Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal
1. Houston Astros
There’s only one spot where the World Series Champions belong, and that’s at number one. Led by Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa, this team is as elite as it comes. The Astros have two aces in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel leading the rotation. Run support most certainly will not be an issue, but the bullpen may be the only weakness on this team, even with the additions of Joe Smith and Hector Rondon.
2. New York Yankees
The Yankees were one win away from going to the World Series last year. The same team returns in 2018 with one big major addition. Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton joins a lineup that already has Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and potential break out star, Greg Bird. Home runs won’t be an issue, but if one thing is going to hold this team back, it’ll be the pitching. Not the bullpen…but the ROTATION.
3. Cleveland Indians
Pitching remains a strength for this team. Corey Kluber, I think, should be getting more recognition as being the best pitcher in baseball. He takes the ball every fifth day and straight up dominates every single time. The offense has some questions, you have no idea what you’re going to get out of injury prone Michael Brantley. Yonder Alonso is the new first baseman, but can he repeat his season from last year? Nonetheless, they still have arguably the best reliever in baseball, Andrew Miller. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion will anchor the lineup. The Indians aren’t going anywhere, but the Minnesota Twins are coming, and they’re coming fast.
4. Boston Red Sox
The young talent on this team remains a major strength. Names like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. certainly makes you one of the best teams in Baseball. With Chris Sale, David Price, and Drew Pomeranz manning the top of the rotation, the only thing this team is missing is a power bat, and potentially, a set-up man. They’ve been linked to J.D. Martinez, but right now both parties are staring at each other waiting for one to budge. The AL East is back to being a dog fight between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Look for the Red Sox to only get better, coming off 93 wins with plenty of their young stars yet to reach their full potential.
5. Los Angeles Angels
Man have the Angels had a great offseason. You look at the major weaknesses of this team and all of those weaknesses have been improved. Zack Cozart is the new third baseman, Ian Kinsler is the new second baseman. Their outfield contains the best player in Baseball, to go along with power hitting Justin Upton, and underrated Kole Calhoun. Andrelton Simmons seems to have figured it out, and oh yeah…they also signed phenom two-way star Shohei Ohtani who can dominate offensively and also dominate from a pitching prospective from the top of the rotation. Now this team just has to put it together, if their starting pitchers stay healthy and their bullpen remains a strength, this team should be in contention for a wild card spot. They look good on paper, let’s see them go out and perform now.
6. Minnesota Twins
This team took a major step in 2017. I don’t think anyone would have thought that the Twins would make the playoffs last year. Byron Buxton finally has figured it out. Brian Dozier is still jacking up 40 bombs. Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano… there’s so many young players with room to get better, hopefully the Twins aren’t just a one year wonder. If the players play to their capabilities this wild card situation is going to get a lot more intriguing.
7. Seattle Mariners
I honestly feel so bad for the Mariners’ fans. Every year this team makes 7,000 offseason additions gaining the hype from people all over the Baseball industry only to being mediocre by the season’s end. The Mariners have so many up and downs within a season, I had no idea where to rank them. Felix Hernandez needs to stay healthy, James Paxton needs to stay healthy. They have two Mr. Consistent’s in Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz. You pretty much know what you’re getting. I don’t know what their problem is, you would think the Mariners would be a lot better. When the offense is flourishing, the pitching is performing bad. Then when the pitching is on, the offense is bad. They just need to perform more consistently, and see what they can accomplish then. The players are there, everyone is just kind of waiting for the Mariners to make the next step.
8. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are a very sneaky team. They have a pretty good starting rotation in Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, JA Happ, Marco Estrada, and Joe Biagini. The offense is good too. Josh Donaldson, Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki. Everyone just needs to stay healthy. I don’t think they can compete with the Red Sox and the Yankees, but again, I think the wild card situation will be one to watch this upcoming year.
