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MLB Power Rankings 2017: Week 1 – Apr

Disclaimer:  We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series.  Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.

Chicago Cubs (1):  The Cubs are the defending champions, and with the amount of talent they were able to bring back, plus add Kyle Schwarber for a full year, this spells they will sleepwalk to their Division again this season

At the MLB Reports we stated that we believe that another club may even win more games than Chicago, but this may be a product of Joe Maddon resting guys ultimately throughout the campaign.

Season duplicating from Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey will be harder to reel in.  The loss of Dexter Fowler is not replaced by Jon Jay.

If the Cardinals or the Pirates are able to push the Cubs, then the 100 win plateau may still be valid.  Chicago wins the NL Central by 10 games in our view.

Cleveland Indians (2):  Early in the offseason we stated that Cleveland (while not as talented as the Cubs) may be the best chance to win the World Series based on their own Division and POS (Position of Strength).

Detroit was potentially shopping some veteran players, however they stood pat for the most part, and should keep the Tribe on their toes.

We have predicted the Indians rake the most victories in for the Junior Circuit.

Having Michael Brantley healthy, plus adding Edwin Encarnacion, with the thought of Andrew Miller being Terry Francona‘s Super Bullpen arm for a full campaign solidifies them even further.

Only an injury to Jason Kipnis, plus minor scares from Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco seem to throw any doubt of Cleveland approaching any problems.

Washington Nationals (3): I don’t get why a lot of people are saying the Mets are better than Washington.

The Nationals have 4 legit MVP candidates if Bryce Harper returns to 2015 form, along with Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and even Anthony Rendon showed late year signs of why he was a 2014 MVP candidate.

Adam Eaton is a lot more valuable than people think as well.  Seriously the trade for him blew a chicken, but at least the team saved money on his contract that afforded them the chance to acquire both Matt Wieters and Joe Blanton.

Max Scherzer won the Cy Young in 2016, and Stephen Straburg was in contention for the honor before the ALL – Star Game happened last July, followed by a minor injury and bad stretch of pitching.

Tanner Roark finished 10th in the Voting with his impressive campaign.

Other than an undefined Closer, which they could certainly deal for at any time, Washington is likely to even or better their 96 win effort in 2016, and I offer that they are stronger than last year’s squad.

LA Dodgers (4):  Spending over 1 Billion Dollars in the last 4 years has not equaled a trip to the World Series yet, however this team has the depth, resources and talent to win it all this season.

Keep in mind they had the Cubs down 2 – 1 in the NLCS before losing.  The Dodgers are going to be plenty of scary in 2017 too.  Clayton Kershaw is still the premiere chucker in the Major Leagues.

Corey Seager should be an MVP candidate, and barring a big injury to either he or Kershaw, this team should win the Division.

Logan Forsythe was a nice little pickup.

While it is tough to praise the brass for signing Rich Hill, on the heels of spending big money on another injury prone chucker in Scott Kazmir, Dave Roberts will patchwork the rest of the Starters to make it through.

Toronto Blue Jays (5):  Marcus Stroman‘s WBC performance has to have the Jays fans excited about their pitching rotation.  Aaron Sanchez is a bonafide ace and JA Happ won 20 games last year.

Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano are not slouches either and are capable of pitching beyond expectations.

Losing Edwin Encarnacion was tough, yet by adding Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, the two can replenish his offense.

The only other notable loss on offense was Michael Saunders, who struggled mightily after an ALL – Star performance in the 1st half.

Jose Bautista will play with a big chip on his shoulder all year, and if Devon Travis can stay on the field, the lineup looks very good still.

Houston Astros (6):  Might have the best 1 – 9 Batting Lineup, but could have used another Starting Pitcher.  They started 7 – 17 last year before turning it around to posting a 77 – 61 record the rest of the way.

Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are dynamite out on defense and at the plate.  Tough AL West to contend with, but for right now they are the top of the bunch.

Dallas Keuchel needs a rebound year and Lance McCullers Jr. needs a breakout campaign.

Boston Red Sox (7):  Had them initially pegged to win the AL East and be just slightly behind Cleveland for the best record in the American League.  Injuries have piled since then,

Not having David Price in the month of April will be felt.  David Ortiz retiring will also be realized early on.  Drew Pomeranz and Tyler Thornburg also start the year on the shelf.

