Spring Training is here and with it the first MLB Power Rankings of the season. There are bound to be some surprises here. Without further ado, the Spring Training MLB Power Rankings. This is in no way a prediction of how the teams will finish but rather a ranking of how they stand at this moment in time before Spring Training officially starts.
1. Houston Astros: They are the World Series Champions. They will look to repeat this season which will be a difficult task. Adding Gerritt Cole via trade will certainly help their cause. They deserve to be number one.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers came so close to winning the World Series last year. Reacquiring Matt Kemp is a strange move, but getting rid of Adrian Gonzlaez was a necessity. Younger than last year, they will look to get back to the World Series and come out victorious this time.
3. Washington Nationals: Washington was a very good team last year and that was without Adam Eaton for the majority of the season. Eaton will return and help solidify a lineup can be flat out deadly. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman should produce all season long for Washington. Max Scherzer will continue to anchor one of MLB’s better pitching staff’s, it not the best.
4. New York Yankees: Two words. Giancarlo Stanton. But seriously, a lineup that features Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez ought to give fans in The Bronx an impeccable feeling. The only question is in regards to the starting pitching. There will be multiple game stretches that the offense will have to out-slug the opponent rather than rely on their pitching. However the sustainability of this is questionable at best. It might be a tall order for C.C. Sabathia to continue his surprising uptick in performance at age 37. While Masahiro Tanaka performed admirably in the postseason, that is not who he truly is. A return to reality is in store rather than a continuance of a postseason run which featured a 1.38 ERA.
5. Boston Red Sox: Boston won the J.D. Martinez sweepstakes. Coming to terms with the free agent outfielder, Boston has raised expectations of what they should achieve this season. Outside of Chris Sale the pitching staff is iffy. David Price has not been himself and Rick Porcello fell back to earth. Their offense will lead the team but pitching will have to play their part as well.
6. Chicago Cubs: The Cubs acquired Yu Darvish and it does not appear that Jake Arrieta will return. Darvish infamously flamed out in the World Series for the Dodgers and many question how reliable he can really be. Offensively Chicago can be a premier group and they have a solid pitching staff. Jose Quintana was a good acquisition last season. Going from Arrieta to Darvish might be a downgrade and could impact the bigger picture.
7. Cleveland Indians: Cleveland lost quite a few players to free agency. Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith and Austin Jackson are all gone. Luckily the Indians still have the best pitching rotation in MLB, Franciso Lindor and Jose Ramirez. Corey Kluber will lead a group that has been flat out dominant as of late. Lindor and Ramirez are a great combo defensively and with a bat in their hands. The issue for the Tribe will be outfield play. Any consistency from that group will be key to their season.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks: Arizona lost J.D. Martinez in free agency. But it is not the end of the world. The Diamondbacks were a good team before acquiring Martinez at the deadline last season. They should be fine coming into this season. Losing Martinez hurts, but they are more than capable of performing at a high level without Martinez. After all they still have Paul Goldschmidt.
9. St. Louis Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna is now in a Cardinals uniform. This is one the three trades that shook up MLB this offseason. An outfield that includes the likes of Ozuna, Tommy Pham and Dexter Fowler is an intriguing prospect. St. Louis is primed to contend in the National League Central and they will look to apply pressure to the reigning division champion Cubs.
10. Los Angeles Angels: The other team in Los Angeles made some moves to improve their roster this offseason. Signing prized free agent Shohei Otani was a great start. In addition to acquiring the versatile player, the Angels also acquired Zack Cozart from Cincinnati. The Angels want to attempt to make a claim as being the best baseball team in Los Angeles. That being said that might take a few years.
11. Milwaukee Brewers: Speaking of National League Central teams looking to challenge the Cubs, Milwaukee made some massive upgrades. The Brewers acquired Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain to bolster their outfield. As a result they currently have a surplus of outfielders but that can be solved with a trade in the near future. The issue with Milwaukee remains pitching. Maybe Milwaukee can be a landing spot for Arrieta? They can also consider a trade of one of their extra outfielders which could result in bolstering their pitching staff.
12. San Francisco Giants: Due to injuries the Giants season did not go to plan. Madison Bumgarner missed a large chunk of the season. Now Bumgarner is back and they have brought some friends. Trading for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. While these are guys that would have been great to have a few years ago, they are still a clear upgrade over what they previously had.
13. Colorado Rockies: Colorado took an interesting route in free agency. Knowing that offense will always be present in Colorado, they upgraded their pitching staff. Solidifying their bullpen with Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis. It will be intriguing to see if the pitching holds up this season.
14. New York Mets: This spot may be a bit controversial. Sure signings of Todd Fraizer and Jay Bruce do not necessarily move the needle. But that is not what this team will be about. The Mets will be about pitching. Manager Mickey Callaway was Cleveland’s pitching coach during and put together quite an impressive group. The Mets have great pitchers, it will be up to Callaway to get the most out of them. Based off his track record, this is not out of the question.
