Major League Baseball's season-ending championship is such a monumental affair, it is referred to as the "World Series," even though it features, at best, only two different countries competing, America and Canada. And that's only if the Toronto Blue Jays manage to win the pennant, which they have not done since 1993. So, usually it's just two team from the good ol' USA squaring off, but still, that designation of "World" speaks to the grandeur and importance of baseball's "Fall Classic," that it somehow encapsulates and captures the interest and passion of the entire planet.
The Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners are the only two MLB teams to have never played in the World Series, and to find out the first year each of those beleaguered franchises is destined to win a pennant, keep on reading. We continue to place emphasis on "winning the pennant," because this list is actually predicting the next World Series appearance by a given team, not necessarily the team being victorious in that year's Fall Classic. Specifically, in MLB lexicon, we're prognosticating each team's next league championship (either AL or NL).
Much of this predicting is arbitrary; one good team like the Astros or the Red Sox could win three straight pennants. In forecasting this list, we went with a loose formula of current major league success combined with a strong farm system, while making some exceptions for otherwise historically mediocre teams with so-so minor leagues currently having strong pitching staffs (like the Mets) and superstar players (like Mike Trout of the Angels).
30 Arizona Diamondbacks - 2048
The Snakes have the talent to go to the World Series in any of the next few seasons, but they also are mired in a National League with several solid teams.
The D-Backs looked like they were on their way this year, but stumbled after the All-Star break.
With a 21st ranked farm system, per Bleacher Report, the Diamondbacks don't have the strongest future, so after failing to make the playoffs this year, or get past NL powerhouses like the Dodgers and Braves in the next couple years, the Snakes may be waiting a long, long time for that next World Series appearance.
29 Atlanta Braves - 2020
The Braves have a loaded farm system, exemplified by players such as Ronald Acuna Jr., and that should pay off big dividends sooner rather than later. Atlanta is ahead of schedule in terms of contending, as the team won the NL East. And they've got more talent on the way, as the Braves currently rank number two in all of baseball in terms of minor league talent.
Perhaps this Atlanta team can ultimately prove dominant enough to win multiple championships, an accomplishment that eluded the Greg Maddux/Chipper Jones-lead "dynasty" of the 90s and early 2000s that won 14 straight division titles, but only captured one World Series (1995). We expect this Braves team could do better.
28 Baltimore Orioles - 2053
For the 150th anniversary of the very first World Series (in 1903), the Birds' will be in the Fall Classic for the first time since 1983, making it 70 years between appearances. The Orioles will have to wait another 35 years for a title chance because they blew their golden opportunity when they lost to the underdog Kansas City Royals in the 2014 ALCS. While that was a very strong KC squad that almost won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, the Orioles were a better team overall in '14, and should have taken the pennant that year.
The O's current farm system is a mess, only ranked 20th, even after trading Manny Machado for prospects.
27 Boston Red Sox - 2019
One of the hardest picks to make when compiling this list was selecting between Boston or the Astros to win this season's AL pennant. If the Red Sox don't take it this year, then surely 2019 will be their year.
In fact, the Bosox are well-equipped to contend for the next several years, propelled by the "Killer B's" outfield of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr and Andrew Benintendi.
And then there's the Red Sox' superior starting staff, led by ace lefty Chris Sale. Sale will be around next season before he becomes a free agent, and 2o19 could well be his year to lead Boston back to the World Series.
26 Chicago Cubs - 2087
Can the Cubbies make lightning strike twice and turn a curse breaker into a dynasty? Or is Chicago doomed to suffer yet again before another World Series appearance? A month or so ago, we would have unquestionably selected the Cubs to take the NL title at the very least, but they've since lost their number-one reliever Brandon Morrow.
Of course, the Cubs have the veteran experience to "turn it off and on" as well as any team, but something feels like they're going to sit it out this time around. And then around some more, until 2087, when the "magic" can take place once again.
25 Chicago White Sox - 2024
Chicago's South Side franchise has a glorious future--if players like Michael Kopech and slugging outfielder Eloy Jiminez can make good on the promise they demonstrated in the minors. However, the recent ligament injury to Kopech's million-dollar right arm that will keep him sidelined until 2020 underscores the patience the Sox must demonstrate until the team is truly ready to contend.
The Chisox are loaded with talent--their farm system is ranked number four--and could win a pennant any season starting in 2021 at the latest. We'll see if the Sox stick with Ricky Renteria to take them to the promised land. Whoever the manager is, the New Roaring '20s should be very good to the Chicago White Sox.
24 Cincinnati Reds - 2026
The Reds are headed in the right direction--they currently have the ninth ranked post-trade deadline farm system--and are fully committed to their rebuilding via a youth movement, a wise decision by Cincinnati GM Nick Krall and his staff.
