As this is being written the Cubs are parading around the streets of Chicago celebrating their 2016 World Series Championship with millions and millions of their fans. What better time to look ahead to 2017 and pull out a few longshot candidates to knock the Cubbies off their pedestal as baseball's best.
Free agency season hasn't even begun but the sportsbooks have already released odds to win next year's World Series. The Cubs are 3/1 favorites to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy once again followed by a trio of teams at 10/1 (Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox) but it's always more fun to look at teams who could potentially come out of the weeds, go on an improbable playoff run and cash some big money betting tickets for the risk-taking gamblers.
Here are three potential longshots to win the 2017 World Series championship (odds via Westgate LV Superbook):
St. Louis Cardinals (20/1)
Simply put, the St. Louis Cardinals organization is not going to allow their rivals from Chicago celebrate a championship and not put all of their cards (no pun intended) on the table in the offseason. They definitely have plenty of issues to address during free agency, but the National League Central has been their division for the last 10 years and they won't sit back and watch this dynasty develop on the North Side without putting up a fight.
They will need to add a couple of strong arms to their starting rotation and some impact bats to their lineup but they will spend, spend, spend in order to take some shine away from the Cubs.
Baltimore Orioles (20/1)
The Baltimore Orioles are one of those teams that nobody outside of the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia area seems to give any credit for being good. They won the very difficult American League East in 2014 and have been in the mix over the last two seasons as well - losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card game in 2016.
Terry Francona's use of Andrew Miller in the 2016 postseason for the Cleveland Indians will change the thought process of managers all across Major League Baseball. The best arm in the bullpen will not always be reserved for the ninth inning and the Orioles have the best arm in all of baseball in Zach Britton. You can be assured of one thing - if the Orioles make it to the 2017 postseason, Buck Showalter will not leave Britton sitting on the bullpen bench.
Adding two starting pitchers during free agency will go a long way to getting the Orioles back to the playoffs in 2017.
Philadelphia Phillies (100/1)
This one is the big, big longshot for the list. While the Cubs built their championship team with a really good core of young offensive talent and bringing in pitching through free agency and trades, the Philadelphia Phillies are going the opposite way by nurturing great young arms and leaving themselves a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball.
The Phillies have finally purged themselves of the old creaky bats from their lineup and look like they have a very bright future. In order to cash at 100/1 in 2017 they will need to add a ton of talent and speed up their process a bit - but anything is possible, right?