MLB Power Rankings: Where Your Team Stands on Opening Day

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Where Your Team Stands on Opening Day

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    The 2013 Major League Baseball season kicked off on Sunday with the Houston Astros defeating the Texas Rangers 8-2 in Houston, and it was an eventful offseason as always.

    Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke headlined a solid free-agent class, while stars like Justin Upton, R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and James Shields found new homes in blockbuster trades.

    Here are my final preseason power rankings. Check back here each week throughout the season to see where your favorite team stands.


    Note: Rosters taken from; all stats taken from

30. Houston Astros

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    Season Outlook

    The Astros are in store for another long season. They made the move to the AL West and will continue to rebuild their roster from the ground up.

    Carlos Pena was signed as a free agent, and slugger Chris Carter was acquired from the A's for Jed Lowrie. So the offense should have a bit more firepower this season.

    The pitching staff is poor, to put it mildly. Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell anchor a rotation that will likely see a good deal of turnover in the season ahead. The bullpen lost its best arm in Wilton Lopez and turns to Jose Veras to close.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    2B Jose Altuve
    1B Brett Wallace
    DH Carlos Pena
    LF Chris Carter
    RF Fernando Martinez
    CF Justin Maxwell
    C Jason Castro
    SS Ronny Cedeno
    3B Matt Dominguez


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Bud Norris
    SP Lucas Harrell
    SP Phil Humber
    SP Brad Peacock
    SP Erik Bedard
    CP Jose Veras

29. Miami Marlins

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    Season Outlook

    After spending big last offseason, the Marlins entered the 2012 season with sky-high expectations and a team that looked ready to contend for a postseason spot.

    Instead, they struggled mightily. As a result, the front office blew things up this offseason and dealt most of the roster's veteran talent. They are likely in for a long season.

    While Giancarlo Stanton gives the Marlins a legitimate superstar and is worth the price of admission, filling the seats in their new stadium will be tricky in 2013.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    LF Juan Pierre
    CF Chris Coghlan
    RF Giancarlo Stanton
    3B Placido Polanco
    C Rob Brantly
    2B Donovan Solano
    1B Casey Kotchman
    SS Adeiny Hechavarria


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Kevin Slowey
    SP Wade LeBlanc
    SP Alex Sanabia
    SP Jose Fernandez
    CP Steve Cishek

28. San Diego Padres

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    Season Outlook

    The Padres are headed in the right direction as a franchise, though they are still at least a few years from contention. San Diego continues to implement pieces from its deep farm system.

    Jedd Gyorko has the potential to make a serious impact offensively as a rookie. Alongside Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso, the team has a decent offense.

    Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard front their staff, but they profile more as No. 3 starter types in the grand scheme of things. The rest of the staff is weak and will likely be the reason the Padres struggle to avoid a last-place finish in 2013.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    SS Everth Cabrera
    RF Will Venable
    LF Carlos Quentin
    1B Yonder Alonso
    3B Jedd Gyorko
    C Nick Hundley
    CF Cameron Maybin
    2B Alexi Amarista


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Edinson Volquez
    SP Clayton Richard
    SP Eric Stults
    SP Jason Marquis
    SP Tyson Ross
    CP Huston Street

27. Colorado Rockies

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    Season Outlook

    The Rockies were unable to overcome their disastrous pitching staff last season, and it's an issue that will likely plague them once again this year.

    Getting Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio back healthy should lead to some improvement. But in the end, they just don't have the horses.

    A healthy Troy Tulowitzki is a major addition for the offense, and the Rockies should score plenty of runs. It's just a matter of having to out-slug their opponents as a result of their weak pitching staff.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Dexter Fowler
    2B Josh Rutledge
    LF Carlos Gonzalez
    SS Troy Tulowitzki
    RF Michael Cuddyer
    1B Todd Helton
    C Wilin Rosario
    3B Chris Nelson


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Jhoulys Chacin
    SP Jorge De La Rosa
    SP Juan Nicasio
    SP Jeff Francis
    SP Jon Garland
    CP Rafael Betancourt

26. Minnesota Twins

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    Season Outlook

    A perennial contender just a few years ago, the Minnesota Twins are now among the worst teams in the American League and are in need of a major overhaul.

