Major League Baseball is back. There is still a global pandemic to navigate, but the 60-game regular season is well underway. Hopefully the season can be completed safely and a World Series champion can be crowned.
Throughout the season my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated whether MLB will be able to finish this season. This week we're going to discuss franchises still looking for a World Series championship.
Which team will be next to win its first World Series?
Katherine Acquavella: If I were to rank the clubs based on best chances to be the next to win their first World Series, I'd go: Rays, Padres, Brewers, Rockies, Rangers, Mariners. So the Rays are my pick. After the top-tier teams in the league, there's a slight drop, but I don't think Tampa's too far behind in the second-tier. They've gone from the surprise team to a serious threat in the AL East in the last three years. With a strong trio (Snell, Glasnow, Morton) at the top of their rotation, a talented bullpen, overall depth and positional flexibility as well as the best farm system in baseball, the Rays can capitalize and go all the way sooner rather than later.
R.J. Anderson: I'll go with the Padres. Since there's a time sensitivity to the question -- in theory, one of those teams could win the World Series as soon this year -- you can probably discount the Mariners and the Rangers, neither of whom seem like realistic threats. The Rockies and Brewers seem like the next-weakest teams, with the Rays and Padres representing the best of the group. I'm not sure if the Padres have an easier road than the Rays do -- though you can make the case the American League has two of the top three or three of the top four teams in the game, save for the Dodgers -- but one advantage they have over the Rays is their aggressiveness, with regards to money and to promoting their best young players. It's easier to see San Diego making a deal to solidify its roster, or promoting a top youngster to the Show as soon as they're ready rather than playing service-time games. That doesn't ensure they're going to be more successful, but it's comforting to believe that the game (and fortune) would favor boldness.
Mike Axisa: The Padres with the Rays a not-too-distant second even though both teams are stuck in a division with a behemoth (Dodgers and Yankees). San Diego's roster is loaded with young talent and there's more on the way -- Baseball America just ranked their farm system second best in baseball -- and, just as importantly, they've shown a willingness to spend. It's not just giving Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer huge contracts. It's adding a guy like Tommy Pham rather than trading him away for payroll purposes. For me, the Padres and Rays are well ahead of the Brewers, Mariners, Rangers, and Rockies in this discussion -- Colorado is off to a tremendous start and who's to say they can't win it all this year? -- and San Diego's willingness to spend and apparent urgency pushes them in front of the Rays.
Matt Snyder: I'm going Padres as well. Fernando Tatis is showing that he's going to be a superstar linchpin, they've got the veteran leadership and the young arms to match with Mackenzie Gore still to come. If it happened in 2020, it would be a year or two early, but it's a 60-game season with expanded playoffs and we're bound to see lots of madness. I think it's on the table that it happens this year for the Padres. Regardless, they are my pick.