Mariners Astros Baseball

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, center, celebrates with teammates after a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Houston. The Astros won 21-1.

The Major League Baseball season has entered the home stretch, as the regular season is slated to end in just a few short weeks. And though there will technically be 10 teams with a shot at winning the World Series when the season ends later this month, there are realistically only three teams that could hoist the trophy in October.

The team most likely to win the championship, in my opinion, is the Houston Astros. The Astros possess an incredibly potent offense, with nearly every batter in the lineup posing a threat to opposing pitchers. Left fielder Michael Brantley is second in the American League in batting average, third baseman Alex Bregman is one of the best home run hitters in the league and first baseman Yuli Guriel is having an outstanding season at the plate. And that isn’t even speaking of Astros star Jose Altuve, one of the best players in all of baseball.

On the other side of the ball, the Astros have pitcher Justin Verlander, the best pitcher in the American League this year, boasting the top win count and the top ERA. Sup-plementing him on the mound is Gerrit Cole, who is among the league’s best in each stat as well, and another extremely solid starting pitcher in Wade Miley.

The team with the next best chance to win the World Series is the New York Yankees, and they are right on the heels of the Astros.

With the second most runs scored and the second most home runs in the league, higher than Houston in each, the Yankees are the only offense that can really challenge the Astros offensively.

DJ LeMahieu has been the undisputed star of the offensive juggernaut this season — having racked up a daunting batting average, run total and home run count — but also making the Yankees a veritable murderers’ row are Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez and all-star slugger Aaron Judge.

What makes the Yankees offense so scary is how deep it is. Practically every starter is a home run threat. Most starters boast a very solid batting average. And overall, their RBIs are all high too.

While the Yankees do not boast the same level of talent as the Astros in their starting pitching, New York does have a very good bullpen, with closer Aroldis Chapman and relief pitcher Zack Britton.

And the third team with a shot at the crown is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers lead the National League in homers, total runs and slugging percentage. To put it simply, they know how to crush the ball.

Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner lead the offense, which also includes sluggers Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and more.

As with the Yanks, several Dodgers players have absurdly high home run counts. When the team’s third best home run hitter still has 32 homers, you know that team is scary.

And on the other side of the ball, starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is having a career-defining season, boasting an ERA under 3.00. Clayton Kershaw is experiencing a bit of a decline after his stretch as most dominant pitcher, but he clearly still can dominate on any given night. And closer Kenley Janson is not to be overlooked either.

There are other extremely solid teams teams that will most assuredly make the playoffs, such as the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays, yet none of them can legitimately challenge the three true contenders.

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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