Tier Rankings for All 30 MLB Teams Entering 2023 Season

Zachary D. RymerMarch 12, 2023

Tier Rankings for All 30 MLB Teams Entering 2023 Season

0 of 8

    What kind of contender are the Yankees?
    What kind of contender are the Yankees?AP Photo/David J. Phillip

    Teams across Major League Baseball are just weeks away from beginning the 2023 season with the same record. What will become of them after that, only the baseball gods know.

    What we can do right now is size up where teams are going into the year, for which the categories can't be as simple "good" or "bad." We've instead fit all 30 teams into one of eight tiers that, while not exactly scientific, generally get at where they are heading into 2023:

    • 1. Please Excuse Whatever It Is We're Doing
    • 2. Please Excuse Our Tanking
    • 3. Please Be Patient with Our Rebuilding
    • 4. .500-ish No Man's Land
    • 5. Wild Card Hopefuls
    • 6. Big Fish, Small Divisions
    • 7. World Series Hopefuls
    • 8. World Series Favorites

    These are mostly self-explanatory, save for the first and sixth ones. The former addresses the one team in MLB that's not actively tanking or rebuilding, but which is nonetheless in a bad place. Fans of the American League Central and National League Central won't want to hear it, but the latter is for the top contenders in those divisions.

    We'll hit the tiers one by one and rank teams from No. 30 all the way down to No. 1 as we go.

30: Please Excuse Whatever It Is We're Doing

1 of 8

    Bud Black (L) and Brendan Rodgers (C)
    Bud Black (L) and Brendan Rodgers (C)AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 30. Colorado Rockies

    The Rockies lost 94 games last season and are now generally expected to be even worse in 2023. The DraftKings Sportsbook puts the over/under for their win total at 65.5, which is in line with projections from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

    Which is remarkable, given that losing a whole bunch of games isn't technically the plan.

    Rockies owner Dick Monfort was so, uh, confident in his team that he predicted .500 ball back in January. Bold talk for a guy who spent all of $10.5 million in free agency to improve an obviously flawed roster, and now matters are even worse after Gold Glove-winning second baseman Brendan Rodgers dislocated his shoulder.

    The best Rockies fans can hope for is that 2023 will provide a promising look at the future, mainly courtesy of well-regarded shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and outfielder Zac Veen, whose general profile is "Loads of Fun." Otherwise, this year will be a rough one.

29-28: Please Excuse Our Tanking

2 of 8

    Hunter Greene (L) and Tyler Stephenson (R), Cincinnati Reds
    Hunter Greene (L) and Tyler Stephenson (R), Cincinnati RedsJoe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 29. Washington Nationals
    • 28. Cincinnati Reds

    Between the two of them, the Nationals and Reds lost 207 games in 2022 and subsequently spent the winter hunting for buy-low veterans to refurbish into trade chips.

    The Nationals might do so with Jeimer Candelario and Dominic Smith, while the Reds took worthwhile fliers of their own on Wil Myers and Luke Weaver. But even if all goes well, they'll only get half a season's worth of games from these guys before shipping them elsewhere at the trade deadline. After that, the 100-loss threshold will loom once again.

    Nats fans are better off watching to see if right-hander Cade Cavalli lives up to the hype of being MLB.com's No. 58 prospect and if the club's more established youngsters make strides. Shortstop CJ Abrams and left-hander MacKenzie Gore, both erstwhile San Diego Padres prospects, are the best bets there.

    Washington Nationals @Nationals

    Introducing MacKenzie Gore<br><br>Gore was the consensus top prospect in San Diego's system in 2020 and 2021.<br><br>In his debut season this year, he struck out 72 in 70 IP with a 0.8 fWAR in 13 starts.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NATITUDE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NATITUDE</a> <a href="https://t.co/0UJrkZQJrL">pic.twitter.com/0UJrkZQJrL</a>

    For their part, Reds fans can enjoy the pitching of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo—who combined for a 1.82 ERA last September—and Tyler Stephenson's hitting until Elly De La Cruz, he of the 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases in the minors last year, forces his way to the majors. At the rate he's ascending, that could be sooner rather than later.

