And So It Begins: Final MLB Preseason Power Rankings
It's baseball season again, and the weekly power rankings are back! Here's the preseason rankings.
(1) New York Yankees—the reigning world champions are the team to beat. They've got the best offensive infield in Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter , and Alex Rodriguez . Acquisitions of Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, and Javier Vazquez still need time to be judged.
(2) Philadelphia Phillies—this offense is the most potent in the National League, with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Jayson Werth. Jimmy Rollins will need to have a bounceback year. Roy Halladay will dominate in the National League, although there's bullpen questions with early DL entries.
(3) St. Louis Cardinals—they've got two devastating combos in Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Brad Penny might have been an underrated acquisition if he can pitch the way he did in San Francisco. The Cardinals are the clear favorite to win the NL Central.
(4) Tampa Bay Rays—this will be another three-horse race year in the American League East. The acquisition of Rafael Soriano should really help. Evan Longoria will be in the MVP race, and they've got workhorses in Matt Garza , Jason Bartlett , and Ben Zobrist. We could see rookie sensations Wade Davis and Desmond Jennings help this team.
(5) Colorado Rockies—shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had a great bounceback year in 2009, and will need to continue for the Rockies to do well in 2010. The most underrated pitcher in baseball, Ubaldo Jimenez, could really change the NL West picture. Huston Street 's early injury problems might be a small setback.
(6) Boston Red Sox—it speaks a lot about your division when you have three of the top six teams in baseball. They've got the deepest rotation with Josh Beckett , Jon Lester, John Lackey, and the others. Their defense was bolstered with Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron, although their offense is a question mark.
(7) Atlanta Braves—I'm jumping on the Braves bandwagon to have a good season. It's the last season for Bobby Cox. Jason Heyward seems like the real deal. They've got tremendous pitching in Jair Jurrjens and Tim Hudson, and Troy Glaus has looked good this spring. Chipper Jones will need to rebound, though.
(8) Los Angeles Angels—I was ready to dethrone them from the AL West crown, but the other teams have had setbacks. The Angels have a very deep rotation with Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, and Joel Pineiro. It will be even deeper if Ervin Santana gets healthy and back to his old ways.
(9) Minnesota Twins—their new closer for the season is Jon Rauch. He's no Joe Nathan, but he should suffice. The Twins have a potent lineup with MVP Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel. Their starting pitching is the main concern. Everyone's watching Francisco Liriano.
(10) Texas Rangers—surprise surprise, as Ian Kinsler will be starting the season on the disabled list. The Rangers will need Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton to be healthy and ready to go if they're going to challenge the Angels in the division. Rich Harden was a nice acquisition, but might not be enough
(11) Seattle Mariners—I had to move them down with Cliff Lee being on the bench early in the season with injuries. They made nice moves acquiring Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley. The Mariners have tons of other talent, including Ichiro Suzuki, Franklin Gutierrez, and Felix Hernandez.
(12) Arizona Diamondbacks—a lot of attention has been given to Justin Upton lately, and he deserves it. Upton and Mark Reynolds are a devastating duo in the lineup. The early loss of Brandon Webb was a blow, but Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson aren't too shabby to carry the load until he returns.
(13) Chicago White Sox—they've got a deep rotation with Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd. A lot will depend on Carlos Quentin's ability to stay healthy, and if Alex Rios and Andruw Jones can play as strong as they did in the spring. The offense is a question mark.
(14) Los Angeles Dodgers—nobody knows what to make of the impact the divorce is having on the team. The Dodgers have got quite a talented outfield in Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez. Clayton Kershaw is also a star in the making. Chad Billingsley will need to rebound from a poor second half.
(15) Detroit Tigers—the pitching duo of Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello will be one of the best in baseball. The rest of the rotation, including Dontrelle Willis, is a huge question mark. Miguel Cabrera is really the only offensive stud the Tigers have. They need Magglio Ordonez to find his power stroke again.
(16) Milwaukee Brewers—they've got one of the most devastating offensive combos in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, but not much else on offense. The bigger question mark is their pitching staff, which isn't very good outside the underrated pair of Yovani Gallardo and newly-acquired Randy Wolf.
(17) San Francisco Giants—the Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, with Tim Lincecum looking to secure a third consecutive Cy Young. The Giants cannot hit though, and Aubrey Huff is not the solution. The Giants need more than Bengie Molina and stud Pablo Sandoval .
