Need a second team to follow in 2017? Fall in love with one of these five
The second-favorite team is an important tool in every fan's belt. Your favorite team is an eternal and undying bond between yourself and the club, but there's always the need for that second team that you can jump on for a year, buy the cap and then ditch for another in the future.
Maybe it's because your team is rebuilding and you want a contender to watch. Maybe it's because your team is loaded with veterans and you want to watch some prospects cut their teeth. Maybe it's simply because you want a West Coast team to watch once your favorite team's game has finished. The point is: The Second Team is sacred. And we are here to help you select a new one this year.
Here are five suggestions:
This is the year the prophecies foretold. Back in 2014, when the thought of a Cubs-Indians World Series seemed like something out of fiction, Sports Illustrated put the Astros on their cover with the headline, "Your 2017 World Series Champs."
One may not be able to perfectly predict baseball, but the cavalcade of talent that Houston put together has put the Astros in fantastic position to take home baseball's greatest prize.
The team has a franchise-making shortstop in Carlos Correa, who will inspire fierce "A-Rod or Jeter?" debates between himself and Francisco Lindor for the next decade.
Alex Bregman, the Astros' other top prospect, moved over to play third base to accommodate Correa. After struggling out of the gate last year with a 1-for-32 start to his big league career, Bregman hit .308/.355/.562 the rest of the way -- as a 22-year-old rookie. And there's Yuliesky Gurriel, the $47.5 million dollar man that signed in the middle of last year to play first base. Oh, and perhaps the best all-around player in the game not named Mike Trout in Jose Altuve.
That's just the infield.
The team also includes a Cy Young winner in Dallas Keuchel, a center fielder one home run shy of 30 in George Springer and a bearded duo that could be twins. Plus, the team added Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran, the latter of whom is surely back to add to his 2004 legend when he hit 8 postseason home runs in two series.
The Rangers deserve to be on this list simply for the antics of Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. While most sitcoms air around 24 episodes a year, the Arlington duo shows up nearly 162 times -- while also playing stellar baseball.
Of course, there's plenty of other reasons to tune in for the Rangers. Like Yu Darvish, set to pitch his first complete season since 2013. There's also Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo, two young players that can hit the ball a country mile. And Carlos Gomez, who swings at everything like he's trying to hit the ball a country mile.
In terms of the divisional race, the Rangers have been a pesky nuisance the last few years. The team made up an eight game deficit in August to steal the AL West in 2015, and last year, they went a shocking 36-11 in one-run games to take it again. As all great stories are told in trilogies, surely the Rangers have something else in store for this year.
Even better: There should be a great rivalry between the Astros and Rangers. Last year, the Rangers blitzed their cross-state rivalries with a 15-4 record.
Fire up the Thin Lizzy, because the "Boys are Back in Town." Just like an action movie, the core of the Tigers roster that won four consecutive division titles from 2011-14, is together for one last battle. This time, the villain isn't just the rest of the league -- it's Father Time.
Following second and fifth-place finishes the last two seasons, and with the Indians looking every bit the class of the division, Detroit started the offseason looking to trade some of their veterans and kickstart a rebuild. They soon pivoted, and decided to give this rag tag group of baseball Expendables one more go.
Miguel Cabrera hit 38 home runs with a .956 OPS at the age of 33. Neither age, or Comerica Park itself, can contain Cabrera:
Ian Kinsler hit 28 home runs and won a Gold Glove at second base at an age when most second basemen are finding work at first or on the bench. Despite playing through a hernia at the age of 37, Victor Martinez still matched his career OPS+ of 123 and cracked out 27 more home runs. Justin Verlander turned back the clock as he changed his approach on the mound en route to leading the league in strikeouts and finishing second in Cy Young voting at the age of 33.
Of course, the team isn't just crusty veterans: They'll have plenty of help from the under-30s crowd of Justin Upton, JD Martinez, Nick Castellanos, human camping catalog Daniel Norris and the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer.
Why should you follow a rebuilding Brewers team? Well, the team has a number of exciting, all-or-nothing type players that could build upon promising 2016 campaigns and break out.
Keon Broxton showed an impressive power/speed combination in a half-season of play last year, while also displaying an impressive glove in center field.
Unfortunately, he also struck out 36 percent of the time -- the second-highest rate among all players with at least 200 plate appearances.
Jonathan Villar went from a part-time utility player to the NL's stolen base leader. He was also one home run shy of the first 20/60 season since Rickey Henderson in 1990.
While the speed is real, the power was a new wrinkle and if his .373 BABIP is more luck than skill, Villar could return to the world of super-utilitydom.
Junior Guerra showed that his time pitching in Spain and Italy worked out. His splitter helped him to a 2.81 ERA -- the best mark for a Brewers starter since CC Sabathia.
Is Guerra a hidden ace that needed to age like a fine wine, or with an ERA that was nearly a run lower than his FIP, will he regress this year?
There are more players that show enormous potential: Jesus Aguilar was claimed off waivers following a 30 home run season in Triple-A. Domingo Santana blasts baseballs with the fury of 1,000 suns. And Orlando Arcia's defense is so dreamy, the field is just a fluffy cloud:
Oh yeah, there's also that Ryan Braun guy, who is coming off his best season since 2012.
The Rockies could field a team of 25 toddlers next season and still be on this list. That's because, 1) toddlers are adorable and 2) the team has adopted a new shade of purple.Now, the team's purple is as gorgeous and majestic as the mountains the team is named after.
Fortunately, the players are not actually toddlers. In reality, they're some of the most exciting in the game. The NL West is going to be a difficult gauntlet, with the Dodgers and Giants looking formidable once again, but this is arguably the most talented Rockies team in years.
Led by part-time ghost hunter Jon Gray, four of the team's starters pitched more than 100 innings and posted an ERA+ better than league average. The team only did that one other time, when five pitchers topped the mark for the 2009 Rockies that went 92-70. Even better -- all those starters are 27 or younger.
The lineup oozes watchability. Trevor Story will look to return from injury and prove that all those "Trevorending Story" puns were not wasted; DJ Lehmahieu is fresh off a batting title season and Nolan Arenado is putting together the kind of career that leads to the Hall of Fame..
Have you fallen in love with a new team now? Are you making room in your closet for the fresh swag you'll purchase to show off your choice? Is there another team you think has a case? Let us know in the comments.