With the 2017 season in the books, 10 teams have earned their way into the postseason with the chance to win it all. Who is primed for a deep run, and who will fall short? Let’s take a look at each of the teams competing to be named 2017 World Series champs.
Minnesota Twins (85-77)
What a difference a year can make. Last season, the Twins were the worst team in baseball, finishing with a record of 59-103. This year they are in the postseason via the Wild Card. Minnesota pulled away in the AL Wild Card race the final few weeks of the season after what had been a tight race entering September. Now they enter the one game playoff against the Yankees behind their ace Ervin Santana.
New York Yankees (91-71)
The Bronx Bombers have lived up to the name this season, pacing the MLB with 241 home runs. Rookie slugger Aaron Judge led the way with 52 home runs, followed by Gary Sanchez (33), Didi Gregorius (25) and Brett Gardner (21). That powerful offense, coupled with starters like Luis Severino and newly acquired Sonny Gray could be a force to be reckoned with.
Boston Red Sox (93-69)
Chris Sale is a strong AL Cy Young contender and has lead, not only the team, but all of baseball with 308 strikeouts. Only Corey Kluber had a lower ERA (2.25) than Sale’s 2.90 in the AL. The AL East champions finished second in the league with a 3.70 team ERA behind Cleveland’s 3.30. Their offense has scored the sixth most runs in the league. But look out for their base running as well, they finished third in the league with 106 swiped bags.
Houston Astros (101-61)
This Houston team is easily one of the best in baseball. The Astros had the highest scoring offense in the league with 896 runs scored. They also had the most hits with 1,581 and led the AL in all three slash stats at .282/.346/.478. On top of all that, they had the fewest strikeouts with 1,087. To complement their powerful offense, the Astros added Justin Verlander at the August 31 trade deadline. That addition to the rotation, around the likes of Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Francisco Liriano, makes up what may just be the team to beat in the American League.
Cleveland Indians (102-60)
The Astros were hands down the best team in the American League going in to August. Then the Indians rattled off 22 wins in a row to boost themselves into having home field advantage through the AL side of the playoffs. The Indians capped off 2017 with a league best 3.30 team ERA, 564 runs against, 1,614 strikeouts and 406 walks. On the offensive side of the game, the tribe is second in the league to Houston with the slash .263/.339/.449. With all the talent in the American League, the top two teams are clearly Houston and Cleveland. An ALCS matchup between the two would pose the league’s top offense in the Astros against the top pitching staff in the Indians.
Colorado Rockies (87-75)
The Rockies hung on to grab the second Wild Card spot by only a game over the Milwaukee Brewers. Colorado was led by another powerful offense, seeing Charlie Blackmon lead the NL with a batting average of .331. Blackmon and Nolan Arenado each slugged 37 home runs while Arenado also drove in 130 runs. Per usual, their offense was coupled with a sub par pitching staff. The Rox will send their ace Jon Gray to the hill, but it will be up to their offense to win the game.
Arizona Diamondbacks (93-69)
Arizona’s pitching staff is second only to the Dodgers with an ERA of 3.66, 659 runs against and 1,482 strikeouts. Their staff includes the likes of Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Taijuan Walker and Patrick Corbin, all of whom made at least 25 starts. If they make it past the Wild Card game, the D-Backs will be tough to beat for that reason alone. The only thing that holds them back is their inconsistent offense, however they still scored 812 runs which is good for fourth in the NL.
Chicago Cubs (92-70)
After winning a long awaited World Series in 2016, many believed the Cubs were destined to repeat in 2017. While the 2017 team didn’t produce to the same level as the 2016 team, the Cubs will still be a strong contender in the playoffs. The majority of the team was retained from their championship team, and experience has shown to be important when it comes to the playoffs. Don’t look past the Cubs that scored the second most runs (822) and allowed the second lowest batting average against (.238) in the NL.
Washington Nationals (97-65)
The Nationals didn’t dominate on a specific side of the field like other teams did in 2017. This is a very well rounded team, though, finishing top three in several categories. This includes runs (819), hits (1,477), RBI (796), batting average (.266), slugging percentage (.449), ERA (3.88), strikeouts (1,457) and WHIP (1.24). This creates a team that plays very consistently. Their only weakness has been their defense. In 2017, they have posted a defensive runs saved of -39, putting them 24th in baseball. They’re defensive play could make or break their playoff run.
Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58)
Despite scuffling a bit in September, the Dodgers finished with the best record in baseball. However, they turned things in the right direction to end the season, winning eight of their final 10 games to secure home field advantage throughout the postseason. Los Angeles had the best pitching staff in baseball with a team ERA of 3.38 and 1,549 strikeouts while allowing 580 runs, all league bests. Their offense was only the sixth best scoring offense in the NL with 770 runs scored. That didn’t stop them from winning 104 games, and who knows, they say pitching wins ballgames.
AL Wild Card – Twins
Minnesota Twins defeat New York Yankees
NL Wild Card – Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks defeat Colorado Rockies
ALDS – Astros
Houston Astros defeat Boston Red Sox in four
ALDS – Indians
Cleveland Indians defeat Minnesota Twins in three
NLDS – Cubs
Chicago Cubs defeat Washington Nationals in four
NLDS – Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Arizona Diamondbacks in five
ALCS – Indians
Cleveland Indians Defeat Houston Astros in six
NLCS – Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Chicago Cubs in five
World Series – Indians
Cleveland Indians defeat Los Angeles Dodgers in six
That’s right Indians fans, yours truly predicts Cleveland to finally bring home a World Series championship for the first time since 1948. They have been playing the best baseball through the month of September, and sometimes all a team needs in order to be successful in the postseason is to get hot at the right time. The Indians have the perfect storm brewing. It’s hard to bet against the team with the second best record in baseball that also won 33 of its final 37 games.