Our friend Jay Jaffe at SI.com and frequent MLB Network guest used to do a series called Wait 'Til Next Year, a dossier on an MLB team the day after it was eliminated from playoff contention. Since Jay isn't doing that series anymore, I thought I might do him the honor of picking up his mantle. Friday until the World Series is over (or there are no teams who have been eliminated in the last week), I'll take a look at each eliminated team, how their season went, what they can look toward next season and what they can be happy about when they think about 2017.
Last week, we looked at the Mets, Giants, Phillies, Reds, Tigers and White Sox. Since last Friday, five more teams have been eliminated.
Best player in 2017: Freddie Freeman
How'd this season go? They hung around .500 for a while, but Freeman's injury and a struggling pitching staff hurt.
What do they have to look forward to? Well, many observers believe they have the best farm system in baseball, particularly in the rotation, with Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka and Luiz Gohara potentially all ready to make their debut next year. That's not to mention MLB Pipeline No. 5 overall prospect Ronald Acuna. The Braves are setting themselves to potentially own this division in a couple of years.
What will they remember about 2017? Opening the new stadium. If you want to get a baseball from batting practice, there really isn't a better place in baseball to get one than the Chophouse Seats.
Best player in 2017: Giancarlo Stanton
How'd this season go? They hung around the Wild Card race a little longer than one might have thought, though a 3-13 start to September ended any lingering hopes they might have had there. However: Stanton might hit 60 homers, which probably makes all this worth it.
What do they have to look forward to? The new ownership situation certainly complicates every discussion of the Marlins' future. Will they look to sell off guys and start over? Will they provide consistency and reliability? And the real question everyone in baseball wants to know: Will they trade Stanton? And if so, how much of his contract are they willing to eat? The Marlins are about to have one of their most fascinating winters ever.
What will they remember about 2017? Stanton bombs. That's all most of us will remember. (Though that Edinson Volquez no-hitter was fun too, as was the All-Star Game.)
Best player in 2017: Josh Harrison
How'd this season go? They got bad news in April when Starling Marte was suspended 80 games for testing positive for a banned substance. Losing Jung-ho Kang for the season because of his off-field incidents left the Pirates short two of their main contributors, and they never really recovered. It was nice to see Andrew McCutchen have a bounceback year, though.
What do they have to look forward to? They've got some nice pitching coming up, but outfield prospect Austin Meadows isn't as ready as the team hoped he'd be and the Pirates still have to figure out what to do with the resurgent McCutchen: Keep him or sell high and stock up elsewhere?
What will they remember about 2017? The Harrison homer to end Rich Hill's no-hitter was excellent, but here's betting the Pirates end up remembering their fun win over the Cardinals at the Little League Classic a little more. That game made everybody feel like a kid again.
Best player in 2017: Jed Lowrie
How'd this season go? They fell under .500 for good on April 26 and after that, their season just sort of coasted. Their offense was a little better than you might have thought, though. And they finally traded away Sonny Gray to build up the farm system.
What do they have to look forward to? It looks like the A's have committed to staying in the Oakland region for the foreseeable future, which is potentially outstanding for them: After the Raiders and Warriors leave (oh, yeah, did you know the NBA champs are moving to San Francisco?), they'll have the whole market to themselves.
What will they remember about 2017? This Matt Olson kid might be for real.
San Diego Padres
Best player in 2017: Manuel Margot
How'd this season go? The rebuilding process continues, and there were some nice steps forward this year. Margot looks like he's a budding star, Jose Pirela, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Allen Cordoba are all fascinating and Brad Hand was a genius. They're better than they were last year. But they've got a lot of catching up to do before they start hanging with the NL West's elite.
What do they have to look forward to? Incremental progress. I've seen worse season slogans.
What will they remember about 2017? Wil Myers' hitting for the second cycle in team history was pretty cool.
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