27-24: Please Be Patient with Our Rebuilding

3 of 8

    Bobby Witt Jr. (R), Kansas City Royals
    Bobby Witt Jr. (R), Kansas City RoyalsIcon Sportswire

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 27. Oakland Athletics
    • 26. Pittsburgh Pirates
    • 25. Detroit Tigers
    • 24. Kansas City Royals

    There's a case for the A's as a tanker after they lost 102 games in 2022, but they spent a respectable $37 million in free agency amid a winter that saw them pick up interesting players such as Japanese fireballer Shintaro Fujinami, superspeedster Esteury Ruiz and former top-100 prospect JJ Bleday.

    Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

    Shintaro Fujinami, Filthy Splitters...and Sword. ⚔️ <a href="https://t.co/GjQR7GPkhd">pic.twitter.com/GjQR7GPkhd</a>

    The Pirates, who lost 100 games in 2022, spent $30.4 million in their own right and are still trying to extend All-Star center fielder Bryan Reynolds even after his trade request. Along with defensive wiz Ke'Bryan Hayes and real-life create-a-player Oneil Cruz, he's part of a trio of everyday players that's plenty worth watching.

    Coming off 97 losses, the Royals do one better with their foursome of Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez, Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez, and let's also not overlook that Brady Singer was the sixth-most valuable pitcher in the American League last season.

    The Tigers were the hard ones to place here, as they didn't do a whole lot to move on after things fell apart amid a 96-loss season in 2022. But that's only speaking roster-wise. They made in excellent hire in tabbing Scott Harris to run their front office, and the word is that he's already modernized the organization. That has implications aplenty, especially for former top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson.

23-21: .500-ish No Man's Land

4 of 8

    Connor Wong (L), Chris Sale (C) and Alex Cora (R), Boston Red Sox
    Connor Wong (L), Chris Sale (C) and Alex Cora (R), Boston Red SoxJim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 23. Miami Marlins
    • 22. Boston Red Sox
    • 21. Arizona Diamondbacks

    It seems reasonable to expect better things from the Marlins, Red Sox and Diamondbacks after they lost 93, 84 and 88 games, respectively, in 2022. But how much better?

    If Sandy Alcantara is a Cy Young Award contender again and Jesús Luzardo, Edward Cabrera and Trevor Rogers stay healthy, the Marlins are going to pitch the daylights out of the ball. Whether they'll hit, though, depends on newly converted center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. also staying healthy, and likewise on Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García finding their power again after rough introductions to Miami last year.

    For the Diamondbacks, superspeedy rookie Corbin Carroll—who couldn't have picked a better time to break into the majors—will lead off for an unspectacular yet reasonably deep lineup. They also have a quality duo of starters in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Trouble is, the arms beneath them embody the phrase "leaves something to be desired."

    Talkin' Baseball @TalkinBaseball_

    Corbin Carroll's speed doesn't even make sense <a href="https://t.co/HE5UpaJM21">pic.twitter.com/HE5UpaJM21</a>

    For reasons that are hard to comprehend, the Red Sox are serious about running out a rickety rotation full of injury-prone veterans and generally unproven young guys. Their bullpen and lineup look better to the naked eye, though the catch with the former is that newcomers Masataka Yoshida, Justin Turner and Adam Duvall will be hard-pressed to replace what was lost when Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez left in free agency.

20-16: Wild Card Hopefuls

5 of 8

    Shohei Ohtani (L) and Mike Trout (R), Los Angeles Angels
    Shohei Ohtani (L) and Mike Trout (R), Los Angeles AngelsMichael Owens/Getty Images

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 20. Baltimore Orioles
    • 19. Chicago Cubs
    • 18. San Francisco Giants
    • 17. Texas Rangers
    • 16. Los Angeles Angels

    The Orioles coming off a 31-win swing from 2021 to 2022 only for their ownership to continue to pinch pennies in the offseason was a real drag. But the projections are right to be high on Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, and a healthy Grayson Rodriguez may well give the latter a run for his money in the AL Rookie of the Year race.