15. Minnesota Twins: Minnesota played great last season, however it may have been above their skill level. Joe Mauer only has so many at bats left in him and sooner or later Ervin Santana’s effectiveness will drop. It is possible the Twins can contend for a Wild Card spot again, but more good luck will have to come their way in 2018.
16. Seattle Mariners: Seattle was one of those teams that were just kind of there last season. Acquiring Dee Gordon form the Marlins could help make things a little bit more competitive in the American League West. Although they are still a clear third place team in the division.
17. Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto is only one season removed from a trip to the ALCS. How things have unfolded since then have not been great. Losing Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland before last season did not help. The addition of Curtis Granderson should help an offense that went from one of the best in 2016 to one of the worst in 2017. Josh Donaldson is the best batter in the lineup but his time in Toronto could be limited. The Blue Jays could move him to jump start a rebuild and wave the white flag on this season. They could also add pieces if they are in a position to contend for a Wild Card spot.
18. Texas Rangers: The Rangers offense is the best thing about this team. Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre will lead this group. Their pitching is full of question marks. Cole Hamels is not what he used to be. Newly acquired Mike Minor is a middle of the road pitcher who has been up and down throughout his career. Texas is another candidate to either contend for a long shot playoff berth or go through a total teardown.
19. Oakland Athletics: Oakland has a bunch of players that are on the cusp of making the Athletics relevant again. Players such as Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden. Veterans such as Brandon Moss, Khris Davis and Matt Joyce could help anchor a lineup that could lack consistency throughout the season. Oakland could certainly surprise some folks with a mix of young and old players similar to how the Twins did last year.
20. Philadelphia Phillies: The acquisition of Carlos Santana was a perplexing one for the Phillies. This type of signing is usually reserved for teams that are in place to contend. That is not the Phillies. There are some good pieces for the future on the roster in Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins but they still need more to be a serious contender in their division.
21. San Diego Padres: San Diego is in a similar situation as the Phillies, making a large signing for at team that is not quite there yet. Sure Eric Hosmer makes the team better and will bring veteran leadership to the team. Although the money spent over the life of Hosmer’s contract could cost them valuable players down the line. For the time being a young trio of Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot will help Hosmer lead the Padres.
22. Tampa Bay Rays: Tampa Bay is a team that appears to be in sell mode. Which means Chris Archer could be finding new home in the near future. As a result this may be a rough season for the Rays. Other players to watch this season include Kevin Kiermaier, Jake Bauers, Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell and Blake Snell.
23. Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto is an incredible player. That being said he can only do so much and Cincinnati is team embracing their youth. Scooter Gennett was a nice surprise last season and should look to build off his breakout season. Jesse Winker, Jose Peraza and Amir Garrett highlight some young players to watch in what could be a difficult season.
24. Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman is the heart of the Atlanta Braves roster. While he has some promising players on his team, Atlanta does not project to be relevant at all this season. Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson are a dynamic duo to watch this season and in the future.
25. Baltimore Orioles: Even with Manny Machado Baltimore is not really a good team. Sure Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham are fairly productive infielders, but they are not enough to entice Machado into staying in Baltimore. Chris Davis is not who he appeared to be just a few years ago and Mark Trumbo dropped off big time after a breakout 2016 season. Pitching is still an issue for this team as there is really not a pitcher who jumps off the page. Machado’s days in Baltimore are limited and at some point he needs to be traded to ensure some sort of return. If not he will walk and the Orioles will be left with nothing.
26. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are about to see a combination of young home grown talent in addition to players acquired via trade take the field next season. Players such as Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Avisail Garcia and Matt Davidson. Jose Abreu is still a constant in this lineup and is sure to be in the heart of the order. Expectations are low for the White Sox which on the bright side will allow them to play loose. It is entirely possible they perform better than expectations and surprise some people. However they will still not be good by any means.
27. Kansas City Royals: It is the end of an era in Kansas City. Eric Hosmer is in San Diego, Mike Moustakas is not expected to return and Alcides Escobar is the only player retained by the Royals. Kansas City is headed for a rebuild and should not be expected to be competitive in any way this season.
28. Pittsburgh Prates: Speaking of rebuilds, the Pirates sent out everyone of value to start their teardown. Andrew McCutchen is now in San Francisco and Gerritt Cole is in Houston. The Pirates will be a lackluster team as a result and will be a difficult watch. Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison contributed last season but they can only provide so much. Josh Bell will look to build upon a successful rookie season and carry the offense.
29. Miami Marins: With all of the trades made by the Marlins is there even anyone left? Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are on new teams. Miami will feature Justin Bour, Starlin Castro, Lewis Brinson and J.T. Realmuto. Sure these players are talented, but they are not guys who can carry a team offensively. They are more of complimentary players. In fact they were complimentary to all of the players who were traded away. Miami went from a team that could possibly contend to a cellar dweller.
30. Detroit Tigers: The long lasting era of competitive baseball in Detroit is over. Jettisoning players such as Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler, Detroit will feature a mix of over the hill veterans and unproven youthful players. At some point these players might develop into something but it is more likely that Detroit sells off even more players to acquire more pieces. Aging veterans such as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez continue to be a prominent part of the Tigers offense.