MLB Power Rankings One Week Into Spring Training
MLB Power Rankings After Week 1 Of Spring Training Games
Every season, MLB throws us a curveball in one way or another. Sometimes it happens as early as Spring Training and sometimes it happens as late as October, but it always happens. There’s never any real way to know what to expect in the upcoming season.
There will always be a couple of teams that disappoint beyond belief and there will be a few teams that seemed destined for the basement of their divisions only to end up winning them. Inevitably, there will be changes up and down the major league landscape this season as some teams rise to the challenge and others fall.
It’s a long season and every team will undergo some ups and downs, but it’s how they sustain those ups and downs that separate the bad teams from the good and the good teams from the great. Everyone will just have to watch this season to see exactly where everyone ends up.
Just like the defending champions will have problems, the worst team in the league will display some strengths. The major leagues have a lot of parity and the teams clustered in the middle are especially even when it comes to talent. That's what makes the extra Wild Card so interesting. Multiple fanbases can be excited for an extra week as their team tries to reach the postseason. The quest for the postseason is getting that much more competitive and only so many teams have what it takes.
Before they're completely different based on which teams over- and underachieve, here are the 30 MLB teams and where they stack up as we pass the first week of Spring Training contests.
30. Houston Astros
They have been horrendous for a couple years now and while there are plenty of promising prospects in their system, it will be at least a couple years before Houston is competitive again.
29. Miami Marlins
After a disastrous season two years ago, the healing still hasn’t really begun in Miami. Young ace Jose Fernandez is a lone bright spot on a team that is likely going nowhere in 2014.
28. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies actually have an above average lineup, but their starting pitching is extremely weak and their bullpen might be even worse. They will play in a lot of 10-9 games and they will lose a good deal of them.
27. Chicago White Sox
The arrival of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu is a welcome addition to the South Siders, but with an average major league roster and no help coming from the minor leagues, the White Sox could be entering a rough five-year stretch.
26. Chicago Cubs
While help is on the way from the Cubs’ minor league system shortly, there won’t be a whole lot of help in 2014. A few top prospects may make their way to Wrigley this year, but it won’t be enough to keep the Cubs from finishing near the bottom of the National League Central once again.
25. Minnesota Twins
This team could move up the rankings quickly depending on how their young prospects develop this spring. Top prospect Byron Buxton especially would be able to make an impact for the Twins at the major league level right away. With so much youth right now, the Twins are still towards the bottom of the league though.
24. New York Mets
After adding Curtis Granderson in the offseason, the Mets showed that they want to compete this season. However, without ace Matt Harvey for most of the season it’s going to be tough for New York’s “other team” to compete with teams like the Braves and Nationals in a tough National League East.
23. Toronto Blue Jays
They were everybody’s hot pick to win the American League last year and that plan fell flat on its face. Toronto invested in players that were popular, but slightly past their primes and it didn’t pay off. They didn’t get considerably better over the offseason so expect more of the same north of the border.
22. San Diego Padres
While their pitching will be solid as always, especially if promising young flamethrower Andrew Cashner can take another step in 2014, their lineup just isn’t very good. As they’ve done in the past, they’re going to battle in a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 type games and they’ll win their fair share.
21. Seattle Mariners
They did land the offseason’s top free agent in Robinson Cano, but their pitching depth is still an issue. Had they been able to sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka then they would be more competitive, but until they give ace Felix Hernandez some help, they’re not going anywhere in the American League West.
20. Philadelphia Phillies
Philly has made it clear that they want to be a force again this season. Unfortunately for them, they overpaid for Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett in the process. Those players will make the team better, but not nearly good enough to compete with divisional powers.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew has a chance to be 2014’s surprise team. First of all, they’re getting slugger Ryan Braun back after he served his 50-game PED-related suspension. They also added Matt Garza to an already solid rotation. It wouldn’t be out of the question for the Brewers to be competing for a wild card in September.
18. Cincinnati Reds
After losing Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, it’s safe to say that the Reds are the team in the National League Central that took the biggest step back. Aside from Joey Votto, nobody hits for a particularly high average and without Choo, they’re going to have trouble consistently putting men on base. Look for a considerable step back from Cincinnati in 2014.
17. Kansas City Royals
Kansas City has the chance to crack the top 10 at some point this season, but the development of their young players is going to have a lot to do with it. Mainly, Eric Hosmer needs to take that next step to take his game to superstar level. If he can do that and the rotation can hold their own, the Royals could be looking at a playoff berth.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates
Another team in the National League Central that took a step back is the Pirates. While their step back wasn’t nearly as drastic as the Reds’, they still lost role players Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau as well as ace A.J. Burnett. Francisco Liriano will have to duplicate his performance from a year ago and the bullpen will have to be just as stout for Pittsburgh to have a shot at another playoff berth this season.