Hanley Ramirez has a tough problem of putting back to back good seasons.  Pablo Sandoval is always questionable.  He looks in good shape, but may be the only guy I ever see that gains weight during the regular season.

Boston is incredibly strong with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts leading the offensive charge.  Andrew Benintendi is also the consensus pick to win Rookie of The Year.

Jackie Bradley JR.  needs to backup his 2016 campaign.

NY Mets (8):  Yes they have great Starting Pitching Depth with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler on the staff, but there is still injury issues with the latter, and also Steven Matz.

New York has depth with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman too, but I think 2 or 3 pitchers will not stay healthy for the whole year

The defense alignment is very weak to say the last.  The Infield represents three guys with back issues (Lucas Duda, David Wright and Neil Walker), while Jose Reyes has not always been a beacon of health either in his career,

I like their Outfield offense considering that Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson could equate to about 90 HRs, however Bruce and Granderson are so streaky.

Cespedes needs to avoid that 25 – 30 Games on the DL this season too

Mets should beat up on the Braves, Marlins and Phillies all year to pad their win total.

SF Giants (9):  The top 4 Starters might be worth 800 IP this year between Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore.  The defense is always good as well.

The real issues will be health and the back end of the Relief Core.  Mark Melancon has been one of the better Bullpen arms in the big leagues the last few years, but the club will need good 7th and 8th inning men too.

If Hunter Pence plays 145 – 150 Games, this team will be fine.

Bruee Bochy will squeeze 85 wins out of this club no matter what  Luckily, other than the Dodgers, the rest of the NL West is not great, and the Padres should be a squad all NL West teams pounce.

Detroit Tigers (10):  It looked early on the ‘Motown Boys’ were going to be dismantled, but we still see Ian Kinsler, JD Martinez and Justin Verlander on the roster.

The Tigers won 86 games last season – and are the benefactors of playing in a weak AL Central.  The Twins and the White Sox are rebuilding and the Royals could soon follow.

Detroit needs to take care of business against their Division and they should be around a playoff spot by year’s end

Seattle Mariners (11): Drew Smyly becoming hurt and Hisashi Iwakuma not looking at his best should concern M’s fans.  I would have pegged them to win the AL West had it not been for those concerns.

The Infield should still crush 100 HRs in 2017, and that is with Danny Valencia playing 1B.

Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson finally gives the M’s electric speed to contend with. These 2 guys and Leonys Martin could swipe 120 Bags swiped between them as well with.

Texas Rangers (12):  Yu Darvish is the most important player on the Rangers this upcoming campaign.  The club doesn’t look as good as it did to end both 2015 and 2016.

Gone are Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland,Prince Fielder and Colby Lewis all from the 2016 Roster, and they have added just Mike Napoli to bridge the difference.

Adrian Beltre has beaten father time for a few years, can he do it again?

The clubs depth beyond Darvish and Cole Hamels is frightening, although the Division doesn’t possess that many stalwart Starters – so they can compete.

Having a full year of Jonathan Lucroy and another years experience under he belt for Rougned Odor should help.

St. Louis Cardinals (13):  Tough break on the Alex Reyes loss for the year.  Adding Dexter Fowler was good to settle this lineup down.

We may have to accept that Adam Wainwright doesn’t look he has returned to ace form.  it reminds me a little of Roy Halladay in the last years of his Phillies days.

The offense doesn’t look to be as dependent on HRs as much this season, although i am worried about the Infield defense for sure.

The ‘RedBirds’ always find a way to be competitive, so they should be in the race.

Baltimore Orioles (14):  The are the outcasts of thinking Starting Pitching is not important  Again they should have a chance to break the 1997 Seattle Marines HR record of 264 with this lineup, as they came close in 2016.

The O’s added some nice depth with Seth Smith and Welington Castillo.

Buck Showalter knows how to run a Bullpen in the regular season at least, so look for Baltimore to win a minimum of 85 games again.

Manny Machado might take home his first MVP too.

NY Yankees (15):  Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez in the middle of the lineup has to be encouraging to start the season.  The Starting Pitching just has to get through 6, and Joe Girardi is pretty good at pressing buttons.

New York is also lucky that Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow has held up.

The Relief Core is second in the AL only to the Indians, and will be the force to win games.  Timely hitting will be the key to success

For the balance of the season, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have to play well.

