The baseball season is fast approaching, and as such, pitchers and catchers are due to report in the next month. So, after last week’s off-season update on 1amsports.com, it seems only right to have a little off-season power ranking.
I aim to update this once more before the season begins, and from then on, weekly. If you know me, you know that ‘aim’ is the most important word in that sentence. But, we shall see how we go!
Without further ado, he is how I see all 30 teams. Nothing to in-depth…I would hate to break a habit of a lifetime now!
- Cincinnati Reds – I love the Reds. At 1, I am really high, but I have faith in Chapman’s transition to the rotation, and their ability to fill the hole he leaves in the pen. Trading for Shin-Soo Choo as a leadoff was a masterstroke, and Cincy are on for a magnificent season.
- Detroit Tigers – Whilst Detroit where swept in the World Series, their power is difficult to overlook. A strong rotation led by Verlander is formidable as it is, whilst Torii Hunter supports the bats of Prince & Miggy.
- Washington Nationals – It’s hard not to love what the Nationals have done over the past 12 months, and by re-signing Adam LaRoche, they have solidified their depth in the clubhouse. In Johnson’s last season, the Nats COULD pull off something special! Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Rafael Soriano completes the best bullpen in the MLB.
- San Francisco Giants – Returning as World Series winners always piles on the pressure, and whilst some over-performed in 2012, San Francisco should maintain strong form. The Giants will move from 4, I just don’t know which way!
- Texas Rangers – Many will tell you that the loss of Hamilton and the failure to sign an out-and-out star hinders this team. Maybe it doesn’t, but Texas have a stacked rotation, and are still on course to deliver a brilliant season.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – Kershaw and Greinke combine to deliver a great pair of starts, and whilst some think LA overpaid, it could deliver short term success. A lineup full of studs supports the rotation, and the Dodgers could have a great year.
- New York Yankees –It is dangerous to count the Yankees out, and even with health worries over Jeter and A-Rod, the pinstripes find a way to win. Always. Having said that, don’t be surprised to find them slip down as we hit May.
- Toronto Blue Jays – To be honest, I thought people were way to high on Toronto throughout last season, and even after some great off-season moves, there are still reservations over the Blue Jays’ solidity in pitching. The business of a ball club is not always an indicator of instant success.
- Los Angeles Angels – Josh Hamilton may have been the marquee signing of the off-season, but a possibility that their rotation may not be as strong as it first appears could limit the support that the power hitting needs.
- Atlanta Braves – The Braves are due to miss the retired Chipper Jones, but could show early on how they have addressed that. BJ Upton’s addition improves this already stout ball club, and I like the Braves to move up fast.
- Oakland Athletics – At 11, I may be way low on the A’s, but even after last year’s almost miraculous season, I am not sold. A young core could see Cespedes breakout, so don’t be surprised to see Oakland break the top 10 quickly.
- St Louis Cardinals – Two straight NLCS appearances suggest this team should be higher, but the loss of Kyle Lohse is bigger than some think. A balanced lineup helps this team compete, but will need another big year from an aging Beltran.
- Milwaukee Brewers – I am high on Milwaukee. Their second half record of 43-34 in 2012, combined with their NL-leading 776 runs make this team a contender in the NL Central, BUT will need to find more wins over the Reds and Cards without Houston.
- Tampa Bay Rays – In Yunel Escobar and James Loney, the Rays are looking at improvements in their lineup, but not it doesn’t look to be enough if Will Myers (who is yet to make his name in the big league) doesn’t fill a James Shields sized hole.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – I really like what the D-Backs have done in adding Brandon McCarthy and re-signing J/J Putz, but Arizona are likely to rely on Heath Bell, which can be dangerous. A better season, and definitely on the up.
- Philadelphia Phillies – An aging core in Philadelphia limits this team greatly, and with Manuel’s job on the line (I guess), the Phillies don’t have the depth to deal with injury, and more importantly, abjectly average hitting.
- Kansas City Royals – A revamped rotation will help this team down the stretch, but last year’s hitting problems (3rd last in AL runs scored) need to be addressed. A full year for Perez will help, but the onus lies on the under-performing infielders.
- Baltimore Orioles – If the Orioles repeat their 2012 season, I would be stunned. A set rotation helps this team, but having ignored the need to add a big bat, the O’s head into the year relying on riding their luck, which isn’t a great place to be.
- Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox have improved their lineup, and will be reliant on a much better pitching year, but I just have a feeling 2012’s season may not be a flash in the pan, and more struggles may lie ahead.
- Seattle Mariners – The Mariners are a team that could upset the apple-cart in the AL West, but it is unlikely. Kendrys Morales and Jason Bay add power, but not enough to improve the Mariners standings too much.
- Chicago White Sox – Whilst their hitting remained strong last year, Paul Konerko’s advancing years should worry White Sox fans, but not as much as the loss of AJ Pierzynski. It could be worse; they could have let Jake Peavy go!
- New York Mets – Last season’s impressive start faded just as fast as it began, but it’s difficult to ignore trading a Cy Young winner in the short term. This isn’t a bad team, neither is it a playoff team.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Whilst feeling sorry for Andrew McCutcheon, you must remember the Pirates have gone 20 straight years without finishing above .500, and without an out and out top quality SP, it may be another season until they break that duck.
- Cleveland Indians – Cleveland’s dealings in the off-season have seen Nick Swisher and Trevor Bauer come to town, so whilst they continue to re-build, at least Indians fans have some immediate gratification.
- San Diego Padres – With the future looking bright in San Diego, the rotation shaped as it is for this season limits them. Whilst they ended 2012 on a higher note than they began it, the Padres are a way off yet.
- Chicago Cubs – Anthony Rizzo may be an exciting young in-fielder, but the overall hitting across the lineup strike fear into no man. A rotation improved by Edwin Jackson stops this team from being mediocre, but not by much.
- Minnesota Twins – As Minnesota traded away Denard Span and Ben Revere, the pitching prospects they got in return could work out in the long run. For 2013, Vance Worley and Kevin Correia are rotation stalwarts. Ouch!
- Miami Marlins – A fire sale may have been deemed necessary by the Marlins owners, but the fans aren’t happy, and neither is the only remaining reason to watch this team, Giancarlo Stanton.
- Colorado Rockies – Tulo adds enough hitting to help this team out of the basement, but the lack of any pitching, especially that in Coors Field, really hinders this team. It doesn’t look good for Colorado in 2013.
- Houston Astros – They were bad last year in a reasonably tough division. Under new management, and in a new, tougher, division, they could be even worse.
There we are then. If you are a Red Sox fan that hates me, get used to it. If you are a Reds fan that loves me, don’t get carried away!
See you in Spring Training!