10. Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout. Simple enough. Seriously though, the Angels added quality players to the roster to help Trout in the last few years of his existing contract. Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart were solid additions. The pitching staff should benefit if Garrett Richards remains healthy. Shohei Ohtani is immensely talented, but will take time to develop. If Ohtani can improve as the season goes along, look out for the Angels.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Once again, the Cardinals continue to turn prospects we never heard before into legit everyday players. While they do lack a “true” star, this team is solid across the board. Ozuna will be the big bat in the lineup. While they may not win the division, a Wild Card berth is definitely in play.
8. Milwaukee Brewers
I may be higher on the Brewers than others, but this team has the wonderful opportunity to prove that last year’s resurgence wasn’t a mirage. The additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain stabilize the outfield. Former Astro Domingo Santana remains underrated. Legitimate questions abound about the pitching staff and Ryan Braun, but I believe they have enough talent to stay within the Wild Card race. Plus, they are the Astros of the NL. Oh, wait a second.
7. Cleveland Indians
Thanks to a weak AL Central, the Indians should have little issues taking another division title. The majority of the talent is still there from last season’s 102-win team. Jose Ramirez is one of my favorite non-Astros. The true test to their AL Central supremacy may begin next offseason. Alas, this year’s Cleveland team is no joke.
6. Boston Red Sox
So much of their true potential rides on the arm of David Price and the bat of Martinez. If both perform at a high level, the Red Sox may very well overtake the Yankees in the AL East. If not, then another season like their 93-win showing last year may be accurate. Whether that should be viewed as a success or not depends on the eyes of the beholder.
5. Washington Nationals
Could this be the Nationals’ year? It very well may be the last year with Bryce Harper’s looming free agency. This season, though, Washington will have to deal with a stronger NL East as the Mets and Phillies are projecting to be better. Even the Braves may give their NL East compatriots fits. The Marlins, unfortunately, will not be much of a thorn. Maybe an annoying grass sticker?
4. New York Yankees
Aaron Judge. Gary Sanchez. Giancarlo Stanton. Enough said about the lineup. You already know about the bullpen. If the Yankees’ starting rotation can hold up over the course of a full season, there is little reason to expect anything less than an AL East title. The Indians and Yankees are once again two potential roadblocks in Houston’s way.
3. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs may have had a bit of a hangover from their 2016 championship run last year. The Brewers sort of gave the Loveable Losers a good scare. But a full year of Jose Quintana should help matters from the start. Of course, the loss of Jake Arrieta is going to be noticeable despite his gradual decline. Theo Epstein and company are putting a lot of faith into the advanced metrics of former Rockie pitcher Tyler Chatwood. The lineup still figures to be one of the best in the NL.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are good. The good people in Los Angeles know this much. Heck, the good people in Houston, Chicago, and Pheonix know this especially well following the postseason. This team could conceivably lead all of baseball in wins once again. The lineup will perform quite well, but the starting rotation contains the biggest variables. If health permits, this staff has the potential to be one of the best in baseball. If health doesn’t permit, the bullpen may get taxed earlier in the season. As constructed though, the Dodgers are probably the team to beat in the NL.
1. Houston Astros
Never a doubt, right? The Astros arguably had the best offseason of any contender this winter. This team is built to contend again. Outside of a sudden rash of injuries, the Astros are in prime position to defend their title.
There you have it. Those are my power rankings. I am probably wrong on a couple of fronts, oh well. This little exercise was fun. Baseball is all about fun, right?
**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs**