The 2017 Major League Baseball season begins in one week; and if the various prognostications out there come true, then we might as well trim the league from 30 teams down to 12.
But considering that the experts seem to agree that the National League and the American League each have six elite teams, the remaining teams are at best handing out paychecks to players who, unless they are traded to one of the Elite 12, have no chance of making it to the post-season.
If you are a baseball fan, then you know who those Elite 12 are. In the National League, they are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington. In the American League, they are Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Seattle, Texas and Toronto. (There is at least some uncertainty in the American League, where Baltimore in the minds of some of the experts could crack the Elite 12.)
Taking it a step further, if you were to rank the Elite 12, your list would look like this:
- Chicago (the champs, but unlikely to repeat that 100+ win record from one season ago)
- Los Angeles (if Clayton Kershaw figures out how to pitch in October, look out)
- Cleveland (came thisclose to a title in 2016 and could be better in 2017)
- Washington (if not now, when? for the chronically underachieving Nationals)
- Boston (if David Price were guaranteed a healthy season, the Red Sox would be higher)
- Houston (the gap between the Astros and the top is not wide)
- San Francisco (if the offense shows up, then this is an intriguing team)
- New York (the defense is leaky and creaky in places)
- Seattle (offense will not be a problem; the pitching might be)
- Toronto (if the Jays don’t miss Edwin Encarnacion’s bat, they’ll be tough)
- St. Louis (the defense will be solid, but has the offense lost too much?)
- Texas (the Rangers are a Big XII football team: they score, but so do their opponents)
There you have it. The Elite 12.
If they play as they should, it might be a boring Major League Baseball season; the only question that will need answered is which team from each league fails to make the playoffs.