With the 2017 Major League Baseball season under way it’s time for Cubs fans to start thinking about the season ahead. It’s hard, I know. Last fall brought with it everything a die-hard fan could want complete with a nearly unfathomable storybook ending. But the Cubs have found their way to 2017, we should too.
A look at the World Series odds point to another Chicago Cubs World Series title in 2017. The lineup is stacked with star hitters, defensive wizards scatter the field and, with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey back for at least one more season, the pitching staff is armed for dominance. But don’t kid yourself Cubs faithful, there are legitimate contenders across the majors looking to dethrone the champs.
In the National League the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, New York Mets and San Fransisco Giants will all try to bring down the reigning champions. The Dodgers return basically the same team that won ninety-one games along with the NL West last season. With Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen starting and closing out games, respectively, again this season the Dodgers won’t go down without a fight. If their pitching staff stays healthy in 2017 the Nationals will be hard to beat come October. Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer along with Geo Gonzalez and Tanner Roark can match up against almost any staff in the league. Will the Mets have the offensive fire power to keep up with their NL competition? If Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker bring the same level of power to the 2017 season they’ll certainly stand a chance. Out of the National League elite, the Giants have the best chance at getting to the World Series. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija combined for forty-five wins last season. That troika, plus Matt Moore, have the pitching talent that pairs well with an offensive collection of consistent performers.
Tough competition lies within the ranks of the American League where the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox will compete for the AL pennant in 2017. Last season’s pennant winners aren’t too happy with how their 2016 ended. The Indians pitching staff, lead once again by Corey Kluber, will bring the same talent and intensity to 2017 that they did last season. And look out for shortstop Francisco Lindor to carry the offense and challenge for an AL MVP award this summer. The Astros finished third in the AL West last season–expect Houston to leap to the top of the AL West this year. Why? They’ve surrounded young talent–Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve–with vets like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann to form a poised, prepared lineup that will win a lot of games this season. There’s no doubt that the lineup will look strange without David Ortiz in the DH spot but Red Sox Nation is excited about another year of Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts roaming the outfield. And with the offseason trade for former-White Sox ace Chris Sale the Red Sox have piled more talent onto a pitching staff that already boasts David Price and Rick Porcello. Speaking of the White Sox, do the South Siders stand a chance in the American League? No way but that’s alright. For the first time in a long time White Sox brass is allowing themselves the space to rebuild the right way so they can challenge for a World Series ring again in the near future.
So which club will win the 2017 World Series championship? Winning back-to-back championships is a Major League Baseball rarity–the Yankees did it way back in 2000. But the World Series odds just make too much sense going into this season. With a deeply talented lineup the Cubs will win the NL Central by double-digits. Joe Maddon will have the luxury of resting pitchers and moving position players in-and-out of the lineup leading up to another fall playoff run. Maddon’s ability to play with all the pieces of the chessboard that Theo Epstein collected will prove too much for the rest of Major League Baseball.