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A hair-raising way to pick a World Series winner

A hair-raising way to pick a World Series winner
In the battle of the beards, Brian Wilson, right, and the Dodgers are more than a whisker or two ahead of playoff rival Jason Motte and the Cardinals. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Don’t be surprised if the World Series is decided by a whisker. Or, more accurately, whiskers.

According to research from STATS Inc., the team with the higher percentage of facial hair has won each of the last four World Series. And that could be good news for both the Dodgers and the Angels.

With J.P. Howell, Brian Wilson and Chris Perez, the Dodgers' bullpen had more bushy, unkempt beards than a pirate ship this season. Add in Hanley Ramirez, Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke, the Van Dyke of Adrian Gonzalez, the scruff of Dan Haren and Clayton Kershaw as well as Matt Kemp's 5 o’clock shadow and the Dodgers are bristling with bristle.

Plus the Dodgers will be playing a Cardinals team that may have hurt its chances at becoming baseball’s hair apparent when they cut reliever Jason Motte and his prestigious chin mullet.

Razors are even less popular in the Angels clubhouse, where 20 players sport facial hair. Pitcher Matt Shoemaker, for example, was not only one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, he also has one of the best beards. Jered Weaver’s scruff is peach fuzz by comparison.

Other hair-raising Angels include Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Kevin Jepsen, Jason Grilli, Chris Iannetta, Josh Hamilton and Fernando Salas. Mike Trout, on the other hand, remains clean-shaven, partly because he may be too young to grow facial hair.

Last year, all but two of the 25 players on the World Series champion Boston Red Sox roster had facial hair. Among the bearded was MVP David Ortiz, the third bearded MVP in as many postseasons.

Since the arrival of Wilson’s free-flowing beard with the San Francisco Giants in 2010, nine of the last 11 World Series saves have gone to hairy hurlers; 16 of the last 17 pitchers to win a World Series game had facial hair -- more good news for the likes of Kershaw, Shoemaker and Weaver.

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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