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The Top 10 Most Exciting Teams in MLB

Rick WeinerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 15, 2017

The Top 10 Most Exciting Teams in MLB

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    As Diff'rent Strokes taught us, the world doesn't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you may not be right for some.

    Baseball's no different.

    While you might be a fan of one-run games, the person you're sitting next to might prefer high-scoring affairs. There's something for everyone in America's pastime, and that's what makes trying to nail down the most exciting teams in baseball a difficult task.

    Youth plays a major part, as there's something exciting about watching youngsters with all the promise in the world just starting out.

    The ability to quickly put runs on the board, the speed to stretch balls hit into the gaps and havoc caused on the basepaths are all factors that contribute to an exciting ballclub.

    When it comes to pitching, it works both ways. A staff that can simply dominate and shut down the opposition is certainly appealing, but there's something exciting about a team that has a potent offense and a mediocre set of arms.

    With all that in mind, let's take a look at the 10 most exciting teams in baseball.

     

    *All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

10. New York Yankees

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    With nearly half of the team's starting lineup on the disabled list to start the season, you might be scratching your head as to why the New York Yankees are on this list.

    But when healthy, there's no denying that the Bronx Bombers are one of the more exciting teams in baseball.

    Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera continue to defy Father Time, while Robinson Cano, in the prime of his career, is baseball's best second baseman and a perennial contender for the AL MVP award.

    The team is certainly flawed, but there's plenty of talent up and down the lineup.

    You've got speed with Jeter, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, and big-time power from Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, the latter of which has hit more home runs over the past two years (84) than any other player in baseball.

    A veteran-laden rotation was supposed to be one of the team's strengths heading into the season, but it has been anything but through the first two games. Both CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda got hit hard in their respective starts, with Kuroda not making it past the second inning due to injury.

    It's going to be a roller coaster ride in the Bronx this summer, one that is sure to excite both those who love the Yankees and those who love to hate them.

9. Colorado Rockies

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    To be fair, these aren't the Colorado Rockies of old, with Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Todd Helton and Larry Walker putting up incredible offensive numbers.

    And yet Colorado is still an entertaining and exciting team to watch.

    Helton is a shell of the player he once was, but with Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez all in the prime of their careers and the up-and-coming Wilin Rosario, the Rockies can score runs quickly and give their embattled pitching staff a chance to hold the lead.

    Pitching, of course, has long been Colorado's Achilles' heel, and the staff's collective ineffectiveness only lends to the excitement of watching the Rockies play. You just never know exactly what you're going to get from the group on any given day, especially when taking the mound at Coors Field.

8. Kansas City Royals

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    When it comes to young talent in the lineup with limitless potential, few teams can contend with the Kansas City Royals.

    Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez are all still in the beginning stages of their careers and have yet to reach their full potential, while Billy Butler and Alex Gordon sit in their primes.

    The perennially injured Lorenzo Cain, if he can stay healthy, adds another dimension of power and speed to an already talented mix of players at Kauffman Stadium.

    With a drastically improved rotation that features former Tampa Bay Rays Wade Davis and James Shields, one of baseball's best bullpens and one of the game's most underrated managers in Ned Yost, things are looking up in Kansas City for the first time in more than a decade.

7. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Baseball's most improved team from a year ago, the Toronto Blue Jays have a bit of everything for baseball fans to enjoy.

    There's speed at both ends of the lineup in Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio, who both make outstanding defensive plays look routine, and the routine plays look incredible difficult.

    Fans of the long ball need look no further than Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the middle of Toronto's lineup. The duo is capable of hitting 40 home runs apiece. Meanwhile, youngsters like J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie have big-time power potential.

    On the mound, you've got a pair of Cy Young candidates in Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey, the reigning Cy Young Award winner in the National League from a year ago and owner of the greatest single season ever put together by a knuckleball pitcher.

    Toronto's bullpen is also quite exciting. With 43-year-old left-handed reliever Darren Oliver as the most reliable arm of the bunch, there are definitely some nail-biting late-inning situations when the likes of Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos take the hill.

6. Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit can boast about having two of MLB's best in Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, but the Tigers' appeal and ability to excite the masses goes well beyond just two players.

    Austin Jackson is one of the up-and-coming young stars of the game. He's an on-base machine who makes incredible defensive plays in center field on a daily basis. He also serves as the table-setter for a lineup that features veteran studs in Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.