    Pitching held the Twins back last season. As a result, they added Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey this offseason to provide some stability.

    Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham give the offense a pair of dangerous bats, while Aaron Hicks is a dynamic rookie who could make a run at AL Rookie of the Year.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Aaron Hicks
    2B Brian Dozier
    C Joe Mauer
    LF Josh Willingham
    1B Justin Morneau
    RF Chris Parmelee
    DH Ryan Doumit
    3B Trevor Plouffe
    SS Pedro Florimon Jr.


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Vance Worley
    SP Kevin Correia
    SP Mike Pelfrey
    SP Liam Hendriks
    SP Cole De Vries
    CP Glen Perkins

25. New York Mets

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    Season Outlook

    Surprise contenders in the first half last season, the Mets eventually fell off and finished a distant fourth in the NL East.

    David Wright was locked up on a long-term deal to once again lead the offense, while Ike Davis provided some solid pop with 32 home runs and has room to improve.

    Jonathon Niese assumes the role of staff ace, though Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler should push him for the job before too long. The bullpen is improved with a number of veteran pieces, but it is still relatively weak.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Collin Cowgill
    2B Daniel Murphy
    3B David Wright
    1B Ike Davis
    RF Marlon Byrd
    LF Lucas Duda
    C John Buck
    SS Ruben Tejada


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Jonathon Niese
    SP Matt Harvey
    SP Dillon Gee
    SP Jeremy Hefner
    SP TBD
    CP Bobby Parnell

24. Chicago Cubs

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    Season Outlook

    With a new front office in place and a rebuild under way, the Cubs lost 101 games last season. They should be improved this season, though avoiding a last-place finish in the NL Central will be tough.

    Young stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo give the team a pair of building blocks in the lineup and, along with Alfonso Soriano, a productive middle of the order.

    Jeff Samardzija enjoyed a breakout season last year and could emerge as the team's ace long-term if he can build off last year. Meanwhile, the rest of the rotation was filled out with veteran additions this offseason and could serve as trade chips.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF David DeJesus
    SS Starlin Castro
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    LF Alfonso Soriano
    RF Nate Schierholtz
    3B Luis Valbuena
    C Welington Castillo
    2B Darwin Barney


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Jeff Samardzija
    SP Edwin Jackson
    SP Scott Feldman 
    SP Travis Wood
    SP Carlos Villanueva
    CP Carlos Marmol

23. Seattle Mariners

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    Season Outlook

    The Mariners are a team on the rise. They have one of the best collections of top-end prospect talent in baseball and a solid young core in place.

    Felix Hernandez returns atop the staff as one of the best pitchers in the game. Youngsters Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and No. 4 starter Brandon Maurer will give the team a dynamic rotation moving forward.

    After ranking last in the AL in runs scored each of the past three seasons, the team acquired Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales in hopes of improving that in the short term. Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley need to turn potential into production.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    RF Michael Saunders
    3B Kyle Seager
    DH Kendrys Morales
    LF Michael Morse
    1B Justin Smoak
    C Jesus Montero
    2B Dustin Ackley
    CF Franklin Gutierrez
    SS Brendan Ryan


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Felix Hernandez
    SP Joe Saunders
    SP Hisashi Iwakuma 
    SP Brandon Maurer
    SP Blake Beavan 
    CP Tom Wilhelmsen

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Season Outlook

    The Pirates have remained in contention throughout the first half in each of the past two seasons, only to fall apart down the stretch. But they'll be looking to get over the hump in 2013.

    Andrew McCutchen is a bona fide superstar, but he needs more consistent secondary production from the lineup around him if the Pirates are going to contend. Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones and Neil Walker are solid complementary pieces.

