The Defector World Series MVP Is The Gink
1:33 PM EDT on November 2, 2023
After an optimism-inducing thriller of a Game 1 win for Texas, and an emphatic equalizer for Arizona in Game 2, the Rangers traveled west to take hold of the World Series and never let go. With three straight victories in Phoenix, adding to their unbelievably flawless record on the road in these playoffs, they clinched the first championship in franchise history. The 2023 Rangers are a monument to the virtues of spending money and actually trying, and yet at the end of their championship run there is only one player truly deserving of Defector's special recognition. That man is Arizona relief pitcher Kevin "The Gink" Ginkel, who was beautiful, brawny perfection. Despite his team's shortcomings, he was faultless.
Ginkel has worked for the D-Backs since his MLB debut back in 2019, and his statistics have risen and fallen in concert with the club's overall record. This year, he was their most consistently effective option out of the bullpen, knee-capping opposing hitters with a slider that broke their Y axis. If they could make contact on Gink's stuff, it usually only produced a fieldable ground ball, and as a result he led the D-Backs with a 176 ERA+, a 0.980 WHIP, and a melatonin-like win-loss record of 9-1.
The playoffs can make good relievers into scapegoats, but Gink shined under the bright lights. Announcing himself by striking out the side while holding a 4-3 lead against the Brewers in Game 1's bottom of the eighth, Ginkel had one shaky outing in his follow-up but still, over the course of the entire postseason, did not allow a single run, earned or otherwise, across 11.2 innings of extremely high-leverage action. In the seventh and the eighth, he would the slam door and swallow the key. It's no coincidence that, in his octet of appearances through the wild card, NLDS, and NLCS, the Diamondbacks came away with the win every time.
Game 1 of the World Series brought more of the same, until Paul Sewald blew the ninth. Ginkel entered to protect a 5-3 lead and did the job right. Adolis García got on, because he does that, and a one-out walk made it interesting. But a weak flyout and a jammed groundout threw cold water on Texas for the time being.
Then the Gink wasn't there anymore. Through Games 2-4, Torey Lovullo refused to unleash the Gink. He stayed on the shelf as the series got tied 1-1, and then when the Rangers took an early 3-0 lead that held for the Game 3 win, and again when Ryne Nelson was mopping up a massive blowout in Game 4. "Where is the Gink?" we asked in chorus. But finally, on Wednesday, the Gink returned to do his part in a nailbiter. Though Sewald again lost control in the ninth, Ginkel powered through a scary spot to stop a 1-0 margin from growing any larger. Entering with one out in the seventh, and men in the corners, Ginkel quickly got the man at third in a pickle off a groundout, then induced a benign pop fly to end the inning. In the eighth, dealing with the same relatively unfamiliar deficit, Ginkel got a little frisky by loading the bases but still managed a gorgeous dipping K on Evan Carter and then an ugly groundout by Mitch Garver. The Rangers might have been able to touch the Gink, but they couldn't harm the Gink.
World Series MVP honors went to Corey Seager for his awesome power, and he was assuredly the best of the several Rangers who got their licks in. But no one can deny the value of the Gink to the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he pitched, the other guys never scored, and also when he pitched, everyone at this site drove themselves crazy, yelling "The Gink!" over and over again. He was a bulwark and a meme all at once, and though the D-Backs' performance in this Fall Classic was a forgettable disappointment, we will always remember the Gink. He is, officially, our first-ever Defector World Series MVP, presented by Color Star. Congrats, Kevin. You earned it.