MLB Bracketology: Ranking All 30 Teams into 4 Regions
Buster Posey and the San Francisco Giants will head into the year looking to repeat as World Champions.
Before baseball season can start though, the NCAA Tournament will have to declare a winner. So why not make a mix of the two sports? After all, the best part of March Madness is watching the bracket come out for the first time on Selection Sunday.
If MLB were to adopt a ranking and selection process, here's how the bracket would look for the 2011 season.
East Region: No. 1. Boston Red Sox: Bye
The Boston Red Sox get the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and earn a first-round bye.
With the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston will be a scary bunch to face this year.
Jon Lester, who will lead the dynamite pitching staff, performed outstandingly in 2010. The Red Sox will be looking for nothing less than a World Series Championship.
North Region: No. 1. Philadelphia Phillies: Bye
The second team receiving a bye is the Philadelphia Phillies.
They've made the NLCS three years in a row, and bringing in Cy Young winner Cliff Lee will only improve them as a whole.
Chase Utley is battling a big injury right now, and may even miss the entire season. That would be a huge blow to the Philly offense, but players, fans and coaches can do nothing but sit and wait. Until then, the Phillies are still considered an elite team.
South Region: No. 1 New York Yankees vs. No. 8 Kansas City Royals
Once again, the Yankees will be an elite team this year in baseball.
Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira make up the best infield in baseball, and if their pitching staff doesn't struggle too much, New York should be a shoe-in for the playoffs.
Kansas City has no real chance to do anything this year. The Royals lost Zack Greinke in the offseason, which will hurt their pitching staff enormously. Young, talented players like Billy Butler will have to step up and lead this team if the Royals want to have even a glimmer of hope.
West Region: No. 1 San Francisco Giants vs. No. 8 Cleveland Indians
Winning a World Championship is going to almost always earn you a No. 1 seed the following year if we're ranking teams in a bracket style.
The San Francisco Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and their hitting looks to be even better then it was last year. If they can play consistent and win games within their division, the Giants should be able to make a repeat run at postseason glory.
Cleveland has struggled in the regular season for the past few years, and will more then likely struggle again this year. Carlos Santana, among others, will at least give Indians' fans hope for the future if he can refrain from breaking any more bones.
East Region: No. 2 Atlanta Braves vs. No. 7 Houston Astros
Atlanta is full of young talent, led by Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson.
They will look to take their franchise to a new level this season, and hope for more than just a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
Houston dropped off in the division last year, but they have a good young starting rotation who could surprise a lot of people in 2011.
North: No. 2 St. Louis Cardinals vs. No. 7 Seattle Mariners
If it weren't for Adam Wainwright's season-ending injury, I would consider ranking St. Louis as a No. 1 seed.
Still, with a healthy Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols, the Cardinals may be a contender in the NL Central.
Seattle is most likely going to have another terrible season, but Felix Hernandez, Ichiro and newly acquired Justin Smoak may play well enough to give the Mariners a chance in the AL West.
South Region: No. 2 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 7 Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Mauer is widely considered the best catcher in baseball, and with the return of Justin Morneau from injury, Minnesota will be a force in the AL Central.
Justin Upton has turned into the leader of the Diamondbacks, who finished in last place in the NL West last season. They will have to rely strongly on Upton, and pray for a consistent bullpen if they have any chance of making a push for the playoffs.
West Region: No. 2 Tampa Bay Rays vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh Pirates
The Rays made quite a few moves this offseason, acquiring Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, while letting Rafael Soriano leave, among others.
They will have a tough challenge this year in the AL East, competing against the likes of Boston and New York.
Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams throughout the season all last year and they haven't really gotten any better. Andrew McCutchen is the main bright spot in a franchise that hasn't been able to contend in years, and doesn't look to anytime soon.
East Region: No. 3 Cincinnati Reds vs. No. 6 Baltimore Orioles
Joey Votto won the National League MVP last season, and the Reds surprised everyone with a NL Central title.
Relief-pitching phenom Aroldis Chapman, and Jay Bruce will try and help Votto secure another division victory in the ever-improving Central.
Baltimore would have been a No. 8 seed this season if they kept the same roster. Fortunately for them, Vladimir Guerrero, and Derek Lee decided to join the Orioles which should provide a spark in their offense.
North Region: No. 3 Detroit Tigers vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Angels
As if Miguel Cabrera didn't have enough issues before he got arrested on suspicion of DUI.
Now, he has to bring his personal life onto the field, which may affect his production. The Tigers are still a threat in the AL Central, especially if Justin Verlander can get off to a hot start, and stay healthy.
Anaheim lost Hideki Matsui, who was quite a bit of their offense, and they might have trouble replacing him. The Angels play in the AL West though, which is a pretty weak division all around, so they should still be able to fight for a title.
South Region: No. 3 Milwaukee Brewers vs. No. 6 New York Mets
The Brewers managed to acquire ace Zack Greinke in the offseason, which will be a big lift for their pitching staff.
Unfortunately, he's going to start the season on the disabled list, which means the rest of the rotation will have to step up. I'm talking to you, Yovani Gallardo.
New York was once a bright franchise, but have dropped off over the past few years. David Wright is still a monster behind the plate, but management needs to find better personnel to play around him, because he can't win games by himself.
West Region: No. 3 Texas Rangers vs No. 6 Washington Nationals
Even though the Rangers made it all the way to the World Series last year, they might have some trouble getting their way back.
Cy Young winner Cliff Lee chose to sign with Philadelphia, and Vladimir Guerrero left for Baltimore. The Rangers still Josh Hamilton and other talented players, but they will have a hard time filling the holes of the production that they lost.
Washington is a team who has never made the playoffs, but is trying as hard as they possibly can. Jayson Werth signed a major contract in the offseason, and Ryan Zimmerman is already an elite player in the MLB.
If Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg can play together in a year or so, the Nationals might be a dangerous team.
East Region: No. 4 Toronto Blue Jays vs. No. 5 Florida Marlins
Out of nowhere, Jose Bautista decided to lead the majors in home runs last season.
Toronto will really need that kind of production this year if they have any chance of competing in the AL East.
Florida has a lot of young talent, and may have the best player overall in Hanley Ramirez. Josh Johnson led the Marlins pitching staff and almost took home a Cy Young award last season. He will need to put up those same numbers again this year.
North Region: No. 4 Chicago White Sox vs. No. 5 Chicago Cubs
Both Chicago teams haven't been playing at an elite level for a while now.
Maybe this is the year the Cubs will finally break the curse and win a World Series, but it probably won't be. They have too many issues on and off the field for this team to really come together and win a championship.
The White Sox have talent, but they still need another piece or two before they will be championship contenders.
South Region: No. 4 San Diego Padres vs. No. 5 Oakland Athletics
San Diego shocked everyone last season by nearly winning the NL West. They had a lead on the Giants right up until the last weekend of the season.
Although they lost Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Tejada, the Padres have a really good pitching staff and bullpen, which will probably keep them in contention for most of the season.
Oakland has its best chance to win a division title in years. Hideki Matsui was their main offseason acquisition, and he should complement the talented, young, pitching staff that Oakland has nicely.
West Region: No. 4 Colorado Rockies vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Dodgers
These are two NL West teams that are really hard to gauge.
Colorado has some amazing young players, like Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez. If those three can perform to their potential, the Rockies have a great chance to make the playoffs.
Los Angeles struggled last season, mainly with its rotation and closer situation. They decided to keep Broxton as the closer for this year, which may bite them in the end.
Chad Billingsly needs to step up and give the Dodgers consistency, because Clayton Kershaw can't go out and start every game.