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'17 matchups guarantee a postseason of fun

MLB.com

Let's start with Jose Altuve's trio of home runs in the Astros' 8-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, and then we'll consider all the other reasons why we're in for some fun over the next few weeks.

You know, fun...as in the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and the Indians that turned into an all-time classic. While the Indians hadn't won it all since 1948, the Cubs' drought extended four decades before that. The two battled in a Game 7 for the ages. After the Cubs survived their equally relentless opponent in extra innings before an exhausted audience in Cleveland, the template was set for future generations of baseball postseason teams to try to match.

Let's start with Jose Altuve's trio of home runs in the Astros' 8-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, and then we'll consider all the other reasons why we're in for some fun over the next few weeks.

You know, fun...as in the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and the Indians that turned into an all-time classic. While the Indians hadn't won it all since 1948, the Cubs' drought extended four decades before that. The two battled in a Game 7 for the ages. After the Cubs survived their equally relentless opponent in extra innings before an exhausted audience in Cleveland, the template was set for future generations of baseball postseason teams to try to match.

2017 postseason schedule

If you're a baseball fan, you have to love the slew of storylines involved with each of the four Division Series matchups. As a result, the eventual winners likely will make for competitive League Championship Series, and you see where I'm going: There's a better than ever chance that this World Series will produce drama similar to Cubs-Indians, 2016.

Come to think of it, we could have Cubs-Indians, 2017, but a whole bunch of things have to happen before then. Whatever happens, the storylines will stay as captivating along the way as they were at the start of each Division Series.

Yankees-Indians
You know what's nearly as exciting as watching Yankees slugger Aaron Judge threaten to smash a pitch through the farthest dark hole? It's anticipating the work of the bullpens for both teams, especially with the impressive likes of Andrew Miller, Tyler Olson and Bryan Shaw for the Indians versus Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson and the rest of those studs for the Yankees.

But back to Judge, the latest in a Yankee line that includes Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig. If nothing else, Judge is trending in the direction of other pinstriped greats in their rookie year, after he went deep in his first playoff experience -- the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins.

In the ALDS presented by Doosan, the Yankees are facing an Indians bunch which was a pitch shy of becoming the AL's version of the Cubs last year. Now the Indians seek to end the longest World Series-winning draught in their league after posting a 22-game winning streak during the regular season. It also doesn't hurt their cause that they have a very nice everyday lineup, with Francisco Lindor in the leadoff spot.

Video: NYY@CLE Gm1: Bauer freezes Judge in the 1st

Astros-Red Sox
All you need to know is that the Astros led the Major Leagues in batting average, runs scored and just about every other offensive category of significance during the regular season. They also have second baseman Altuve, who can hit for average and with power.

The Astros can pitch, too. In addition to the AL Cy Young guy they already had in Dallas Keuchel, they got another one during the season in Justin Verlander. See if this sounds familiar: The Astros have great depth in their bullpen, but the Red Sox have Craig Kimbrel, among the most dominant closers in baseball. 

Other than that for the Red Sox, the operative word is scrappy. The Red Sox don't shy away from adversity, which is especially important now, after they lost the first two games of the Division Series. But you've got to like this rarity among Boston teams that depends more on manufacturing runs than trying to mash balls over the wall at Fenway Park. Mookie Betts is superb on the bases, and the same goes for teammate Xander Bogaerts and others.

Video: BOS@HOU Gm 1: Altuve belts his second homer of game

D-backs-Dodgers
If you're the D-backs, you're likely glad to be facing the Dodgers in the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile. Arizona will enter Friday night's opener at Dodger Stadium with a six-game winning streak over the Dodgers, and the D-backs' offensive dominance this year at Chavez Ravine and at home wasn't a fluke.

Paul Goldschmidt slumped in September with a .171 batting average, but his three-run homer in the first inning of the D-backs' NL Wild Card Game win over the Rockies reminded us that he's capable of MVP-caliber play.

Even without the old Goldschmidt, the D-backs have the likes of J.D. Martinez to terrorize a formidable Dodgers pitching staff. Speaking of which, who wouldn't want Clayton Kershaw at the top of their rotation? L.A. also acquired Yu Darvish during the regular season with an eye toward winning their first World Series title since 1988. The Dodgers have the pitching and the offense to do it. 

Video: CHC@WSH Gm 1: Baker clarifies NLDS rotation

Nationals-Cubs
The Nationals have one of baseball's brightest stars in Bryce Harper. Washington also has Ryan Zimmerman, with his .303 regular-season batting average, 36 homers and 108 RBIs, not to mention Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon.

Just as impressive for the Nationals is their rotation, led by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Even though Scherzer is nursing a sore right hamstring, you still have to like the Nationals' chances of ending their one-series-and-done history in the playoffs.

The Cubs are the defending World Series champs, but they've certainly experienced their fair share of disappointment in October. And they're returning most of their postseason heroes from last year.

Kris Bryant. Anthony Rizzo. Kyle Hendricks. They hinted at hitting their postseason stride at the end of the season. After a sub-.500 start before the All-Star break, Chicago's 45-29 record was the best in baseball from that point through the end of the season.

Imagine if the Cubs survive the Nationals and then the Dodgers or the D-backs for their first back-back trips to the World Series since 1907-08, when they won both seasons. Imagine if the Cubs meet the Indians again.

Told you this will be fun.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com.