    The rotation will benefit from a full season of Wandy Rodriguez, but beyond him and A.J. Burnett, the staff is weak. Top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are pushing ever closer to their debuts, and they could make an impact in 2013.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    LF Starling Marte
    2B Neil Walker
    CF Andrew McCutchen
    3B Pedro Alvarez
    1B Garrett Jones
    C Russell Martin
    RF Travis Snider
    SS Clint Barmes


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP A.J. Burnett
    SP Wandy Rodriguez
    SP James McDonald
    SP Jeff Locke
    SP Jonathan Sanchez
    CP Jason Grilli

21. New York Yankees

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    Season Outlook

    No team has been hit harder by injuries this spring than the Yankees. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Phil Hughes are all expected to open the season on the disabled list.

    With guys like Brennan Boesch, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells now counted on to pick up the pieces in the lineup, the Yankees could struggle to score runs to start off the season.

    They return the same rotation as last season after re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. The bullpen gets back legendary closer Mariano Rivera after he missed most of 2012 with a torn ACL.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Brett Gardner
    RF Ichiro Suzuki
    2B Robinson Cano
    3B Kevin Youkilis
    DH Travis Hafner
    LF Brennan Boesch
    SS Eduardo Nunez
    1B Lyle Overbay
    C Chris Stewart


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP CC Sabathia
    SP Hiroki Kuroda 
    SP Andy Pettitte
    SP Ivan Nova
    SP David Phelps
    CP Mariano Rivera

20. Chicago White Sox

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    Season Outlook

    The White Sox exceeded expectations last season, pacing the AL Central for much of the year before faltering down the stretch and coughing up the division lead to Detroit.

    Alex Rios and Adam Dunn both enjoyed big bounce-back seasons, and they'll need to again thrive if the offense is going to be a plus. An aging Paul Konerko is still a weapon, but the rest of the infield is below average.

    Chris Sale won 17 games last season in his first year as a starter, and he has as high a ceiling as any young pitcher in the game. Jake Peavy was re-signed after a rebound season, but the rest of the rotation is suspect.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Alejandro De Aza
    3B Jeff Keppinger
    RF Alex Rios
    1B Paul Konerko
    DH Adam Dunn
    LF Dayan Viciedo
    SS Alexei Ramirez
    C Tyler Flowers
    2B Gordon Beckham


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Chris Sale
    SP Jake Peavy
    SP Gavin Floyd
    SP Jose Quintana
    SP Dylan Axelrod
    CP Addison Reed

19. Boston Red Sox

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    Season Outlook

    After freeing up a ton of payroll in their August blockbuster with the Dodgers, the Red Sox filled out their roster this winter with a number of mid-level veteran pieces.

    Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew were all added on the offensive side of things. If Jacoby Ellsbury can bounce back and Will Middlebrooks can build off a solid rookie season, they'll have a terrific offense.

    The pitching staff was the biggest issue last season, with Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz both struggling to pitch up to their abilities atop the staff. Ryan Dempster was added in free agency, and John Lackey is healthy after missing all of 2012.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    RF Shane Victorino
    2B Dustin Pedroia
    1B Mike Napoli
    3B Will Middlebrooks
    DH Jonny Gomes
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    LF Jackie Bradley Jr.
    SS Jose Iglesias 


    2013 Projected Rotation

    SP Jon Lester
    SP Clay Buchholz
    SP Ryan Dempster
    SP Felix Doubront
    SP John Lackey
    CP Joel Hanrahan

18. Cleveland Indians

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    Season Outlook

    Expected by most to be sellers this offseason, the Indians instead added a number of veteran pieces as they look to make a run at the Tigers in the AL Central.

    Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds join an offense that already had some nice pieces in Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera. They should be much better as a group this year.

    Pitching will be what holds them back, though, with Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson fronting a below-average staff and looking for bounce-back seasons.

    The bullpen is a strength, led by All-Star closer Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano. But how many leads the starters can turn over to the 'pen remains to be seen.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Michael Bourn
    SS Asdrubal Cabrera
    2B Jason Kipnis
    1B Nick Swisher
    C Carlos Santana
    DH Mark Reynolds
    LF Michael Brantley
    3B Lonnie Chisenhall
    RF Drew Stubbs


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Justin Masterson 
    SP Ubaldo Jimenez 
    SP Brett Myers
    SP Zach McAllister
    SP Scott Kazmir
    CP Chris Perez

17. Kansas City Royals

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    Season Outlook

    Looking to add some pitching to a good core of young hitters, the Royals completely reworked their starting rotation this offseason. They have an outside shot at contention as a result.