Pittsburgh Pirates (16):  The Bucs receded in 2016 after three straight Wild Card positions, and only won 78 Games

Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole regaining back to previous form is paramount for the team to be in contention this year.

A mark against the organization is that fear of always trading some veterans on the Roster.  The loss of Jung-Ho Kang is bigger than people think too.

This club could play decently by July and still trade everything not nailed down if they are not already in a playoff spot.

KC Royals (17): They are in the same boat as the Pirates, although having lost Yordano Ventura may have sealed their fate closer to the Marlins with Jose Fernandez in 2017.

It would behoove the Royals to trade players like Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alicides Escobar – and even Kelvin Herrera for the next wave of contention.

Word has it that the brass would love to build around Eric Hosmer.  That would mean all players above would need to dealt in order to free up salary for that expenditure.

Really unless KC is within 3 games of the Division heading near the Trade Deadline, they should go this route.

LA Angels (18):  Best up in the middle defense there is and a nice addition of Cameron Maybin to double or triple the production the club has had in LF the last several years since Torii Hunter left.

Mike Trout should have another world class caliber season, so as long as the Pitching is not a catastrophe like in 2016, this club should be north of the .500 mark.

Why they don’t play C.J. Cron more is beyond me.  Yunel Escobar is also among the most underrated contact hitters in the MLB the last 2 campaigns – posting above .300 BA amd .350 OBP.

The offense should not have any problems scoring, it is run prevention from the pitchers that might make the difference here.  At least they have dominant defense.

Colorado Rockies (19):  Chad Bettis, Ian Desmond and David Dahl all being out to start the regular season is horrible for the Rox chances to be a playoff contender in 2017.

Hopefully the squad can still get out of the gates quickly.  In the last 4 seasons they have managed to play .500 or better in each April- before finishing well below .500 the rest of the way each campaign

If they can do it again this season, there is hope.

Arizona Diamondbacks (20): With A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt both in the lineup at the same time,  I love for this club to sniff at .500.  It helps they will play 19 Games vs the Padres.

For all of the clubs in the NL West, if they can beat up on San Diego, then they just have to be near .500 against the field in order to compete.

I like the Taijuan Walker deal for the long term.  Zack Greinke hiccups early in Spring Training are a little concerning however I believe he will pull out of it.

After a rough start for Greinke in 2016, he settled down in the middle months before an injury set him down the rest of the way.

Arizona was also 15 games under .500 at Chase Field.  They should be one of the best improved clubs year to year in 2017.

Miami Marlins (21):  The Jose Fernandez death is now going to hurt the club on the field.  If they had him on the Roster, you could almost call them a vogue pick to contend for a Wild Card position.

Marin Prado’s WBC hamstring injury will be felt significantly in the lineup

If this team wants to sniff at winning baseball in 2017 – than Giancarlo Stanton needs to stay on the field for the entire year.  He is capable of a monster power number year.

Christian Yelich has developed nicely and needs to keep it up.

Don Mattingly will have a brilliant Relief Core to draw from when the Marlins Starters struggle, however getting there will prove difficult.

Tampa Bay Rays (22):  Everyone kept talking about the Tampa Bay Rays before 2016, yet the MLB Reports were not fooled.  The staff yields too many HRs, and that does have a lot to playing Toronto, Baltimore and Boston.

This squad registered just 68 victories in 2016 – so why is everyone still so high on them?  They also traded Drew Smyly and Matt Moore away from the rotation between last summer and now.

Alex Cobb hasn’t pitched regularly in the Majors since 2014.  Granted Chris Archer should rebound, with Jake Odorizzi being a solid contributor.

Evan Longoria had every right to be pissed off the organization dealt Logan Forsythe too.  He was the cog that helped run the offense.  Will be tough for Brad Miller to replicate 30 bombs again too.

I am not saying the Rays will be that bad either.  75 – 78 wins is better than 68, and having the Red Sox, Yankees, O’s and Blue Jays help represent the best Division in baseball once again.

Oakland A’s (23): The A’s flatlined with just 60 wins in 2016.  it was their worst record in the ‘MoneyBall’ era.  They also reside in a toughly challenged AL West, where 4 clubs could top the .500 mark.

Look for them to trade away some veterans and work in the younger talent.  They may be ready in a few years to compete, yet 2017 is not their year.

Can Khris Davis and Marcus Semien continue their breakout 2016 seasons?

