The Astros are a machine, but the Phillies have the magic

Prediction: Magic wins in 6.


Philly will need to lean heavily on the twin pillars of slugging and starting pitching, because Houston looks better in just about every other area. Defensively, it’s not even a contest (and we wouldn’t expect it to be), as the Astros ranked No. 5 in fielding runs above average during the regular season while the Phillies ranked 28th. And although the much-maligned Philadelphia bullpen has improved from its perennially abominable reputation in previous seasons — or even earlier this season — it has still lagged behind the Astros during both the regular season (Houston was No. 3 in relief WAR; Philly was No. 12) and the postseason.

All of this makes sense: Houston is plainly the better all-around team on paper. Based on game-by-game odds, the Astros even have a 12 percent chance of sweeping the series and going undefeated in the entire postseason, a feat not accomplished since 1976. But that doesn’t mean the Phillies don’t have a chance. After upset World Series losses in 2019 and 2021, the Astros should know by now that every Fall Classic underdog has its day — a truism more accurate now than ever.