    James Shields and Wade Davis were acquired in a huge trade with the Rays, giving them the staff ace in Shields that they've been sorely lacking. The Royals also traded for Ervin Santana and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie. Kansas City should once again have a top-tier bullpen.

    Billy Butler enjoyed a breakout season last year, and guys like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez could all take a similar step forward this season.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    LF Alex Gordon
    SS Alcides Escobar
    DH Billy Butler
    3B Mike Moustakas
    C Salvador Perez
    1B Eric Hosmer
    CF Lorenzo Cain
    RF Jeff Francoeur
    2B Chris Getz


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP James Shields
    SP Jeremy Guthrie
    SP Ervin Santana 
    SP Wade Davis
    SP Luis Mendoza
    CP Greg Holland

16. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Season Outlook

    If not for the worst bullpen in baseball, the Brewers likely would have made the playoffs last season. They had the highest-scoring offense in the National League and a solid rotation.

    Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez were added to improve the bullpen, and the bigger question now may be the rotation. Kyle Lohse was signed as a second front-line arm alongside ace Yovani Gallardo, but the rest of the rotation is unproven.

    They'll open the season without Corey Hart, but they should once again score plenty of runs with an offense led by MVP candidate Ryan Braun.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    RF Norichika Aoki
    2B Rickie Weeks
    LF Ryan Braun
    3B Aramis Ramirez
    C Jonathan Lucroy
    1B Alex Gonzalez
    CF Carlos Gomez
    SS Jean Segura


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Yovani Gallardo
    SP Marco Estrada
    SP Wily Peralta
    SP Kyle Lohse
    SP Michael Fiers
    CP John Axford

15. Texas Rangers

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    Season Outlook

    The Rangers were hit harder by free agency than perhaps any team in baseball. They lost a number of key players—including Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young—from their highly regarded lineup.

    What's left of their roster is still more than capable of competing, however. And while the lineup may not lead the league in scoring, guys like Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz are solid weapons.

    The pitching staff is led by the duo of Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, who should rank among the top starters in the league. Jason Frasor and Josh Lindblom were added to serve as the primary setup men for Joe Nathan, and the bullpen looks strong entering the year.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    2B Ian Kinsler
    SS Elvis Andrus
    DH Lance Berkman
    3B Adrian Beltre
    RF Nelson Cruz
    LF David Murphy
    C A.J. Pierzynski
    1B Mitch Moreland
    CF Leonys Martin


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Matt Harrison
    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Derek Holland
    SP Alexi Ogando
    SP Nicholas Tepesch (will be recalled to fill rotation spot)
    CP Joe Nathan

14. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Season Outlook

    Injuries to their core superstars hurt the Phillies badly last season. Once they finally got healthy and strung together some wins, it was already too late, as they'd dug themselves too big of a hole.

    Age is certainly not on their side. But if they can avoid filling up the disabled list, the Phillies may have the horses to make one last playoff push before they start to think about rebuilding.

    Cole Hamels is expected to step forward as the ace of the staff. Newcomers Michael Young, Ben Revere and Delmon Young will look to spark the lineup around stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    SS Jimmy Rollins
    2B Chase Utley
    3B Michael Young
    1B Ryan Howard
    LF Laynce Nix
    RF Domonic Brown
    CF Ben Revere
    C Erik Kratz


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Cole Hamels
    SP Roy Halladay
    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Kyle Kendrick
    SP John Lannan
    CP Jonathan Papelbon

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Season Outlook

    It was a busy offseason in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks finally pulled the trigger on dealing Justin Upton. They also moved Chris Young and Trevor Bauer in separate three-team trades.

    The offense will once again be led by catcher Miguel Montero and young slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who could take a big step forward in his second full season in the majors. The versatile Martin Prado is a welcome addition, and he'll spend most of his time at third base.

