ESPN released their first MLB power rankings of the 2012 season. Stories about rankings are always interesting and can certainly spark debates among writers and readers alike. In this space, I will find no fault with the order of the rankings of the teams, but instead will focus on the content included in the rationale for the rankings. You can find the list of ESPN’s rankings here.
To their credit, ESPN enlisted the help of bloggers and analysts for 24 of the 30 MLB teams. The commentary for these teams is insightful and helpful in providing the reason for the ranking. For the remaining 6 teams, however, ESPN included some very basic and dull documentation which is clearly more concerned with filling white space as opposed to providing value.
Being the helpful person that I am, I have taken the liberty of fixing said commentary. I should note that of these teams, I only feel as though I can speak with authority on one of them, though I believe my revisions are improvements upon the initial cut ESPN took at these.
#2 – Texas Rangers
It’s safe to say that many are eagerly awaiting Yu Darvish‘s first start of the regular season in exactly one week. — ESPN.com
The Rangers lost their #1 pitcher in 2011 (C.J. Wilson) to their division rival (Los Angeles Angels), and made no changes to their offensive lineup. However, the reigning A.L. champions look to improve on last year’s performance with the additions of Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan, and continuing to display arguably the best 1-9 lineup in the MLB.
#5 – Tampa Bay Rays
A starting rotation that consists of James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Jeff Niemann should keep the Rays in the thick of the AL East race for much, if not all, of the 2012 season. —ESPN.com
Despite just squeezing into the 2011 playoffs and a first-round exit, the Rays are once again well-positioned to be among the AL’s top teams in 2012. What they lack in payroll size, they make up for in youth and talent. Matt Moore is the latest addition to the ranks of homegrown studs the Rays count on to win. If his brief showing in 2011 is any indication of future success, Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon may once again display the greatest return on investment in all of baseball.
#7 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Ian Kennedy came out of nowhere to win 21 games for the Diamondbacks last season. Can he have similar success in 2012? —ESPN.com
Led by emerging superstar Justin Upton and 2011 breakout Ian Kennedy, the Diamondbacks are well positioned to reclaim the NL West crown in 2012, particularly with the addition of Trevor Cahill to a rotation that faltered in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
#16 – Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg had a rough spring, as he was 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA in six starts. The Nats had better hope the bad numbers don’t continue once the games begin to count. — ESPN.com
The Nationals are loaded for bear in 2012. The acquisition of Gio Gonzalez, and the maturation of young fireballers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman will give them the “young guns” pitching rotation to combat the “old dogs” rotation of the Phillies. The offense will depend on the health of recently extended Ryan Zimmerman, and the rebound of Jayson Werth from a 2011 season that did not live up to the bill of his 7-year, $126 million contract.
#20 – Chicago White Sox
New manager Robin Ventura has brought a sense of calm to the White Sox, but all indications point to it being a long year on the South Side. — ESPN.com
With the offseason losses of Mark Buehrle and Carlos Quentin, the White Sox have suffered from depleted ranks and have little hope on the way from the farm system. The keys to their success will revolve around a couple of desperately needed rebound years from Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy. John Danks will look to assert himself as a #1 starter in an otherwise shaky starting rotation.
#26 – San Diego Padres
Edinson Volquez will make the Opening Day start for the Padres. He was the Reds’ Opening Day starter last season. — ESPN.com
The future is bright for the Padres, with one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball. Yet, the future is not here yet, and Padres fans may find themselves chanting the old Dodgers mantra of “there’s always next year”. Of the most interesting stories to watch in 2012 for the Padres will be too see how the haul of players they received for trading Mat Latos fares. At the forefront of this list are young former first-round picks Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal, as well as default #1 pitcher Edinson Volquez.
I will let you be the judge of whether or not my suggestions would have been more helpful to you, the reader. A big thanks to ESPN for continuing to be the worldwide leader in generically-discussed sports.