Welcome to Day 2 of my MLB preseason power rankings. We started off this list with teams hitting rock bottom, like the Padres and Twins. Now, we arrive at some teams who aren’t great but may look a little bit better. A lot of these teams have a strong area that will lead them to victories. Read below for the next tier of my rankings and what I think is the strong point for each of these teams. You can comment your power rankings below, too. So, let’s get started with #24.
Missed a previous article? Check below:
Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly
24. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers had a quiet off-season, but it was also very different, unique and interesting. Their biggest move? Signing Eric Thames to a three year deal. Yes, Eric Thames. Remember him? They also traded Tyler Thornburg for Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw, and made a couple other small moves and modifications. Pretty quiet off-season, but also pretty risky, one of the riskiest I’ve seen. But is it too risky?
The Case for the Brewers
The Brewers are still rebuilding, they just added more young players to their rebuilding team. However, they signed a lot of players that were typically make or break. This is very risky, and they won’t necessarily do as well. The Brewers could be a complete bust. The entire lineup is this way, and the rotation is going to be a problem. So, until the Brewers get their act together and prove their consistency, I won’t be able to accept them as a contender.
The Strong Point
The rotation is an issue, but this team has a relatively strong lineup with good depth. Ryan Braun is still a strong hitter, and you never know with Eric Thames and Travis Shaw, but they could do well or go full bust. Domingo Santana is a powerful young hitter as well, and prospect Orlando Arcia will make a bigger impact this year. This lineup has a strong core and good depth.
Best Case Scenario: The off-season moves pay off, and the Brewers contend in a tough division, reminding fans of the 2014 season.
Worst Case Scenario: The new players flop, the rotation brings the team down, and the Brewers finish among the worst.
Projected Record: 72-90, 5th in NL Central
23. Cincinnati Reds
Besides signing Desmond Jennings and Ryan Raburn to minors deals and upgrading the bullpen, the Reds had a pretty quiet off-season. They did trade away Brandon Phillips to the Braves for prospects and continued their gradual rebuild. For a while, they were refusing to rebuild and that was holding them back from eventual contention. But I think that’s over. Now that they’re rebuilding, they’ll be able to contend in the future and they’re not doing so bad right now.
The Case for the Reds
The Reds are finally rebuilding, but after all that stalling, they’re actually in a decent position. Last year, after beginning a slow rebuild they were able to really develop some of their prospects. Now, they’ll enter the season with a handful of prospects at the major league level. They have some pitching prospects ready to crack the rotation and young hitters Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler will be able to take over for Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Bruce was traded to the Mets for prospects at last year’s deadline. So, with all those young guns ready, the Reds could contend sooner than you think.
The Strong Point
The young rotation is pretty good, but I’m liking this infield. They have young power hitters, like Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez, and some veterans like Joey Votto and Zack Cozart. Votto, a long time Red, will lead a young, powerful lineup and infield. Each one of these guys will have a significant role at the plate and in the field. So, maybe they could lead the Reds to victory. At least soon they could.
Best Case Scenario: The young Reds bounce back and compete for a wild card spot.
Worst Case Scenario: The young guns flop, Joey Votto declines, and the Reds finish in last-place in the NL Central.
Projected Record: 74-88, 4th in NL Central
22. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels took their last steps toward a better team this off-season. In the position they’re in, they could contend very soon, within the next year or two! While losing Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the Angels rebuilt their rotation. As long as history doesn’t repeat itself and injuries don’t strike again, the Angels’ rotation will be better. They also got Ben Revere, Cameron Maybin and Luis Valbuena to add to the lineup. Hopefully, this means the Angels will improve overall in 2017.
The Case for the Angels
The Angels aren’t quite in a position to contend, but they have definitely improved from last year. The rotation is better and the lineup was really boosted this past off-season. The Angels could contend, and soon. They’re not quite there yet. However, if they can fine-tune their rotation and find some more top of the lineup guys in addition to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, they will be able to go for it next year. The Angels were at their worst last year, and are finally starting to look better. But they’re not quite there yet.
The Strong Point
The lineup is awesome in LA. They have some good power hitters like Mike Trout and some good depth too. This lineup is going to kick butt. They will eventually lead the team to the playoffs with a little more fine-tuning. The lineup is not part of what is holding this team back. The only reason that they struggled last year was a lack of depth. They fixed that problem in the off-season and now this lineup is overpowered.
Best Case Scenario: The lineup thrives, the rotation looks a whole lot better, and the Angels return to the playoffs determined to win.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation cannot get healthy, and the lineup doesn’t live up to its expectations, bringing the Angels down to last-place in the AL West.