    The rotation should be strong once again. If newcomer Brandon McCarthy can stay healthy, he'll give the team a second front-line arm atop the rotation. The bullpen is a question mark of sorts, though the late-inning duo of David Hernandez and J.J. Putz is lights-out.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    3B Martin Prado
    CF Gerardo Parra
    2B Aaron Hill
    C Miguel Montero
    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    LF Jason Kubel
    RF A.J. Pollock
    SS Cliff Pennington


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Ian Kennedy
    SP Brandon McCarthy
    SP Trevor Cahill
    SP Wade Miley
    SP Pat Corbin
    CP J.J. Putz

12. Baltimore Orioles

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    Season Outlook

    The Orioles came out of nowhere last season to land a wild-card spot. Their young team will look to once again contend for a playoff spot in the deep AL East in 2013.

    Adam Jones showed signs of a being a bona fide superstar last season, and Chris Davis finally tapped into his vast potential with a 33-home run season. A healthy Brian Roberts and a full season of young star Manny Machado should help the cause as well.

    On the pitching side of things, Wei-Yin Chen was the only starter to make over 20 starts last year. The team will look to avoid a similar carousel approach to the rotation this season.

    The O's will once again have the benefit of one of the game's better bullpens. Breakout closer Jim Johnson saved 51 games last year.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    RF Nick Markakis
    LF Nate McLouth
    CF Adam Jones
    C Matt Wieters
    1B Chris Davis
    SS J.J. Hardy
    DH Nolan Reimold
    3B Manny Machado
    2B Brian Roberts


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Jason Hammel
    SP Wei-Yin Chen
    SP Miguel Gonzalez
    SP Jake Arrieta
    SP TBD
    CP Jim Johnson

11. Oakland Athletics

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    Season Outlook

    One of the biggest surprises of 2012, the A's used a fantastic second half to capture the AL West title with a group of unproven youngsters and unheralded veterans.

    They're not likely to surprise anyone this time around, but they'll once again rely on the performance of the team as a whole rather than turning to a few superstars.

    The starting rotation will benefit from a full season of Brett Anderson atop the staff. The lineup should be improved with the additions of Jed Lowrie and Chris Young. 


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Coco Crisp
    SS Jed Lowrie
    RF Josh Reddick
    LF Yoenis Cespedes
    1B Brandon Moss
    DH Seth Smith
    3B Josh Donaldson
    C John Jaso
    2B Eric Sogard


    Projected Opening Day Rotation 

    SP Brett Anderson
    SP Jarrod Parker
    SP Tom Milone
    SP A.J. Griffin
    SP Daniel Straily
    CP Grant Balfour

10. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Season Outlook

    The free-spending Dodgers were at it again this offseason, signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to bolster their pitching staff. After adding so many new faces in the past 10 months, they'll now need to work on coming together as a team.

    A healthy Matt Kemp is joined by Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier in the middle of the lineup. Carl Crawford will be looking to prove he's still a star after a rocky tenure in Boston and Tommy John surgery in August.

    The rotation will once again be led by Clayton Kershaw. And though he's battled elbow problems this spring, Greinke should give them a second ace-caliber arm once he's healthy.

    The Dodgers may have more rotational depth than any team in baseball, and that will only help them over the course of a full season.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    LF Carl Crawford
    2B Mark Ellis
    CF Matt Kemp
    1B Adrian Gonzalez
    RF Andre Ethier
    SS Luis Cruz
    C A.J. Ellis 
    3B Nick Punto


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
    SP Josh Beckett
    SP Zack Greinke
    SP Chris Capuano
    CP Brandon League

9. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Season Outlook

    The Cardinals used a late-season push to sneak into the postseason last year. Manager Mike Matheny will be looking to lead his team into October once again in his second season at the helm.

    Kyle Lohse left in free agency, while Chris Carpenter is sidelined indefinitely, so the pitching staff has some question marks. But top prospect Shelby Miller earned the No. 5 starter spot out of camp, and he projects as a future staff ace.