Not enough quality depth right now to compete.  The young rotation has definite plus side with Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both being good in the 2nd half of the 2016 year.

Atlanta Braves (24):  I am not buying the smokescreen that everyone is throwing up with the 2017 Braves.

While bringing in Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey is smart to buy the organization some development time, it is also risky to depend on a 43 and 42 year old to lead your staff next to Julio Teheran.

Matt Kemp hit well after coming over to Atlanta, but his defense is pretty bad and he would be better served to be an American League DH.   He does provide decent protection for Freddie Freeman at least.

The Braves are nowhere near ready to compete with the Nats and Mets this season. Those 2 pitching staffs will take them to task, and I am not sure they are even that close to Miami either.

For the fans first year at SunTrust Park at least they will be in games.  Maybe they can trade some players at the Trade Deadline and fall low enough in the standings to receive a better Draft Pick in 2018 as well

Cincinnati Reds (25):  Joey Votto was so incredible in the 2nd half that the squad was 39 – 43 after June.  Billy Hamilton also thieved 36 bags in his last 48 Games Played.

The slowing down of Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall stalled them from having a winning record in that stretch – although the latter finished out the last 2 weeks strong.

Cincinnati is Starting Scott Feldman on Opening Day this season, need I say more about the Starting Pitcher Depth?

The Bullpen also was better from July to the end of the year – and will be called upon lots in 2017.

Playing the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals 57 total teams will not be easy either  The club should expect to win 70 – 72 Games in my view

Philadelphia Phillies (26):  This once big market club earlier this decade is not acting like it right now, yet is actually paving a proper path to rebuild.

The Phightins’ have a plethora of young Starters that could all take the next step this year, however it is the offense that I am not sure of.

The lineup only had 2 players with an OBP north of .308 in 2016 with the names of Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez.

Adding light power hitting Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders is not enough to cast them in a better light.

All the other clubs in the NL East are more talented on the big league squads, but the Phillies should at least duke out with the Braves for 4th in the Division.

Tommy Joseph cracked 21 HRs in just 315 AB and if he can build on that he may be the teams 1B for a long time.  I have to think Maikel Franco will also be better in 2017.

Chicago White Sox (27):  If there wasn’t such a trade cloud surrounding all members of the White Sox perhaps I would have them closer to around 500 as a team, however it is the truth.

Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and even Jose Abreu maybe jettisoned in deals this season to build for the future.

Who can blame Rick Hahn and Ken Williams either?  The hauls for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton has the fan base at least elated for the next few seasons.

Milwaukee Brewers (28):  not buying all the hype about Eric Thames, and only one starter had an ERA under 3.97 last season – and that was Junior Guerra

A full offseason where they showed the door to Chris Carter and Scooter Gennett followed in the departures of Jonathan Lucroy, Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, Aaron Hill and Jonathan Lucory during 2016.

Point being the squad did not add much by the way of Free Agency, and I am not sure you can count on repeat performances of Hernan Perez, Jonathan Villar and the 2nd half Keon Broxton.

I agree with Milwaukee to bow out of contending right now with how good the Cubs are for the time being.  This club will have tough time reaching 70 wins again.

It would be awesome if they could find a way to deal Ryan Braun, who will hit 10/5 rights to add to his already limited “No-Trade Clause”.

Minnesota Twins (29):  Man they need Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton to live up to their potential  Even if so, the rotation is awful, and the Bullpen is not the same without Closer Glen Perkins, who starts the year on the DL.

Best thing that could happen is for Ervin Santana to throw well enough to be traded.  Where are you 2014 – 2015 Phil Hughes?

SD Padres (30):  Can someone tackle A.J. Preller to tell him that he can pay Starters more than $1.75 MIL?

Jhouys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Trevor Cahill all received the one year deal worth that much. Heck, Jered Weaver and Jake Peavy were also offered that same amount as well.

The Starting Pitching is abysmal with a bunch of #5 Starters at best.

There is also no reason for offensive optimism for 2017.  Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte are the only decent all around hitters – and Ryan Schimpf does add some pop (20 HRs in 276 AB),

Rookies Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot have won starting jobs in 2017, but it will be a tall order to find immediate success.

By Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thanks goes out to our ‘Chief Writer/Part Owner’ Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s featured post.

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Posted on April 2, 2017, in MLB power rankings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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