Predicting the Next 5 Evil Empires in Baseball
The New York Yankees are often referred to as the Evil Empire, perhaps because they have ruled baseball for 27 of the 108 World Series to this point, or one out of every four years.
While it doesn't seem likely any other team will dominate the next century in that fashion, the question is, which teams could become the next dynasty? The next team to win three out of five or four in the next decade?
In examining the teams for dynasty potential, I looked at how old key players were, and which important positions were filled. While I think the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies will find ways to stay good despite aging stars, they are not on this list because they are already considered "Evil Empires."
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The Atlanta Braves are built for the next decade. And it begins with their pitching. You see what the Phillies are doing to the National League with four aces? Well, three of them don't have many more years at the top. They assembled late.
Imagine a rotation with Tommy Hanson (currently 25), Jair Jurrjens (25), Brandon Beachy (24), Julio Teheran (20) and Mike Minor (23). That's a lot of years of domination if they can keep them together.
And the bats aren't lagging. Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman anchor a solid lineup, which would serve well to add a center field bat like BJ Upton who is likely to be available in the winter.
They will need to secure a long-term replacement for veteran Chipper Jones as his days are numbered. But this team is scary to project. Oh, and they have an elite closer who happens to be 23 years old in Craig Kimbrel.
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The Marlins offense has almost limitless potential. They have All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez who is only 27 years old and signed through 2014. Mike Stanton (21) has 40 home run projections on him. Logan Morrison (24) is enjoying a breakout season, power-wise, at the expense of his batting average.
This team's future may rise or fall with the health of Josh Johnson. He has had shoulder problems before and this year was no different. He started off untouchable, but again ended up on the DL.
The rest of the pitching staff is good but they will need a closer more dominant than Leo Nunez and an ace who can make 30 starts every season.
Tampa Bay Rays
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The combination of David Price (26), Jeremy Hellickson (24) and Matt Moore (22) is scary for opponents. They also have Desmond Jennings (24) who has done nothing but dominate since being called up, and Evan Longoria (25) at third, still on the upswing.
The questions with Tampa Bay are the ability to keep their stars in town, and the ability to compete in the AL East paying a fraction of what their opponents in Boston and New York do. It's quite possible the core players mentioned above will be unaffordable by time they enter their primes.
Kansas City Royals
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Can they keep the stars in town? That is the question.
This team is loaded for 2012 and beyond with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, and Mike Montgomery making debuts this season, and Wil Myers, John Lamb, and Jake Odorizzi coming. They also signed arguably the best talent in the draft in Bubba Starling.
They have an excellent closer in Joakim Soria, with Aaron Crow and Jeremy Jeffress—young relievers who can make up the rest of a dominant pen for the future. All the pieces are in place for this team to quickly join the contenders, but will the money be there when it counts? That remains to be seen.
San Francisco Giants
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In a time when batting stats are plummeting and dominant pitching wins championships, the Giants rode theirs to the 2010 title and it could have been the beginning of the very kind of run I talked about at the beginning.
The Giants best players are all young. Their ace and two time Cy Young is Tim Lincecum at 27 years old. Matt Cain is one of the more underrated starters in baseball, and only 26. 22-year-old Madison Bumgarner has already impressed.
On the offensive side, Brandon Belt has had his ups and downs, but is a maturing hitter. Buster Posey is expected to make a full recovery from an ugly ankle injury, escaping the dreaded knee injury, so he should be calling games for years to come.
Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson make for a deadly combo at the back of the pen, so if the trend continues to favor pitchers, there's no reason the Giants can't win several more Commissioner's Trophies in this decade.