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MLB Power Rankings: How the AL Stacks Up in Spring Training

Justin KeithCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2012

MLB Power Rankings: How the AL Stacks Up in Spring Training

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    With spring training in full swing, rosters are starting to fill out, and teams have a good idea of what their Opening Day rosters will look like.

    While some offseason moves have catapulted teams to the top of the AL power rankings, other teams have taken a step back in a league that is now dominated by power first basemen.

    Even though every team has a chance to be a surprise and make some noise, many teams face the reality that they won't win very many games in this competitive league.

    Here are some preseason AL power rankings for the 2012 season.

14. Minnesota Twins

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    It is hard to imagine that a Ron Gardenhire-coached team would wind up at the bottom of a power ranking list, but that is exactly where the Twins find themselves to begin this season.

    During the 2011 season, the Twins faced injuries to their best two players, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

    Unfortunately for Minnesota, question marks still remain about their top two players, and they lack talent throughout their lineup.

    Although they made a solid pickup in Josh Willingham this winter, Minnesota still faces an uphill battle in the AL Central, competing with Detroit and Cleveland.

13. Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners had two fearsome starters in 2011, with both Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda throwing darts.

    Pineda is now a Yankee, and the Mariners chose to get a top hitting prospect in return with Jesus Montero.

    Montero will have to come up huge to make up for the lack of talent in a lineup that includes an aging Ichiro Suzuki.

    In the rotation, after Hernandez, the Mariners have no proven starters in the big leagues and will struggle to keep runs off of the board.

    Meanwhile, they have to compete with Los Angeles and Texas in the AL West.

12. Baltimore Orioles

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    The 2011 Baltimore Orioles were best known for ruining the season of the Boston Red Sox in the final series of the year.

    The 2012 version of Baltimore faces a bleak future.

    Baltimore has to compete with the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays in the AL East and doesn't have as much firepower as the other teams in the division.

    Although Matt Weiters and Adam Jones are young and talented players alongside veterans Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts on offense, the starting pitching will hurt Baltimore in 2012.

    The Orioles traded away one of their best starters in Jeremy Guthrie and have to lean on a young Zach Britton to carry the staff. After Britton and Jake Arrieta, the Orioles will struggle to find wins in their rotation.

11. Oakland Athletics

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    It's just the Oakland Athletics being the Oakland Athletics.

    After trading away two bright, young star pitchers in Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, the Oakland Athletics then signed two-time drug-offender Manny Ramirez.

    Following his 50-game suspension, the A's will look for Ramirez to carry the offense along with Yoenis Cespedes, a prized free agent also signed this offseason.

    The A's will again look to young starting pitching for quality starts, and Brandon McCarthy and Dallas Braden will have to carry much of the load.

    This A's roster is young and will struggle to keep up in a division dominated by Los Angeles and Texas.

10. Chicago White Sox

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    The Chicago White Sox are in a bit of a pickle.

    Their roster is littered with aging, high-priced players who are struggling to produce and young players who are trying to get acclimated to the big leagues.

    They brought in Adam Dunn last offseason to be a power presence in the middle of the White Sox lineup, but he was a major flop. Paul Konerko will be back for another season, but one must wonder how much he has left in the tank.

    The Sox pitching staff, led by John Danks, should be a bit of a strength for Chicago. Gavin Floyd and Chris Sale join Danks to make up what could prove to be a pretty solid rotation.

    Ultimately, Chicago will struggle, forcing Kenny Williams to break it up in 2012 and build for the future.

9. Kansas City Royals

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    The Kansas City Royals roster is filled with young, talented players. The only downfall is that they lack experience.

    The Royals have struggled in the AL Central much of the last decade, but things are starting to look up for KC.

    Kansas City has major talent at the corners of the infield, boasting the pair of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Newly acquired Jonathan Sanchez with be the No. 1 in the rotation, as Jonathan Broxton and Joakim Soria hold down the bullpen.

    Unfortunately, the Royals will still fall short of the postseason, but fans should be optimistic about the future.

8. Toronto Blue Jays

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    The Toronto Blue Jays have some tough luck.

