Way too early World Series picks: Cubs likely to repeat, with Indians, Red Sox among favorites to win title

Evin Hartsock, Sports Editor

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     After what seemed like the coldest, darkest and longest winter ever, the weather finally warmed up just in time for the return of America’s favorite past time. That’s right, baseball season is back in full swing. While it’s exciting to be able to sit back, relax and watch players like Bryce Harper smash home runs and Clayton Kershaw throw shut outs, the real exciting stuff, the playoffs, are still 150 or so games away.

     The MLB has a tough act to follow this year after last season ended with a bang. The Chicago Cubs, who had not won a World Series in 108 years, did so in an electrifying series with the Indians that went all seven games. Although the World Series is still months from now, its never too early to start speculating on who might win the Fall Classic this year. After all, baseball fans need something to stay preoccupied with during the grind of the season.

1. Chicago Cubs
     Yes, this is probably the most obvious and safest pick, but it makes the most sense. Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook gave the Cubs 7-2 odds to win it all this year, and if you’re a betting man, they’re a pretty safe bet. The Cubs have a roster full of young talent in players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Scwarber and 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant. The talent of these players easily make up for the offseason losses of Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman.

 

 

Cubs’ third baseman and reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant is batting .267 this season with 4 RBI and 8 hits.
 

     So far, this young core has shown up again this season as the aforementioned trio, along with shortstop Addison Russell, have combined for 13 of the team’s 33 RBI so far this season. Catcher Wilson Contreras has stepped into a starting role this season to replace John Ross, who retired at the end of last season and has done well with one home run and five RBI in seven games.

     The Cubs also retain one of the best pitching rotations in baseball with the likes of Jon Lester, Jake Arietta and Kyle Hendricks. Closer Wade Davis has done well filling the gap Chapman made with two saves already on the season. In addition to the talent on the field, the Cubs also posses some of the greatest minds in baseball in manager Joe Maddon and general manager Theo Epstien that have put Chicago in the position to win multiple titles.

2. Cleveland Indians
     Last summer, we saw the Cleveland Cavaliers pull off a redemption win in The NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and we could see the same thing from the city’s baseball team this season. The Indians became one of the best stories of the baseball season last year, coming from almost out of nowhere to make a run at a World Series title. However, they were unable to complete the Cinderella story as they fell to the Cubs in Game 7.
This season should be no different, as the Indians possess most of the talent that propelled them to the top of the American League last year.

 

     Cleveland added more power to an already impressive lineup with the signing of Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians’ lineup includes Encarnacion, who hit 42 home runs last year, Carlos Santana, who hit 34 last season and other players like Francisco Lindor who together will produce a very potent offense. With their ace Corey Kluber and an impressive bullpen that boasts the likes of Andrew Miller, the Indians have what it takes to make a deep postseason run this year. Blowing a 3-1 lead in the championship series should be more than enough motivation to get back to and win a championship, just like the Cavs did.

3. Boston Red Sox
     Despite losing David Ortiz to retirement at the end of last season, the Red Sox roster still looks like it could be an American League all-star team, which is why they get the nod here. A lineup that includes the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Dustin Pedroia and last year’s runner-up for AL MVP, Mookie Betts, could easily put up some big numbers offensively.

     The Sox, like the other two teams on this list, boast a strong pitching rotation that features the likes of David Price, who started the season on the DL with an elbow injury. Rick Porcello, who won the AL Cy Young last year, is another solid piece in the rotation. If their rotation wasn’t already strong enough, Boston went out and added former White Sox ace, Chris Sale. Sale has a career ERA of 2.98, over 1,200 strikeouts and is the favorite to win the Cy Young this year. Oh, and if the Sox’ starting rotation doesn’t seem good enough, they also have All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to clean up.

     In a division that features a young, rebuilding Yankees squad and the Blue Jays, who lost a lot this offseason, Boston should have no problem making a deep playoff run.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers
     Having a once-in-a-generation talent like Clayton Kershaw in their rotation alone puts the Dodgers on this list. Kershaw has been absolutely dominant in the regular season throughout his career, much like the rest of his team, but tends to fall off a bit in the playoffs (much like the rest of his team). Throughout his career, Kershaw’s ERA has jumped from just 2.38 in the regular season, to 4.55 in the postseason.

 

Clayton Kershaw has started the season 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA, racking up 14 strike outs. Kershaw has over 1900 strike outs in his career so far.
 

     If Los Angeles wants to finally get over the hump that they’ve faced in and out each postseason, they’ll need Kershaw to step up this year and bring his best stuff. The Dodgers made it close last year as they made a run all the way to the NLCS before getting pummeled by the Cubs 5-0 in Game 6, in which Kershaw gave up four runs. Kershaw has been able to do well against the Cubs; in Game 2 of that series he was able to hold Chicago to just one run.

     The Dodgers return most of that 2016 club and start the season with some key players, such as Andre Ethier and Scott Kazmir, a bit banged up. But, LA has plenty of time to get healthy as the postseason is quite some time away. Despite all the talent surrounding Kershaw, it seems as though the success of the Dodgers this season relies greatly on him.