The Best And Worst Case Scenario For The Top 15 Ranked MLB Teams Of 2017

From the time the World Series ends until the start of January, the only things we usually think about when it comes to baseball are the trades and free agent signings that seem to happen over the cou

From the time the World Series ends until the start of January, the only things we usually think about when it comes to baseball are the trades and free agent signings that seem to happen over the course of a week. Now that the new year is among is, the focus has turned to the 2017 regular season as Spring Training is just around the corner. You can feel the snow melting and the sun shining already, can’t you?

As you probably know already, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series to break their 108 year drought as they got past the Giants, Dodgers and Indians in the playoffs. You can expect all four of those teams to be in contention once again, hoping to prevent the Cubs from repeating. They aren’t the only teams that have a shot at taking home the World Series title, though.

Of the 15 teams that Las Vegas has given the best odds to win it all in 2017, there are some interesting scenarios that could play out through the season. Let’s take a look at those top 15 teams and see what could go right, and what could go horribly long as we break down the best and worst case scenarios.

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15 Baltimore Orioles

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Chris Davis shows that he was well worth the big contract that he received from the Orioles by cutting down on his strikeouts and blasting more than 40 home runs. Meanwhile, Manny Machado puts up an MVP type performance with Adam Jones leading the way at the top of the lineup, while Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman improve upon their numbers, which should be good enough to get the Orioles back into the Wild Card slot.

Worst Case Scenario: No improvement from a rotation that doesn’t have a true ace right now allows a lot of runs that the lineup can’t keep up with. With nobody worth noting batting behind him, Chris Davis doesn’t see many good pitches and the Orioles have a lot of 1-2-3 innings when the top part of the lineup isn’t set to bat, causing them to finish with a losing record.

14 Toronto Blue Jays

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Troy Tulowitzki is able to play more than 130 games yet again as he rebounds his batting average and keeps up his power numbers. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista aren’t missed as Kendrys Morales becomes a solid clean-up hitter with nearly 30 home runs and a .275 batting average. The rotation also sees J.A. Happ continue to be productive with a huge step forward from Marcus Stroman.

Worst Case Scenario: Stroman can’t take that step forward and the Blue Jays are scrambling to find a man at the top of their rotation to compete with Boston. Meanwhile, Tulowitzki and Russell Martin find the disabled list once again, leaving huge holes in the lineup as Morales doesn’t put up the numbers that Encarnacion could. Even with a healthy Josh Donaldson throughout the year, it won’t be enough to get the Blue Jays back to the playoffs.

13 Detroit Tigers

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Despite wanting to cut payroll, the Tigers get off to a hot start that fills the stands, allowing the Tigers to get some more capital to keep their stars. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera end up having seasons where they could be considered for the Cy Young and MVP Awards, respectively. In a relatively weak division, the Tigers feast on the bottom feeders to win the AL Central.

Worst Case Scenario: The Tigers start off sluggish and get into a deep hole behind Cleveland, causing them to be sellers by the trade deadline. Unable to ship off their big money players, the Tigers are stuck with a high payroll and a below .500 finish as Verlander goes back to struggling and Cabrera starts to show his age.

12 New York Yankees

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Development of the abundance of young talent goes ahead of schedule like it did for the Chicago Cubs in 2015 as the Yankees make the playoffs thanks to steps back by the Blue Jays and Orioles. Gary Sanchez takes another big leap forward and Aroldis Chapman shows that he was well worth the money, continuing to be the shutdown closer that won a World Series in 2016.

Worst Case Scenario: Much of the young players that the Yankees were leaning on take steps back now that there is some tape on them, most notably Gary Sanchez. The pitching staff proves that it’s not yet ready to compete with the Red Sox as even Masahiro Tanaka struggles and there is no true ace in the rotation and an aging CC Sabathia struggles mightily.

11 Texas Rangers

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The Rangers prove that they were just as good as their record from 2016 and end up putting up a margin in which they outscore their opponents handily. Five players in the lineup hit at least 20 home runs with Rougned Odor leading the way with 30. The solid lineup is supported by a pitching staff that is anchored at the end by a rejuvenated Andrew Cashner who finally has his breakout year, leading the Rangers to another AL West title.

Worst Case Scenario: Tyson Ross doesn’t fully recover from his injury and Cashner continues to fall apart, leaving too much pressure at the top of the rotation with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish taking steps back. The Rangers get cold at the wrong time, leaving themselves several games back heading into the final month, allowing the rival Astros to scoop up the division title.

10 Seattle Mariners

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Felix Hernandez carries the rotation as an AL Cy Young candidate, putting together 17 wins and an ERA around 3.00, taking the pressure off of guys like Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton who also put up solid years. Nelson Cruz defies the age of time and crushes 40 home runs and 100 runs batted in with the protection of Kyle Seager behind him, who adds another 30 home runs of his own as the Mariners win the AL West.

Worst Case Scenario: Guys in the middle of the lineup like Cruz and Robinson Cano start their downward trend because of their age, leaving the lineup without a lot of production in the middle. Meanwhile, Hernandez takes an even bigger step back in 2017 as the rotation struggles to keep the bats in check, causing the Mariners to fall behind in the standings early to Houston and Texas.

9 St. Louis Cardinals

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The Cardinals make up some of the room between them and the Cubs thanks to the addition of Dexter Fowler, who continues to be a playmaker that develops a lot of runs. The outstanding defense is able to make up for the big names in the rotation, but they get great production out of Carlos Martinez at the top while Adam Wainwright gets back to his top form and the Cardinals comfortably get a Wild Card spot.

