Only the strong survive in MLB and despite so many Offseason moves and hope in the air as Pitchers and Catchers prepare to report for Spring Training, the ugly truth is that only a handful of richer clubs really have a chance of winning the World Series yearly. Let’s look at five teams who honestly look like they may have a chance to make it to the Fall Classic.
The New York Yankees added 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and his big bat (.289/59/132) to a lineup that already had Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez, providing the Bronx Bombers with three of the biggest bats and a modern day Murderer’s Row bound to thrive in tiny Yankee Stadium. And to get to the World Series in the AL, that may mean having to go through the defending champion Houston Astros who were an absolute Offensive juggernaut last MLB Regular Season, something New York should be able to accomplish with the Astros hard-pressed to have such another prolific season at the plate and the Yanks having pushed 858 Runs of their own across the plate in the 2017 Regular Season.
New York Manager Aaron Boone may realize early on that Defense along with his Middle and Relief Pitching may be the thing(s) that stop his Yankees (+198 RD in 2017) from getting to and winning the ALCS and earning a trip to the 2018 World Series. Expect this club to be in the mix throughout, especially after last season’s memories.
Houston Astros, AL
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros can certainly get back to the Fall Classic with that wonderful combination of things teams need to be playing baseball in late October these days. But one problem for the Astros (101-61 in 2017) this coming season may be the emergence of the Los Angeles Angels (80-82 in 2017) and the continued evolution of the Seattle Mariners (78-84) In their own dangerous AL West.
Besides navigating the choppy waters of the AL West, Carlos Correa and Houston (+196 RD) will also have to get good years at the plate from younger players like George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Marwin González, Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick but this team is starting to really gel and enjoy playing together as a unit in Houston and adding Gerrit Cole (Pirates) to a Starting Pitching Staff that already had Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr. and Dallas Keuchel may bring out the best in all of them. And if the Astros can remain relatively Injury-free and win on the Road like they did last season (53-28), then the sky is the limit. Again.
Los Angeles Dodgers, NL
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. The Los Angeles Dodgers will look to continue the success they had in 2017 and although some familiar names might not be on this season’s presumed younger-looking Roster, Los Angeles decide to go out and bring back OF Matt Kemp to play with budding stars at Dodger Stadium where this club went an MLB-best 57-24 at Home in 2017, bolstered by an incredible Starting Pitching staff that featured longtime Ace Clayton Kershaw (18-4), Alex Wood (17-3), Yu Darvish (4-3), Rich Hill (12-8) and Kenta Maeda (13-6) and killer Closer Kenley Jansen (41 Saves).
And Darvish may be re-signed and Free Agent Jake Arrieta (Cubs) has been rumored to potentially be joining the Dodgersand happy-go-lucky and calm Manager Dave Roberts, so expect another 93+ or near-100-win Regular Season and expected Postseason appearance as NL West champions. And should Kemp show anything of his former self and Puig have another tremendous season at beautiful Chavez Ravine, we may be looking at the team to beat in the Senior Circuit for quite some time with some names fans and bettors alike will really start to know. How can this ultra-deep team not have another extraordinary season? General Manager Farhan Zaidi must feel like a kid in a candy store at times at times and this is evolving into one of those teams others watch to see who they let go, snatching up perceived (now) third-string players to probably start for the teams on their own dusty diamonds.
Los Angeles Angels, AL
The Los Angeles Angels have had a very productive Offseason, signing Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani along with SS Zack Cozart (Reds) in the Free Agent marketplace and trading for 2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers) this Hot Stove Offseason as well as for OF Justin Upton (Diamondbacks) during last season. So, Los Angeles will wait to see if the 23-year-old Ohtani can hit MLB pitching and work into a Starting Rotation every 4 or 5 starts, but, hey, that was the point in inking the former Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (NPB) star in the first place and adding him to an underrated Roster that includes two veteran studs in CF Mike Trout and living MLB legend and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols (DH) as well as some young bats like RF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Garrett Richards, C Martín Maldonado and 1B CJ Cron.
Ohtani will get loads of press early on, but over a 162-game schedule, the addition of Cozart and Kinsler, the production from Simmons, Calhoun and Cron and the health of the 36-year-old and two-time AL MVP Trout and the 38-year-old Pujols will likely be much more important factors for the Halos (13/1 to win AL Pennant, 5Dimes) with any first-year contributions from Ohtani at the Plate or on the Rubber a needed bonus that can give this club the Depth and Energy to make a run at winning the AL West. With Manager Mike Scioscia and Owner Arte Moreno and the second-largest market in the country behind them and anticipating improvement after this active Offseason, perhaps we will have an all-La La Land, Los Angeles Dodgers-Los Angeles Angels World Series in 2018 if everything goes right in SoCal in the Fall (+4450, 5Dimes)?San Francisco Giants, NL
This came down to a decision between the Chicago Cubs (+1025 to win World Series, 5Dimes), St. Louis Cardinals (20/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes), Arizona Cardinals (25/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes), Washington Nationals (7/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) and the San Francisco Giants (+3250 to win World Series, 5Dimes) in the NL and the Boston Red Sox (13/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) and the Cleveland Indians (8/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) in the AL, and with three teams from the Junior Circuit already on a list of five, tabbing a club from the Junior Circuit which could beat, and wouldn’t be scared of the aforementioned Dodgers in a theoretical NLDS or NLCS was the Rx and rebuilding Los Gigantes fit the bill. San Francisco and Giants GM Bobby Evans signed OF Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) and 3B Evan Longoria (Rays) to bolster the Giants Roster and this team from The City By The Bay that got used to winning World Series championships and rings in even-numbered seasons (2010, 2012, 2014).
But even the Giants (15/1 to win NL, 5Dimes) and Manager Bruce Bochy bringing veterans McCutchen and Longoria to at AT&T Park and their big bats, solid defense and leadership in the clubhouse to go with guys like team stalwarts Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Hunter Pence, San Francisco’s Pitching and playing above .500 against the likes of the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies in the NL West could be the key as San Francisco will likely be playing for a Wild Card spot from fairly early on unless the starting Pitching beyond Bumgarner-Cueto is outstanding. Still, this is a team that can beat the Cubs, Cardinals, Snakes or Los Doyers in October and not be scared of the Bronx Bombers, defending champion Astros or my potential spoiler Halos in the Fall. And, it’s still only February and the back burner on the Hot Stove is still turned on.2018 MLB WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS FREE FUTURES VALUE PICKS: Angels +2800 & Giants +3250Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes