As Albert Pujols — a two time world series champion — reflects on his experience, he says “It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish. If you wind up helping the team make the playoffs, that’s what you play for. You don’t play to put up your numbers, but to try to get a chance to make it to the World Series.” In 2017, six teams have made great storylines that lasted throughout the baseball season and are ready to make a statement in this years post season.
Starting with the defending world champions, the Chicago Cubs, who early on were playing just .500 ball, turned it on after the all star break. Led by players from last years unforgettable “cursebreaker”, the Cubs have made their presence in the postseason as they defend their championship from the year before. Some other participants from the National League like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals were in last year’s playoffs and are looking to go farther this year. The highlight of the National League field has to be the historic season that the Dodgers have had. The Dodgers have been recognized as a great team, and their 104 wins this year was the most since they moved to California in 1958. Led by second year manager Dave Roberts, they have the same stars that were part of last year’s team like Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Kenley Jansen, and Andre Ethier. Washington was another playoff team last year but were eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series. The Nationals are led by Dusty Baker, who is a long time manager yet this is only his second year with the team. Max Scherzer, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are the key players for the Nationals. In the National League side of the playoffs, the Chicago Cubs will be earning a trip to their second consecutive fall classic and try to do what no NL team had done since the mid 1970’s — win the big one back to back.
There are three main contenders for the American League representative in the fall classic. Cleveland, the returning league champion, will have revenge on its mind as it makes its postseason voyage back to the big show. No one will soon forget their record setting 22 game win streak they created in mid August to mid September that surged them into a 102 win season, their first 100+ win season in team history. Led by Terry Francona, the high powered lineup that they have should prove to be supreme in their path back to the fall classic. The other team to watch from the American League is the Houston Astros. Another 100+ win team in the regular season made key trades in order to secure their spot in the postseason highlighted by the arrival of pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers. Led by manager A.J Hinch, the Astros are primed to go far in the playoffs and try to reach the fall classic for the second time in their history. In the scope of the American League side of the playoffs, there will be a highly contested League Championship series between both Cleveland and Houston with Cleveland eventually winning the series in seven games to go to their second straight classic.
So, will we see an encore of Cubs vs Indians in the fall classic? The following days will answer those questions. It’s October after all. Anything can happen.
Sources: MLB.com, ESPN.com