    Offensively, the team has some questions up the middle, but it also has an emerging star in Allen Craig and solid veterans like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. The Cardinals have work to do, but I wouldn't bet against them.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Jon Jay
    RF Carlos Beltran
    LF Matt Holliday
    1B Allen Craig
    C Yadier Molina
    3B Matt Carpenter
    2B Daniel Descalso
    SS Pete Kozma


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Adam Wainwright
    SP Jaime Garcia
    SP Lance Lynn
    SP Jake Westbrook
    SP Shelby Miller
    CP Mitchell Boggs

8. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Season Outlook

    The Rays have had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball for the past several seasons, but they have struggled at times to score enough runs to back their arms.

    As a result, the team pulled the trigger on trading workhorse James Shields this offseason to acquire top prospect Wil Myers. Myers could be playing right field by midseason, and he'll join Yunel Escobar, James Loney and Kelly Johnson as newcomers in an improved lineup.

    Even with Shields gone, the rotation is deep. Reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price and youngsters Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson lead the way. Meanwhile, Fernando Rodney was one of the best closers in the game last year. The bullpen is solid top to bottom.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Desmond Jennings
    DH Matt Joyce
    3B Evan Longoria
    RF Ben Zobrist
    SS Yunel Escobar
    1B James Loney 
    C Jose Molina
    2B Kelly Johnson
    LF Sam Fuld


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP David Price
    SP Jeremy Hellickson
    SP Roberto Hernandez
    SP Matt Moore
    SP Alex Cobb
    CP Fernando Rodney

7. Los Angeles Angels

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    Season Outlook

    A year after spending big to add Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels opened their wallets again this winter when they signed slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal.

    With Pujols and Hamilton alongside Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, the Angels have plenty of impact talent in their lineup. There is no real hole from an offensive standpoint.

    The pitching staff has a new look, as Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana were replaced by Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson. Whether their rotation is better remains to be seen, but the bullpen should be improved with the additions of Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    LF Mike Trout
    SS Erick Aybar
    1B Albert Pujols
    RF Josh Hamilton
    DH Mark Trumbo
    2B Howie Kendrick
    3B Alberto Callaspo
    C Chris Iannetta
    CF Peter Bourjos 


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Jered Weaver
    SP C.J. Wilson
    SP Joe Blanton
    SP Jason Vargas
    SP Tommy Hanson 
    CP Ernesto Frieri

6. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Season Outlook

    The Blue Jays went all in this offseason, tapping into one of the league's best farm systems to pull off blockbuster trades with the Marlins and Mets.

    Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera are new faces in a lineup that features the high-powered duo of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista and should score plenty of runs.

    The rotation, meanwhile, welcomes the trio of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Alongside Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ, they have a formidable staff.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    SS Jose Reyes
    LF Melky Cabrera
    RF Jose Bautista
    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    CF Colby Rasmus
    DH Adam Lind
    C J.P. Arencibia
    2B Emilio Bonifacio
    3B Maicer Izturis


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP R.A. Dickey 
    SP Brandon Morrow
    SP Mark Buehrle
    SP Josh Johnson 
    SP J.A. Happ
    CP Casey Janssen

5. Atlanta Braves

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    Season Outlook

    Though they finished behind the Nationals in the NL East last season, the Braves ran away with a wild-card spot. And after making a pair of huge additions to their lineup, they'll look to push Washington for the title this year.

    After losing Michael Bourn in free agency, the team signed B.J. Upton as a free agent to replace him in center field. Two months later, they pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire his brother, Justin. They'll join Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman in a talented lineup.

    The bullpen remains one of the best in the game, led by flame-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel. And they'll support a staff that will benefit from a full season of Kris Medlen and a potential breakout from Julio Teheran.


    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    SS Andrelton Simmons
    RF Jason Heyward
    LF Justin Upton
    1B Freddie Freeman
    CF B.J. Upton
    2B Dan Uggla
    3B Juan Francisco
    C Gerald Laird 


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Tim Hudson
    SP Kris Medlen
    SP Mike Minor
    SP Paul Maholm
    SP Julio Teheran
    CP Craig Kimbrel

4. Cincinnati Reds

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    Season Outlook

    The Reds return essentially the same team that won the NL Central crown last season. They have to be considered the favorites to win the division again this year.

