MLB Power Rankings: Where we care what you've done for us lately when we break down the who's who and the what's what in the baseball world each week.
We're almost there. You can smell it in the air, can't you? That's right ... the NHL playoffs! Ha. I kid, of course. No one actually watches hockey (if it even exists). But people do get amped up for baseball, and the season is upon us. So, in that vein, we've got our final installment of preseason power rankings ready for your digestion. Play ball.
- 1. Rays | Previous Week: 1
Same team that won the pennant, except substitute Pat Burrell for Cliff Floyd. Not to mention Evan Longoria only getting better this year. Hard to pick against that. And the rotation at Triple-A Durham is better than the one in Toronto. -- Ed Price
- 2. Red Sox| Previous Week: 3
Nice problem that the Red Sox have, picking Brad Penny or Clay Buchholz as the No. 5 starter. (They appear set on Penny.) Manny or no Manny, it's still about pitching. And that's without even counting John Smoltz as a potential mid-to-late season addition. -- EP
- 3. Cubs | Previous Week: 4
A rotation with Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, and Ted Lilly, a lineup with Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, and now Milton Bradley, and a bullpen with Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol. This team is clearly one of the preseason favorites in the National League, curse be damned. -- Pat Lackey
- 4. Phillies | Previous Week: 2
Ryan Howard has nine homers this spring -- one a monstrous shot that cleared the center-field batter's eye at the Pirates' field in Bradenton, Fla. When Howard hit 11 homers in spring 2006, he went on to win the NL MVP award. Just saying. -- EP
- 5. Mets | Previous Week: 5
Luis Castillo will hit eighth after being replaced as No. 2 hitter by Daniel Murphy. And given the dimensions of new Citi Field, manufacturing runs will be necessary. -- EP (Ed. Note: On the bright side, though, they always have two closers! I mean, who even really needs J.J. Putz when you've got a full season of Franscico Rodriguez being healthy, right?)
- 6. Yankees | Previous Week: 8
Bottom two in the order are Cody Ransom and Brett Gardner, mainstays last year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But the bigger concern is the middle of the order, where Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada need to be healthy because Alex Rodriguez isn't. - EP
- 7. Diamondbacks| Previous Week: 9
What's not to love about this Arizona team, besides it's youth? Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are an ideal 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and with Justin Upton and Chris Young facing lower expectations this year than last, the Snakes should be able to hold up for the duration of a season. Should. Or something.
- 8. Indians | Previous Week: 7
The Indians are a popular pick to win the AL Central this season, but if they're going to live up to those expectations they're going to need the Cliff Lee from 2008 to return. Too bad the 2007 Cliff Lee has been in camp this spring, going 0-3 with a 12.42 ERA in 16 2/3 innings this spring. Also not encouraging? The Indians have only scored 153 runs this spring, the lowest total by any team in the Cactus League. -- Tom Fornelli
- 9. Braves | Previous Week: 6
A Gary Sheffield signing would be uber-aggressive, but perhaps not that crazy. Of course, maybe Bobby Cox knows more about his outfield (in a good way) than he would ever let on; Atlanta just dealt Josh Anderson, paving the way for Jordan Schafer to start in the bigs this season. Also, the pitching is going to be quite good.
- 10. Dodgers | Previous Week: 10
Even before Manny Ramirez arrived, this lineup was loaded with big upside and relatively young players all over the field. If Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley bust out this year and approach their potential, look out. Also, look for Randy Wolf to have a rebirth this season. -- Jeff Fletcher
- 11. Twins | Previous Week: 15
The only thing anybody in Minnesota cares about right now is the condition of Joe Mauer's sacroiliac joint in his lower back -- the same sacroiliac joint that the team thinks may keep Mauer out of action until May. Mix in concerns about middle relief, and it looks like the Twins may get off to a slow start this season. Or they'll win 20 games in April. You never really know with the this team. -- TF
- 12. Brewers | Previous Week: 12
Two young pitchers hold the Brewers' chances of returning to the playoffs in their hands. If Manny Parra (26) and Yovani Gallardo (23) step up and stay healthy, this Brewers team is one to look out for. If they don't, the Brewers need to start looking ahead to 2010. -- PL
- 13. Reds | Previous Week: 20
They're a hot sleeper pick right now (Ed. Note: Indeed.), but there are still a lot of holes and question marks left. Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto both need to step up big in their second seasons, while Willy Taveras will need to do anything to improve his 2008 disaster and reward Walt Jocketty's faith in him. -- PL
- 14. Cardinals | Previous Week: 14
With no second baseman and a rotation that's relying heavily on a return to form by Chris Carpenter, this team is awfully thin. But if Carpenter does come around, he and Adam Wainwright should help a lineup with Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick stay above .500 and in contention all year. -- PL
- 15. Rangers | Previous Week: 26
Is this team screaming sneaking through the backdoor or what? No, seriously, they are. OK, that rotation ("Are Brandon McCarthy and Kris Benson really that much worse than the backend of the A's rotation?" is an excellent question posed by Matt Snyder) isn't sexy at all, but oh-sweet-God that offense. Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and my new favorite man-crush, Chris Davis -- dude is like the Hulk, but with more power -- are formidable. Oh, plus, the Angels and A's seem to be in a collective freefall and the Mariners aren't good.
