It's not often the biggest moment of an entire World Series is a manager's decision, but that was the case for the 2020 Fall Classic.
Rather than spending Wednesday evening playing the Tampa Bay Rays in a decisive Game 7, the Los Angeles Dodgers were celebrating their title following a victory in Tuesday's Game 6. Had Rays manager Kevin Cash trusted what was unfolding on the field, things may have been different.
Cash elected to remove starting pitcher Blake Snell with a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning even though he threw just 73 pitches. The 2018 American League Cy Young winner was completely dialed in and appeared ready to force a Game 7.
Instead, he went with reliever Nick Anderson, who gave up a Mookie Betts double, threw a wild pitch that tied the game and allowed a run-scoring fielder's choice to lose the lead and the series for good.
While Cash's decision will be debated for years, there were plenty of memorable showings from players on both sides as well.
With that in mind, here is a look at the top stars, stats and highlights for both teams. Stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Corey Seager (World Series MVP): .400/.556/.700, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 7 R, 1 SB
- Mookie Betts: .269/.321/.577, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 R, 4 SB
- Justin Turner: .320/.346/.720, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 R
- Max Muncy: .318/.444/.500, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 3 R
- Joc Pederson: .400/.500/.700, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 R
- Clayton Kershaw: 2.31 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 14 K, 11.2 IP
- Walker Buehler: 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 10 K, 6.0 IP
- Julio Urias: 2.57 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 13 K, 7.0 IP
One look at those stat lines show why the Dodgers won the World Series.
They were 3-0 in games Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler started, which is exactly what every team is looking for from their top two starters in a postseason series. Kershaw in particular was notable since the narrative he cannot win in the postseason has hovered over much of his career.
Rather than give in, he was brilliant in his two starts and served as a feel-good story for even casual fans.
Offensively, Betts was everything the Dodgers could have hoped for when they traded for him. He drilled a home run, stole two bases and scored two runs in Game 1, played excellent defense in the outfield and had a key role in the sixth inning of the clincher with the double off Anderson and the run on the fielder's choice.
Just for good measure, he hit a home run in the eighth inning to provide key insurance.
While Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson also brought the power in the Dodgers' daunting lineup, it was Corey Seager who won the World Series MVP with a sparkling slash line and multiple home runs.
In Game 4 alone, he went 4-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBI and also notched a crucial RBI in Game 5 as the Dodgers swung the series in their favor.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Randy Arozarena: .364/.462/.773, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 5 R
- Kevin Kiermaier: .368/.400/.737, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 R
- Manuel Margot: .316/.381/.368, 2 BB, 3 R
- Blake Snell: 2.70 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 18 K, 10.0 IP
- Diego Castillo: 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2 K, 1 SV, 2.2 IP
From an individual standpoint, nobody took a bigger step career-wise than Randy Arozarena in these playoffs.
The 25-year-old was a relative unknown who appeared in just 19 games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2019 season. What's more, his 2020 debut for the Rays was delayed until Aug. 30 because of positive COVID-19 tests.
The outfielder is now a household name.
All he did in the playoffs was set the all-time record for hits and home runs in a single postseason, proving nearly impossible to get out throughout series against the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Dodgers.
Arozarena did what he could in Game 6 as well with a solo homer, his 10th of the playoffs, and it may have been enough if Snell remained in the game.
Alas, the southpaw did not, although his stat line also stood out for the Rays with 18 strikeouts in 10 innings.