Nationals Pro

MLB Power Rankings: Who’s the team to beat?

As Spring Training winds down, where does the power stack up in the MLB?

Wash Nats
Photo Courtesy: http://www.bleacherreport.com

As Spring Training winds down, team rosters finally begin to take shape. Position battles are decided, season-ending injuries are accounted for, and under-the-radar trades are finalized. So where does the power stack up in the MLB?

1. Washington Nationals

2014 Record: 96-66

2015 Outlook: Washington went into the offseason without many obvious holes, so they decided to upgrade their pitching staff by signing former Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer to a 7-year, $210 million contract. This is the best team on paper heading into Opening Day, and expect to see their pitching staff put up some historic numbers.

2. Seattle Mariners

2014 Record: 87-75

2015 Outlook: After just missing the playoffs in 2014, the Mariners knew they were one player short of making a deep October run. So they signed the 2014 home run king Nelson Cruz to put together a lineup with serious power that already had the likes of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. With the Angels expected to take a step back, Seattle has the means to take home an AL West crown this season.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

2014 Record: 90-72

2015 Outlook: Say what you want about the lack of home run power in the Cardinals’ lineup, they get it done. This team has not finished the season with less than 86 wins since 2007. With superstars like Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, and newly-acquired Jason Heyward, what’s not to like?

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

2014 Record: 94-68

2015 Outlook: With a pitching staff led by the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers are always going to be in the conversation. After falling short of the World Series in consecutive playoff appearances, GM Farhan Zaidi recognized the need for a restructured lineup. With new names like Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, expect the Dodgers to be right in the middle of things come October.

5. Boston Red Sox

2014 Record: 71-91

2015 Outlook: Wait a minute, this team won only 71 games last year. What are they doing at number five? Let’s just go through a quick list of the players Red Sox GM added to the roster this winter: Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson. The only question this team has is, without a true ace, can the pitching staff keep up with the lineup?

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

2014 Record: 88-74

2015 Outlook: Another year, another Wild Card game for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Andrew McCutchen and Co. come back into 2015 without having lost much in the offseason. Who knows, maybe they’ll be back in that one game playoff once again.

7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2014 Record: 98-64

2015 Outlook: The 2014 MLB-wins leaders come back into 2015 sporting one of the better lineups in baseball. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the pitching staff. With Garrett Richards coming back season-ending ankle surgery, and a bullpen that often proved shakey, can Mike Trout and the other bats in the Angels lineup keep LA afloat?

8. Cleveland Indians

2014 Record: 85-77

2015 Outlook: Corey Kluber. Michael Brantley. At this time last year, who would have known those names would be discussed in the Cy Young and MVP races, respectively. A bounce back year for a couple of guys like Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis are the hinge upon which this team is built. If a Comeback Player of the Year Award is in the hands of an Indians player at the end of the season, expect a postseason berth as well.

9. San Diego Padres

2014 Record: 77-85

2015 Outlook: Ever wanted to manage a baseball team as if you were a fantasy owner? Well ladies and gentlemen, Padres’ GM AJ Preller just may be your hero. After trading for Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers, the Padres lineup may have gone from bottom-five to top ten. Along with an already dominant bullpen and good pitching staff, the Padres are ready to make some noise in 2015.

10. Miami Marlins

2014 Record: 77-85

2015 Outlook: Giancarlo Stanton. 13 years. $365 million. That’s all you need to know about the Marlins commitment to the young superstar who is expecting to lead the team to the postseason this year. Newcomers Matt Latos, Dee Gordon, and Michael Morse will be hoping to take advantage of the top-heavy NL East and fight for a Wild Card spot.

11. Chicago White Sox

2014 Record: 73-89

2015 Outlook: The White Sox have the lineup, but can the pitching staff keep up? We know what Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija can do, but can Jose Quintana and the rest of the Sox’ staff manage to keep the team afloat? Their postseason chances depend on it.

12. Baltimore Orioles

2014 Record: 96-66

2015 Outlook: Baltimore may have had one of the more questionable offseasons among MLB teams, doing nothing to upgrade their major league roster, while losing Andrew Miller and Nick Markakis to free agency. The O’s are looking for Manny Machado and Matt Weiters to come back healthy and Chris Davis do something to improve on his .192 batting average from last season.

13. Toronto Blue Jays

2014 Record: 83-79

2015 Outlook: My oh my. Have you seen the Blue Jays lineup? Jose Reyes, Russell Martin, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson… That is honestly scary. If the Blue Jays do want to make the playoffs this season however, their pitching staff is going to have to step up behind veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buerhle.

14.  Detroit Tigers

2014 Record: 90-72

2015 Outlook: The Tigers went into the offseason with one major need to address: stack the bullpen. Instead they lost their ace to free agency, traded another starting pitcher for a big bat, and resigned their DH. Now you can judge the values of those moves for yourself, but the lack of a bullpen is going to bite them.

