The trade deadline has come and gone and now we have a greater grasp on how the contenders will look by the end of the season, especially with the waiver trading period having been eliminated. With this in mind, let's run through the contenders and how we like their chances to end the season holding The Commissioner's Trophy. We'll tier them up.
The Houston Astros with their powerhouse offense and an outstanding playoff rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke (and Wade Miley is fine as a four, too). They'll have the bullpen mapped out perfectly, too, just as we saw with A.J. Hinch's work in 2017. If you have to bet now, take the Astros .
The Los Angeles Dodgers have as much organizational depth as you could ever hope for and they are the overwhelming favorite in the National League. They really need to shore up the bullpen, but it's possible they do so with all their starting pitching depth ( ).
The Yankees sure have been dealing with injuries all season like few other teams we've seen in recent memory, but they've been close to the best record in baseball through much of it and if they get everyone in their offense healthy it's a scary lineup in October. The starting pitching is worrisome and that's why they are down here, but it's possible things fall into place.
The Braves also have looked very strong for much of the season and the playoff rotation should be pretty solid. The lineup is stacked. They need to get the bullpen sorted out, but there's time. They have a shot.
'Get hot at the right time' candidates
We've seen plenty of these teams win it all. The 2011 Cardinals, all three Giants titles, both Marlins titles, and so on. These are the very good teams that aren't in the top handful of teams in the league.
The Cubs are really good and you could see things breaking right for them to win their second title with this group. The rotation is strong, the bullpen could fall into place and the hot-and-cold offense could get hot for long enough. The Cardinals also have the talent to make it happen, especially if both Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna are raking for a month.
The Red Sox can't be counted out, but they sure seem hungover this year, no?
Will the Athletics ever give Billy Beane the deep postseason run he so greatly deserves? Maybe this will be the group.
Need a miracle
Flawed teams that need everything to break right, such as the 1987 Twins, who won just 85 regular season games with a negative run differential.
The Rays fit here for me. Since their 35-19 record on May 30, they've been only one game over .500, but they have really hot stretches, like winning 14 of 18 to start the season and right now having won eight of their last nine. It's hard to see them beating both the Astros and Dodgers in seven-game series, so maybe they get lucky and see other teams upset those and get the easier road? Like there's no shame in seeing the Twins or Indians get the best record in the AL so the Yankees and Astros have to square off and then seeing someone like the Cardinals come out of the NL. Flags fly forever and who cares if it's an "easier" road, take it from a Cubs fan who doesn't care one iota that the Indians team they beat was not the best AL team in 2016.
I'll also throw the Mets in here because if they somehow scratch and claw to a wild card, getting the best versions of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Zack Wheeler in October could be scary.
I'm not seeing it
These are teams that are technically within shouting distance of the playoffs have a zero percent chance of winning the World Series in my view. I'm risking a Freezing Cold Takes appearance, so this is how strongly I feel that they can't.
Neither the Giants nor the Diamondbacks, Rangers or anyone else not mentioned above will win the World Series. That means the Phillies are here. The rotation is too much of a mess even with the Jason Vargas addition and the lineup is too inconsistent. I have similar sentiment for the Brewers, who despite a 7-1 start to the season, are only one game over .500.
There you have it. Clip and save for when the Brewers win it all and you can shame me on Twitter, Brewers fans.
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|They won the deadline and if they win the World Series, we get to talk about if they'll turn into a dynasty. Fun times in Houston, where the Astros were a punchline just six years ago.||1||6-5|
|The bullpen just continues to get exposed, but hey, they keep winning and that's all that really matters for the time being. The demotion here is only because the Astros added Greinke.||1||9-4|
|I can't think of a single example of a team this screwed over by injuries all year while remaining in first place (with a big cushion).||--||9-2|
|Really tough stretch coming up for the Twins. Let's see how they handle three vs. Atlanta, four vs. Cleveland and two in Milwaukee.||--||10-3|
|Shane Bieber with three complete games! He's a throwback. Love to see it.||--||7-6|
|Are they streaking again? The A's have now won six of seven.||--||9-4|
|Reliever Nick Anderson was a sneaky-good addition in front of the deadline.||2||5-7|
|"Here's our shiny new toy: Shane Greene!" BOOM. Uh oh.||1||8-5|
|The home/road split is widening, as the Cubs are now 39-18 (awesome!) and 21-33 on the road (awful!).||4||10-2|
|Remember when I said Paul Goldschmidt could get disgustingly hot at the drop of a hat? In his last 12 games, he's hitting .347 with three doubles, seven homers and 14 RBI.||1||2-3|
|I think it's safe to say their hot streak is over. The Nats have now lost seven of their last 10 games.||1||4-5|
|How many times have they been "back" only for us to turn around and see them go through a terrible stretch again?||4||4-8|
|Maybe there wasn't much of a market, but I don't understand just holding when they have a resurgent 36-year-old DH in Hunter Pence on a one-year deal for a huge bargain. Maybe there wasn't much of a market for him, but surely they could have gotten something of value.||4||3-8|
|The Mets are 15-5 since losing their first game after the All-Star break and it's now possible to see them making a deep playoff run? Man, how fast things can change.||5||5-8|
|Ketel Marte had 22 career homers in 402 games heading into this season. He's now at 24 in 108 games this season after his inside-the-park job on Sunday.||3||4-8|
|Losing a series to the White Sox at home isn't the look of a contender, but at least we got to see Vince Velasquez hosing a runner at home from left field on Friday night.||2||2-4|
|They've lost six of seven and looked completely listless in a big series in Chicago, getting outscored 17-5 in three games.||5||4-5|
|This might be the crash back to Earth I've been discussing in recent weeks. The Giants have lost four of their last six and are 4-6 in their last 10.||3||6-8|
|Has anyone noticed how bad a year Justin Upton is having?||3||5-8|
|The Reds could be interesting next year with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer atop their rotation. Of course, many of us thought they'd be interesting this year.||--||5-7|
|The Rockies just won a series. It was only their second series win since June 26.||1||9-3|
|This appears to be a sinking ship, as the Padres are 6-15 since the All-Star break. I still love their future potential, but it's not happening this year.||1||7-6|
|Nice to see Power Rankings Favorite Tim Anderson back on the field.||2||7-5|
|Look who is heating up: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting .450/.500/.800 with six doubles, five homers and 23 RBI in his last 15 games. Here I thought the Home Run Derby ruined guys, not helped get them hot. Weird.||4||4-5|
|I'm old enough to remember when I often said Kyle Seager was one of the most underrated players in baseball. Time sure flies.||2||5-9|
|I'm kind of surprised they didn't flip journeyman, 31-year-old catcher Bryan Holaday. He's hitting .290 with a .372 on-base percentage in a small sample. Of course, he's a perfect example of a player that would have been waiver-traded in August in years past.||2||5-1|
|They were 2 1/2 games out of first place at the All-Star break. The Pirates have gone 4-18 since then. Brutal.||1||3-10|
|The Royals got hot coming out of the All-Star break, but have now lost nine of their last 10.||1||3-10|
|Arbitrary endpoint fun: The Orioles are 10-7 since July 16.||--||5-6|
|The Tigers went 5-20 in both June and July, so at least they are consistent.||--||5-5|