    Detroit's rotation features two of the premier strikeout artists around in Verlander and Max Scherzer, but it's in the ninth inning where things get dicey. With the team's decision to go with a closer by committee in the wake of prospect Bruce Rondon's inability to win the job this spring, you can simply never be sure what you are going to get with the game on the line.

    Will the closer of the day deliver a one-two-three inning, or will he put runners on base, forcing manager Jim Leyland to use multiple pitchers to try and lock down a victory?

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    They've been called the New York Yankees of the West, and for good reason.

    With All-Stars littering the lineup and one of baseball's highest payrolls, the pressure on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win—and win now—is as high as it's ever been.

    Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp give the Dodgers a solid middle of the order,  while Carl Crawford, if he can stay healthy, adds another dimension of power and speed to the mix.

    Nobody will dispute Hanley Ramirez's incredible natural talents, but the shortstop/third baseman has been a perennial underachiever, and his ability to stay focused on the task at hand has been questioned in the past. That he's a defensive liability doesn't help things either, especially when he's struggling at the plate.

    The rotation is led by the best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw. At only 25 years old, he still has bigger and better things ahead of him—a scary thought when you consider that he's already got one Cy Young Award to his name and was the runner-up in 2012.

    Zack Greinke, a former Cy Young Award winner himself, Josh Beckett and a bevy of veteran starters fill out the rotation, while Kenley Jansen, one of baseball's brightest young relievers, patiently waits for manager Don Mattingly to make the correct decision and insert him as the team's closer.

4. Cincinnati Reds

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    If you are looking for a team with few flaws, look no further than Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, where the Reds remain the cream of the crop in the NL Central.

    Even after losing left fielder Ryan Ludwick for months with an injured shoulder that requires surgery, the Reds boast a middle of the order that is incredibly dangerous in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.

    Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos, two of baseball's best pitchers under the age of 28, lead a solid starting rotation that is both experienced and deep. And Aroldis Chapman, with his electric fastball in the ninth, is as exciting a closer as you'll find in the game today.

3. Atlanta Braves

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    With an impressive outfield and some of the best young pitching in baseball, Atlanta is poised to be an exciting club to watch for some time.

    Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers, B.J. and Justin, have the potential to finish the season with a combined 90 home runs, 300 RBI and 75 stolen bases. And Freddie Freeman is one of the most underrated up-and-coming stars in the game, with a .300/30/100 season in his sights.

    Tim Hudson is the veteran of the pitching staff, which features one of MLB's brightest pitching prospects in Julio Teheran, who has electric stuff and the ability to make batters look foolish.

    Both Kris Medlen and Mike Minor are entering their primes, while Brandon Beachy's midseason return from Tommy John surgery will only serve to make Atlanta even more exciting to watch.

    Craig Kimbrel, the only reliever in baseball who can contend with Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman for the title of "Most Electrifying," is dominant and has an average of more than 15 strikeouts per nine innings of work over the course of his career.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    With Mike Trout atop the lineup as baseball's most exciting player since Ken Griffey Jr., the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a must-see when they come to a stadium near you this season.

    If players could be mass-produced, Mike Trout would be the mold. With a combination of speed and power that few have, the 22-year-old is worth the price of admission alone.

    Throw in two of the most prolific sluggers of a generation in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, a legendary figure who transcends eras, and there's no debate that Mike Scoscia's squad is one of baseball's most exciting teams.

    On the mound, the Angels' starting rotation, aside from Jered Weaver, is sure to keep things interesting. Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and C.J. Wilson have the ability to shut down the opposition, but the group is inconsistent enough that the Angels could find themselves down multiple runs at the end of the first inning just as easily.

1. Washington Nationals

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    Pitching doesn't only win championships, it gives the Washington Nationals the edge on the rest of baseball when looking for the game's most exciting team.

    With a pair of perennial Cy Young Award contenders in Gio Gonzalez and the original "phenom" for the Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, along with the wildly underrated and overshadowed Jordan Zimmerman—all under the age of 28, by the way—few teams can hang with Washington's starting rotation.

    The new "phenom," of course, is Bryce Harper, who drew comparisons to Mickey Mantle just over a month into his rookie season and may have more raw power than anyone in the game today. Harper leads a formidable lineup that is capable of putting runs on the board quickly, has speed at the top and power throughout.

    The allure of watching a pair of players in Harper and Strasburg—who have the potential to one day be considered all-time greats—at the beginning of their careers is simply too strong for any baseball fan to resist, regardless of what team he/she pledges allegiance to.

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