(18) Chicago Cubs—their best pitcher from last year, Ted Lilly, is starting the season on the bench. They've got question marks all over the bullpen and offense, but if Aramis Ramirez can stay healthy and Derrek Lee continues to produce, the Cubs could challenge the Cardinals.
(19) Florida Marlins—the Marlins have two stars in Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. They've also got the sensational Chris Coghlan. The rest of the starting pitching staff doesn't look good at all, and the bullpen is questionable. The Marlins are going to need a lot from Ricky Nolasco and Dan Uggla in order to make the playoffs.
(20) Cincinnati Reds—this team has so much potential, they could be a top-10 team. Joey Votto is the most underrated first baseman in baseball. They've got a nice veteran core at the rest of the infield in Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, and Scott Rolen. Everybody wants to know if (and when) Aroldis Chapman will be called up.
(21) New York Mets—well, Jose Reyes is already starting the season on the DL, as are Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran. Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews, Jr. aren't going to be good anchors. I also wouldn't be optimistic with their horrible pitching staff, outside of Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, of course.
(22) Cleveland Indians—we all know Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook can be good. If they can come back from injury and emotion problems, the Tribe can compete. That's doubtful though with Russell Branyan and Kerry Wood starting the season on the DL, and they've got two rookies starting.
(23) Oakland Athletics—the A's have got a nice young pitching core, which spells good things for the future. Ben Sheets didn't have a great spring, but we all know how good he can be. Their offense is horrid, although their defense should be great, with functionally three centerfielders manning the outfield.
(24) Baltimore Orioles—will Matt Wieters break out this year? The Orioles have the potential rookie of the year in Brian Matusz. The pitching should be better with Kevin Millwood and the return of Brad Bergesen. Their outfield is also built with Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.
(25) San Diego Padres—a lot depends on if Adrian Gonzalez will still be a Padre by the end of the season. Jon Garland might have been a steal of an acquisition, but the pitching staff will need Chris Young to come back to form. Kyle Blanks has got a lot of power, but will need to get some more hits.
(26) Washington Nationals—they will not finish baseball in 2010 with the "worst team" label. Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman had fantastic seasons. The return of Nyjer Morgan should help, as should the acquisition of Ian Kennedy. The Nationals really bolstered their pitching with Jason Marquis. Will we see Stephen Strasburg?
(27) Houston Astros—their best player, Lance Berkman, starting the season on the DL is a huge blow. They've got a great outfield in Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Carlos Lee, but they've also got too many inexperienced people starting (J.R. Towles , Tommy Manzella). Roy Oswalt will need to bounce back.
(28) Pittsburgh Pirates—the Pirates bolstered their bullpen with Octavio Dotel and D.J. Carrasco. Zach Duke has potential, but has yet to be consistent. The Pirates future depends on Andrew McCutchen and the unheralded Garrett Jones. They don't have the tools to compete outside those guys.
(29) Kansas City Royals—problems started in the offseason with their questionable acquisitions of Jason Kendall, Rick Ankiel, and Scott Podsednik . Billy Butler should have a breakout year. They've got the reigning Cy Young in Zack Greinke , but their pitching staff doesn't get much deeper outside of Joakim Soria.
(30) Toronto Blue Jays—they traded away their best player and legend Roy Halladay. Names like Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow are unlikely to be able to fill his shoes. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are amazing, but the Jays will need Vernon Wells to play for the money he's being paid.
(t1) American League East: (1) NYY, (4) TBR, (6) Bos, (24) Bal, (30) Tor
(t1) American League West: (8) LAA, (10) Tex, (11) Sea, (23) Oak
(3) National League West: (5) Col, (12) Ari, (14) LAD, (17), SFG, (25) SDP
(4) National League East: (2) Phi, (7) Atl, (19) Fla, (21) NYM, (26) Was
(5) American League Central: (9) Min, (13) CHW, (15) Det, (22) Cle, (29) KCR
(6) National League Central: (3) Stl, (16) Mil, (18) CHC, (20) Cin, (27) Hou, (28) Pit
Bold Prediction of the Week
The Yankees will sweep the Red Sox in Boston.
Preseason Awards Watch
(1) Evan Longoria—TBR
(2) Joe Mauer—Min
(3) Miguel Cabrera—Det
(1) Albert Pujols—Stl
(2) Prince Fielder—Mil
(3) Chase Utley—Phi
(1) Justin Verlander—Det
(2) Felix Hernandez—Sea
(3) Zack Greinke—KCR
(1) Roy Halladay—Phi
(2) Tim Lincecum—Sfg
(3) Ubaldo Jimenez—Col
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