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With Opening Day 2014 just around the corner and opening night baseball happening Sunday night between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s time for the final set of preseason power rankings.
Here they are, presented with brief commentary from us here at Rox Pile. Happy baseball season all!
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The National League is not as deep as the American League, with seemingly clear favorites in every division. The NL West is no exception, and the Dodgers stand above them all, with the caveat that Clayton Kershaw‘s back needs to get healthy in a hurry.
2. Washington Nationals
The best team in baseball down the stretch last season, their rotation is absolutely silly-good. They won’t have to hit much to be a good team, and they might have an MVP candidate on that side of things with none other than Bryce Harper.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The pitching is too good and I am too much of a believer in Joe Maddon. It will be close between them and the Red Sox all year.
4. Boston Red Sox
Last year it was great pitching and the production of buy-low veterans that helped the Red Sox break through. Now it will be great pitching and the emergence of young talent like Xander Bogaerts that will keep them near the top in 2014.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
If you’re inclined to doubt the Cardinals and their wealth of young talent, well, that’s your thing…
6. Detroit Tigers
They’re a playoff team to be sure, though I think the Kansas City Royals will give them everything they can handle in the division race.
7. Oakland A’s
Even with tough injury news before the season even starts, their depth is just too good and their bullpen is plain nasty.
8. Los Angeles Angels
9. Kansas City Royals
I believe. Eric Hosmer is a preseason MVP pick for some folks, and if this lineup can just find a certain measure of consistency the other pieces should be in place.
10. Cincinnati Reds
There is still plenty here to like, and if Billy Hamilton figures out how to get on base in front of Joey Votto this lineup should score a whole bunch of runs. Moving parts in the bullpen early on should not be much of a problem.
11. Atlanta Braves
They have the goods to re-invent themselves slightly after injuries to their rotation with all of their young, mostly locked-up position players. There’s still a boom-or-bust vibe to the lineup, but they should boom quite a bit and certainly enough to stay in the thick of things.
12. Texas Rangers
They are a hard team to place with all those stinkin’ injuries. Lots of questions, and could just as easily fall below the top 15 as they could slide into the top 10 by the next time we do this.
13. Cleveland Indians
There’s a lot to like with this team once again and certainly with Terry Francona at the helm. But the rotation needs to show us a lot before I am ready to call them a playoff team again in 2014.
14. San Francisco Giants
They have a chance to be annoyingly good once again, especially if Brandon Belt continues his emergence in the middle of the lineup. The back ends of their rotation and bullpen could hurt them, though.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates
I am worried about Clint Hurdle and the boys. It will be hard to repeat the pitching they got last season, particularly in the back of the bullpen, and I still don’t see enough offense. Third place in the central feels right, though many still have them slotted into a Wild Card spot.
16. New York Yankees
Where we stand now, I think they are closer to 4th place than they are to 2nd place in the tough American League East.
17. Baltimore Orioles
This lineup will thump with the best of them, but pitching questions up and down the roster make the Orioles tough to figure.
18. Miami Marlins
Guess what? They stockpiled young talent, again, and have one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a weak NL East, they are going to win some games.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks
I am not inclined to trust their rotation sans Patrick Corbin, and the loss of David Hernandez in the bullpen stings big time. Grit jokes aside, this just feels like a poorly constructed roster that will hang around .500 once again.
20. Colorado Rockies
The current state of the team is such that being a homer means putting them this close to the Diamondbacks and ahead of the San Diego Padres. Probably a team with too many “what if” questions to rank any higher than this, and they should maybe, probably be lower to start the season.
21. Milwaukee Brewers
The top three of the rotation is solid and they have three great position players in Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura. The lack of depth is a problem, though, and they might have to hold an open tryout for their first base spot at some point.
22. Seattle Mariners
Their starting pitching is too good to ignore, but their off-season was baffling from the moment they signed Robinson Cano to the moves that followed.
23. San Diego Padres
This might too low, but it also might be too high. For my part, I am reluctant to bet against a Bud Black coached team.
24. Toronto Blue Jays
I truly think this team will stink and be overwhelmed in the AL East. It says more about the teams that follow than anything else, frankly.
25. Chicago White Sox
This team is pointed the right direction and they made good moves this off-season. They’re just going to struggle for at least one more year before things start coming into place.
26. Minnesota Twins
Like the White Sox, they are pointed the right direction with some of the young talent on the way. Should also see improvement in the rotation with patchwork moves made this off-season.
27. Chicago Cubs
Bad, but rebuilding for something better.
28. Houston Astros
Also bad, also building for something better.
29. Philadelphia Phillies
I’ll eat my hat if Cliff Lee is a member of this team after the trade deadline.
30. New York Mets
Help is on the way in the form of young pitching. They might be much higher on this list soon if those young arms arrive. But for now, Eric Young Jr. stands to play as a regular in the outfield, so yea…