15. New York Mets

2014 Record: 79-83

2015 Outlook: The return of Matt Harvey from Tommy John surgery is sure to do waves for the Mets this season. Their offense struggled last season, but with the addition of outfielder Michael Cuddyer and the bringing in of outfield fences, their offensive output is sure to improve. Look for the Mets to be in contention for a Wild Card late in the season.

16. New York Yankees

2014 Record: 84-78

2015 Outlook: The Yankees’ series of trade deadline moves failed to help them reach the postseason for consecutive years for the first time in the post-1994 strike era. In a suddenly competitive AL East, the Yanks may be facing an Octoberless season for the third year in a row.

17. Kansas City Royals

2014 Record: 89-73

2015 Outlook: Oh the Royals. Stole our hearts with that dramatic postseason run that almost resulted in a World Series trophy heading to Kansas City. So what happened? James Shields, Billy Butler, and Nori Aoki hit free agency, and the Royals failed to resign all of them. Never fear, the AL Central is as theirs as it is anyone else’s, and they stand a fighting chance.

18. San Francisco Giants

2014 Record: 88-74

2015 Outlook: Speaking of World Series titles. Sorry Bruce Bochy, you might be able to ride Madison Bumgarner’s back through the postseason, but you can’t over 162 games. It’s also an odd numbered year, so the Giants can’t do well, right?

19. Oakland Athletics

2014 Record: 88-74

2015 Outlook: The Oakland A’s finished last season with the best run differential in baseball last season. So why did GM Billy Beane go and trade away all-stars like Jeff Samardzija, Derek Norris, and Josh Donaldson? Probably becuase of the 22-33 record they sported in August and September. With the A’s restructured team, could this club make a run?

20. Chicago Cubs

2014 Record: 73-89

2015 Outlook: And the fourth best World Series odds in Vegas go to… the Chicago Cubs? That’s right, the Cubbies have 14/1 odds to take home a title this season. Why? Joe Maddon and Jon Lester may look good right now. But the rest of the young stars on that roster haven’t finished developing just yet.

21. Milwaukee Brewers

2014 Record: 82-80

2015 Outlook: What happened to the Brewers in 2014? Leading the division for almost the entire season until a late collapse abruptly ended their title hopes. Not much has gotten better for them this offseason, and it’s difficult to predict which Brewers team we’ll see in 2015.

22. Texas Rangers

2014 Record: 67-95

2015 Outlook: If any team had an excuse to be bad last season, it was the Rangers. The injury bug bit them like no other, ending half their players seasons’ before they even started. They don’t fare to be much better in 2015 however, as their aging roster doesn’t appear to have much left in the tank.

23. Houston Astros

2014 Record: 70-92

2015 Outlook: George Springer is going to be a big name in the near future. Jose Altuve is one of the most valuable players in the game. The front end of the rotation is rock solid, and a supporting cast is on the way. One more year Astros fans, then we can start talking about being competitive.

24. Tampa Bay Rays

2014 Record: 77-85

2015 Outlook: Someone has to be in the basement of the AL East. After trading away Will Myers, Ben Zobrist, and Yunel Escobar, the Rays have a bit of a different look offensively this season. Their pitching will always keep them in games, but it doesn’t look to be enough.

25. Atlanta Braves

2014 Record: 79-83

2015 Outlook: New GM. New ballpark on the way. Let’s rebuild? That’s the plan Atlanta has set forth, with a minirebuild in the works in order to be competitive in 2017 when the Braves’ new ballpark is built. But Braves fans have reasons to be excited, whith homegrown stars such as Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman locked up long term.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks

2014 Record: 64-98

2015 Outlook: What happened to the Diamondbacks? Blame injuries or down years, but the organization collapsed on itself last season. With a new manager and high draft picks on the way, Arizona has shifted its sights to the future.

27. Cincinnati Reds

2014 Record: 76-86

2015 Outlook: Ah the Reds. So much potential in that lineup. But why don’t they win? They do have names like Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, and Johnny Cueto on that roster. It’s because the supporting cast does anything but support. Expect the Reds to be in the basement of the competitive NL Central this season.

28. Minnesota Twins

2014 Record: 70-92

2015 Outlook: The Minnesota Twins have a very bright future, but 2015 will not be their year. Top prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano will be breaking through to the major leagues soon enough, and Twins fans have many reasons to be excited.

29. Colorado Rockies

2014 Record: 66-96

2015 Outlook: How could a team sporting both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez possibly be projected to be the second-worst team in baseball? Injury history and the dire need for some type of pitching, that’s how. Tulowitzki hasn’t eclipsed 100 games in a season since 2011, and the Rockies’ pitching staff is far from remarkable. They will be serious sellers at the trade deadline.

30. Philadelphia Phillies

2014 Record: 73-89

2015 Outlook: Just as the Nationals are the uncontested team to beat going into 2015, the Phillies are clearly going to be among the bottom feeders this season. This team is full of old veterans and lacks much serious talent within the farm system. Keep an eye on this team come the trade deadline.

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.

Want to talk baseball? Hit me up on Twitter @CuzItMATTers.

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