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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Home Runs Help Red Sox Cream Royals

The Red Sox defeated the Royals 13-2 yesterday afternoon.  Wade Miley got into many jams, but always got out of them, and the Sox lineup led them to another victory.   In the second, Ramirez homered solo for his second in two games and 15th of the season to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.  They had the lead because Wade Miley got himself out of a bases loaded situation.  Ortiz homered to right in the 4th inning for his career 472nd homer, as he seeks to join the 500 HR club before his career comes to an end.

In the 5th, the Sox struck again with a rally to raise a 2-0 lead to a 7-0 lead.  Leon walked, and Betts hit a 2-run homer to follow it.  It was bases loaded.  Pedroia had doubled, and Ortiz and Ramirez walked to get him to third.  Then Xander Bogaerts doubled, and all three of them crossed home plate.

They put on another rally in the 6th.  Betts walked, and Holt doubled to score him.  Holt scored on Pedroia’s double, and Pedroia scored on a Big Papi single.  10-0 Red Sox.  In the 8th, Betts tripled, nearly hitting for the cycle at this point.  Holt tripled to score Betts.  And with Travis Shaw running for him, Pedroia singled and Holt scored.  12-0 Red Sox.  In the 9th, Bogaerts doubled to lead off.  With two outs, yes, Sandy Leon singled to score Holt, going 1-5 on the day.

Well, how did the Royals score?  On Koji, in the bottom of the 9th inning.  It was first and second, with singles by Omar Infante and Butera, the backup catcher.  A triple by Lorenzo Cain scored both, making the Red Sox get the 13-2 win.  Even with minor injuries to Pablo Sandoval and Blake Swihart, without them, the Brock Star and Mookie were at their hottest, leading the Red Sox to the win.

E-Rod Shines Again, Sox Smash Royals

Eddie Rodriguez’s unbelievable pitching was able to work with the Red Sox lineup for a 7-3 blowout.  The Red Sox had a huge 5 run rally, scoring first in the second inning.  The Sox are great when they score first, they just don’t do it too much.  Bogaerts singled, and Sandoval hit a monster double to center, stopping Bogaerts at third.  One more hit was enough to score.  The thing is, Mike Napoli was up next.  Guess who hit an RBI single right then?  That’s right, Napoli did.  Bogaerts and Sandoval scored, giving the Red Sox a secure 2-0 lead.  But they weren’t done.  De Aza walked.  1st and 2nd.  Swihart then hit an RBI double, and Napoli and De Aza scored to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.  With two outs, Betts knocked in one more run with his RBI single.  5-0 Red Sox after only two innings.

It was a quiet game, and Rodriguez had only given up two hits.  In the 5th inning, Ramirez’s solo shot added a run to the Sox’s lead.  In the 5th, Rodriguez gave up his first earned run, also his first on the road of his major league career.  Yup, that’s how good he can be in 4 starts.  Infante got safely to second on his hit, and Escobar knocked in a run by doing the same.  6-1 Red Sox.

In the 7th, the Sox struck again with their hottest hitters.  Holt walked, and Betts singled to make it 1st and 2nd, no outs.  Then they pulled off a double steal.  Holt stole third and Betts stole second on the same pitch.  Ramirez singled to drive Holt, but sadly not Betts, in.  7-1.

Aftergiving up his 6th hit, Ogando came in.  The relievers didn’t have as good of momentum.  Ogando was fine, finishing the inning, but Robbie Ross gave up a home run to Eric Hosmer in the 8th to make it 7-2.  In the 9th, Steven Wright gave up another run.  Colon, who had replaced Alcides Escobar, doubled and Mike Moustakas drove him in with a second double and it was 7-3.  But Wright finished the inning cleanly, and the Red Sox won 7-3.

If the lineup can stay hot, and pitching is at least okay, then I think the Sox have the power to at least partially turn it around.  Their lineup leads the MLB this month in hits, and they can score big bundles of runs at a time.  All year, they also have stayed at a good pace with home runs.  The Red Sox aren’t quite as bad as some people may think, but I wouldn’t call them a team in the wild card race either.  They still are at the bottom this month in my monthly power rankings, coming soon.