Major League Baseball 2017 Final Day: Everyone gets to play in October

Luis Severino yankees

Will the Cubs repeat as champions, or will a surprising team like the Minnesota Twins shock the world and become the first team to become a World Series championship team just one year after losing 100-plus games?

Thanks to a lack of parity within the American League this year, the Twins were one of only five teams in the American League to finish with a record above.500, and they were rewarded with a playoff spot. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies both return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and 2009, respectively, and will take on each other's electric offenses in the wild card game.

Last year, the Indians were like the Little Engine that Could. The Cubs don't appear to be as strong as they were past year, but they do know what it takes to win. The Arizona Diamondbacks have clinched home field advantage for the wild card game, and they'll face either the Colorado Rockies, the Brewers or Cardinals. Chicago won the World Series past year for the first time since 1908.

There have been only 23 teams in major-league history to strike out more than 1,400 times in the season.

Ask the Yankees organization and they'll probably say they expected to be playing in October this year, but most baseball experts figured the Yankees were still another year or two away from contention. Now armed with a dominant Justin Verlander, the Astros are primed to live up to our 2014 cover tout because they appear to be in better shape than the teams in their path, even with Lance McCullers' second-half disappearance. Although the D'backs took the season series 9-3, I'm going with the Rockies to advance to play the Dodgers, who they'll face in a 3-game series this weekend. "It seemed like everybody was driven to get back and find a way to win".

Up until August 25, the Dodgers were a boggling 55 games above.500 and on pace to post one of the winningest seasons in the modern era. The Cleveland Indians now are seen as the favorites to be World Series Champs. The Dodgers do have the better bullpen than the Diamondbacks, and a higher run differential.

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On the American League side, the young Houston Astros have been on the verge of greatness for a while, and I think this is the year they'll finally push all the way through. Not to mention the emotional factor after Hurricane Harvey. They somehow managed to make it that far with a cobbled-together starting rotation that consisted of Corey Kluber on short rest numerous times, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer pitching with a sliced-open finger.

This year, the Tribe's starting rotation is healthier and better than ever.

The defending American League champion Cleveland Indians are back. In addition to shutdown pitching, Cleveland has a solid top-to-bottom batting order.

Both AL Division Series open on Thursday, with the Boston Red Sox visting the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians facing the AL Wild Card victor in their ALDS matchup.

In the other series, the Cubs play the Nationals. Or will it be the Indians, the hottest team in the league and vengeful returnees after their heartbreaking conclusion to the 2016 season. Like the 2015 Royals, the Indians return to October as a better, battle-hardened team.

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