Roger’s MLB Power Rankings at the Start of 2013 Spring Training


Steven Strasburg, No. 37

Steven Strasburg, No. 37

Major League Baseball is just now beginning Spring Training for the 2013 season. It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. I’m looking forward to the spring and baseball returning. Accordingly, I thought I would take the time to prepare my own power rankings for the top ten teams. I know power rankings are subjective; even though the contenders from last season’s postseason should be in these rankings–in some cases they are—I have offered my own take on what I think will happen based on what we have seen at the end of last year and over the winter.

Additionally, I’m happy that two of my favorite teams are on my top ten list. One I expected to be there; I am a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and that team has been in contention for the last several years. Indeed, if there is a standard of excellence in MLB, The Cardinals stand near the top of it. Year in, year out the Cards contend. Sometimes they win it all, as in 2006 and 2011. I believe they will also be a good team this coming season. I have also been delighted by the success of the Washington Nationals; I thought last year that they might have been a year away from contending but with the combination of great pitching and an offense that over performed the team took the NL East in 2012 with a 98-64 record, the best in either league. They look stacked this year and by rights are on the top of the power rankings.

And then there are the teams I would love to see in the top ten but don’t have the capability, at least this year. Near the bottom for so long, the Kansas City Royals look to be in the hunt this year with a reconfigured rotation with James Shields at the top talented cast of young players that have to step up. I’ve also been a Royals fan for decades—ever since I used to go to the games in Kansas City when I was in college in Iowa in the 1970s—and I loved watching that team rise to greatness behind the likes of George Brett, Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, Brett Saberhagen, and others. But it has been a long time since they contended. The Royals are not a top ten powering rankings team yet, but that might change if the pieces fall into place.

For the first time in a many years both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees may not be the class of the American League East; it looks like the best teams of that league are in the West. Moreover, the strength of the National League is reflected in these numbers. For many years it appeared that the best teams were all in the American League. I’m not so sure of this any more.

I hope you enjoy my discussion of the top ten teams in MLB now that the 2013 spring training is upon us. I would like to hear your thoughts as well. What do you think?

RANK

2012 TEAM/RECORD/RUN DIFFERENTIAL

COMMENTS

1

Nationals/98-64/+137 Unlike last year, everyone expects the Nationals to dominate the NL East in 2013. The team has gotten better than the 2012 edition. The starting rotation is solid, and with the addition of Rafael Soriano the bullpen should be better as well. Acquiring Denard Span will ensure that an outfield of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth at the corners and Span in center will improve defense significantly. The loss of Michael Morse will probably make less difference than some think. I’d like to see the team win a 100 games, cruise through the playoffs and take the World Series.

2

Reds/97-65/+81 The Reds have built an excellent team over the years, and had the second best record in MLB in 2012. Joey Votto will lead the offense again this year, but there are a lot of solid performances beyond that. Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos anchored a solid pitching staff last year and the addition of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation in 2013 will add depth.

3

Braves/94-68/+100 I have been quite impressed with what the Braves did over the winter to improve already very good team. They should challenge the Nationals for leadership of the NL East this year. The Braves totally restructured its the outfield with the addition of B.J. and Justin Upton. Moreover, the addition of Jordan Walden gives them a greatly talented pitcher.

4

Cardinals/88-74/+117 This may be a bit of sentimental pick. I don’t know if the Cards will seriously contend this year, especially with the loss of Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. Still, they have found ways to win regardless of personnel turnover. Sometimes it took a miracle, as in the elimination game in the playoffs with the Nationals last year. I thought the Nats had the game in the bag, but the Cards refused to die and went on to the next series while the Nats went home. Could well happen again. Go Cards, but I hope not at the expense of the Nationals this year.

5

Rangers/93-69/+101 For the last several seasons the Rangers have done less with more talent than any team in MLB. Two consecutive World Series losses and a disappointing playoff in 2012 has to make one question what’s going on here. Even with the loss of Josh Hamilton to free agency, the Rangers have all of the talent necessary to come back strong in 2013. A lot hinges on some youngsters stepping up, such as Mike Olt at third base.

6

Rays/90-72/+120 It’s hard not to like the Rays, especially with the most innovative manager in baseball in Joe Madden. He has found a way to make defensive shifts an everyday part of the game, and it is fascinating to watch. They finished 90-72 in the AL East last year and did not make the playoff. Even with some offseasons trades they still look to be an excellent team. They remind me a little of the Nationals, with a terrific starting pitching staff and a much more moderate line-up of hitters. I hope they have as much success as the Nats.

7

Dodgers/86-76/+40 It is obvious that the Dodgers are under new management and they have been spending freely to acquire stars for the everyday lineup. Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez will provide some real pop in the lineup. Pitching should be improved with Josh Beckett, even if he is not the flamethrower he used to be. I don’t think all of the money spent, however, will make this a team a lock for the NL West division title. The Giants are still really strong.

8

Blue Jays/73-89/-68 The run differential that you see here for 2012 suggests one of the key problems that Blue Jays had to address this off season. We’ll see how well they did, but they certainly made a splash with all of their trades, signings, etc. The acquisition of pitchers R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle should help in that department. Those guys should be able to hold down opponent scoring. What about more offense? Edwin Encarcion, Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes, and others should put up runs, and along with them wins. Will it be enough to make the playoffs?

9

Giants/94-68/+69 The Giants won the World Series in 2012 and the team is coming back pretty much as it was last year. That is probably fine overall, but of ocurse everyone I a year older. Buster Posey continues to be a gem, but it is the pitching staff that has been the biggest reason for the Giants’ success, two World Series victories in three years. It is hard to believe that they will be as strong this year as last, but they will contend. It should be a great NL West race with the Dodgers in the hunt, like the old days in the 1960s when it was the greatest rivalry in MLB.

10

A’s/94-68/+99 This is another sentimental pick. I could have gone with the  Orioles or the Angels or, heaven forbid, the Yankees, but I very much like the A’s and want to see them succeed. They are not a stunningly great team, but they had a passle of your players step up last year and make the difference. Even if those fellows are not quite as effective this year, I think they have a good chance to at least make a wild card postseason berth. It seems that Billy Beane always has another card up his sleeve so we’ll see how it goes.
This entry was posted in Baseball, Oakland A's, Personal, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s