With up-and-coming prospects like right-handed hurler Hunter Greene, the Reds could be contending for a World Series spot a lot sooner than '26.
But again, with the crowded NL field of solid teams on the rise like Atlanta, fans of Cincinnati may have to wait their turn.
23 Cleveland Indians - 2020
The Indians were actually our original pick to win the AL pennant this 2018 season, but the injury to Trevor Bauer's ankle in August, as well as the dominance and consistency of Boston and Houston's pitching, could be too much for the Tribe to overcome for a year or two. But by 2020, the tide could turn the Tribe's way, as they'll still have ace pitcher Corey Kluber under contract that season (at a relatively team-friendly $15.5 million).
Per contract info website Spotrac, Kluber also earns another two million in 2020 if he can win himself another Cy Young, so he'll definitely be motivated to succeed. The aforementioned Bauer will also be under team control that season, as well as emerging star Jose Ramirez at third base, meaning the Indians should remain a major force in the AL for the foreseeable future.
22 Colorado Rockies - 2030
The Rockies made their first and only World Series in 2007, getting swept by Boston. The Rox don't have a promising group of prospects, as their current middling farm-system ranking of 18th would suggest. The Rockies surprised many people this year, but we just don't see them having the top-to-bottom pitching to make it to the World Series for the next few years.
Unless Colorado can find a few more hurlers like ace lefty Kyle Freeland, it might take a total rebuild for the Rockies to assemble a pitching staff that can take a team all the way--even when the hitting dries up, as it so often can during the postseason.
21 Detroit Tigers - 2027
The Tigers' pitching mound will soon be inhabited by a pair of supremely talented right-handed hurlers named Matt Manning and Casey Mize.
In fact, the Tigers' number ten overall rated farm system has five right-handed pitchers as their top five ranked prospects, lead by Manning and Mize.
That means the Tigers may have an entire starting staff waiting in the wings. In the meantime, Detroit should trade away as much of their current major league talent as possible over the next couple years, to build an even stronger farm system so that the franchise can contend deep into the 2020s.
20 Houston Astros - 2018
The Astros led the majors this season in both starters and bullpen ERA, which obviously makes Houston as tough an out as any team come postseason time, when every pitch is as seemingly important as the entire game itself. Not to mention the considerable intangible that the defending World Series champion Astros possess, having "been there and done that"; they know what it takes to win a playoff series, even when trailing or on the road. Led by superstars second baseman Jose Altuve and pitcher Justin Verlander, the Astros have no glaring holes, and they seem motivated to prove that 2017 was no fluke.
19 Kansas City Royals - 2044
The Royals, champions just three years ago, might well be stuck in a 30-year cycle between winning World Series, because their current team is garbage, having lost over 100 games. And there's not a lot of help on the way--with a thin farm system, and the fact KC doesn't have a stellar starting staff to build around, it seems like the Royals could be embarking on a decades-long streak of non-contention.
The Royals and their fans know all about that, having waited from 1986-the year after they won their first World Series -until 2014, when they finally made the playoffs and took the pennant, winning it all the next year. So it might just be another 29 or 30 years from that 2015 title until KC makes it into the Fall Classic once again.
18 Los Angeles Angels - 2026
This projection contains a big "if"--if the Halos can re-sign mega-star Mike Trout to an extension beyond 2020. If the Angels remain in their present state of mediocrity, it's easy to see Trout bailing for greener pastures, setting the Angels back for years. But L.A. does have some interesting pieces with two-way player Shohei Ohtani, and a 12th ranked farm system.
Every true baseball fan wants to see Trout play on baseball's biggest stage, the World Series, preferably with his original team.
But even if L.A. extends Trout, it'll be up to the front office to add the necessary pieces to win a pennant, especially a dominant pitching staff. Whether they achieve this with or without long-time manager Mike Scioscia remains to be seen.
17 Los Angeles Dodgers - 2019
Back in April, we would have told you the Dodgers were not only winning the 2018 NL pennant, but that L.A. was going to take the whole shebang, their first title since 1988. However, with the recent decline and fall of the bullpen, it seems like L.A. might have to retool and make another run at a pennant next year. Clayton Kershaw, one of the game's all-time great pitchers, deserves to win a ring one of these years, after coming so close last season.
Even if the Dodgers do lose superstar shortstop Manny Machado to free agency, they get back all-star Corey Seager from injury in 2019. The Dodgers have the top-to-bottom talent, with the pitching depth and the cash reserves to add more key players to ensure another pennant will be theirs very soon.
