Week 1 of the 2013 Major League Baseball season is here, and with new faces in new places, the top 10 has seen somewhat of a drastic change from a year ago. The Nationals look to be the team to beat out of the gate, but other teams like the Reds and Braves aren't far behind. With six months of baseball still to be played, here are the top 10 teams for the first week of the MLB season.
The fact that the Nationals will have Stephen Strasburg for a full season in 2013 is huge for the organization. Strasburg should produce a Cy Young-caliber year and lead the league in strikeouts, while a more experienced Bryce Harper will belt at least 30 bombs.
Even with a .254 OBP from the leadoff spot, the Cincinnati Reds still managed 97 victories over the duration of the 2012 season. Having Shin Soo-Choo's career .381 OBP at the top of the lineup will equate to more runs and more wins for the Reds this season.
The additions of Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jordan Walden solidified the Braves as a contender for the coming season. Jordan Walden was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels and makes the strong Atlanta bullpen even stronger. The Upton brothers, along with Jayson Heyward, will compile at least 25 home runs each and provide adequate defense and athleticism in the outfield. The Braves will be neck and neck with the Nationals at the top of the NL East in 2013.
4. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have three MVP-caliber players in Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton (Pujols and Hamilton have earned a combined four MVP awards, while Trout placed second in the 2012 MVP voting as a 21-year-old rookie). The fierce top end of the lineup is all the info needed to know this team is a contender. But having Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson at the front of the rotation doesn't hurt their chances.
The Tigers arguably have the best pitcher and hitter in all of baseball. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera will both make a case for the Cy Young and MVP Awards again in 2013. The rotation looks to be as solid as ever with Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello potentially having breakout years.
The Toronto Blue Jays' front office remained busy this offseason, acquiring a load of big-name players including Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. Dickey and Cabrera are both coming off breakout years and only time will tell if they were flukes or not.
The Dodgers, like the Blue Jays, were another ball club that made some noticeable additions to their roster during the offseason. Zach Greinke was added to the team's already impressive rotation, and with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier all in the same lineup, the Dodgers shouldn't have a problem scoring runs in 2013.
The defending world champions look to have just about everybody back from last year's World Series team minus Melky Cabrera (then again, Cabrera didn't even make an appearance in the playoffs last year). The Giants will once again contend, but with teams around them getting better in the offseason, they'll need more production out of Tim Lincecum in order to have a chance at a repeat.
It seems like every year the Tampa Bay Rays trade away their best players, they always have young talent stashed away in the farm system to make up for what was lost. Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb are all 25 years or younger and each have the potential to put together an All-Star-caliber year. The Rays' season fate lies in the hands of these three young pitchers.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals lost Lance Berkman, Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter from last year's team, but have plenty of promising young talent to compensate. Shelby Miller has the tools to one day become a Cy Young-caliber pitcher and will be given his first opportunity as a starter in St. Louis' rotation in 2013. Trevor Rosenthal is another young and talented pitcher that could be featured in the rotation at some point during the year in the event of an injury or lack of production.