by Emily Carson
Graphics by Deanna Klima-Rajchel
Fall ball has come and gone, and only two teams will remain in competition to be crowned World Series Champions. Although plenty of teams have already been sent on their way home, now is a good time to reflect upon the seasons of the 10 teams who did make it to the Major League Baseball postseason.
Boston Red Sox (93-69), AL East winner
For the past five years (2012-16) the Sox have either been in first or last place in the American League. They finished fifth in the AL East in 2015 (78-84), but clinched in 2016 (93-69). The only major changes between the seasons’ rosters were adding pitcher David Price and closer Craig Kimbrel. Barry Svrluga’s article in The Washington Post also cites the AL East as the division with “…more weaknesses than strengths…,” so blame it on a weak division or on the “curse”, but the Sox were part of October. Though the Sox were hoping for a ring to send off Boston legend David Ortiz “Big Papi,” they unfortunately were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
Cleveland Indians (94-67), AL Central winner
Though some refuse to see it, the Tribe has talent, including Francisco Lindor, an exceptional fielder and switch-hitter hitting over .300. In Rolling Stone, Andy Frye argues that Lindor is not only crucial to the Indians’ season, but he might be “…just what baseball needs…” to revitalize the game itself. Jason Kipnis, the second baseman, also says there’s “…extra motivation…” as people doubt their chances. The Indians’ trip to the postseason follows the first championship being brought home to Cleveland in over 50 years with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Finals.
Texas Rangers (95-67), AL West winner
On Opening Day, the Rangers had the lowest postseason odds of any AL West Team, yet ended up finishing first in the division (95-67). Players like Yu Darvish and Adrián Beltré have talent, but what’s winning games is attitude. In The Washington Post, Josh Planos writes that “…the Rangers lead the league in clutch batting…,” consistently able to come from behind to win, with a 36-11 record in one-run games. The Rangers were the AL favorite, however couldn’t go the distance in the postseason after losing to the Blue Jays in the ALDS.
Toronto Blue Jays (89-73), AL Wild Card
The Blue Jays are traditionally strong contenders for the postseason. To get there this year, they’ve allowed the fewest runs in the AL and have the best starters in the league, withgreat offense. The Blue Jays need to beat the Orioles to win the Wild Card, which the National Post’s Erika Gilbert argues should be easy because “…the Orioles…are [one of] the weakest teams in the playoffs.” With their talent and easy schedule, the Jays might be a fixture in this postseason.
Baltimore Orioles (89-73), AL Wild Card
The O’s had offensive promise in Mark Trumbo, who leads MLB with 47 homeruns this year. However, during their Wildcard playoff game, manager Buck Showalter refused to use closer Zach Britton (47 saves, most in the AL) and the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnación hit a 3-run walk-off homer. Farewell Orioles, October hardly knew thee.
Chicago Cubs (103-58), NL Central winner
The 2016 Cubs are on track to win their first World Series title since 1908. Dieter Kurtenbach’s article for Fox Sports hails the Cubs as “…the best team in baseball…,” Their team is a collection of modern superstars: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Cy Young winner Jake Arrietta and unhittable closer Aroldis Chapman. To recap: best offense and defense, best postseason bullpen and best starting pitching. All eyes are on the Cubs.
Washington Nationals (95-67), NL East winner
People forget about the Nationals, despite the power the club has amassed: former Cy Young winner and 2016’s National League strikeout leader Max Scherzer and hitters Jason Werth, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. The biggest things hurting the Nationals’ chances are their tendency to choke in the playoffs and the loss of Stephen Strasburg’s pitching and Wilson Ramos’ bat to injuries. With that, the Nationals need all the luck they can get.
Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71), NL West winner
The Dodgers lost pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill in the middle of the season to a back injury and blisters, respectively. However, Doug Padilla’s article for ESPN.com argues that this rest leaves the bullpen “fresh” for the postseason. Along with trades for Josh Reddick and Chase Utley, the Dodgers have postseason potential. Finally, their beloved announcer Vin Scully has retiring after 67 years.
New York Mets (87-75), NL Wild Card
The Mets suffered a staggering amount of bullpen injuries this season, which affected Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Due to this, the Mets’ projected postseason chances were inconsistent all year. Though they made it to the NL Wildcard, they lost in a fierce pitching battle to the Giants, 3-0.
San Francisco Giants (87-75), NL Wild Card
The Giants are solid with pitching from Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgardner and strong offense behind Buster Posey and wildman Hunter Pence. They’ve won their last three World Series on even years (2010, 2012, 2014), which gives them a good chance in 2016. The Giants projected postseason chances have only gone up since the start of the year. They beat out the Cardinals for the NL Wildcard spot and the Mets for the NL 4 seed, but they have to beat the Cubs to advance any further.
Even if your favorite team didn’t make it to October, the teams that did are certainly worthy. They’re the best of the best and they’re ready to prove themselves, but there’s still no clear winner. It’s anyone’s Series to win, so make sure to keep a close eye on the rest of the postseason.
PS—check out which fans will be the most upset if their team doesn’t win with ESPN’s “Misery Meter.”