Who is Baseball’s Next Great Team?
Based on the blueprints of the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers, what team will rise up next to be baseball’s next great team?
The 2017 postseason has been filled with unexpected circumstances, but regardless of the outcome one thing is for certain- the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Chicago Cubs are here to stay. All three teams are consistent in that they were built from within, added resources from outside the organization, and have the tools to continue making postseason appearances for years to come. Barring injury or a drastic shift in individual player performance, these organizations have almost certainly set themselves up for years to come.
In each league, there is a leading contender to emerge as the next dominant force. These teams have set themselves up for success by using similar methods to the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs- cultivating their own talent, making smart trades, and playing for the future. In today’s age of sabermetric baseball, winning with homegrown talent is as important as ever because it is cheap and flexible. So, who are the teams that look to join the game’s elite in the coming years?
The Phillies are currently constructed very similarly to the way the Cubs were a few years ago, equipped with a young and talented roster that was mostly built from the farm level upwards. And because the roster is so young, it means Philadelphia has some major financial flexibility moving forward. The Phillies will likely be in the hunt for Bryce Harper next winter and will surely make a run at Mike Trout, already a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love, when his contract expires in 2020. Trout is a diehard Philadelphia sports fan and given the upward trajectory of the franchise, there is a legitimate chance he signs with the Phillies.
A major key to the Phillies success moving forward will be the development of third baseman Maikel Franco. After showing immense potential in his first two full seasons, Franco struggled in 2017, batting .230/.281/.409, while posting a -0.2 WAR. Franco was seen as the cornerstone of the Phillies franchise and must improve in order to move forward with the team. If he struggles in 2018, the Phillies could add Manny Machado to the list of superstars they will target.
Still, there is enough talent at premium positions for the Phillies to flourish regardless. Rhys Hoskins proved to be a very real power threat in 50 big league games, smacking 18 home runs and 48 RBI’s. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and shortstop J.P. Crawford are promising young prospects that should be able to contribute to the Phillies lineup upon arrival.
The Phillies must focus on adding pitching depth to complement their young talent. This can be accomplished both in free agency and by using some of their pieces as trade assets. Once they do, they can overtake the Washington Nationals as the team to beat in the NL East.
Chicago White Sox
After loading up on talent from trading star pitchers Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and David Robertson within the last twelve months, the White Sox are laden with young talent waiting to prosper in the Major Leagues.
The number one prospect in baseball Yoan Moncada struggled at the dish but showed flashes of the power, defense, and bat skills that he can provide as he develops. Eloy Jimenez, who the White Sox received from the crosstown rival Cubs, is a strong outfielder with elite power grades and arm grades. Right handed pitcher Michael Kopech has a fastball that often reaches over 100 MPH, drawing worthy comparisons to Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets. Outfielder Luis Robert is the most highly anticipated Cuban prospect since Moncada and possesses blazing speed and has elite defensive grades. Blake Rutherford, another outfielder, was acquired in the Robertson trade and was the Yankees first round pick in 2016. Pitcher Dylan Cease is lauded for his fastball/curveball combination and has the ability to reach triple digits on the radar gun. Alec Hanson appears to be a frontline starter coming off a season in which he owned a 1.32 ERA in Class A.
And the best part for Chicago? All of these prospects are ranked amongst the Top 100 in all of baseball according to MLB.com. The White Sox will look to ride their home grown talent to a championship just like their division rival, the Kansas City Royals, did in 2015. And like Philadelphia, the White Sox are a big market team and will be able to spend money around their young, inexpensive core.
Of course, the White Sox will need to leap the Cleveland Indians in order to take control of the division, which is no easy task. But the rest of the AL Central looks to be weak in the coming years due to ongoing rebuilds and impending free agent departures. If the White Sox develop their prospects properly, they will be a force for years to come. The future is bright on the South Side.