Five MLB franchises that could end World Series title droughts in 2017
The era of mind-boggling World Series droughts has ended.
The Red Sox’s cursed 85-year skid? Ended in 2004.
The White Sox’s 87-year trek through the championship desert? Snipped in 2005.
And, of course, the Cubs snapped their infamous 108-year downturn by winning an epic seven-game World Series in 2016.
The team Chicago beat in last year’s Fall Classic, the Indians, haven’t won the title since 1948, a relatively quaint little stretch of 68 years. If manager Terry Francona works his magic — remember, he won two World Series titles with the Red Sox — Cleveland’s drought won’t make it into the 70-year club, much less the 80-year club.
In the spirit of snapping skids, let’s look at five more lengthy losing streaks that have a chance of ending with the 2017 season (sorry, Brewers and Padres fans, your teams aren’t breaking decades-long World Series droughts this year).
The skid: Haven’t made the playoffs since 2001
Need to know: Believe it or not, at 15 years, this is Major League Baseball’s longest current playoff drought. A couple of seasons ago, Seattle was an afterthought on this list, but the Pirates (20 years), Royals (28 years) and Blue Jays (21 years) have all snapped their own skids since 2013 and the Mariners find themselves alone atop this list. Here’s hoping Seattle makes it happen, because how cool would it be to see Felix Hernandez finally get to start a playoff game?
The skid: Haven’t made the World Series, ever (franchise started as Montreal Expos in 1969)
Need to know: You can’t think about this franchise’s drought without wondering what might have happened had the 1994 season not been canceled, with the Expos atop the National League with a 74-40 record, at least six games better than every other team. Sigh. The 2017 Nationals are in prime position to break the drought — if superstar Bryce Harper bounces back from a mediocre 2016 season and the stellar rotation stays healthy.
The skid: Haven’t been to the World Series since 1988
Need to know: It’s not that the Dodgers have lacked October opportunities. They’ve made the postseason 10 times since that stunning 1988 title (hi, Kirk Gibson!), including each of the past four seasons (and they should make it five in a row in 2017). No, their story has more been about a struggle to win during the playoffs. In those 10 trips, they’ve won just four of 14 series, with an anemic overall record of 23-37. As a team, L.A. has a combined 4.43 ERA in the postseason, and has batted just .244 with a .693 OPS at the plate. Yikes.
The skid: Haven’t won the World Series, ever (franchise started in 1961 as the Washington Senators)
Need to know: The Rangers, of course, have been tantalizingly close to that elusive first World Series title recently. They made the Fall Classic for the first time in 2010, but the Giants won that one in five games. Texas made it back in 2011, and the Rangers were only one strike away — on two separate occasions — from claiming the crown in Game Six against St. Louis, but the Cardinals rallied both times to force Game Seven, which they won, 6-2. Texas should be ready for another run in 2017.
The skid: Haven’t won the World Series, ever (franchise started in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s)
Need to know: Houston’s lone trip to the biggest of baseball dances didn’t last long; the Astros were swept by the White Sox in 2005. An aggressive offseason of acquiring talent — to go with young stars such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer — means the club will be a serious contender to snap the skid at some point in the next few seasons.