Every year, we baseball fanatics put together a list of who we think will be the top of the top in the upcoming season. They’re called power rankings, and while everyone’s list differs in one way or another, the top few teams are usually similar.
This was the case last year when the Chicago Cubs topped nearly every power ranking on the internet. Well, they didn’t disappoint and went on to win 103 games and their first World Series since 1908. That was last year, but with a new season comes new teams making a push for the top. Our rankings at INSC look like this.
30. San Diego Padres – Sorry Padres fans, there’s really no other way to say this. The San Diego Padres are bad. Like really bad. There are some bright spots, like Wil Myers, who finally broke out last year. Then there is young talents Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. However, the Padres lack the, well, everything to compete in the NL West this year. They have about as good a chance to move out of the cellar than Jered Weaver has at throwing a fastball above 85 mph.
29. Cincinnati Reds – The days of Chapman, Cueto, Phillips, and Votto leading the Reds to the top of the NL Central are long gone. Votto is the lone survivor, as everyone else was shipped off in return for prospects. Obviously, Votto is not nearly enough for the Reds to put up a fight this year, and their inexperienced starting rotation should result in a lot of games being over before they start.
28. Minnesota Twins – Sure, their 2016 season wasn’t quite as bad as it looked, but it’s hard to come back from as terrible of a start as theirs. That being said they’re still just not very good. Sano and Dozier will continue to mash homers, but if no one gets on base it’s not going to get them very far. Doesn’t help that their starting rotation is projected to be one of the worst in baseball for the second straight season.
27. Oakland Athletics – With Kris Davis’ strikeout concerns and Sonny Gray’s inability to stay healthy, the A’s lack that one guy that they can rely on on a regular basis. Instead, they’ll have to put their hopes into Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and Ryon Healy, none of whom have more than one season of experience under the belt. The A’s future isn’t as bleak as other teams this low on the list, but 2017 certainly isn’t the start of something great for them.
26. Chicago White Sox – The White Sox’s future is very bright as they’ve accumulated some of the game’s top prospects this offseason. Preparing for the future comes at a price, and that price will likely be put on display the next couple of seasons, as the White Sox aren’t expected to do very much in the AL Central. They still have Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, and Todd Frazier at the moment, but don’t be surprised if they’re sent packing as well.
25. Atlanta Braves – The Braves aren’t nearly as bad as their past records entail. If you can imagine, they actually improved their team by signing a group of guys all at the end of their career. Freddie Freeman will do Freddie-Freeman-like things, Dansby Swanson will establish himself as one of the game’s best shortstops, and Bartolo Colon and RA Dickey will give quality innings day in and day out. The Braves’ day is coming, but 2017 is too soon to suggest that their time is now.
24. Philadelphia Phillies – Like the Braves, the Phillies’ time is coming. It’s just not this year. Aside from Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, the Phillies offense remains way too weak to compete in the NL East. Aaron Nola could make huge strides towards superstardom this year and is the Phillies’ ace of the future, but they don’t have enough to compete just yet.
23. Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays are not a bad team, but they will need just about everything to go right if they want to get out of the cellar in the AL East. Archer, Odorizzi, and Cobb will all need to shine like they have in the past, along with Blake Snell and Jose De Leon. While their offense has the talent to score a ton of runs, it hasn’t shown in it in recent years. It’s a long shot, and they’ll need everything to go right, but the Rays may surprise some people this season.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks have loads of talent that have seen success in the past. Goldschmidt, Greinke, and Pollock headline an impressive roster, with Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker poised to breakout. However, they still are missing a ton of pieces needed to compete.
21. Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers could legitimately be the surprise of the year in the NL West, and I could fully see them competing for a Wild Card spot down the stretch. They added Eric Thames, who was a superstar in South Korea the past few seasons. With another big season from Jonathan Villar and Ryan Braun and a full season from Keon Broxton, the Brewers’ offense could compete with the best of them.
20. Miami Marlins – Stanton, Yelich, Gordon, and Ozuna lead a stacked offense into a tough NL East division. While their starting pitching leaves much to be desired after the loss of Jose Fernandez, they make up for it with their bullpen. The back-end consisting of A.J. Ramos, Kyle Barraclough, and Brad Ziegler is good enough to keep games within reach, even if the starters only make it through five.