16 Miami Marlins - 2099
Having to wait the longest for a World Series appearance on this list will be the price paid by new Marlins' co-owner Derek Jeter. Not only did Jeter rip apart a decent team that included a world-class outfield of Giancarlo Stanton (conveniently shipped to Jeter's ex-team, the Yankees), 2018 MVP candidate Christian Yelich (to the surging Brewers) and Marcell Ozuna (now on the contending Cardinals), but Jeter also coldly fired many long-time Marlins' front office personas, including Jack McKeon, who guided the Fish to their last pennant and title (over Jeter's Yankees) in 2003.
The Marlins' present team blows, and they don't have much of an immediate future.
15 Milwaukee Brewers - 2018
The Brew Crew played as well as any team in baseball down the stretch, and could certainly carry that momentum, as Milwaukee has the makings of a team that can go all the way-- or at least win a pennant. Frankly, any NL team is going to be an underdog to the Astros or Red Sox in the World Series. The Brewers may also have an under-the-radar intangible in outfielder Curtis Granderson, a playoff veteran who comes through in the clutch more often than not.
The Brewers' bullpen has improved, led by Josh Hader.
If the Brewers could make it to the Series for the first time since 1982, they'd join Houston as the only team to win pennants in both leagues. And in fact, we're predicting here that the Brewers and Astros will square-off in the 2018 World Series.
14 Minnesota Twins - 2028
The Twins are doing decently at the major league level, with a wildcard playoff appearance in 2017, and a top-tier farm system--currently ranked number eight after the most recent trade deadline. Minnesota's minor leagues currently boasts three "A+" prospects; shortstop Royce Lewis, outfielder Alex Kiriloff and the uniquely named Brusdar Graterol, a right-handed pitcher whose name sounds as much like a Star Wars character as it does that of a potential future Cy Young Award candidate. If this talent comes through as hoped, the Twin Cities could be celebrating an AL pennant much sooner than '28.
13 New York Mets - 2021
With a rotation manned by the trio of right-handed flamethrowers Jacob DeGrom, Noah "Thor" Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler, the Mets have a legitimate chance to contend for the next few years. Of course, that's contingent on their front office adding other pieces around those pitchers, so that someone like DeGrom can win more than eight games while posting an ERA below 2.00.
The Mets must continue to rebuild a mediocre farm system. The real issue to solve over the next couple years is the New York bullpen; whereas the Mets ranked in the top 10 in the majors in starters' ERA, they were simultaneously weak when it comes to the bullpen.
12 New York Yankees -2021
When it comes to the Bronx Bombers, it seems that any year could be "their year". That's what winning 40 pennants and 27 titles will do for you.
Even if the Yanks don't win it every year, you can still expect them to be in the mix for yet another pennant pretty much each campaign.
This is especially true with slugging stars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton signed through '21 (if Stanton doesn't opt out after 2020), ensuring the Yankees will continue to maintain the power to dominate. Now New York needs to develop--or acquire--equally smothering starting pitching in order to rise above the staffs of the Astros and Red Sox.
11 Oakland A's - 2023
With the young talent the Athletics are amassing, it should be only a matter of time before they break through. At least in theory; in reality, Oakland always seems to come up short of actually winning the pennant. On one hand, the A's will retain core players like third baseman Matt Chapman and right-fielder Stephen Piscotty. On the other hand, A's co-owner/baseball general Billy Beane never seems to keep any of these players around to pay dividends, for example, Josh Donaldson, who became an MVP with Toronto.
If Beane can be criticized for anything, it's moving the A's roster around too much, and rarely allowing chemistry to develop. Though these 2018 A's seemed to be on their way for an October run, they lost solid starting pitcher Sean Manaea for the year. We'll say the A's win their next pennant in '23, just in time to face their former crosstown rivals...
10 Philadelphia Phillies - 2023
The Phillies are another N.L. team on the rise, and could be a pennant contender for the next several seasons. But with all the good teams in the senior circuit, and their lack of reliable pitching beyond ace starter Aaron Nola, could mean the Phils may have to wait a few years before breaking through to win their first pennant since 2009. If the Phillies do match-up in the '23 World Series with the Oakland A's, it would be a showdown between Philadelphia's current team versus the city's former AL franchise, the A's.
The Philadelphia Athletics won five World Series during their often-dominant domain in the City of Brotherly Love (plus four more in Oakland), while the Phillies remain stuck on an unimpressive two titles.
9 Pittsburgh Pirates - 2029
After enduring a professional sports record 20 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates finally posted a winning campaign in 2013, their first above .500 campaign since 1992, the last year Barry Bonds was a Pirate. However, despite assembling a solid team fo several years, it appears Pittsburgh allowed their proverbial "window of contention" shut without taking a pennant. Thus, the Bucs must wait until 2029 to get to the World Series, which would be the 50th anniversary of the "We Are Family" title team, led by Willie "Pops" Stargell, the senior circuit's co-MVP that season.