9. Texas Rangers
The Rangers are a frustrating team too. This team was finishing in first place year after year and all of a sudden they jut fell off. Mediocre starting pitching, a mediocre bullpen, and so many health problems. Adrian Beltre can’t stay healthy. Rougned Odor forgot where the strike zone was, striking out for a living, hitting home runs then pimping the crap out of them like he’s Hank Aaron. SIT DOWN. I mean all I’m asking…is to have a major league at-bat and he’s looks far from it. I mean come on. Joey Gallo does nothing but hit home runs. I mean if you’re hitting 50 bombs, I’ll take that too. Just mix in some singles and doubles please. Get that on base percentage up….They need more players like Elvis Andrus. Good speed, decent power, good plate discipline, you know…just good consistent players. Jon Daniels is a good general manager, but to fix the rotation… you trade for more mediocre players in Doug Fister? Matt Moore? What is going on in Texas? I actually like the Mike Minor addition, and maybe their biggest addition is yet to come, but boy has this team fell off. There’s good and bad news though. Good news is that the Rangers can turn it around fast, they have the players…they just need more help. Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara, and Shin-Soo Choo. These players just need to play to their capabilities. The bad news is that the Astros aren’t going anywhere, and as it stands now, I think the Astros, Mariners, and Angels are all better. The Rangers need to step it up big time.
10. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays seem to be finally rebuilding. Evan Longoria is gone, Logan Morrison is gone. The Rays definitely aren’t a team you can take lightly though. They still have a good rotation led by Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. They also still have some thump in the lineup. Corey Dickerson, Wilson Ramos, Steven Souza, Brad Miller, and one of the most iconic players in all of Baseball, Kevin Kiermaier. There’s room to improve for everyone, but I think it’s fair to say, the Rays are going to be a mainstay in the bottom of the division for the next few years.
11. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have fell off too just as fast as the Texas Rangers. The Orioles have a grand total of two dependable starters in Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Their starting pitching is just down right terrible right now. The bullpen is good though, and I love their offense still. Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini. The offense is there, and if this team gets some starting pitching, I think they could actually be quite scary. It’s often hard to get everything to work your way, so in the end, I think this will be another year where the Orioles are looking up at everyone else, while their starting pitching holds them back.
12. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have a great future ahead of them. They have probably the second best farm system in all of Baseball. Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, and Dylan Cease. The future is bright. This team should have enough talent at the major league level to take a step up from last year. Look for Yoan Moncada to put it together, along with Tim Anderson. The White Sox will be a team to watch in 2018 in terms of establishing a foundation for the future.
13. Oakland Athletics
The Athletics will once again be a team that loses about 90 games. The players just aren’t there. I mean they have Khris Davis and Matt Chapman, but really no one who’s going to scare you. Both of those players can be pitched to. During the season though, more towards the end, the Athletics are always that one team that beats up the contenders causing a change in the playoff picture. I feel so bad for Bob Melvin. Billy Beane trades away their star players such as Josh Donaldson and Sonny Gray then Bob Melvin is left trying to piece together a productive lineup and rotation without much being there. I get cutting payroll, but there just needs to be more talent there in order to contend, or at least make an effort towards contending. Hopefully we’ll see signs of that in 2018.
14. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are known as being one of those sleeper teams. This team gets on everyone’s nerves, everyone except their own fans. They are losing a big chunk of their core, but they still have a chance at re-signing Eric Hosmer, and may very well be in the lead to sign the first baseman. The Royals have break out star Whit Merrifield along with Salvador Perez. The Royals hope Jorge Soler can take a major step in contributing with the big league club. The Royals always find a way to win games and put together a somewhat productive season. However, this year may be the year this team actually finishes near the bottom of the division where most people expect because there are just so many holes. Third Base, First Base, Outfield, Shortstop. Too many holes to fill, look for the Royals to be pretty much irrelevant this year.
15. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are an interesting one. They were always that one team that everyone thought would be great, but in reality the team plays like a .500 club would play. Lose one day, win one day, over and over again. Miguel Cabrera is getting older, but I still think he’s got some good years left with his exceptional hitting skills. Cocky Nick Castellanos finally has found his stroke and will be a mainstay in the Tigers lineup. There’s just not a whole lot else. Jose Iglesias is pretty solid, but who’s going to compliment him in the middle of the diamond at second base? Their outfield has all sorts of holes in it. The pitching isn’t all that great. They have Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmerman, Daniel Norris and who else? Matt Boyd? Mike Fiers? The bullpen is still terrible, this will be a team that loses a lot of games, and it’s so weird to see this coming from the Detroit Tigers. Nonetheless, their farm system is on the rise, it’s only a matter of time before the Tigers are competitive again.