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Road to the World Series 2017

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Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games have been played. And a of this writing, just 10 remain with a chance to take home a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league’s teams have packed it in and headed home for a long winter of wondering what might have been and awaiting the arrival of next spring and the ever-present hope that that season brings.

But now, it’s time to look ahead to what this postseason might bring.

Rather than trying to put together a series-by-series breakdown, we’re instead going to take a general look at the respective championship chances of all 10 remaining teams, ranking their World Series likelihoods in ascending order.

It’s all guesswork, obviously, though it should be noted that our MLB season preview back in March accurately predicted all six division winners (and none of the wild card teams, but still…). This means, of course, that this list will almost certainly turn out to be laughably inaccurate.

(Note: As of press time, the two wild card games had yet to be played. Thus, all four Wild Card teams are included on this list.)

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10 - Minnesota Twins

Somebody’s got to be last on the list. The Twins have had a heck of a run, but they’re almost certainly not going to continue it much beyond the first week of October. But hey – they lost 103 games last year and now they’re in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. There’s reason for future optimism in Minnesota.

9 - Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 thanks to an explosive-as-usual offense and some surprising performances out of a trio of young starting pitchers. But while guys like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon might get some MVP votes, they won’t be enough to push things much beyond this point.

8 - Arizona Diamondbacks

Truthfully, if the D-Backs had to go to Colorado for the play-in game, this would be a different story. But they don’t, so they get the less potent road Rockies. Plus, they have the benefit of stud starter Zack Greinke taking the mound. Still, even with a superstar like Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, the Diamondbacks probably don’t go much farther.

7 - New York Yankees

Out of the four Wild Card teams, the Yankees easily have the highest potential to go on a run. They’ve got an erstwhile ace in Luis Severino and one of the game’s most talented bullpens. Oh, and a record-breaking rookie slugger in Aaron Judge. They’re a flawed team, but they’re also a scary one; no one is going to want to play them in a longer series.

6 - Boston Red Sox

It hurts my heart to have the Red Sox ranked this low, but while I love this team, they’ve lacked consistency. Sure, Chris Sale is one of the two best starting pitchers in the AL. But the lineup is prone to slumps. They’re lacking in power as well. If the hitters get hot and Drew Pomeranz steps up, who knows what’ll happen? But as of now, they’re last among division winners.

5 - Chicago Cubs

Seems weird to have the reigning champs ranked this low on the list. However, the Cubs haven’t performed up to the level of last year’s squad. And while they’ve got elite performers – Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo chief among them – the pitching has taken a step back. This is still a good team, but it doesn’t feel like a World Series winner.

4 - Washington Nationals

Of all of these picks, this is the one that feels the most potentially volatile. The truth is that the Nationals have an outstanding playoff rotation – Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg are as terrifying a trio as any in the majors. If Bryce Harper is healthy and the rest of the lineup plays up, Washington might turn out to be the best of the bunch.

3 - Houston Astros

I love this Astros team. They’re young and they’re talented and they’re a hell of a lot of fun to watch. And in any other year, a team like this – one that features elite offensive talents like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa and George Springer to go with starters like Dallas Keuchel and the unhittable-since-acquired Justin Verlander – would be a favorite. Alas, the next two teams are even better.

2 - Los Angeles Dodgers

For a while, it looked like this team had a shot at a historic season. Thanks to a 1-16 stretch, they had to settle for merely great. With all-timer Clayton Kershaw leading a strong rotation and Kenley Jansen closing things out, the pitching is exceptional. And a lineup led by presumptive ROY Cody Bellinger and guys like Corey Seager and Justin Turner is great as well. A great team, but not as great as …

1 - Cleveland Indians

These guys. The Indians might not quite measure up on paper to the Dodgers, although it’s close. The Corey Kluber/Carlos Carrasco/Trevor Bauer rotation trio looks pretty darned good. So does the one-two bullpen punch of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. The offense is led by Jose Martinez, Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion. Oh, and they have an elite defense too. Add it all up and Cleveland looks poised to avenge last year’s World Series loss and win their first championship since 1948.

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