By Griffin Hill
Spring training is officially underway. Teams are getting in as many reps as possible to prepare for the long season ahead, and we begin to wonder who will run the league once the games are rolling. Here are my opening Power rankings for the season; I will update this as each month of baseball passes by.
30. Miami Marlins
The Marlins were 77-85 last year WITH the NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. They are now without him. Simple as that. The Marlins will struggle.
29. San Diego Padres
The Padres haven’t seen the postseason since 2006 or won a playoff series since 1998… Neither of those stats will change. Long season to come for the Padres.
28. Detroit Tigers
I love my Tigers, but this season will not be a favorable one. Rebuild mode is in effect, lets hope it pays off!
27. Kansas City Royals
The Royals can’t keep the core that took them to the promise land a few years back. Expect trade after trade after trade, and a very strenuous season.
26. Chicago White Sox
This is a rebuilding team that added some veterans in the offseason to help develop their youth; however, a run at the playoffs is still in the distant future.
25. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have some great power hitters, and will hit their fair share of home runs. On the contrary, the pitching staff is shaky and the Orioles will give up more runs than they can count.
24. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are going to be an interesting team to watch, with one of the youngest rosters in baseball. This year will not be the year, but competition is being heavily promoted in the pitching rotation, and soon enough the Braves will have a top caliber squad.
23. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates sent out their top two players, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. I think Josh Harrison, the best guy they have left will soon be gone as well. Time to rebuild in Pittsburgh… or just wait for Steelers season.
22. Philadelphia Phillies
The Eagles came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl in what seemed like an impossible season. The Sixers are playing better than they have in years, and “The Process” is moving along. I don’t think the luck continues onto the baseball diamond. The Phillies are still quite far away from contending in the NL.
21. Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto is the most under-appreciated player in baseball, but outside of him the Reds are merely kids. The youth in Cincinnati shows signs of a bright future, but it will be a few years before any significant moves in the standings are made.
20. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays hit the ball well, and have a decent starting pitching rotation. As they did last season, the problems will arise from the bullpen. A recipe for mediocrity… and not the playoffs.
19. San Francisco Giants
The Giants have ruled the NL for years, but are in a tough three-year stretch. The franchise usually turns around pretty fast through “rebuilding,” so hopefully the Giants can show some sign of progress this season. As far as playoffs go, sorry Giants fans!
18. Oakland Athletics
Oakland has to compete in the AL West, and extremely talented division, and haven’t shown me anything over the offseason that leads me to believe this year will be different from the last. .500 is best case scenario for the Athletics… but hey don’t complain, you have the Warriors.
17. Seattle Mariners
Seattle has the potential to be great, but hasn’t done much in the offseason to improve their roster. Dee Gordon will add some speed along with hitting power, but the Mariners pitching staff scares me.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee is always a tough team to read, and being in a small market, the Brewers don’t receive much attention. I believe the Brewers might benefit from a weak division, the NL Central, but not enough to reach the playoffs.
15. Texas Rangers
The Rangers will be up and down all year, and I see them finding their way past the .500 mark. This will not get them into the playoff picture, but a run or two late in the season could give some hope.
14. Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto is a streaky team that can get hot late in the year. The hitting shouldn’t be a problem, so if they are able to trade for a solid bullpen guy then they should be in business to have a shot to play in October.
13. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies HIT HIT HIT last season and I expect more of the same. They will have a great record at home, but are in the toughest division in baseball, and will have to get into the playoffs through the Wild Card.
12. New York Mets
The Mets will surprise some haters this season. The pitching a season ago was above average, and the hitting improved drastically in the second half of the season. Look for the Mets to prove some teams wrong, and who knows maybe we will even see a Tim Tebow call up to the majors!
11. St Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are a dangerous team no matter what, and in the past have somehow found their way into the playoff picture no matter their roster. Last year was a new feeling for St. Louis, and I expect them to turn it around right away. Watch out for them to possibly take the NL central from the Cubs, but I would love to see them trade for an ace pitcher.
10. Minnesota Twins
The Twins had a surprising season last year, but now they are expected to compete for a division title. While I don’t believe the Twins will be able to beat out the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central, I do think they have a chance to grab a Wild Card spot. The Twins roster is very young and extremely talented, and this offseason they partnered that with some new veterans.
9. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels had a phenomenal offseason picking up Andrelton Simmons, Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler, and Justin Upton. Andrelton Simmons is one of the best fielders in the league, and he should make the biggest difference of these four. The Angels already have power hitters in Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, and these new additions should help complete the offense. The pitching in LA is the only concern for a deep playoff run, and to have a chance at shaking things up in the AL, the Angels would need to trade for a better bullpen.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
Alike the Rockies, this team can hit the ball exceptionally well. The differences come into play when you get to the pitching side of things. The Diamondbacks pitching is well above average and they should find themselves in position to dethrone the Dodgers. Beating the Dodgers out for the division title is a very tall task, but if they can capitalize on the road, then they should be able to do so.
7. Cleveland Indians
The Indians were one of the hottest teams in baseball last year… just not at the right time. With a streaky team like Cleveland, you have to rely on pitching late in the season, and their composure and routine got away from them during the playoffs. This team now has something to prove, and has what it takes to be World Champions, but they must not get too comfortable when hot.
6. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are my pick to represent the AL in the World Series this season. While many people are hot on the Astros and “new and improved” Yankees, I think the Red Sox have the squad to beat this year. J.D Martinez signed a 5 year contract with the Sox this offseason, and I think he will lead the team in batting average and homers. All the pieces are there for Boston, so I am curious to see what they do.
5. Chicago Cubs
Last year was a pure disappointment for the Cubs after there historic 2016 World Series win. The fans in Chicago expect nothing but a rebound season, and I think it will be a great one. Theo Epstein is the greatest mind in baseball, and maybe all of sports, and he will have his organization ready to go come opening day.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers came as close as one can get to glory in 2017, and they want nothing more than another shot at the trophy. They are the favorites in the NL, but need to keep their hitting as consistent as last year if they want to win it all.
3. New York Yankees
Giancarlo Stanton led the league in homers last year with 59. Rookie, Aaron Judge was second with 52. They are both now members of the Yankees. That’s about all you need to know. This team is going to send some bombs… for many years to come.
2. Washington Nationals
The Nationals are my pick to win the World Series. They have the best hitting lineup in the league along with two absolutely aces. I think they match up well against anyone in the AL, but getting past the Dodgers is the true test. Contracts are up for many of their stars after this season, so if it’s going to happen, this is the year. Lock in Nats.
1. Houston Astros
The Astros proved they are the best team in the world by taking down the Dodgers in-game 7. They then went to work this offseason, securing Verlander, and adding Gerrit Cole. This young group only improved. The Astros are the team to beat.