    MLB Pipeline @MLBPipeline

    What a Triple-A debut for <a href="https://twitter.com/Orioles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Orioles</a> top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez!<br><br>4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K <a href="https://t.co/1RA2QAOLe5">pic.twitter.com/1RA2QAOLe5</a>

    The Cubs only won 74 games last year, but 39 came in their last 70 games. And while it's fair to have reservations about their offense, their Marcus Stroman-led mound staff and a defense that now has Dansby Swanson at short and Cody Bellinger in center could make them a run-prevention powerhouse.

    Why be bullish on the Giants after they went 81-81 and said goodbye to Carlos Rodón amid a winter that was also disappointing for other reasons? Because what their roster lacks in clear strengths, it makes up for in few discernible weaknesses. Ace starter Logan Webb and closer Camilo Doval head what look like a good rotation and bullpen, and don't underestimate what healthy versions of Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto can do for the offense.

    As for the Rangers and Angels, well, it's all about health.

    For Texas, the main concern is an elite-looking yet fragile rotation headed by Jacob deGrom that, with all respect to sneaky MVP candidates Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, will need to carry the team this year. The Angels obviously have Shohei Ohtani and are now deeper than usual, but it'll be for naught if they can't keep Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon on the field after they spent 430 total days on the injured list in 2021 and 2022.

15-11: Big Fish, Small Divisions

6 of 8

    Paul Goldschmidt (L) and Nolan Arenado (R), St. Louis Cardinals
    Paul Goldschmidt (L) and Nolan Arenado (R), St. Louis CardinalsRich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 15. Milwaukee Brewers
    • 14. Chicago White Sox
    • 13. Minnesota Twins
    • 12. St. Louis Cardinals
    • 11. Cleveland Guardians

    The Central Divisions have tended to be the weakest in either league in recent seasons, and the balanced schedule will likely only serve to solidify that as the status quo in 2023.

    The Guardians look like the best team in either division, and not just because all the key arms from a staff that was second in fWAR for the second half of 2022 are back. Their contact- and speed-based offense was effective enough last year, and should be even more so in an environment that A) will feature bigger bases and B) won't feature defensive shifts.

    Health will be key for both the White Sox and Twins in their pursuit of the Guardians in the AL Central, and especially for Minnesota with regard to Byron Buxton. If the White Sox keep the injury bug at bay, that Tim Anderson-led offense of theirs could be one of the best in the AL. The Twins' own offense is suspect around Buxton and Carlos Correa, but that won't matter if their sneaky-deep pitching staff clicks as well as it could.

    Minnesota Twins @Twins

    Adding this to our UnBuckingbelievable entry in the dictionary. 😱😱😱<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MNTwins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MNTwins</a> <a href="https://t.co/YvLNwf4x4M">pic.twitter.com/YvLNwf4x4M</a>

    Meanwhile in the NL Central, a quiet offseason has the Brewers giving off the same mid-80s-wins energy that they had last year. Yet it never hurts to have an ace duo like Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, and the seven-game gap that existed between them and the Cardinals last year could be closed from the other direction anyway.

    The Redbirds are well stocked with bats—not just Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, but ascendant slugger Jordan Walker as well—but taking a lot on faith with a rotation that's loaded with age- and health-related question marks. Staff ace Adam Wainwright is a legend and all, but he's also a 41-year-old who ran out of gas before last season was over.

10-6: World Series Hopefuls

7 of 8

    Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies
    Trea Turner, Philadelphia PhilliesAP Photo/David J. Phillip

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 10. Tampa Bay Rays
    • 9. Seattle Mariners
    • 8. Toronto Blue Jays
    • 7. Philadelphia Phillies
    • 6. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Even on the heels of a 111-win season, the Dodgers only inspire so much confidence after losing $450 million worth of free agents and, more recently, starting shortstop Gavin Lux to an ACL tear.

