On this Thanksgiving, we pause to appreciate another jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, epic-beyond-words World Series. Wait, didn't we write the same thing last year?Just when some of us wondered if a World Series could ever be better than the Cubs and Indians delivered a year ago, the Astros and Dodgers gave us
On this Thanksgiving, we pause to appreciate another jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, epic-beyond-words World Series. Wait, didn't we write the same thing last year?
Just when some of us wondered if a World Series could ever be better than the Cubs and Indians delivered a year ago, the Astros and Dodgers gave us another masterpiece. It was the appropriate finishing touch to a season that featured the moonshot home runs of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge right alongside the daily craftsmanship of Jose Altuve and Joey Votto.
There's never been a better time to be a baseball fan. From waves of new talent to the assortment of ways to watch games, baseball is riding a wave of positive energy. Once upon a time, some people thought only the richest teams had a chance to compete. No more.
In the past five seasons, nine franchises have been to the World Series. The Royals are the only team with multiple appearances. Remember when some thought the small-market clubs might never be able to compete?
• In the past 10 seasons, eight franchises have won the World Series. That's three for the Giants, one apiece for seven others.
• In the past 10 seasons, 14 franchises have been to the World Series at least once.
• Twenty-one of 30 teams -- 70 percent -- have been in at least one postseason series the past five seasons.
In that spirit, what does your favorite team have to be thankful for?
Michael Trout is the best baseball player on the planet and a daily joy to watch. Best of all, the Halos have assembled a team around him capable of playing in October next season.
There's winning the World Series, and then there's winning the World Series after waiting 56 seasons. Even now, some Astros fans are still trying to wrap their minds around the magical ride. As for having the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award winner in George Springer, the American League MVP Award winner in Altuve and a string of memorable postseason victories, they're not even close to grasping that part of the deal.
Matt Chapman and Matt Olson represent the next generation of talent capable of returning the A's to October baseball. And this time, with a downtown Oakland ballpark in the planning stages, the A's are in a better place than they've been in years.
Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna are the kinds of young arms every team is attempting to acquire. Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Justin Smoak are at the core of an offensive group good enough to win the AL East.
Start with a farm system flush with talent. Throw in a beautiful new ballpark (SunTrust Field). And now with the arrival of Alex Anthopoulos as general manager, the Braves have one of baseball's brightest minds to put the pieces together.
Eighty-six wins and 69 days in first place. Exciting young players like Domingo Santana and Orlando Arcia. One of the best places to watch baseball (Miller Park). Go for the baseball, fall in love with the brats, too.
New contributors like shortstop Paul DeJong and super utility man Jose Martinez have strengthened a group that begins with right-hander Carlos Martinez at the front of a rotation and Matt Carpenter at the top of the order. Best of all, the Cards are committed to an offseason upgrade. History says they will deliver.
A 2016 World Series trophy and an iconic ballpark. Three straight playoff appearances. The most wins in baseball since Opening Day '15. Kristopher Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. One of the smartest front offices in the sport. It's never been a better time to be a Cubs fan.
Wasn't 2017 a fun ride, D-backs fans? There could be more to come with America's First Baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, still in his prime and solid talent dotted up and down the roster.
Five straight first-place finishes in the National League West. A return to the World Series in 2017. Corey Seager, Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner. Dodger Stadium. The present and future could hardly be brighter.
Stop and count your blessings, Giants fans. Three World Series championships and four postseason appearances in eight seasons. Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey still in their primes. Hall of Fame manager in Bruce Bochy. A front office with a great track record for getting things right. And that ballpark on the bay isn't too shabby, either.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor is not just an amazing talent. He's an energetic, likable, charismatic personality. He represents what the Indians have become. That is, very good and very easy to root for.
James Paxton is the new ace at the top of the rotation. Felix Hernandez is still capable of pitching at a high level. With these two and a season of reasonable health from the rest of the staff, the Mariners are capable of ending that 16-year playoff drought.
Derek Jeter has never failed at anything, and as the Marlins' new CEO, he will not fail in his quest to make the team successful. He'll surround himself with smart people, he'll listen and he'll give Miami fans a reason to be optimistic.
When healthy, the best starting rotation in baseball. Is that still possible after a season of injuries and frustration? Absolutely. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are as good as any other top two. After that, there are five candidates, all of them having performed at a high level at some point. New manager Mickey Callaway is as good at helping develop and mentor pitching as anyone.
Count your blessings, Nats fans -- there are plenty of them: The second-most regular-season victories since Opening Day 2012; four division championships in six seasons; three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer; MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 prospect (outfielder Victor Robles); and Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper ready to make another run at a championship.
No player represents Major League Baseball better than center fielder Adam Jones. That's production on the field and contributions in the community. This is one guy who gets it in every single way. He will be remembered as one of the great O's of all time and the face of an era in which the Birds have been to the postseason three times in six seasons and run up the AL's third-highest winning percentage.
General manager A.J. Preller is methodically building a base of talent that has San Diego on track to contend in the near future. This offseason will be focused on adding pitching that could get help take a big step forward in 2018, and the Padres have a number of young players with flashy tools, including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe.
Left fielder/first baseman Rhys Hoskins homered 18 times in 50 games after making his debut on Aug. 10 and represents the youth the Phils have assembled. There's also money to spend on free agents and a bright, innovative new manager in Gabe Kapler. It should surprise no one if Philadelphia takes a huge leap forward in 2018.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen had a nice bounce-back season in 2017 and remains one of the most entertaining players to watch. He's the measuring stick for a player who takes pride in every single part of his game.
Adrian Beltre was just selected as the Personality of the Year in the Esurance MLB Awards. He's also a future Hall of Famer who defines professionalism, production and leadership. Oh, and have you seen some of the mammoth home runs that Joey Gallo has hit?
Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is among the most entertaining players in the game. If he's not the best defensive player in the sport, he's in the conversation.
Votto is the definition of greatness. A five-time All-Star who has led the NL in OBP six times. He won the NL MVP Award in 2010, finished third in voting in '15 and second in voting for this year's hardware.
Sometimes, the kids turn out to be as good as advertised. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi have helped the Red Sox finish first in back-to-back seasons for the first time in a century, and they're nicely positioned to take the AL East again in 2018.
There's a nice offensive core with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, along with a stockpile of young pitching, including Jon Gray and German Marquez. Bud Black is one of baseball's best managers. After making their first postseason appearance in eight years, the Rox are on the upswing.
General manager Dayton Moore put it together once, and he'll put it together back. Kansas City's rotation is good enough to make it competitive in 2018, and by the time Moore finishes his work, its offense will be stellar, too. Besides that, Kauffman Stadium is an amazing place to watch baseball.
Jose Cabrera's ticket to the Hall of Fame is punched. How many players can you say that about? He's the face of an era in which Detroit won the AL Central four straight times and he will mentor the next generation of Tigers stars that they are building around, starting with 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner Michael Fulmer.
Byron Buxton is entertaining -- in center field, running the bases, swinging the bat. In the second half of 2017, he emerged as the impact player he was long projected to be, one of the most dynamic players in the game.
No team has a better core of young talent thanks to a series of trades and drafts by general manager Rick Hahn. Players like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert will soon be household names. White Sox fans, the future has never been brighter.
Judge is that rare franchise-changing player that comes along every few generations. After a season in which he was the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner and runner up for the AL MVP Award, Judge is the new face of the Yankees and representative of the optimism Yanks fans should have about 2018.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.