Ranking The Teams 12-7, My Version: The Contending

Welcome to Day 4 of my MLB preseason power rankings.  Last time, I broke down the middle of the pack and the pros and cons of each team there.  Now we’ve made it to the playoff contenders.  Each of these teams has something that’s holding them back from dominance, though.  Today, I will break down what that is for each team.  Now, let’s get started with #12.

Missed a previous article?  Check below:

Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly

Ranking The Teams 24-19, My Version: The Bad

Ranking The Teams 18-13, My Version: The Mediocre

 

12. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants

Off-season Review

The Giants definitely could’ve had a bigger off-season.  It’s an odd year, and the rotation is still good, and they did upgrade the bullpen with Mark Melancon among others, but the Giants could’ve done more to boost a mediocre lineup that lacks depth.  Sure, they did improve the depth of their lineup, by signing Gordon Beckham, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Morse and Nick Hundley, but if there wasn’t a gaping hole in the outfield, Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson would not be fighting for the left field job.  The Giants have other holes and weaknesses as well.

The Case for the Giants

The Giants have some of the best pitchers in the entire MLB.  The lineup is decent but lacks stars.  Their only superstar players in the lineup are Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.  Those guys are good, but there are other problems.  There’s a hole in the outfield, and I don’t know if Eduardo Nunez will repeat what he did last year, and before last year, Eduardo Nunez was a backup infielder that was moving from team to team frequently.

What’s Holding Them Back

It’s pretty clear that depth problems and holes in the lineup are holding this team back.  They need a left fielder and some other options in the infield and outfield.  The bullpen still lacks depth as well, despite adding several quality relievers, including star closer Mark Melancon.  The Giants could contend, but these problems will really hold them back, and the fact that the bottom end of the lineup is not great.

Best Case Scenario: The better pitching helps the Giants contend, and the lineup is better than expected, helping the Giants win the NL West.

Worst Case Scenario: Depth problems hold the Giants back, and they cannot contend.

Projected Finish: 88-74, 2nd in NL West

 

11. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays

Off-season Review

Image result for jose bautista

The Blue Jays didn’t do much this off-season, which might hurt them.  However, they were pretty situated where they were, so won’t be impacted that much, and the moves they did make really made up for it.  The Jays lost Josh Thole and Edwin Encarnacion but signed Kendrys Morales and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in their place.  They also resigned Jose Bautista, which was a big move for them that prevented them from having a big hole in the outfield.

The Case for the Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have a strong all-around team.  But they’re playing in a tough division, and have a lot of competition.  One thing they do lack is superstars.  I cannot name a single legitimate MVP or Cy Young candidate on the Blue Jays.  That wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t have a lot of other teams with stars to compete with.  The Blue Jays would be a lot better if every team better than them didn’t have superstars.  But that’s the truth.

What’s Holding Them Back

Two things are holding this team back.  First of all, there’s too much competition in the wild card race and in the AL East.  Second, the best the Blue Jays have for a star player is Josh Donaldson.  They clearly lack a true star.

Best Case Scenario: The Blue Jays dominate the tough competition in the AL East, cruise through the playoffs, and win the World Series.

Worst Case Scenario: The Blue Jays decline this season due to tough competition, and the Blue Jays finish around .500.

Projected Finish: 88-74, 2nd in AL East

 

10. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers

Off-season Review

The Tigers didn’t do much this off-season.  They did sign Omar Infante to a minor league deal and got Alex Avila back, but they didn’t add any quality players.  Their lineup has some holes and weaknesses yet to be fixed, which they should’ve fixed in free agency.  Despite a better rotation, this team will face depth problems and lineup problems in 2017.

The Case for the Tigers

Image result for miguel cabrera

The Tigers have a young rotation that will look better in 2017.  Their bullpen is also loaded.  The lineup, led by Miguel Cabrera, is also pretty good but lacks one thing, depth.  After losing Cameron Maybin in a trade, the Tigers only have two good outfielders, and the best they’ve got as a reserve infielder is Omar Infante.  Some of this lineup is also very inconsistent, so the Tigers could completely flop, or they could have a great season.

What’s Holding Them Back

Depth problems and inconsistency in the lineup have held this team back.  The Tigers could be great, but inconsistency may get in the way.  They don’t have a consistently good lineup, and their rotation still needs work despite improvement.  The Tigers will be better, but because of this fact, they won’t quite dominate yet.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation gets better, the lineup has a strong year, and the Tigers dominate.

Worst Case Scenario: The rotation continues to struggle, the lineup is inconsistent, and the Tigers finish under .500.