    This is nonetheless the winningest team of the last decade we're talking about, and the likes of Miguel Vargas, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone are standing by to help out of the club's top-ranked farm system. It also would be like the Dodgers to turn the clocks on J.D. Martinez and Noah Syndergaard back to better days.

    On the topic of erstwhile Dodgers, the Phillies signing Trea Turner to a $300 million contract was arguably the single best move of the winter. He'll lessen the pain of what will probably be a half-season-long absence for Bryce Harper. Likewise, the defending NL champions have a deeper pitching staff after adding Taijuan Walker, Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel.

    The Blue Jays fit the bill as a World Series hopeful as they were winning 92 games last year, and even more so now with Chris Bassitt in their rotation and Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier in an outfield that's been reconfigured for better defense. That Varsho can also hit and run is a nice bonus for an offense that didn't necessarily need another impact player alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and Matt Chapman.

    Sportsnet @Sportsnet

    How ya doin, Daulton Varsho? 👋 <a href="https://t.co/69Ncoq5fw5">pic.twitter.com/69Ncoq5fw5</a>

    As for the Rays, they won 86 games last year even without much in the way of offensive contributions from Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe. They're both healthy now, which should translate to more support for a pitching staff that didn't need Tyler Glasnow (who's already injured again) to post a 3.41 ERA last year.

    Lastly, beware the Mariners. They had the league's sixth-best ERA after Luis Castillo debuted for them on Aug. 3 of last year, and their offense should get more from players not named Julio Rodríguez or Eugenio Suárez. Namely, from newcomer slugger Teoscar Hernández and former top prospect Jarred Kelenic, who looks ready to break out.

5-1: World Series Favorites

8 of 8

    Brian Snitker (L) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (R), Atlanta
    Brian Snitker (L) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (R), AtlantaAP Photo/Patrick Semansky

    The Teams, Ranked

    • 5. New York Yankees
    • 4. New York Mets
    • 3. San Diego Padres
    • 2. Houston Astros
    • 1. Atlanta

    Starting in New York, there's a lot that could go wrong with both the Yankees and the Mets.

    To say nothing of center fielder Harrison Bader's oblique strain, injuries to Carlos Rodón (forearm) and Frankie Montas (shoulder) have dealt an early blow to the Yankees' starting pitching depth. That's where the Mets are already down José Quintana (ribs), making it that much more imperative that they protect the health of 40-year-old Justin Verlander and 38-year-old Max Scherzer.

    Still, these are two teams that combined to win 200 games last year. They were also the two biggest spenders in free agency, even if most of that went toward retaining players: Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo for the Yankees, and Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Díaz for the Mets.

    Elsewhere in the world of big spenders, the Padres' $280 million deal for Xander Bogaerts added yet another offensive star to go with Juan Soto, Manny Machado and a returning Fernando Tatis Jr. Once Joe Musgrove is back from his broken toe, the Padres should likewise have enough star power on the mound to paper over their questionable depth.

    As for the Astros, it's great that they added José Abreu to a roster that produced 106 wins and a World Series championship in 2022...but less great that said roster also lost Verlander. Between his absence and Lance McCullers Jr.'s (elbow) latest injury scare, they're one big question mark away from being at the tippy-top of MLB's World Series favorites.


    Jose Abreu with his first home run of the spring with the defending champs 💪<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/LosAstros?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LosAstros</a>)<a href="https://t.co/NqZihUg54R">pic.twitter.com/NqZihUg54R</a>

    That spot instead belongs to Atlanta because, well, does anyone actually have serious questions about them?

    Not having Dansby Swanson at shortstop hurts, to be sure, but newcomer Sean Murphy and a fully healthy Ronald Acuña Jr. can account for that. And when projections call for you to be sixth in starting WAR and first in relief WAR, you know you have a good pitching staff.

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.