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Road to the World Series 2018

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Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games (and a couple of 163s) have been played. And as 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 have in store for us.

Rather than trying to put together a series-by-series breakdown, let us 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 – heck, if I knew anything, I’d have gotten more than six out of the 10 playoff teams right in our MLB season preview back in March. I feel reasonably good about these new rankings, so this list will almost certainly turn out to be laughably inaccurate.

But hey – fortune favors the bold.

(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 - Colorado Rockies

It’s not just that I think they’ll have lost this game before this paper hits the streets (although I do think that). It’s that they don’t really bring a ton to the table. Sure, Kyle Freeland might have just had the best season ever by a Rockies starter and Nolan Arenado is a hell of a talent, but … that’s kind of it. A good season that’s probably already over by the time you read this.

9 - Chicago Cubs

My American League bias is definitely showing here, but I have a tough time picking either of the AL Wild Card teams for this spot. The Cubs feel disappointing despite winning more games than last year; it seems like much of their talent has underperformed this season. That said, a full playoff series of the new and improved Javy Baez would be a lot of fun.

8 - Oakland Athletics

I actually really like this Oakland team. They’ve shown a ton of resilience over the course of the year and vastly overperformed everyone’s expectations, all with a rock-bottom payroll. They’ve done it with an exceptional bullpen, the league-leading power of Khris Davis and the all-around excellence of Matt Chapman. The only reason they (and the team ahead of them) are so low is because the next round is a buzzsaw.

7 - New York Yankees

I’ve got no love for the Yankees, although the knee-jerk antipathy of the old rivalry days is gone. In truth, this might be the third- or fourth-best team in MLB this year … and they’re not going to make it past the ALDS. They set an all-time record for home runs by a team. They’ve got young talent up and down the lineup and a no-doubt ace in Luis Severino. They’re absolutely a great team, but they almost certainly won’t be great enough.

6 - Los Angeles Dodgers

I’ve got the Dodgers as the least-likely champs from among the division winners. They’re a good team, but they look vulnerable, even having now won six division crowns in a row. Yes, they have Clayton Kershaw, but one wonders if he might feel any lingering injury effects in the more all-out effort of the postseason. They’ve got some hitters, but they’ve gotten a tough matchup in the first round. If guys like Max Muncy can come through, L.A. has a shot. More likely, their season ends here.

5 - Atlanta Braves

I’ll be honest – the Braves flew a bit under my radar this year. They weren’t supposed to have arrived at this level this soon. But with the Nationals once again underperforming, the Mets cratering and the Marlins being the expected amount of awful, the Braves stepped in. That’s not to indicate it is undeserved; they’ve got a shot at having the league’s ROY (Ronald Acuna) and MVP (Freddie Freeman). They’ve got as good a shot as any team in the NL’s postseason chaos.

4 - Cleveland Indians

The Indians are a talented team, even if they did take advantage of a terrible division to cruise into the playoffs. Corey Kluber is as good a starter as there is in the AL; Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco aren’t far behind. Guys like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are absolute studs. The sole reason they’re this low is that they’re going to have to go through two outstanding teams. If Cleveland was in the NL, they’d probably stroll to the Series. As it is, they’re the AL division winner least likely to make that run.

3 - Milwaukee Brewers

And here we have another unexpected contender – and my pick to make it out of the NL scrum and into the World Series. The Brewers spent last offseason making moves, a couple of which – acquiring outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain – wound up bringing legitimate MVP contenders to Milwaukee. Hell, Yelich might win it, one year removed from Marlins purgatory. Their starting pitching is pedestrian, but they’ve got a dynamite bullpen packed with power arms. In today’s MLB, that’s a formula for success.

2 - Houston Astros

If I’m 100 percent honest with myself, the Astros probably should be number one on this list. They’ve got an incredible lineup, one that can produce runs in just about any manner you like. Stars like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa dot the lineup, while starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole head up a formidable rotation. They might have a few bullpen woes, but they’ve got the starters to compensate for those issues. Again – they probably should leapfrog the team ahead of them, but sometimes, you just have to go with your gut.

1 - Boston Red Sox

Yes, it’s a homer pick. And yes, there are a LOT of good teams in the AL this year. But 108 wins is 108 wins. This team looks poised to continue moving strong through the playoffs. The offense is outstanding, led by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, but the team produces from almost every spot in the order. They’ve got some defensive advantages and a Chris Sale-led starting rotation. The bullpen hasn’t been great over the past few weeks, but with these bats, I’m guessing it doesn’t wind up mattering that much. The Sox will slug their way to a World Series title.

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