First time for everything: Unlikely candidates to take the 2016 World Series

Michael Benz

According to a recent Bark survey, 36 percent of Redwood students believe the Giants are destined to win the World Series. These four teams have never won a Commissioner’s Trophy of their own, and I’m here to tell you why they have a real opportunity to seize their first World Series.

Thirty-six percent of Redwood students believe the Giants will win this year's Fall Classic.
Thirty-six percent of Redwood students believe the Giants will win this year’s Fall Classic.

 

Nationals (28-18) 1st in NL East

 

After calling up top prospects starting pitcher Joe Ross and outfielder Michael Taylor, the Washington Nationals are the most capable to make a run at the fall classic.

Although the Nats have flirted with playoff runs in recent years, reaching the National League Division Series (NLDS) in 2012 and 2014, they haven’t made it past that round. 2012 was the first time in franchise history they made the playoffs in 31 years, when they lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS.

The Washington offense is centered around the 2015 MVP, 2012 Rookie of the Year, 3 time All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper. Harper provides much needed pop to a lineup which hit .251 in 2015, No. 16 out of the 30 MLB teams.

They also added Daniel Murphy, whose outstanding 2015 playoffs caught the attention of fans and teams alike. Murphy is showing he is not just a flash in the pan, hitting .392 and leading the Nationals and the MLB in batting average so far this season.

When it comes to the young talent, in 46.2 innings pitched, Ross has a 2.70 ERA, and an impressive 1.24 WHIP. The 25-year-old is statistically outpitching Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, both proven aces.

Although he is struggling in his adjustment to the big leagues, Taylor is bound to round out into a star player. History says that the Nationals have a knack for finding good, young outfielders. (See Bryce Harper.)

 

Mariners (27-18) 1st in AL West

 

Experience and talent will carry the Mariners to their first World Series.

Their experience comes from talented veterans Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, a right fielder and second baseman, respectively. Cruz was last year’s AL home run champion and Cano has a World Series ring from his time working up the middle alongside legendary shortstop Derek Jeter on the Yankees.

The Mariners are what experts call “scrappy good.” This means they don’t appear to be a good team, but they’re a pretty damn good team.

They are easily overlooked due to their two best offensive players being done with their best years, but Cruz’ production last year and Cano’s production this year show that yeah, maybe they aren’t as feared as they were, but facing these two hitters still gives pitchers night shivers.

The Mariners have spark provided by their third baseman Kyle Seager along with first baseman Dae-Ho Lee.

PSA: Felix Hernandez is still freaky good, and King Felix will look to dominate in 2016 as he has done for just about his whole career on the hill.

Do not count out the 2016 Mariners.

 

Rockies (21-23) 3rd in NL West

 

I’ll save the Trevor Story puns. It looked like there was bound to be a huge hole in the Colorado shortstop position after Jose Reyes was indicted on domestic abuse charges and suspended for at least 60 games.

In comes Story: a 23-year-old, 6’1”, 180 lb kid from Irving, Texas. He was drafted out of high school in the first round of the MLB June Amateur Draft, but didn’t top any Top Prospect lists in recent years.

This 23-year-old kid has more home runs, 12, than another 23-year-old kid, Bryce Harper, who has 10. Story had the most home runs, nine, by a rookie in the month of April, ever.

Story’s power is paired with some of the most powerful bats in the MLB. Third baseman Nolan Arenado is second in the MLB with 14 home runs. Fourteen! It’s only been just over one month!

Not to mention, Carlos Gonzalez. Known as CarGo, he makes the ball go.

Due to their lack of pitching, the Rockies are not the favorite to win their first World Series this year.

 

Astros (18-28) 5th in AL West

 

The Houston Astros are the best team in an abysmal AL west division. As an A’s fan, that sentence hurt to write.

A team with last year’s Cy Young award, Rookie of the Year and 2014’s batting average champion is destined for success.

The Houston ball club leapfrogs the Rockies due to their depth and pitching staff.

They have arguably the best middle infield in the MLB in Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Dallas Keuchel, said Cy Young award winner, is at the helm of a very talented pitching staff.

Despite struggling so far in 2016, with a team ERA of 4.45, expect them to bounce back and have a good rest of the year, as they have done in the past.

They also have some of the best young talent in the game, coming from outfielders Carlos Gomez and George Springer, as well as Correa at shortstop.

A major detriment to the team is the drop-off in the lineup. As a whole, the catcher position is hitting far below .200, the Mendoza line of hitting aptitude.

They do, however, have a chance to make a run at the fall classic, due to their existence in the aforementioned terrible AL west division.