Worst Case Scenario: Fowler, on the wrong side of 30, takes a step back from his 2016 campaign as the middle of the lineup doesn’t put up big numbers. The rotation still can’t find anyone that can compete with the Cubs lineup as Chicago hands St. Louis enough losses to keep them out of the playoffs for a second straight year.

8 New York Mets

Chris Pedota/The Record via USA TODAY NETWORK

Best Case Scenario: The Mets get out to a huge lead early in the season as the Braves and Phillies are in rebuilding mode, Bryce Harper struggles and the Marlins take a step back. This allows the Mets to rest their rotation that suffered some injury problems the year before as they coast easily to an NL East title, and their fresh rotation dominates in the playoffs to reach the World Series with some help from Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.

Worst Case Scenario: A 36 year old Curtis Granderson takes a huge step back while David Wright suffering more injury problems, causing the top of the lineup to not set up their big hitters. Combining the lack of runs with the injury bug that has hit the rotation, the Mets struggle early and send the fans into a tizzy as the massive payroll doesn’t equal wins. The Marlins and Nationals surpass the Mets late to send New York out of a playoff spot.

7 San Francisco Giants

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The two stars at the top of the rotation (Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto) continue to pitch like stars while Buster Posey puts together an MVP campaign with 20 home runs and 90 runs batted in. Even guys at the bottom of the lineup like Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford provide some timely hitting as the Giants put together one of the most efficient lineups in baseball.

Worst Case Scenario: Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore can’t provide any support for Cueto and Bumgarner in the rotation and end up being a liability. Even if the Giants make the playoffs, having just two guys instead of three that can match up against the likes of the Cubs and Dodgers will equal an early exit, and they won’t even make the playoffs is guys after Posey can’t get on base.

6 Houston Astros

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The Astros can cruise in the AL West if their lineup hits for the power that they have the potential for. From George Springer down to Josh Reddick, there are seven guys that are capable of at least 20 home runs with George Springer, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa leading the way. If Dallas Keuchel can return to ace form, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers only need to be above average for the Astros to push 100 wins.

Worst Case Scenario: Keuchel can’t revert to 2015 form and the rest of the rotation struggles as a result. Even a powerful lineup like the one in Houston is prone to slumps, which will end up hurting them during the long summer and two teams fighting with them for the top spot in the division. The hitting doesn’t overcome the lack of pitching and the Astros finish third in the AL West ahead of Oakland and Anaheim.

5 Los Angeles Dodgers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Clayton Kershaw continues to be the best pitcher in baseball as he goes through the entire season without injury problems, winning 20 games and the Cy Young Award in the process. Meanwhile, Rich Hill turns out to not be a flash in the pan as he adds another 15 wins with Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias rounding out a rotation that will be even better than 2015’s as the Dodgers are able to advance to the World Series.

Worst Case Scenario: Kershaw experiences some setbacks throughout the season that cause him to miss time while Hill confirms that he had just one solid year left. Urias and Corey Seager hit sophomore slumps while Puig is a liability at the plate and Adrian Gonzalez begins to show the aging process in a tremendous fashion while the Giants take the National League West.

4 Washington Nationals

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Bryce Harper shows that 2016 was just a fluke as he gets back to MVP type numbers. With a batting average near .290, 35 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Daniel Murphy also continues to provide some solid protection for the young Harper while Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman put up big numbers at the bottom of the lineup. As for the rotation, Max Scherzer has a repeat performance and Stephen Strasburg stays healthy.

Worst Case Scenario: Strasburg has more injury problems early in the season as Harper struggles to get back to form, leaving a huge hole in the middle of the lineup. Scherzer is the only pitcher that consistently puts up good numbers as the Nationals are surpassed by the rival Mets who are able to stay healthy for the entire season.

3 Cleveland Indians

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The rare foray into high priced free agency ends up paying dividends for the Indians as Edwin Encarnacion becomes a huge bat in the lineup that hits 40 home runs and 110 runs batted in. Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis get a lot of pitches to hit as they are finally protected in the lineup, having huge seasons as Corey Kluber makes a case for the Cy Young Award as the Indians repeat as American League Champions.

Worst Case Scenario: The bottom of the lineup doesn’t offer much support as Encarnacion doesn’t put up the numbers that the Indians brass thought he would. Meanwhile, the Indians give up a lot of runs from their starting rotation and wear out the bullpen before they can even make it to September. The Royals and Tigers have surprising seasons, cutting into Cleveland’s win total as they stay slightly above .500.

2 Boston Red Sox

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: The addition of Chris Sale to the top of the lineup takes some of the pressure off of David Price and Rick Porcello as the Red Sox boast three potential Cy Young Award winners. The pitching staff alone should get them deep into the playoffs while Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts all post big years, and even Pablo Sandoval has a career revival.

Worst Case Scenario: Sale ends up being a distraction rather than an addition to the team, driving the clubhouse mad and ruining the team chemistry. Sandoval continues his slump and the absence of David Ortiz becomes apparent as there aren’t enough run producers in the lineup to help out the rotation as the Red Sox can’t win the competitive AL East.

1 Chicago Cubs

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: Kyle Schwarber either improves his fielding in the outfield or becomes an option at catcher, allowing Joe Maddon to tinker with the lineup for just about any situation while Jason Heyward returns to form. The Cubs sign Jake Arrieta to a long term deal and he looks worthy in the 2017 season with a rebound to 2015 form as the Cubs cruise through the National League en route to their second straight World Series win.

Worst Case Scenario: Arrieta continues his downward trend from the second half of the 2016 season, Jon Lester continues to allow stolen bases and the lack of a true lead off man doesn’t set the table for boppers like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Still, worst case scenario still looks like it’s going to equal a winning season with the amount of talent that the Cubs have.

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The Best And Worst Case Scenario For The Top 15 Ranked MLB Teams Of 2017