15. New York Yankees
Finally, the A-Rod fiasco is over… for now. The Yankees can now shift gears and focus on the task at hand. Derek Jeter retiring at the end of the season may give the Bronx Bombers some added motivation, which can never be underestimated. The addition of Tanaka, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury will also make the team more likely to make the playoffs in 2014.
14. Baltimore Orioles
2014 is a big year for Baltimore. They have to decide whether they want to keep being a good team or if they want to become a great team. Their lineup is deep and their pitching is capable of carrying them so it’s up to them how good they want to be this season.
13. Los Angeles Angels
One of the more disappointing teams from last season, the Angels are back on track and should compete with the Athletics and Rangers in the American League West. If Albert Pujols can stay healthy it would provide the team with a big boost. Superstar Mike Trout will look to make even more noise in year three.
12. San Francisco Giants
After winning the World Series in 2012, the Giants completely flopped a season ago. They were 15 games under .500 at points last season and at times they were just puzzling. Look for more consistent play from San Fran this season. With their rotation, they can’t possibly be that bad two years in a row.
11. Cleveland Indians
Manager Terry Francona did wonders for this team in his first year at the helm and they’ll look to ride that momentum into 2014. Ace Justin Masterson is finally coming into his own and their plethora of role players will help them to stay competitive as they try to knock the Tigers from their perch.
10. Texas Rangers
They were so close in the past couple years, but couldn’t quite lock down a World Series title. The team they have now isn’t quite as talented as in the past, but they can be equally competitive if they can get consistent play from the rotation. As always, their lineup is solid, especially after the addition of slugger Prince Fielder, but they will need pitching as well in order to be playing into October.
9. Washington Nationals
It seemed like everybody was ready to crown the Nationals as World Series champions last March, but then the injury bug hit. Key stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were both hit by it and the team suffered as a result. After experiencing such a disappointment, expect the Nationals to play with a resolve that will help them challenge the Braves in the National League East.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
One of the most improved teams in the National League, the Diamondbacks acquired power hitter Mark Trumbo to provide Paul Goldschmidt with protection and Bronson Arroyo to add depth to the rotation. They’re not at the talent level of the Dodgers, but with consistency out of the rotation and bullpen, which added closer Addison Reed, Arizona will compete with the Dodgers all year long.
7. Detroit Tigers
They’ve been the toast of the American League Central for quite some time now and it should be interesting to see how the Prince Fielder trade affects that. They got a very solid player in Ian Kinsler in return who could make them better depending on how they use him. Injury issues with Justin Verlander and contract issues with Max Scherzer could complicate things, but Detroit is still the most talented club in the division.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
David Price is on the team as of now and that always gives you a chance to win. Evan Longoria will look to build on last year’s performance and the rest of the lineup will try to continue the Rays’ unlikely run as a contending team on a low payroll.
5. Oakland Athletics
It’s crazy how general manager Billy Beane continues to do it, but he keeps fielding competitive teams in Oakland. The organization’s development of young pitchers is second to none and it’s a reason they’re usually competitive. Not many of their hitters are flashy, but they get the job done and that amounts to a lot of wins.
4. Boston Red Sox
The defending World Series champions may not be as dominant as they were a year ago, but they will still be formidable in 2014. Losing pitcher Ryan Dempster hurts, but they will have a “next man up” mentality towards that situation. With a solid major league roster and a top minor league system to match, Boston seems primed to stay competitive for the foreseeable future.
3. Atlanta Braves
It seems like Atlanta has decided to sign every key player to a long-term extension this offseason. They’re locking down their core assets and that takes away from any contract distractions that could take place during the season. The rotation isn’t completely figured out yet, but the Braves have one of the best bullpens in baseball and an improving lineup so they have to be the favorites to repeat as division winners.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Team owner Magic Johnson has made it clear that this team will spend any amount of money that it takes to win. So far, the system has worked as the Dodgers have one of the best rotations in baseball as well as one of the top lineups. Players like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier need to stay healthy to provide the team with some depth, but it’s a good bet that they’ll be playing deep into October.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
One of the best-run franchises in sports, the Cardinals are set for another big year. While they lost David Freese and Carlos Beltran, they added Mark Ellis and Jhonny Peralta to their middle infield, which was their biggest hole. Allen Craig will move to the outfield, which opens up a spot for power hitting first baseman Matt Adams to play everyday. Top prospect Oscar Tavares is almost ready and so the Red Birds could be back where they were at the end of last season: in the World Series.