- 16. White Sox | Previous Week: 17
The team just announced that Dewayne Wise would be their centerfielder and leadoff hitter, and it can't be reassuring for Sox fans to hear that their offense may hinge on a career minor leaguer. The good news is both Gavin Floyd and John Danks are quieting any doubters with strong springs, and the team will need those two to continue impressing with both Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon at the back of the rotation. -- TF
- 17. Athletics | Previous Week: 13
They had only one reliable starting pitcher, and now he's gone. Justin Duchscherer's surgery makes their rotation one big question mark. (Ed. Note: Joey Devine headed to Dr. Andrews after deadline as well.) The remaining starting five has combined for 80 big league starts, led by ... Dana Eveland's 35. At least Eric Chavez is healthy ... for now. -- JF
- 18. Giants | Previous Week: 16
San Francisco is too nice of a city to waste a long time at the ballpark, albeit a beautiful one. That's why the Giants plan to accommodate their fans this year with lots of two-hour games. How long does it take to win or lose 1-0? -- JF
- 19. Angels | Previous Week: 10
Last year the Angels overcame the early absence of two of their top starting pitchers, but can they withstand the loss of three. John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar will all be on the shelf for the first month of the season. Welcome to the big leagues, Shane Loux.
- 20. Marlins | Previous Week: 19
Hanley Ramirez's average has been horrible this spring, but that doesn't really matter. What is interesting though, is that Jeremy Hermida is mashing. Perhaps that's because hope is eternal, etc. Josh Johnson does have 25 strikeouts though, and Knox Bardeen said that, to paraphrase Chris Volstad was one of the most impressive players he saw all spring. In other words, this could be a hot team out of the gates.
- 21. Royals | Previous Week: 23
So far this spring everybody in the AL Central has found some new question marks. Everybody but the Royals that is. Mike Jacobs has been crushing the ball with six homers and 20 RBI, while Mark Teahen is hitting .500 (21-for-42) with five homers and 12 RBI. Zack Greinke and Gil Meche's ERAs this spring may be of some concern, but so far the Royals do look like a possible surprise in 2009. -- TF
- 22. Tigers | Previous Week: 18
Has there been any good news to come out of Tigers camp this spring? Dontrelle's got some mysterious anxiety disorder, Joel Zumaya is back on the disabled list and Magglio Ordonez is hitting .095 since being booed at the WBC. Oh, and they just ate $14 million with the release of Gary Sheffield. Thankfully Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson, and Edwin Jackson have all had nice springs, so there's some hope in Motown. -- TF
- 23. Rockies | Previous Week: 25
The good news: the Rockies have too many hitters. For instance, Ian Stewart could somehow be odd-man-out on the field, which is insane, because the guy's a masher. Meanwhile, even Todd Helton looks like he's
25 2831 again, hitting four taters this spring. The bad news: as always, pitching is a bit of a concern: Aaron Cook and Juan Morillo are the only two pitchers with over 10 IP and an under 4.00 ERA in the Cactus League.
- 24. Mariners| Previous Week: 29
Watch a couple Hall of Famers in Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro. Otherwise, it's a wasteland in Seattle. Seems hard to believe that 12 months ago the Mariners looked like they had the best rotation in the division because Miguel Batista was their No. 5 starter. That's when we thought Erik Bedard was good. -- JF
- 25. Orioles | Previous Week: 21
Matt Wieters is heading to the minors, which is a good thing for the Orioles, because his arbitration clock won't start ticking. It's not such a good thing for their offensive production to start the season, regardless of how Adam Jones looks. (Aside: Why do people act like they don't know what's going on when prospects get shipped down before the beginning of the season, a la Evan Longoria last year? Naivete can be annoying sometimes.)
- 26. Pirates | Previous Week: 28
Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata (before his wife went crazy), and Pedro Alvarez all wowed in camp this year before being demoted to various minor league levels. It seems like maybe this franchise is finally turning for the better. That won't keep them out of last place in 2009. -- PL
- 27. Nationals | Previous Week: 22
There's a chance I'm sleeping on this team: my man crush on Lastings Milledge grows by leaps and bounds every day (probably because he's available late in fantasy drafts). And Adam Dunn will, as sure as death/taxes/etc., hit 40 homers this year. Plus Jordan Zimmerman looks nasty.
- 28. Blue Jays | Previous Week: 24
Pitching staff is a mess; three of the team's four best starters are on the DL and the closer is throwing in the 80s. And the Jays won't hit enough to cover for having Jesse Litsch as No. 2 starter. - EP
- 29. Astros | Previous Week: --
You can write this down: the Astros will be the 2009 version of the Mariners. Any time an overachieving club is treated like a contender by a poor front office, there's disaster on the horizon. Everything catches up to the Astros this year. -- PL
- 30. Padres | Previous Week: 31
There is absolutely nothing ugly about San Diego... except the Padres. The only reason to follow the Padres this season will be to see if Kevin Towers can swing a good deal for Jake Peavy. Truth to be told, Towers might be wise to shop around Adrian Gonzalez, too, with Kyle Blanks waiting in the wings. -- JF