Shown above is my selections as to who claims the World Series trophy at season end. Entering play, the Cubs are nearly 2/1 favorites to win it all, and ending the drought with this collection of players would be nothing short of expected. They've got easily the best roster in baseball, the best manager, and are trending in the right direction.
If there's a team I think can threaten the Cubs from the American League, it's the Boston Red Sox. Yes, I'm aware I don't have the Red Sox in the World Series. I don't believe in their pitching enough to suggest that they get by the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. What Boston does have going for them is an offense that has zero holes in it. From Betts to Pedroia, and from Hanley to Papi, that group is going to put runs on the board.
I like the Rangers a lot, and picked them as the World Series runner up heading into the season. Adrian Beltre continues to be underrated and produce, I loved the mid-season acquisition of Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Gomez seems to have settled in at the top of the lineup. The Rangers pitching isn't without questions either, but I think they've been the quiet and steady entrant among this season's playoff teams.
Had things worked out differently, the Indians could've gotten more love here. Having uncertainty around Corey Kluber isn't good. Combine that with Carlos Carrsco being done for the year, and two-fifths of that rotation isn't nearly as good. The Indians can absolutely make waves, but I don't think their pitching will be able to carry them as it was planned.
Over in the National League, it's hard not to get behind the even year run that the San Francisco Giants typically go on. That said, their bullpen is a mess, and even with Madison Bumgarner on the bump, they'll be opposed by the New York Mets and Noah Syndergaad. I fully expect Thor to come out of the pitcher's duel in the NL Wild Card, and the Mets should once again meet up with the Cubs.
Chicago will get their revenge this year however, and they'll be rewarded with a matchup against the Dodgers. I am not sure I like Los Angeles enough to win the series, but the Nationals without Strasburg, and injury concerns surrounding Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper aren't good. Throw in the fact that they just lost Wilson Ramos and you have a series of unfortunate events.
Dave Roberts reaching the National League Championship series this season with the Dodgers would be quite the story, and it;s one I think he's got his club well positioned to accomplish. For everything Los Angeles has gone through this year, it'd be hard not to view advancing at least one round as a success.
It's probably cliche to pick the Cubs given the massive odds in their favor. More than any other year though, I think it's fair to suggest they are just that much better than everyone else. Sure, baseball happens and Joe Maddon's team may not win it all, but betting against them at this point just seems like a fools errand. Give me the best team in baseball all season long, to remain the best team in baseball when the dust settles at the end of October.