2012 MLB Power Rankings for Each Division in Baseball

John Nizinski@@jniz73Analyst IIIJanuary 20, 2012

2012 MLB Power Rankings for Each Division in Baseball

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    This MLB offseason has seen arguably the best player change teams, players switching allegiances to rival teams and the Red Sox and Yankees keeping their hands out of the market for top free agents.

    The MLB season is still a few months away but always finds a way to sneak up on us.

    Here is a look at where the teams sit right now in each of their divisions.

NL West

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    1. Arizona Diamondbacks

    The Diamondbacks were the biggest surprise team last season. Their offense last season was the best in the division, and they will be getting Stephen Drew back. Drew will only improve their offense, which already includes players like Miguel Montero and Justin Upton.

    Montero emerged as one of the most consistent offensive catchers in baseball in 2011. Upton finally made the leap into the MVP discussion last year and still has room to improve.

    The Diamondbacks also traded for Trevor Cahill, who will improve their already strong rotation.


    Tie 2. Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Dodgers had many distractions last season and still managed to finish above .500. They have a strong young corps with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, who all could still improve. The additions of Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang help fill out the Dodgers rotation with serviceable starters.


    Tie 2. San Francisco Giants

    The Giants still have a strong "one-two punch" with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Their starting rotation is solid, but they still have holes offensively.


    4. Colorado Rockies

    The Rockies have a good lineup that features two of the best young players in baseball, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. They added Michael Cuddyer, but their major concern is pitching, and they have not improved there.


    5. San Diego Padres

    Plain and simple, the Padres are not a good team. Every team in this division will be able to compete and have a chance at winning the division except the Padres.

NL Central

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    1. St. Louis Cardinals

    The reigning World Series champs lost arguably the best player in MLB. They have, however, added Carlos Beltran and will be getting Adam Wainwright back from injury. Despite the loss of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals should still be able to win this division.


    2. Cincinnati Reds

    The Reds went from winning the division in 2010 to coming in third in 2011. They still have some holes on the left side of their infield, but they also still have 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto.


    3. Milwaukee Brewers

    The Brewers all but certainly are going to lose Prince Fielder, and they may lose Ryan Braun for the first 50 games of the season if the results of his positive test for elevated testosterone are upheld.


    4. Chicago Cubs

    Hiring Theo Epstein and getting rid of Carlos Zambrano are the two main things the Cubs have done this offseason. Neither directly helps the team on the field. Unless they sign Prince Fielder, the Cubs will remain near the bottom of the NL Central division.


    5. Pittsburgh Pirates

    The Pirates took a step forward last season but are still miles away from being a top team in the National League.


    6. Houston Astros

    The Astros were the worst team in baseball last year, and don't be surprised if they are again the worst team. Astros hitters walked the fewest times in the majors, and the pitchers struggled with walking hitters. They have not done anything to prove they can turn their horrible season last year around this year.

NL East

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    1. Philadelphia Phillies

    The Phillies still remain the top dog in the NL East. They have arguably the best balance of pitching and hitting in baseball and had the most wins in the majors last year.


    2. Miami Marlins

    The Miami Marlins have made some noise this offseason, as they signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. They also were in discussion to possibly sign Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The only question mark is how a big personality like Ozzie Guillen will be able to handle big personalities like Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano.


    3. Atlanta Braves

    The Atlanta Braves have been one of the most consistent teams in baseball for quite some time now. Even though they collapsed last year, they still have to be considered playoff contenders every year. They are loaded with young talent and could be competing with their division rival Miami Marlins for the wild-card spot in the playoffs.


    4. Washington Nationals

    The Nationals are no longer a joke team. They have been willing to spend money and make the necessary moves to compete with the rest of baseball. With the addition of Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg coming back from injury, the Nationals could be a surprise team to look out for.


    5. New York Mets

    The Mets are a lost team. They lost one of their franchise players to a division rival without even putting up a fight. They have struggled to bring in the necessary pieces, and when they do add a player, he struggles. Not even two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana can save them now.

AL West

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    1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

    The Angels have been busy this offseason and signed the best hitter and pitcher free agents available. With the addition of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels are once again atop the AL West and maybe even all of MLB.


    2. Texas Rangers

    The Rangers lost their No. 1 starter to their division rivals. Texas countered the loss by signing Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The Rangers are still a complete team that has been to the World Series in two straight years. For the first time since 2006, the wild-card team could come out of another division other than the AL East.

    (I actually think the Rangers will win the division and the Angels will get the wild-card spot, but for "power ranking terms" the Angels belong at No. 1.)


    3. Seattle Mariners

    The Mariners caught the headlines this offseason when they traded top young pitcher Michael Pineda to the Yankees for catching phenom Jesus Montero. They are a rebuilding team that needs to improve their offense, and Montero will help.


    4. Oakland Athletics

    The A's are going to contend with the Astros for the worst team in baseball. They traded away Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, who were key pitchers in their starting rotation.

AL Central

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    1. Detroit Tigers

    The Tigers took a huge blow when Victor Martinez tore his anterior cruciate ligament. He will most likely be out for the entire season. Luckily for them, they have Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander both in their prime.

    Also, the AL Central is a relatively weak division, and they could come out on top of it with a record close to .500.


    2. Cleveland Indians

    The Indians are loaded with young players with potential. Their playoff chances are slim, but they should end the season in second place in the division for the second straight season.


    3. Kansas City Royals

    The Royals are finally starting to turn things around and have a good corps of young offensive players. They need to improve their pitching before they can start competing to be atop the division.


    4. Minnesota Twins

    The Twins' season depends on the health of Justin Morneau. Joe Mauer will most likely be back to having success, but the Twins need Morneau to be healthy if they want to get back to their winning ways. The question mark that is the health of Morneau and the loss of Michael Cuddyer put the Twins below every team except the White Sox.


    5. Chicago White Sox

    The White Sox are stuck rebuilding, and they will struggle this season.

AL East

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    1. New York Yankees

    The Yankees were uncharacteristically quiet this offseason. Then they traded their top prospect—Jesus Montero—for Michael Pineda and helped boost their one real question mark.

    The Yankees now have a more reliable rotation to go along with their loaded lineup and elite bullpen. They could lead the American League in wins again this season.


    2. Boston Red Sox

    The Red Sox had a horrible collapse to end last season, which included some clubhouse issues. They are still loaded with talent throughout the entire roster. Carl Crawford's wrist injury adds to the Red Sox's long list of injuries from last season. The ability of the Red Sox players to stay healthy will be a huge factor in their 2012 season.


    3. Tampa Bay Rays

    The Rays continue to surprise MLB with their ability to compete with such a low payroll. They have some young talent, but don't be surprised if they fail to make the playoffs or finish ahead of the Yankees or Red Sox this year.


    4. Toronto Blue Jays

    The Blue Jays are stuck in arguably the best division in baseball. They needed to make a huge blockbuster trade or sign at least one of the biggest free agents to make the jump atop the division.


    5. Baltimore Orioles

    The Orioles have pitching problems, and they will not be able to stop their streak of 14 straight losing seasons without improving their pitching.