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.
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.
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.
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.
The only other notable loss on offense was Michael Saunders, who struggled mightily after an ALL – Star performance in the 1st half.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
The Infield should still crush 100 HRs in 2017, and that is with Danny Valencia playing 1B.
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.
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.
St. Louis Cardinals (13): Tough break on the Alex Reyes loss for the year. Adding Dexter Fowler was good to settle this lineup down.
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.
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
Pittsburgh Pirates (16): The Bucs receded in 2016 after three straight Wild Card positions, and only won 78 Games
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Atlanta Braves (24): I am not buying the smokescreen that everyone is throwing up with the 2017 Braves.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
SD Padres (30): Can someone tackle A.J. Preller to tell him that he can pay Starters more than $1.75 MIL?
The Starting Pitching is abysmal with a bunch of #5 Starters at best.
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.