Projected Finish: 89-73, 2nd in AL Central (2nd Wild Card)

 

9. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers

Off-season Review

Image result for logan forsythe welcome to dodgers

The Dodgers re-signed their key free agents and upgraded what was a weak bullpen to add to it.  They also traded Jose De Leon for Logan Forsythe.  The rotation is one of the league’s best, and the lineup is pretty good as well but is held back by a lack of veterans.  Andre Ethier’s a little too washed up, same with Chase Utley.  That leaves just Adrian Gonzalez for experience in the lineup.  However, the Dodgers are looking better for 2017.

The Case for the Dodgers

The Dodgers are looking good on paper, but have some hidden problems.  The pitching staff is looking a lot better, but with how many injury prone guys they have, it will be hard to keep that rotation the way it is.  The lineup is also good but isn’t as good as last year.  Guys are getting older, Howie Kendrick is gone, and the lineup just doesn’t look as good as it used to in LA.

What’s Holding Them Back

The Dodgers are being held back by several things.  Depth problems, aging players, and a whole bunch of stuff that’s not clear on paper.  The Dodgers may be the best team on paper, but realistically, they have a lot more issues than you’d think.  I mean, look at the Buffalo Bills from the last two years.  They looked like playoff teams on paper.  The result?  Two mediocre seasons and one fired head coach.  The Dodgers won’t be that bad, but they won’t necessarily make it very far in the playoffs.

Best Case Scenario: A strong, balanced Dodgers team stays healthy and at it’s best, and the Dodgers make it far in the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario: Injuries leave an impact, and the whole team declines and regresses, finishing third in the NL West.

Projected Finish: 90-72, 1st in NL West

 

8. new-york-mets New York Mets

Off-season Review

The Mets did resign a lot of their key free agents, but couldn’t grab on to any from other teams.  They also lost some of the depth of their lineup and rotation.  However, it’s hard not to like this team.  They arguably have the best rotation in the league and their lineup is looking a lot better than it used to.  The Mets are in a good position to win, but could depth bite back and be a problem?

The Case for the Mets

The Mets have a good lineup and a good rotation, but they lack two things.  One thing they lack is bullpen options.  They have a good closer and set up man, but beyond that, the Mets’ bullpen needs some work.  The second thing they lack is depth.  Depth is a team-wide problem for the Mets.  The depth of the lineup isn’t great.  The depth of the rotation is a problem.  The bullpen is suffering from lack of depth, which is depriving the Mets of a good bullpen.

What’s Holding Them Back

Didn’t I make it clear about what’s holding this team back?  Things weren’t like this last year.  This is the one cost of their quiet off-season.  This team lost Alejandro De Aza, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Logan Verrett, Justin Ruggiano and James Loney to free agency.  That was half the bench, and both of the Mets’ spot starters and fill-in starters, gone.  However, the Mets didn’t contend last season because the lineup was still a work in progress.

Best Case Scenario: The lineup thrives, the rotation kicks butt, and the Mets win the NL East by a longshot.

Worst Case Scenario: The lineup continues to struggle, the young rotation doesn’t do as well, and the Mets struggle to stay over .500.

Projected Finish: 90-72, 2nd in NL East

 

7. houston-astros Houston Astros

Off-season ReviewImage result for carlos beltran astros

The Astros had a very active off-season.  They still have some holes in the lineup and the rotation is just mediocre, but they really upgraded their lineup.  They signed Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, and Norichika Aoki.  They also traded for Brian McCann.  This lineup does lack depth and has holes in some spots, but its core just got a whole lot stronger.

The Case for the Astros

Image result for altuve and correa

The Astros have the upside to win a World Series.  Their lineup looks a whole lot better but has a hole at first base that’s been there since Jon Singleton’s decline.  The infield, led by Jose Altuve is young and intriguing but also still in development.  The outfield is full of experienced veterans who will help lead this team.  The rotation isn’t amazing, but is still good and has some good depth.  If the young players can continue to perform well consistently, the Astros could be in for a great season.

What’s Holding Them Back

It’s not one singular thing that’s holding the Astros back.  It’s multiple things.  Depth problems and holes in the infield are just two minor issues that will make a slightly bigger impact.  The bullpen could be better too, and the Astros are still developing a little bit.  If by the end of the season, the younger players are seasoned enough, the Astros could easily win the World Series.

Best Case Scenario: The young guns dominate and the Astros win the World Series.

Worst Case Scenario: Depth and holes bite back, the young guns fail to perform well, and the rotation struggles as the Astros finish around .500, between many AL West contenders.

Projected Finish: 91-71, 2nd in AL West

 

So, that’s all for Day 4 of these rankings.  The final part is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!