Basically, this present Pirates franchise is in "state of limbo" and probably needs to fully dedicate to rebuilding through a strong minor league system.
That strategy is certainly paying dividends for teams like the Braves, and it's one that a mid-market team like Pittsburgh should turn to, and soon.
8 San Diego Padres - 2022
Forecasting the woebegone Padres to win a pennant in four short years might be the most surprising pick on this list, but this franchise has a future as sunny a future as its host city's beaches. The Padres are another team with a loaded farm system, led by shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the son of the former major league player.
San Diego, presently possesses the number one farm system in the majors following the trade deadline. They've got three "Tier 1" pitching prospects on the horizon, led by left-handed phenom MacKenzie Gore. However, there are numerous NL teams the Padres may well have to wait behind until they can finally reach their third World Series in franchise history.
7 San Francisco Giants - 2053
Remember way back up on this list when we had the Orioles making the 2053 World Series? It seems only fitting then that the O's would square off versus the Giants and their similar uniform color-scheme of black and orange.
Like the Orioles, the present-day Giants are a mess without a solid farm system and aging, fading talent on the major league roster, so it's not realistic to project San Francisco to make the World Series anytime soon, especially with so many other good NL teams awaiting their turn at a pennant. Maybe one day Barry Bonds' grandson can become a major contributor to the next great Giants team, carrying on that great Bonds' family tradition.
6 Seattle Mariners - 2076
The M's and their fanbase really thought they were going to the playoff this 2018 season, after 17 years of futility. They got off to such a great start, but faded badly down the stretch.
It's almost like the Mariners have been "cursed" for winning an MLB record-tying 116 regular-season games in 2001.
Of course, they still couldn't get past the Yankees and take the franchise's first pennant. If that '01 Seattle team couldn't make it to the World Series, can they ever? These current Mariners have little hope for the future, with a lowly ranked farm system, dead last in the majors in case you were wondering.
5 St. Louis Cardinals - 2028
It certainly wouldn't floor many if St. Louis made it all the way to the World Series this year, but we think the Cards will ultimately come up short.
Should the Cardinals be denied a trip to the Series in 2018, they might have to trade some major league talent to enrich their trove of prospects, or face the possibility of waiting another 10 years for their next pennant, as their 15th ranked farm system isn't exactly stocked with top prospects.
4 Tampa Bay Rays - 2022
The Rays' home stadium may be a dimly lit doom dome, but the future is very bright for a team that massively exceeded expectations at the major league level in 2018. What's more, the franchise formerly known as the "Devil Rays" boasts a stacked minor league system--currently ranked number five--waiting to excel, led by A+ rated outfielder Jesus Sanchez.
Tampa is one of those teams that could win it all any year soon, but, like the aforementioned Padres, the Rays, devilish or not, may have to wait a few years due to the more experienced AL squads that are just as likely to win pennants.
3 Texas Rangers - 2033
As of 2018, the Rangers have a middling farm system with a lack of emphasis on starting pitching, which doesn't bode well for the future of the Dallas region's major league team, which has never really been associated with a strong staff throughout its franchise history.
The Rangers do currently have a strong set of outfield prospects, led by Leody Taveras.
Highly rated prospect Willie Calhoun has already ascended to the major leagues, but Texas needs to seriously build a reliable pitching rotation to win their next pennant, and that could take years. And years.
2 Toronto Blue Jays - 2025
Over 30 years after the franchise's last World Series appearance--1993--these new Blue Jays will do it again by capturing the '25 AL pennant. Despite the 2018 iteration of the Blue Jays being a rather mediocre affair, Toronto does have a loaded farm system currently ranked by Bleacher Report at number three, up one slot prior to the trade deadline.
Among the probable future stars in Toronto's system includes third-base slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr and shortstop Bo Bichette, both sons of great former major leagues. The Jays could use more pitching prospect depth, and that's why we have them waiting at least seven years until they claim an AL pennant.
1 Washington Nationals - 2076
While the Nationals are one of the more talented teams in baseball, the franchise could head south quickly if they lose outfield star Bryce Harper in free agency. So if Washington has missed their window of winning, it's perfectly fitting that the Nationals will win their very first pennant during the summer that the United States celebrates its 300th birthday.
And if you recall from above, they'll meet the Seattle Mariners, projected to be playing in their very first Fall Classic in '76. But whether in 2076 or whatever year it happens, as noted during the introduction of this list, a World Series appearance would mark the first ever for the team that originated in Montreal in 1969.
In 2076, there could be extra celebratory fireworks booming over Washington, D.C., courtesy of the hometown Nats.