    The one major addition the team made shored up a huge hole. The Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians to serve as a high on-base table-setter atop a potent lineup led by MVP candidate Joey Votto.

    Health was certainly on the Reds' side last year in the rotation, as their five Opening Day starters made all but one start during the course of the season. If they can enjoy similar health this season, they should have one of the top pitching staffs in the game.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Shin-Soo Choo
    2B Brandon Phillips
    1B Joey Votto
    LF Ryan Ludwick
    RF Jay Bruce
    3B Todd Frazier
    SS Zack Cozart
    C Ryan Hanigan


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Johnny Cueto
    SP Mat Latos
    SP Bronson Arroyo
    SP Homer Bailey
    SP Mike Leake
    CP Aroldis Chapman

3. Washington Nationals

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    Season Outlook

    The Nationals won an MLB-best 98 games last season, but they bowed out of the playoffs early when the Cardinals beat them in the NLDS. Now, they'll be looking to build off that success as they push toward a title.

    Denard Span was acquired from the Twins, giving the team two things it needed badly: a plus defensive center fielder and a legitimate leadoff hitter. He'll set the table for Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, who could be in for a huge sophomore campaign.

    The pitching staff is the real strength of the team, however. Ace Stephen Strasburg will be off the leash following a 2012 season in which he was shut down in September. Dan Haren was signed to replace Edwin Jackson in the rotation, and Rafael Soriano takes over as closer in a talented bullpen.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Denard Span
    RF Jayson Werth
    LF Bryce Harper
    3B Ryan Zimmerman
    1B Adam LaRoche
    SS Ian Desmond
    2B Danny Espinosa
    C Wilson Ramos


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Stephen Strasburg
    SP Gio Gonzalez
    SP Jordan Zimmermann
    SP Dan Haren
    SP Ross Detwiler
    CP Rafael Soriano

2. Detroit Tigers

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    Season Outlook

    Though it took a late-season push to even make the postseason, the Tigers captured the AL pennant last year. And at least on paper, they look to be an even better team now.

    Victor Martinez is back after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. The Tigers also add Torii Hunter, who was signed to shore up the glaring hole in right field. They'll join the dynamic duo of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the team's high-powered offense.

    The pitching staff is among the best in all of baseball, led by the best pitcher in the game, Justin Verlander. They'll employ a closer-by-committee—with prospect Bruce Rondon optioned to the minors to get a bit more seasoning—but they have the arms to make that work.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Austin Jackson
    RF Torii Hunter
    3B Miguel Cabrera
    1B Prince Fielder
    DH Victor Martinez
    LF Andy Dirks
    SS Jhonny Peralta
    C Alex Avila
    2B Omar Infante


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Justin Verlander
    SP Anibal Sanchez
    SP Rick Porcello
    SP Doug Fister
    SP Max Scherzer
    CP Joaquin Benoit

1. San Francisco Giants

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    Season Outlook

    The reigning champs have owned the top spot in my rankings all offseason, and that's where they'll start 2013 as they look to defend their crown.

    Pitching is still the strength of the team. Though it remains to be seen if Tim Lincecum can return to form, the rest of the rotation is solid, and the bullpen is one of the best in baseball.

    Offensively, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Giants find ways to back their pitching staff without a high-powered offense. NL MVP Buster Posey will once again be asked to do the heavy lifting.

    Projected Opening Day Lineup

    CF Angel Pagan
    2B Marco Scutaro
    3B Pablo Sandoval
    C Buster Posey
    RF Hunter Pence
    1B Brandon Belt
    LF Gregor Blanco
    SS Brandon Crawford


    Projected Opening Day Rotation

    SP Matt Cain
    SP Madison Bumgarner
    SP Tim Lincecum
    SP Barry Zito
    SP Ryan Vogelsong
    CP Sergio Romo


    Joel Reuter is a National MLB Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

    Follow @JoelReuterBR