Ranking The Teams #12-7, My Version: Who has Playoff Chances?

Welcome to Article #4 of my 2019 MLB preseason power rankings.  In this article, I will be covering teams who have playoff chances, but aren’t quite top teams in the league.  I will be discussing what they can improve on in order to contend for a World Series. Click the links below for other articles in the series (I will add them as I post them):

Image result for mlb opening day 2019

2019 MLB Preseason Power Rankings Series:

Ranking The Teams #30-25, My Version: The Bottom of the Barrel

Ranking The Teams #24-19, My Version: Who will have to Wait till Next Year?

Ranking The Teams #18-13, My Version: Who else Misses out on Playoff Contention?

Ranking The Teams #12-7, My Version: Who has Playoff Chances?

Ranking The Teams #6-1, My Version: Super Six?

I also released my 3rd annual preseason Baseball Bits!

 

12. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels

The Case for the Angels

The Angels disappointed last season despite signing Japanese two way phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, as well as new addition Zack Cozart, were hurt. Ohtani will be recovering from Tommy John Surgery and be limited to a DH role, but the Angels signed Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill to make up for the loss. They still have a hole at second base after Ian Kinsler’s departure, but the lineup could still be very powerful, led by Mike Trout and Justin Upton. The rotation lacks a clear ace without Ohtani, but I could see Tyler Skaggs stepping it up, and the team has five viable starters. The bullpen lacks the depth a playoff team needs, but the Angels will at least have a chance to contend again in 2019.

Where there’s Room for Improvement

The Angels have put a pretty powerful lineup together.  If they added a free agent at second or third, they would have been golden.  But in order for this team to start knocking on Houston’s door, the bullpen needs to prove itself behind closer Cody Allen, and the rotation needs to find an ace.  Ohtani was supposed to be the ace.  The Angels signed a handful of starters, but nobody to replace him.  Who will rise to the occasion?  This rotation has plenty of depth, now it just needs a top dog.

Projected Finish: 86-76, 2nd in AL West

 

11. washington-nats Washington Nationals

The Case for the Nationals

The Nationals are hard to read this year. They are still a very talented team on paper. The rotation gets even better with the addition of Patrick Corbin, and the team also added Brian Dozier as a Carter Kieboom bridge at second. The Bryce Harper era in Washington may be over, but the team struggled even with Harper in 2018. Was something else causing these struggles, and will that something else remain a problem this year? Without Harper, the team may regress slightly, but it’s hard to regress from an 84-78 season with this talented a team, even in a tough division. The Nationals should contend, but without Harper, they are no longer going to be playoff regulars.

Where there’s Room for Improvement

There are two major question marks that come to mind when I think about the Nationals.  First off, I wonder if OFs Victor Robles and Juan Soto are legitimate everyday starters in the long term and if this outfield has enough depth to succeed without Harper.  I also wonder if Trevor Rosenthal will contribute meaningfully to the bullpen and if the bullpen has enough depth for success.  If this team was a bit deeper, and spent their off-season on relivers and outfielders rather than more infielders, I’d have them performing better in this tough NL East.

Projected Finish: 86-76, 3rd in NL East

 

10. milwaukee-brewers Milwaukee Brewers

The Case for the Brewers

The Brewers are coming off one of their best season performances of all time thanks to a new superstar in town, Christian Yelich. Yelich was acquired from the Marlins in the 2017-18 off-season, and Lorenzo Cain was signed off the open market during that same week. The Brewers may regress a bit this year after losing Gio Gonzalez to free agency and getting rid of 2B Jonathan Schoop, but they did lock down the starting catching job by signing Yasmani Grandal. The Brewers have a good shot to make the playoffs again, but in a tough division where two other teams could contend, I could see them just barely falling short due to the lack of an ace for their rotation.

Where there’s Room for Improvement

Even in years they make the playoffs, Milwaukee’s rotation has held them back.  They lack a true ace, and numerous starters in the rotation are inconsistent.  If they want to get into the NL Central race, they’ll have to keep renting top-line starters at the Trade Deadline or sign one long term.  Could Dallas Keuchel be a good starter to pursue?

Projected Finish: 86-76, 3rd in NL Central

 

9. cleveland-indians Cleveland Indians

The Case for the Indians

The Indians still have a serious hole in their outfield. They did sign Carlos Gonzalez on a minors deal to replace Michael Brantley, but Gonzalez is not the kind of talent they were looking for. They missed out on Adam Jones, even at a cheap price, and they couldn’t nearly afford Bryce Harper or A.J. Pollock. However, the rotation is solid, and though DH could be an issue, the infield is looking alright, led by star players Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. 2B Jason Kipnis, one of Cleveland’s older position players, could also add something to the lineup. The Indians should be able to win an easy AL Central. But they’ll receive a wake up call when October comes around.

Where there’s Room for Improvement

The Indians own one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league.  But the infield is injury prone (it will start with three players on the IL) despite plenty of talent on paper and the outfield lacks reliable, everyday starters.  It’s okay to have one platoon in an outfield, but once it gets to be two or three platoons, a problem arises.

Projected Finish: 87-75, 1st in AL Central

 

8. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies

The Case for the Rockies

In my eyes, the Rockies will be able to take things a step further this year. I don’t think the Dodgers will be quite as dominant after two consecutive World Series losses. So the Rockies will take advantage of the situation, winning a weakening NL West division. They may have lost Carlos Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu during the off-season, but they added Daniel Murphy to support a good group of young infielders who are ready to contribute, including Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon, and Brendan Rodgers. Their rotation isn’t great, but it’s respectable considering their hitter-friendly ballpark. The question is, are the Rockies more than a product of Coors Field?

Where there’s Room for Improvement

The Rockies lineup looks to be in pretty good shape, but they never really replaced OFs Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez.  That will force Ian Desmond to remain in the outfield and force David Dahl into a starting job.  Is Dahl capable of this?  For once, the rotation looks solid here, and when they struggle, the strong bullpen should make up for it.  But at Coors Field, holes in the lineup is never a good thing.

Projected Finish: 89-73, 1st in NL West

 

7. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies

The Case for the Phillies

The Phillies got off to a hot start last season, and though they didn’t finish as strong, they did top it off with a historically active off-season. They acquired OF Bryce Harper, C J.T. Realmuto, CL David Robertson, SS Jean Segura, OF Andrew McCutchen, and others. These additions will take an average team and craft them into a powerhouse. In a tough division, they may fall short of a divisional win, but I would be shocked if the Phillies don’t make the playoffs. I have them earning 2nd place in the NL East with 90+ wins, earning them the final Wild Card spot in the National League. The question is: how long can new star Bryce Harper produce at an elite level? That will determine the future in Philadelphia.

Where there’s Room for Improvement

The Phillies may have one of the best lineups in the league. But the rotation is a real concern. Behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, they lack the depth they need for a deep playoff run. Adding another mid-tier veteran starter could definitely help matters here.

Projected Finish: 92-70, 2nd in NL East

 

That’s all for this set of my rankings.  Stay tuned for my final set of power rankings before the season begins tomorrow afternoon.

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