppress or ignore the pang of regret that surfaced when reading those names. Part of that is because White still could become a notable big-league contributor. He's battled with injury and inconsistency throughout his career, but if he can stay healthy and right he could be a solid reliever. White appeared in two games for the Dodgers this season; he struck out two of the 11 batters he faced.