Who could be this year’s Nationals? How all 30 MLB teams stack up

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Only one World Series favorite entering the season actually won the World Series in the decade we just completed. Wait, let’s put that another way: A team that was one of the top five favorites entering the season won the World Series only once over the past decade.

The 2019 Washington Nationals didn’t necessarily feel like a surprise champ, given the star-laden nature of the team and their many playoff appearances throughout the decade, but they were coming off a mediocre 82-80 season, had lost Bryce Harper in free agency and entered the season just ninth among World Series favorites, according to the betting odds.nfl nike jerseys cheap

Only two of the 10 championship teams won 90 games the season before. This doesn’t mean the Yankees, Dodgers or Astros — the current top three favorites — won’t win the World Series this year. It doesn’t even suggest the postseason is a complete crapshoot; after all, the 2016 Cubs, 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox each won more than 100 games (and the 2019 Astros might have been a fourth straight 100-win champ if Howie Kendrick hadn’t hit that improbable home run off Will Harris in Game 7 of the World Series).1

It does suggest, however, that predicting the World Series winner in March is not easy. As powerful as the Dodgers, Yankees or Astros look right now, over the past 10 years, only the 2016 Cubs looked like a superteam heading into the season and ended up raising the piece of metal in October.

Last year’s 90-win teams: Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Twins, Braves, A’s, Rays, Nationals, Indians, Cardinals. Of those 10 teams, the Indians currently have the longest betting odds at +3000, ranking 18th. (Personally, I’ll take the Rays at +2500.)

This year’s bad teams: Two of the above World Series winners had losing seasons the previous year, and the 2012 Red Sox won just 69 games. Going back even earlier, eight other teams in the division era (since 1969) won the World Series coming off a losing season: 2003 Marlins (79 wins), 2002 Angels (75), 1997 Marlins (80), 1991 Twins (74), 1990 Reds (75), 1988 Dodgers (73), 1987 Twins (71), 1969 Mets (73).nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Nonetheless, the vast majority of 71- or 73-win teams do not reach the playoffs the next season, let alone win it all. For 2020, I don’t see a road to the World Series for the following teams, which also are the seven teams with the longest betting odds: Tigers, Orioles, Marlins, Royals, Mariners, Giants and Pirates.

Here is a look at some of the elements that have boosted the recent championship teams and how this year’s potential surprise contenders fit in.