 

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Red Sox Stay Hot, Crush Tigers

The Red Sox got a big win over the Detroit Tigers last night, blowing them out 10-2.  Rick Porcello went 7 strong innings while Hanley and Pedey stayed hot and David Ortiz and JBJ jacked homers.

The Red Sox started off the game with a 4 run, 2 dinger 1st inning.  Xander Bogaerts showed signs of overcoming his slump as he started off the game with a base hit after Pedroia grounded out to second.  Then David Ortiz crushed the ball high into right field.  It was long gone, a no-doubter.  Then after Betts flew out to right, Hanley Ramirez stayed hot since returning to the club  with another base hit.  JBJ then blasted one in the same direction as Ortiz’s for the 2nd HR of the inning.   Red Sox took a 4-0 lead to start the game, very assuring after collapsing in the first game of the series.

But the Tigers struck back in the 2nd and took advantage of Porcello’s weakness from 2015, giving up home runs.  It would’ve been a solo shot but Porcello could not hang on to the throw to 1st and J.D. Martinez had himself a 2-run dinger.  Later in the game J.D. Martinez lined a hit through Xander Bogaerts’ broken glove.  J. D. would go 2 for 3 on the day but he would account for half the hits Porcello gave up in 7 stellar innings.

This was Porcello’s first start in Detroit since being traded for Yoenis Cespedes and he showed he was comfortable at Comerica after all those years with the Tigers, who also have a lot of former Red Sox on their roster.  The Tigers threatened only one more time and had 1st and 2nd in the 4th but former Sox’ catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia failed to extend a potential 2-out rally.

Bogaerts got another hit in the 5th and after an Ortiz walk, the Red Sox had a scoring opportunity of their own.  But Mookie Betts grounded into a force out.  I don’t think Betts was at fault though.  Miguel Cabrera robbed what could have been a nice hit for Andrew Benintendi, who has already been electric in Boston.  It was 4-2 Red Sox.  Would they hold on?  Oh yeah they did!  They dropped 6 more runs on the board!  Three innings in a row they scored a pair of runs.

In the 6th, the middle of the Sox lineup was shut down.  But with two outs in the inning and the bases empty, Sandy Leon came up to bat.  With four dingers in the 10 games prior to this, Leon was in good shape for a clutch hit.  He cracked an infield single on a low pitch.  Then up came Brock Holt.  Holt hit another one up the middle.  The Sox had first and second with Andrew Benintendi up, looking for revenge after Miguel Cabrera robbed his first potential hit.  He came through with a bloop single up the middle to score the inning’s 1st run.  Then Pedey came up with 1st and 3rd.  Ian Kinsler was covering second as Benintendi ran with the pitch, opening a whole for Pedroia to knock one between first and second right where Kinsler had been positioned.  That allowed another Sox run and knocked Michael Fulmer out of the game!  He was fresh off a complete game against the AL leading Rangers but today he gave up 6 runs in 5.2 innings against the feisty Sox lineup!

The Sox kept it up in the 7th.  David Ortiz got on for the third time as he punched a big single to right.  Mookie Betts got his first hit, a line drive single into left just above Erick Aybar.  1st and 2nd for Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez knocked a double high up into right.  The opposite-field hit was in the gap allowing both Ortiz and Betts  to score and it was 8-2 Red Sox.

The Red Sox struck again in the 8th!  Andrew Benintendi drove a change-up into right for a stand-up double to start the inning.  Pedroia followed with an infield single, his second hit of the day.  He stayed hot riding a 10-game hitting streak.  He may not like hitting lead off but he sure is good at it.  1st and 2nd for Bogaerts, who was heading in the opposite direction until a multi-hit game tonight.  The center fielder caught his fly ball but Benintendi advanced to third.  Up came Travis Shaw who was hitting for David Ortiz and he walked.  Later Hanley Ramirez did it again, ripping a 2-run double to left.

The Red Sox were on a roll.  They were up 10-2 as the lineup was explosive, Porcello was dominant, and they even had a nice double play ball to end the 7th.  It was Fireworks Night at Comerica but they might as well have canceled it  because the Red Sox bats took care of that.  The bullpen was even good.  Fernando Abad pitched a 15 pitch inning in 9th inning garbage time.  They shut the Tigers down and 10-2 was the final score.

The Red Sox have two more crucial games against the Tigers.  They will face Daniel Norris and Justin Verlander with Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez pitching for Boston.  Will they win their way into playoff contention, or flop in the 2nd half of the trip?  They are now only a half game out from Toronto.  The Jays lost to Cleveland by late back to back homers, one outside the park and one for the first walk-off inside the park winning HR ever in MLB!

The Red Sox are in good shape and I think they might surprise a lot of fans after 2 last place seasons.  Stay tuned!