The Houston Astros are the defending World Series champions and are the best bet to repeat. Yet, despite how loaded and young the Astros are, it is an arduous task to repeat. This has not happened this century in spite of Boston and San Francisco winning multiple trophies. The New York Yankees were the last team to go back to back (1998-2000) and since the Bronx Bombers also did it in 1977-78, the only other club to accomplish this feat was Toronto (1992-93).
Here is a look at what could cause the best bets in the sport to come up short.
Though it is a cliché, it is still true about being the hunter and not the hunted. Ask the Cubs last year who were shell-shocked in the first half of the season getting everyone’s best shot. Sure the emotion of ending 108-years drought took its toll, but opposing teams came at them fearlessly. If Houston shows any sign of weakness, opponents will look to pounce.
While Houston won their first-ever World Series, much of the talk in the off-season revolved around the team in the Pinstripes. The Yankees reloaded quickly and have excellent young players and signing Giancarlo Stanton made a very good lineup even stronger. But what happens if CC Sabathia doesn’t come close to 14 wins like last season and Sonny Gray continues to struggle? Just sayin’.
L.A. Dodgers 6-1
Losing Justin Turner for up to two months hurts, but at least its early in the season. But what happens if Clayton Kershaw misses time again for a third straight year? Is the current starting rotation really good enough to carry the Dodgers?
The Indians look to have the full package. Yet, they still seem to be missing something to pass by the Astros and the Yankees. Cleveland has great starting pitching, a top-notch bullpen and solid lineup top to bottom. However, it looks like they will run roughshod thru the AL Central again which might leave dull for the postseason like last year. Besides, doesn’t it seem Houston and Bronx Bombers have more difference-makers than the Tribe?
It is a given the Nationals will win 90+ games, but what about the postseason? Cannot see how anyone would trust this club until they prove they can actually win a series in October even if they have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper?
Chicago Cubs 8-1
The Cubs seem to have made all the right moves to place themselves in contention to win another World Series and reportedly the hunger is back. But ask yourself, is Jon Lester going to dominate anymore throwing in the low 90’s? Is Yu Darvish as good at Jake Arrieta and just how good is Tyler Chatwood? And who else is not 100 percent sold on Brandon Morrow as the closer at this time?
It is easy to forget the Red Sox actually won the AL East over New York last year. In the past 16 years, the professional teams in Bean-Town have won 10 championships. That creates expectations for every team, especially the Red Sox. As former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester once put it, a year of baseball in Boston is “162 single-game seasons” in which “every game is [treated like] Game 7 of the World Series.” Will the players and new skipper Alex Cora hold up when the tough stretches come?
Doug Upstone wrote this for ScoresandStats.com.