Before We Begin:
Hello baseball fans, it’s another February; and that means Spring Training is upon us! I, Michael Hamby, will be giving you my opinion here on the teams in baseball and where they sit on the 30 team chain that is the power rankings. This year has so much excitement in store following one of the best World Series in the last several years, along with some big moves this offseason. Without further ado, let’s get started:
30. San Diego Padres
The Padres leave a lot to be desired this year, as they seem to have taken over the mantle of worst team in the league. This team will be bringing several rookies into spring training this year, highlighted by Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. Several young arms are vying for spots in the pen this year and we will have to see how all the youth shake out in this very young team.
29. Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati had bright hopes for a solid rotation only a few weeks ago, but with another elbow surgery for Homer Bailey and the late trade of Dan Straily put this team back down in a hole.
With the team looking for some new blood after trading Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves, the Reds are hoping some of the new blood (Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett) will provide the kickstart the team needs.
28. Minnesota Twins
Only a few, short years ago this Twins team was ranked one of the best young teams in baseball according to all the scouts. Players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jose Berrios need to start living up to the hype in a big way. The Twins lost the most games in the majors last year, and they are hoping Buxton, a former number one pick, can lead this team out of the gutter. The biggest problem with the team however is their league worst 5.39 ERA from last season. But it can’t get worse than that right?
27. Oakland A’s
Oakland has fallen down a steep cliff since its failed playoff run in 2014. After falling apart in the WC game, the next couple seasons have been a decline for the A’s, finishing with 94 losses in 2016. There is not a stark contrast in view, with the only resolve lying in a strong rebound by ace Sonny Gray.
26. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers, much like many teams early on this list have so much young talent, but not enough development yet to push forward. They have about eight players vying for rotation spots this spring, so it will be interesting to see what players end up being slotted, and how the new additions of Travis Shaw and Eric Thames help to support Chris Carter’s absence.
25. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are in full rebuild mode, and I don’t think they could be doing better for the situation they are in. The trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton helped this team start to flood out the older talent and reel in several young talented players. Look for Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera to be following suit this season.
24. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are hopeful that the additions of Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, and Danny Espinosa can boost the offense enough to make the Angels a legitimate contender in the AL. But the rotation still leaves some to be desired. However, the trio of Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs could help to stabilize the rotation and give the Angels a potential to be the poor man’s Red Sox this season.
23. Philadelphia Phillies
The mantra “Trust the Process” seems to carry over here to the Phillies. While the Phillies will improve significantly better than last year, but it won’t mean a playoff berth. While the release and retirement of Ryan Howard definitively passed the torch to the younger generation of players. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco look to start the youth movement in Philly and get this team back to the postseason. #TrustTheProcess
22. Atlanta Braves
Dansby. Swanson. That will be the headline in Atlanta all season as the Braves seem to be a sleeper pick at the Wild Card. With three new starting pitcher including Bartolo Colon, the Braves rotation seems to be revitalized, with opportunity to move some of the younger arms toward the back of the rotation. Also look for Brandon Phillips and Matt Kemp to help Swanson make this offense turn up 100%.
21. Tampa Bay Rays
This team is now, and always has been dependant on pitching. Chris Archer had a bad season last year, and Blake Snell wasn’t ready yet, and thus the Rays fell down to the worst record since 2007 for the team. If the pitching can return to form, and Blake Snell can begin to show his full potential then this franchise can turn it around and be competitive in one of the toughest divisions in the league.
20. Kansas City Royals
The Royals have room to grow this year, with returning players like Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer looking to prove so much as they are among several players who will be free agents next season.The Royals still have an opportunity to make a run, and the pitching staff is strong enough to back the offense up.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are another sleeper to make a playoff run this season simply because while the hype last year didn’t live up, the potential this year more than makes up. Behind Zack Grienke and Shelby Miller, this team can have a resurgence that would rival the Dodgers and Giants. Don’t sleep on the D-Backs, because they are prime to bite.
18. Baltimore Orioles
The swapping the Baltimore Orioles did with Matt Wieters and Pedro Alvarez for Seth Smith and Wellington Castillo is a downgrade, and that seemed to be the biggest change this offseason. Take that what you will, but the rotation got no better and therefore this team seemed to take a step back.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have made some simple changes to the team, moving McCutchen over to right field is a smart decision and will pay off for this team. The team will depend on Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow to work their way through the season. Along with the help of players like James Taillon and Starling Marte, this team should closer resemble the team it was two years ago than the one it was last year.
16. Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins are a team that has potential, and could even be considered a sleeper for the Wild Card, but it all depends on the health of Giancarlo Stanton and his supporting cast. Obviously the loss of Jose Fernandez was significant, but this team has restructured its bullpen to help the Marlin’s staff go shorter into games.
15. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are that old team that won’t quite start to rebuild yet, so they are going all in one more year. This team is older, and not quite good enough to make it to the World Series, but they will try to win the division, but the gap between them and the Indians is too wide and I don’t think Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer are enough to close the gap come playoff time.
14. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are in rebuild mode, and therefore are just not ready to contend in a tough AL East. They will improve from last year, thanks to the addition of Aaron Judge and a full season of Gary Sanchez. However, I do not expect this Yankees team to go too far, especially with CC Sabathia being the number two.
