Arena: Top 5 MLB's World Series Contenders
The trade deadline has come and gone and the home stretch of the long, grueling MLB season is upon us. Looking to separate themselves from other contenders, many teams made moves for starting pitchers like Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray in an attempt to bolster their respective rotations.
Now that some major moves have been made, a clear MLB hierarchy is becoming clear. Only a few teams have a serious shot at winning the World Series, so we decided to put together a list of the MLB’s top contenders. If your team didn’t make the cut, there’s always next year.
Don’t look now, but the Diamondbacks are rounding into form and quickly making a case as darkhorse contenders.
Paul Goldschmidt continues to do Paul Goldschmidt things, but the real surprise here is the outstanding pitching of Zach Godley. Godley started the season as a triple-A afterthought, but now he’s 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA and has the third lowest Batting Average Allowed in the MLB. If he can continue to perform at this high level, a playoff rotation of Zach Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Godley could be menacing.
WIth all the pitching promise on this roster, the D-Backs decided to use the deadline to fill out their outfield by trading for right fielder J.D. Martinez. With Martinez in tow, the Diamondbacks’ could have one of the best lineups in the league. With Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Martinez as the 3-4-5, Arizona should scare pitchers to death.
There’s no way the D-Backs catch the Dodgers in the NL West, but a wildcard berth is almost guaranteed at this point.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are certainly a great team – they just don’t quite make the top five cut.
They added Addison Reed and Eduardo Nunez to bolster their depth, but with the moves the Yankees made, the Red Sox may not be able to keep pace. One week prior to the deadline, Boston was projected to beat the Yankees in the AL East standings by two games. Now, they are projected to lose the East by two games.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, the Red Sox still have one of the most talented teams in the league and have a roster filled with youth and upside.
If their starting pitching rotation can reach preseason expectations, the Sox have a clear title opportunity. But the lack of deadline movement definitely hurts their chances.
No. 5: Chicago Cubs
The defending champs have been dominant since the All-Star break, going 14-4 and putting themselves back on top in the NL Central. They added Jose Quintana to shore up their starting pitching rotation, which should help immensely in the playoffs when the rotation shortens from five to four.
Chicago also added some solid depth in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, picking up a catcher Alex Avila and a relief pitcher in Justin Wilson. Wilson could prove particularly valuable as a setup man who can help step into the closer role if need be.
If the Cubs new additions can help them continue this hot streak, nobody will want to face them in the playoffs.
No. 4: New York Yankees
The clear winners of the trade deadline, New York managed to make big moves without having to sacrifice any of their key prospects.
The Bronx Bombers starting pitchers have been below-par, so they grabbed two new starters to shore up a rotation that now looks promising. Sonny Gray is obviously the Yankees crown jewel. He’s been inconsistent this season, but when he’s on, he’s a bonafide ace who will be under team control through 2019. In addition to grabbing Gray, the Yankees filled out their rotation with Jaime Garcia. Garcia has wins in each of his last three starts and is a solid bottom of the rotation starter.
Now that New York has some semblance of serviceable pitching, they should stop giving up the leads their young hitters have granted them.
Let’s be honest though, if Aaron Judge can continue his Babe Ruth impression, the Yanks are a definite threat to grab their 28th World Series championship.
No. 3: Washington Nationals
People have soured on the Nationals as a contender because of their poor track record in the playoffs, but you simply cannot discredit the depth of this team.
Bryce Harper continues to look like a strong candidate for the NL MVP and is backed by the hot-hitting Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. The Nats have a rare combination of plus-power and plus-contact that makes them scary for any pitcher to face.
On the flipside, this last month they’ve added three new relievers to the mix, highlighted by the last-minute acquisition of former Twins closer Brandon Kintzler. The 33 year-old has converted 28 of his 32 save opportunities this season and gives manager Dusty Baker some versatility on the back-end.
The Nationals are a team without any weaknesses. If they can get past their former postseason disappointments, this could be the year they finally break through.
No. 2: Houston Astros
The Astros were surprisingly quiet at the trade deadline. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Houston is first in the MLB in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentages. Their starting lineup is filled with the kind of youth, upside and power, that could carry any team to playoff contention. But their pitching hasn’t slacked off either. They are fourth in the league in Batting Average Allowed and sixth in Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched. They probably could have improved their bullpen or chased one of the big name starting pitchers available, but it seems Houston would rather not give up any of their top prospects.
Since this team is so young and already so good, they have afford to play the long game. Even if they don’t win it all this year, they are set up to be dominant for years to come.
No. 1: Los Angeles Dodgers
As a San Francisco Giants fan I hate having to write this, but it has become fairly obvious that the Dodgers are the best team in baseball.
They already had a case to be considered the best before the deadline, and now that they’ve added Yu Darvish, their playoff rotation could be the best in the last decade. The crazy thing is, they managed to swindle Darvish away from Texas without even giving up one of their prized prospects.
Once Clayton Kershaw returns from injury, the Dodgers will have Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu as their sixth and seventh best starting pitchers. When you consider that those two would be solid No. 3s on most MLB teams, you realize how ridiculously stacked this team has become.
LA is running away with the NL West and should lock up the No. 1 seed fairly soon. They look poised to bring a title back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988.