As history shows, the teams with the best records in the league do not always win it all. In fact, since the Wild Card format has been instituted, only 3 of the 16 teams that have best records among the MLB have won the World Series. So with that being said, here are two under-the-radar teams that I believe have a solid chance at being crowned champion this season.
American League: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are currently sitting 2.5 games ahead in the top spot of the AL Wild Card race. After requiring the likes of Sonny Gray, Jaime Garcia, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle, the “Bronx Bombers” have now added solidified arms in not only their starting rotation, but in their bullpen as well. With Chapman and Betances, it was already hard enough to score in the late innings against the Yanks. But with the addition of Robertson, it has added another level of difficulty for hitters of the opposing teams.
The Yankees are also home to one of the most potent and electrifying offenses in the entire league. Before the All-Star break, the Bombers were among the top 5 in almost every offensive category in the American League. For such a young and inexperienced lineup, this feat is extremely impressive. They haven’t quite gotten off to the same stretch since the second half has started, dropping from the third-best average to the twenty-sixth best in the league. But, if the Yanks can find a way to wake up their slumping bats by the time September rolls around, I believe this team has the potential to win the World Series not only this year but possibly for many years to come.
National League: Colorado Rockies
It is difficult to deny that the Colorado Rockies have one of or if not the most dominant offenses in the entire league. With a star-studded lineup that includes MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies have the best team average (.275), collected the most hits (1169), and scored the most runs (648) in the National League. What is more impressive is the extremely solid play from the supporting cast that is virtually unknown to the average baseball fan. DJ LeMahieu is currently hitting an impressive .312 and has an on-base percentage of .376. Mark Reynolds is having a career-reviving season, clubbing 26 HR and hitting .280. This Rockies lineup makes it extremely challenging for pitchers to travel to Coors Field and pitch well. In September and October, it will be interesting to see if the “Rocks” can continue to slug their way to victories. If they can do that, they have a very good chance of making some noise in the post-season.
For years, the Achilles-heel of the Rockies was their pitching rotation. This season has been no different. The rotation started off the season locked in, posting the eighth-best team ERA in the National League. Since then, their ERA has risen .77 points (4.45 to 5.22) and they currently sit tied for last place in batting average against in the second half of the season. Everyone knows that it is extremely difficult to pitch in Coors Field due to the elevation, and this makes it very difficult to sign big-name free agents to come and pitch in Colorado. This definitely explains the problems that Colorado has had with their staff in past years. But, the inexperienced rotation of Jon Gray, Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, and Chad Bettis have very strong potential, and I am intrigued to see how well they pitch under the bright lights in October baseball. If this Rockies team can continue to hit as well as have and their pitching staff can continue to keep them in games, they will be a hard team to beat in the postseason. It has been said that defense/pitching wins championships, but who knows? Maybe this year the Rockies will break the status-quo.