13. Colorado Rockies
This Rockies team finally has pitching, which means that they could be seriously dangerous this year, especially with an NL West that looks to be tough top to fourth (sorry Padres). This team obviously has offense, finishing second in baseball in runs. The big difference maker as previously mentioned, lies within the pitchers Jon Gray and Chad Bettis who lead a new staff that looks to bring a new era to Coors Field.
12. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers have some room to drop in the power rankings, simply because they overachieve last year by winning 95 games. While the addition of Mike Napoli was a solid pickup for the team, the offense is not what is going to hold this team back this year. The problem, and the big reason behind why I have two AL West teams ahead of them, is the pitching. Yu Darvish still struggles to stay healthy, and Cole Hamels is getting older. The rest of the rotation is simply not strong enough to hold this team to last years standard.
11. Seattle Mariners
I know this positioning sounds like a surprise, but the Mariners might finally have it all together, and if they do they can beat out the Astros for the AL West. Behind guys like Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, this team now has some depth in both lineup and staff. Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson look to make a big impact in the offense, finally giving someone for the 30 home run hitters to drive home. While veterans Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly look to add depth to a solid rotation.
10. New York Mets
The Mets are a difficult team to rate, simply because there is so much potential here, especially in the rotation. The only problem is that the rotation is coming off a year in which one starter remained by the end of the season, and three great pitchers for this team went down and are still working on a recovery. The offense also has to improve if they want to win the NL East, but not much improvement has been seen on that end. To sum it up, the Mets are either bound for the postseason, or bound to fail.
9. St.Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are presented with a problem similar to the Mets, injuries and uncertainty. If this team can find its legs without Alex Reyes, then I think with the help of Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals are back in the postseason. If not and Reyes takes too long to recover and shine like he is supposed to, then this team, while still good, will not make the postseason.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers, and their counterparts, the Giants are both very talented. However, the Dodgers are a team that seems unable to find a proper offensive stride. With questions looming in both corner outfield spots, the Dodgers just aren’t as complete as the Giants. Also the pitching staff, behind Clayton Kershaw of course, needs to develop some more this season to really achieve their potential.
7. San Francisco Giants
The Giants are exciting in an even year for once, and it’s not for the reasons one would normally expect. While the entire offensive cast is returning, and the only loss was Sergio Romo, the team made up for it by adding the like of Mark Melancon and several players to minor league deals. I think this team has what it takes to win the World Series if all pans out, which is why I have them here and winning the NL West.
6. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays still have a phenomenal offense, even with the loss of RBI leader and parrot aficionado Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays finally have a strong bullpen to lean on, and can find their way into the postseason once again with a very balanced team that packs power and finesse in the pitching staff. Josh Donaldson still has top talent, and will be in the MVP conversation again, albeit on the edge, and the rest of the offense has the stuff to be top 5 in baseball.
5. Houston Astros
I feel strange putting the Astros here, but the team has improved so much this offseason that it feels wrong not to put them in the top 5. With the additions of Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, the Astros have improved the offense by adding experience and hoping for several players to develop this season. The rotation should improve, after Dallas Keuchel had his worst season yet, and Lance McCullers has been unfortunate in injuries but will be a good pitcher if he remains upright. If the Astros bring it all together finally, this team belongs right here.
4. Washington Nationals
This Nationals team has enough to win it all. With Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, and the rest of this offense playing like they should the Nationals have almost everything they need. The only problem occurs when the offense does not produce, and this was the case for them last season. Harper has to play better if the Nats want a title, and the bullpen has to have a closer emerge this year to really lead the team onward. Until the season starts, they are put this high based off a top 3 rotation in baseball and an offense with top 5 potential.
3. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians blew a 3-1 lead. There, I said it, no more jokes about it until I feel like it next Power Rankings. The Indians did nothing wrong this offseason, so the drop is only because the teams ahead of them either beat them (Cubs) or improved drastically (Red Sox). With the addition of Edwin Encarnacion, this offense has improved from last season, while the rotation is a thing of beauty and easily one of the best in baseball. I see nothing stopping Terry Francona from leading his team back to the postseason.
2. Boston Red Sox
David Ortiz is gone, Red Sox fans have to get the tears out now. Mostly because this team is too exciting to be crying over. With what most consider the best in baseball, the Red Sox definitely had enough for the postseason before the winter meetings. Then they went out and got Chris Sale. Sale adds a third Cy Young winner to the rotation that now has crazy talent from top to bottom. The second coming of the Killer B’s in Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley and Bennintendi have this team flying high and dancing all the way to a World Series berth, at least in my mind.
1. Chicago Cubs
Last year the Chicago Cubs were World Series Champions, and that meant a lot to the sport of baseball. However, this is a new season, and the Cubbies are just as good as last year, except the cast has rotated slightly. Chapman and Fowler are gone, but the youth on this team seems to keep producing, and those holes have already been filled. Taking Wade Davis away from KC and the farm system just pumps out offensive talent. Look for Kyle Schwarber to make a full season impact, and the rest of this team to do just as well.