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Road to the World Series 2016

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Thoughts on this year's MLB playoff teams

The long slog of baseball's regular season has come to an end. As of this writing, just 10 teams remain in the hunt for a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league has returned home to await next spring when, as is often said, hope springs eternal.

Rather than try to go through the postseason series by series, we're instead going to take a totally subjective (and quite likely under-informed) look at all of the 10 remaining teams and rank their World Series title likelihood in ascending order.

Again, this is all guesswork. Though I will say that I didn't do a half-bad job with my regular season predictions this year. I was right on four of six division winners and eight of 10 playoff teams overall a strong performance. Obviously, this means that this story is a disaster waiting to happen, but what can you do?

(Note: As of press time, the two Wild Card games had not yet been played. Thus, both Wild Card teams are included on this list.)

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10 - Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore's bats are definitely scary, but the truth is that they're here largely due to smoke and mirrors. Manager Buck Showalter has worked wonders with a spit-and-baling-wire pitching staff and they can definitely slug enough to make any team nervous but great pitching tends to trump great hitting in October.

9 - New York Mets

The Mets won the pennant last year. It took some late season heroics, but they've put themselves in position to take another swing at it. However, this team thinned considerably by injuries simply doesn't have the bodies to keep up with the rest of the teams in the playoff field. Frankly, if they even make the NLDS, it'll have been due to luck.

8 - Toronto Blue Jays

This seems low for a team that looked to be in the driver's seat for much of the season's second half. And honestly, they've got a lot going for them Josh Donaldson is an MVP candidate leading a lineup of serious hitters. Their pitching isn't quite as impressive, but they're still a really good team one that should get past the Wild Card Game.

7 - Cleveland Indians

Cleveland's biggest problem is the fact that their most talented pitchers are all struggling with injury. Carlos Carrasco is gone for the season. Danny Salazar may or may not be back during the playoffs. And reigning Cy Young winner Cory Kluber has nagging issues as well. Unless Kluber and Salazar can contribute, the Indians postseason run will be a short one.

6 - San Francisco Giants

It's nonsense to rank a Wild Card team one whose performance I won't know until after this story has gone to press over a division winner. However, this is San Francisco we're talking about. It's even-year magic 2010, 2012 and 2014 all saw the Giants end the season on top of the heap. As far as I'm concerned, it's a trend until it isn't.

5 - Los Angeles Dodgers

If I went wholly with my gut, I'd actually put the Giants above the Dodgers here, but ranking them over one division winner was difficult enough (even if San Francisco has owned them recently). But the Dodgers have an exciting young core of their offense and the best pitcher in the universe in Clayton Kershaw. That's enough to make them scary to anyone.

4 - Washington Nationals

They've got the National League's best pitcher not named Kershaw in Max Scherzer and an MVP candidate in Daniel Murphy. Pitcher Tanner Roark had a good year; reigning MVP Bryce Harper slumped, but a down year for him is a solid one for most. There's talent all over the roster and if Scherzer gets hot, he could carry the day, but I don't think he'll be enough.

3 - Texas Rangers

There's a lot of talent on this Rangers roster, including perhaps the best one-two 'veteran with something left in the tank' punch in the postseason with Adrian Beltre and deadline pickup Carlos Beltran. They've also got quality hitters like Jonathan Lucroy, Ian Desmond and Rougned Odor, as well as excellent starters like Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. They're really goodbut not good enough.

2 - Boston Red Sox

My little homer heart is breaking, but I can't put these guys at number one. Yes, they have some phenomenal youngsters in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and the rest. Yes, they have David Ortiz finishing out the greatest retirement tour in MLB history. And yes, they have strong pitching that is peaking at precisely the right time. All true and I think they win the pennant but

1 -Chicago Cubs

these guys look like the best bet to hoist the trophy. We're talking about a team featuring three ace-type pitchers and a closer who throws the ball harder than anyone ever. There are half-a-dozen elite position players on this roster and everybody else is at least above-average. Oh, and they have a great manager and a phenomenal defense. All signs point to the Cubs ending their 108-year championship drought.

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