    The Jays reside in the AL East and have to constantly face top competition. In another division, the Blue Jays roster could compete for a playoff spot but could finish as low as fourth in the East.

    With a strong, young rotation that includes Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, the Jays also boast one of the premier players in the game in Jose Bautista.

    The Jays are close to competing in the AL East, but this year, there is just too much talent on the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays to crack the top three.

7. Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians looked like real contenders halfway through the 2011 season, but they started to fade in the second half.

    Cleveland has a potentially dangerous lineup that features Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera.

    The Indians rotation could also prove to be dangerous if former Cy Young candidate Ubaldo Jimenez returns to form. They also have added veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to go along with young gun Justin Masterson.

    Cleveland has an uphill battle in unseating Detroit for the top spot in the division, but it could sneak in as a potential second wild-card team.

6. Tampa Bay Rays

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    There is no questioning the fact that Tampa Bay has one of the strongest rotations in all of baseball.

    David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields and top prospect Matt Moore will dominate American League hitters in 2012.

    However, the Rays aren't higher on this list because they will struggle to score runs.

    Although Evan Longoria will produce great numbers, they can't count on B.J. Upton on a regular basis and Desmond Jennings is still young. The offense will need to be consistently considered a top-three team in the league.

    The potential is there for a great season in Tampa; the offense just needs to show up.

5. Boston Red Sox

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    A year ago at this time, many predicted the Boston Red Sox would win 100 games.

    Truth is, not much has changed to the roster, but people have changed their tune about this team.

    After a disastrous September, the Red Sox will look to repair their image and get back to the playoffs in 2012.

    The lineup will be fine; theirs is one of the most powerful and deep in all of baseball.

    The question lies in the rotation.

    Jon Lester struggled in 2012, and the No. 4 and 5 spots are up in the air. Daniel Bard will look to fill one of those spots, migrating from his setup role.

    The Red Sox will win a ton of games in 2012, but the big story will be how the rotation holds up into the stretch run.

4. New York Yankees

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    The Yankees fill out the trio of top teams in the AL East, finding themselves above the Rays and Red Sox.

    New York has a deep lineup just like the Red Sox, but it has a much better rotation to this point. CC Sabathia is the clear workhorse and ace of the staff, and newly acquired starter Michael Pineda will add valuable depth to go along with Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes.

    In order for the Yankees to be successful, Mark Teixeira needs to return to form, and they need to ride their best offensive player, Robinson Cano.

    Mariano Rivera solidifies the bullpen at the back end and completes a very talented squad.

3. Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit had a large addition to its roster this offseason—literally.

    Prince Fielder was a prized free-agent pickup for the Tigers, and he now joins Miguel Cabrera to form a powerful one-two punch.

    Justin Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young winner and MVP, will be looking to have a repeat season of a year ago. Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello join Verlander in the rotation.

    If not for the injury to Victor Martinez, Detroit could find itself in one of the top two positions.

    Detroit fans have a lot to look forward to this season and for seasons to come.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    The Los Angeles Angels were certainly the winners of the 2011-2012 offseason.

    Not only did they land the best free-agent pitcher, C.J. Wilson, they also managed to pry the best player in the game in Albert Pujols away from the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Wilson joins a staff that is now loaded. Alongside Wilson, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren form a deadly trio of starting pitchers.

    Although they don't have much power, the rest of the lineup around Pujols will be able to provide enough runs for the dominant rotation to win 95-plus wins this season.

1. Texas Rangers

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    Is there a better lineup in baseball than that of the Texas Rangers?

    Josh Hamilton leads a squad that made the World Series for the second year in a row, and the Rangers are poised to make it three in 2012.

    Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young join Hamilton in a lineup that will produce runs in bunches.

    Their rotation isn't too shabby either.

    Although they lost C.J. Wilson to free agency, the Rangers added Japanese phenom Yu Darvish as well as Neftali Feliz from the bullpen. Feliz and Darvish join Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis in a deep rotation.

    Texas is the most complete team in the AL and will be the class of the league in 2012.

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