Projected Record: 76-86, 4th in AL West
21. Chicago White Sox
It’s time for a rebuild in Chicago. Last year’s plan failed, Todd Frazier’s a pending free agent, and the current White Sox are starting to look old. The rotation looks good. They signed Derek Holland and traded for Lucas Giolito. But the rest of the team is not in a good position. They already tried to rebuild. They traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. They don’t look young yet. But this season will be all about that. The White Sox will be able to rebuild and do decent at the same time. But will it hurt them in the future!
The Case for the White Sox
The White Sox may not contend, but they will do alright. Maybe they should’ve rebuilt earlier, but they dodged what could have been a devastating bullet. The Padres got hit by that devastating bullet. The White Sox got lucky and things came out all right. The lineup might not be the best anymore, but this is a decent team with a strong rotation. They won’t be absolutely terrible.
The Strong Point
What do you think the strong point is here? The rotation, of course. Despite losing Chris Sale, Jose Quintana will lead a White Sox rotation full of newly found depth. Hopefully, new signing Derek Holland does as well as he used to, and James Shields bounces back, maybe not all the way but a little bit. But one thing you can guarantee is this rotation will be exciting to watch. Behind Quintana, it’ll be Carlos Rodon, Shields, Holland and Giolito and Miguel Gonzalez will compete for spot #5. I could see any of these pitchers doing strongly or bouncing back in 2017.
Best Case Scenario: The rotation breaks out while the rest of the team does alright, and the White Sox are in the battle for a playoff spot.
Worst Case Scenario: The White Sox bust and are forced to go full rebuild, being hit by an almost as devastating bullet as the Padres were.
Projected Record: 78-84, 4th in AL Central
20. Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-Backs were very active this off-season. They have a nice and young, talented team but something wasn’t clicking last year when they could’ve made the playoffs. This off-season, they added a lot of big names. They upgraded the bullpen with Fernando Rodney, J.J. Hoover and Tom Wilhelmsen. They resigned Rubby De La Rosa but added Jorge De La Rosa, who may take his spot. They signed catcher Chris Iannetta and added some depth to the lineup. They traded away Jean Segura but got Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte in return. Will these moves pay off?
The Case for the Diamondbacks
The D-Backs are a young, powerful team that aren’t quite at a contending level this year, but will do decently. They have a lot of young talent but don’t have many players at star level yet besides Zack Greinke, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. Some of these players will eventually develop into stars, but right now they don’t match up to other teams in the MLB. The D-Backs aren’t terrible, but they aren’t contenders. However, a young team leaves a window of opportunity.
The Strong Point
This team has talent all over, and lots of depth. It’s that depth that’s this team’s strong point. There are plenty of options for this team. In the lineup, in the rotation, even a few different options for a weak bullpen. What they did this off-season really added to their depth, and this team wouldn’t have this depth without what they did this off-season. Now, the Diamondbacks have a lot more depth, and that should pay off in 2017.
Best Case Scenario: The young guns break out and the D-Backs are the surprise team that wins the NL West.
Worst Case Scenario: The young team flops and the D-Backs have another year towards the bottom of the NL West. At least they’re practically guaranteed to top the Padres.
Projected Record: 79-83, 4th in NL West
19. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles weren’t extremely active this off-season, but they resigned some of their free agents, and they added some depth in Johnny Giovatella, Craig Gentry and Michael Bourn. They resigned Mark Trumbo and signed Welington Castillo to replace Matt Wieters as well. They also traded away Yovani Gallardo for outfielder Seth Smith. Now, they have some depth, and most of their starting positions are filled, but something’s missing.
The Case for the Orioles
The Orioles could be a contender, but there are a couple problems with that. First of all, they are in a very tough division. You saw how the Rays were affected by playing in the AL East. As decent as they are, they ranked 25th. It will be tough to beat Toronto and the Yankees and Red Sox to the playoffs. They also have rotation problems again after trading away Yovani Gallardo. The Orioles will be a good power hitting team. But their rotation is not good enough for Baltimore to be considered a contender. They don’t have an ace, and they don’t have depth. If they can improve their rotation, they’ll contend again. But until then, the Orioles won’t be able to reach their full potential.
The Strong Point
The outfield may be decent, but the real strong points in a powerful lineup are the dynamic duo of Manny Machado and Chris Davis. Davis has been up and down, but I feel like he’s in store for an up year. Machado has been a consistent home run hitter and has been in MVP conversation year after year in the AL. Machado has become a superstar, and he is the strongest player on the entire Orioles team.
Best Case Scenario: The strong Orioles lineup leads Baltimore to return to the playoffs, and the rotation does better than expected.
Worst Case Scenario: A struggling rotation leads the Orioles to a last-place finish in the AL East.
Projected Record: 80-82, 4th in AL East
That’s all for today’s rankings. Part 3 is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!