If you are looking for surprises, you have come to the wrong place. Unless you are a time-traveling Cubs fan who just arrived in 2017, in which case you are going to be shocked at what you read below.
A lot can happen over the course of a season and hope, of course, does spring eternal. But the following teams are really, really good. Best of luck to everyone trying to catch them.
That said, some years have surprises and everyone hopes their National League team will be the one to catch the wave in 2017.
To create this list of the top five contenders, we used Las Vegas odds and read predictions from many different sources. The truth? Every one of them had the following five teams in various orders, with the Cubs on top.
National League Contenders: Chicago Cubs
Once lovable losers, the defending champions now are the team to beat in 2017. They have the best rotation in baseball with John Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. Manager Joe Maddon, one of baseball’s best innovators, already is toying with the idea of a hybrid rotation that gives starts to both Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery. Plus the offense remains loaded. It may have taken them 108 years to win a championship, but it might take just one to win another one.
There’s just this one thing about the Cubs – only three teams have repeated as champions in the last 30 years.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The rotation remains solid with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda at the top. The Dodgers have a busload of people vying for the other spots including veterans such as Scott Kazmir and youngsters such as Julio Urias. Questions remain on offense, particularly at the corner outfield positions, but guys like Corey Seager will keep things humming.
New York Mets
Mets fans have, over many years, suffered with this team. But last year, the team itself suffered with injuries up and down the lineup. Many of those players should return healthy this year, and the question becomes: if a team can make the playoffs with that many injuries, what can they do with everyone healthy?
San Francisco Giants
Some writers have the Giants as co-favorites to win the West with the Dodgers, but some issues need to be addressed. The team took care of one big problem – inadequate relief out of the bullpen – by adding closer Mike Melancon, an All-Star last year while closing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals. They haven’t really spent on offense, although with the rotation set and the bullpen bolstered many expect them to make a move at some point for more power in the lineup.
They traded away Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, but still have a pitching rotation topped by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, If Bryce Harper returns to form, and with speedy Trea Turner and Adam Eaton hitting ahead of him, the team’s offense should churn out runs and could become a dangerous contender come the fall.
So there you go. Those five teams rank atop almost everyone’s list of the top contenders in the National League. We’ll all know soon enough who really is the best, and whether the Cubs can beat the odds and win another title.