As soon as the Astros closed out a stirring seven-game World Series by bringing home the first title in franchise history, the questions began.
Can they do it again next year and become the first repeat World Series winner since the Yankees did it in 1999 and 2000? And what about those Yanks, by the way? Will they be good enough next season to beat this Astros team, which eliminated them in the American League Championship Series?
And what about those oh-so-close Dodgers? Will they get it done in 2018?
Meanwhile, how good will the Cubs, Indians, Nationals and D-backs be? And can someone else jump up and stun everybody with a dramatic turnaround season?
Yes, the end of the last game in 2017 means the beginning of the flood of speculation about what might happen this spring all the way to next October.
With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the top World Series contenders for 2018.
Offseason questions: It's possible that general manager Jeff Luhnow will focus on improving the team via pitching. Expect Houston to try to bolster its starting rotation and bullpen via trades or free agency, and it has the payroll flexibility and Minor League system to do so.
Offseason questions: Will they re-sign Darvish, and if not, who will replace him as a No. 2 starter? Also, how will they restock the bullpen and how will young starter Julio Urias recover from his shoulder injury?
Why they could win: A team that won 22 consecutive games is in perfectly good shape, despite an earlier-than-expected postseason exit, and the Tribe has a solid starting rotation and an October-tested roster returning largely intact. The Indians also will be motivated to get back to the World Series after being eliminated by the Yankees in 2017.
Offseason questions: The Indians will have to decide how to proceed with the expiring contracts of Bruce, Santana and Shaw, key contributors to their astonishing regular-season run. They'll also have to find continuity with a new pitching coach after Mickey Callaway was hired to manage the Mets.
Why they could win: They are young, dangerous, improving ahead of schedule and loaded with one of the best farm systems in the game. The emergence of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino as young stars plus a lockdown bullpen helped get them to within one victory of the World Series.
Offseason questions: The departure of manager Joe Girardi after 10 years at the helm presents a degree of uncertainty, and GM Brian Cashman will have to work to patch up his starting rotation, but the prospect-rich Yanks are well positioned for the Hot Stove season.
Offseason questions: The Nationals still haven't won a postseason series despite running away with the NL East. Now, they bring a new manager, Dave Martinez, into the clubhouse, and will likely say goodbye to a handful of veteran players who had influence therein. It will be up to GM Mike Rizzo to find the right mix of replacements while continuing to shore up the bullpen.
Offseason questions: Who will fill out a starting rotation that looks like it will have two big vacancies? And how will club executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer go about improving a bullpen that ran out of gas in the team's NLCS loss to the Dodgers?
Offseason questions: If the D-backs don't reunite with Martinez, and that's a possibility considering that the slugger will be coveted by many clubs and is bound to land a significant long-term deal, they'll have to find a way to replace the huge boost of offense he provided down the stretch. The club also could look to bolster its bullpen.
Offseason questions: Price's health is a big question, and so is the managerial situation with former player Alex Cora now taking the reins after the departure of John Farrell. More uncertainty looms in the bullpen, where the Red Sox could be looking to rearrange roles over the offseason.
Why they could win: The offense caught fire in the second half of the 2017 season and did so largely without the services of its premier power hitter, Miguel Sano, who was injured and is set for shin surgery. That bodes well for 2018, and the Twins shouldn't lose too much from an improving roster via free agency.
Offseason questions: The Twins would surely like to improve a starting rotation that had its share of inconsistency in '17, and they might want to shore up their relief pitching while they're at it.
Offseason questions: Perhaps no team has more free agents-to-be that contributed as much offense as Gonzalez, Reynolds and Lucroy did while they were at their best in 2017. And the Rockies could have to supplement their young starters and relievers with some veteran additions.
Offseason questions: The team struggled with late-inning relief and might want to add there while shopping for more pop for its lineup, which finished 27th in the Majors in slugging percentage in 2017. New pitching coach Mike Maddux will use Spring Training to try to get off to a good start with his charges.
Why they could win: The Brewers came together for manager Craig Counsell in a big way in 2017, with Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, Chase Anderson and Corey Knebel all busting out with career years. GM David Stearns also figures to have some payroll flexibility this offseason, which could help strengthen the roster.
Offseason questions: Will Orlando Arcia blossom into the star the Brewers have always thought he'd be? Will Jonathan Villar play like he did in his breakout season in 2016? Is prospect Lewis Brinson ready to shine at the big league level? And how will Milwaukee improve the starting rotation and bullpen to get the team into October?