Left-handed reliever Will Smith (not to be confused with the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher, or the actor/rapper) finished the 2023 season sipping World Series champagne for the third straight year on Wednesday, making some wild history in the process.
Smith is the first player in not just MLB history, but across all of the big four North American sports leagues, to appear in at least one game for three different championship-winning teams in consecutive seasons, according to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs.
The 34-year-old Smith played for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants for the first eight years of his career. He left the Royals two years before they won the 2015 title, and joined the Giants two years after their last title in 2014. He finally hit paydirt with the Braves, with whom he signed a three-year, $39 million deal ahead of the 2020 season.
Smith served as closer for the 2021 Braves and was untouchable that postseason, not allowing a single run in 11 appearances.
He was less good the next season, eventually getting traded away after accruing a 4.38 ERA and three blown saves in eight tries. That team was, fortunately, the Astros, who used Smith down the stretch in the regular season but left him on the bench for the entire postseason. Smith still got his ring.
This season, the Rangers signed Smith to a one-year, $1.5 million contract and got a performance similar to last year. He posted a 4.40 ERA as one of the most-used relievers in a below-average Texas bullpen, but still made five appearances this postseason. He posted a 10.80 ERA in those appearances, but again, the ring still counts.
Smith spent a few years as one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, but has fallen off in recent years. The beauty of baseball made that not matter, and now he has a unique place in sports history.
And a somewhat compelling argument for why a team should take a chance on him this offseason.
More wild stats from the Rangers’ World Series win
The presence of Smith isn’t the only statistical oddity the Rangers produced this postseason.
The team had a wild route to the title, entering the playoffs with a thud after losing the AL West title on the final day of the regular season then catching fire as soon as the game started truly counting. Here are some new facts now that the Rangers have hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy:
The Rangers won 11 consecutive road games, the longest such streak in postseason history. Their +42 run differential on the road is also the highest in a single postseason.
Rookie outfielder Evan Carter hit nine doubles this postseason, an MLB record.
The Rangers homered in 16 straight postseason games, the longest streak in history.
Shortstop Corey Seager joined Reggie Jackson as the only position players to win two World Series MVPs. They’re also the only two players to win the award with different teams.
The Rangers went 68-94 last year, the worst previous-year record for a World Series champion in history.
Manager Bruce Bochy is the first manager to win a World Series for and against the same team, having defeated the Rangers in 2010 with the San Francisco Giants. He’s also the sixth manager in history to win four titles.
The most fun stat of all, though, is that this is the Rangers’ first championship, which is a special moment for every franchise. The only MLB teams left without a title are the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies. The Rangers were the previously oldest franchise in that group, an honor which is now a tie between the Padres and Brewers.