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MLB Power Rankings: How all 30 teams stack up as Spring Training gets underway

by Chris Brown

Much of the country may be experiencing heavy snowfall and record cold temperatures, but in Arizona and Florida a sure sign of the upcoming spring is upon us: the start of MLB Spring Training. Players, coaches and other team personnel are arriving to camp this week in advance of a 2021 season that’s expected to look more normal than the 2020 campaign but still carry plenty of reminders of the current circumstances across the country. 

As expected, the initial months of the offseason were devoid of much activity, though free agent signings picked up over the last several weeks, and a few blockbuster trades made the winter in the baseball world a bit more interesting. Many teams decided to cut payroll or refrained from pricey additions. A few elected to go all-in and make a major splash. The picture figures to shift a little throughout Spring Training and as the handful of impactful free agents still out there sign, but with training camps getting underway, let’s take a look at how all 30 teams measure up in this edition of 110 Sports’ MLB power rankings:

30) Pittsburgh Pirates | Mid-offseason rank: 30

After finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2020, the Pirates traded away their best hitter (Josh Bell) and top two starters (Jameson Taillon and Joe Musgrove) this winter, have the second-lowest payroll in MLB and are projected by FanGraphs to repeat as the worst team in the sport this upcoming season. Enough said. 

29) Baltimore Orioles | Mid-offseason rank: 29

As expected, the O’s have continued to show they have no intention of competing in 2021 as their rebuild continues. The team parted ways with two infielders who’ve been productive at the plate the last two seasons (Renato Núñez and Hanser Alberto) and traded José Iglesias and Alex Cobb to the Angels. The club acquired prospects in those trades and has added veterans Freddy Galvis, Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc, among a few others, on cheap (some minor league) deals.

28) Colorado Rockies | Mid-offseason rank: 27

The Rockies paid the Cardinals roughly $50 million and accepted a package of mid-tier prospects to take Nolan Arenado, a perennial MVP candidate and the best thing to happen to the team in years, off their hands. Top executives then held a press conference in which they snapped at reporters, threw each other under the bus and insisted things were fine as a front office with absolutely no clear plan tried to defend its actions. Having shipped off their superstar, parted ways with other contributors and not made any major additions this winter, it’s fair to say it’ll be yet another rough season in Denver.

27) Texas Rangers | Mid-offseason rank: 28

It’ll be fun to watch Joey Gallo and Khris Davis in the same lineup after the Rangers dealt longtime shortstop Elvis Andrus to Oakland for Davis. Aside from that, though, there aren’t many short-term reasons for excitement regarding the Rangers as they’ve clearly decided to embrace a rebuild after last year’s efforts fell well short. Lance Lynn, Rafael Montero and Shin-Soo Choo are out. David Dahl, Dane Dunning and Nate Lowe are in. The lineup should be interesting, at least.

26) Detroit Tigers | Mid-offseason rank: 25

Even after bringing in A.J. Hinch, the Tigers were never going to be in the market for top dollar additions this offseason. The team has made a handful of nice, smaller signings, though, inking outfielder Robbie Grossman, catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Nomar Mazara to short-term deals while bringing back second baseman Jonathan Schoop. For Detroit, 2021 success will be measured much more by the development of young players than the team’s overall record.

25) Seattle Mariners | Mid-offseason rank: 24

Like the Tigers, the Mariners are probably at least a season or two away from being contenders again, but that doesn’t mean the upcoming season won’t be one to watch in Seattle. GM Jerry Dipoto added Rafael Montero and Keynan Middleton to the bullpen and recently brought back James Paxton on a one-year deal to pitch atop the rotation alongside Marco Gonzales. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis appears on the edge of stardom and Mitch Haniger is set to rejoin the club’s outfielders. They could take a bigger step forward than expected, but a giant leap seems incredibly doubtful.

24) Miami Marlins | Mid-offseason rank: 18

The Marlins were one of 2020’s most exciting teams, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2003. But as the rest of the NL East’s clubs have added significant pieces this winter, Miami has remained mostly quiet under new GM Kim Ng. The team’s biggest additions have been veteran reliever Anthony Bass and power-hitting outfielder Adam Duvall. Odds are that the Marlins will return to the bottom of the NL East standings in 2021, but this won’t be a typical bottom-feeding Miami team. The club has an exciting young core but just doesn’t figure to measure up in what figures to be one of the league’s most competitive divisions.

23) Arizona Diamondbacks | Mid-offseason rank: 26

The D-backs were one of the most aggressive teams in MLB last offseason, but after an extremely rocky 2020 season, this winter has been much different. Arizona recently signed veteran reliever Joakim Soria and veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to one-year deals, but those are the only notable moves to speak of. The team is clearly counting on bouncebacks from Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Madison Bumgarner, among others, along with the continued growth of young ace Zac Gallen in order to potentially make a run at an NL Wild Card spot.

22) Kansas City Royals | Mid-offseason rank: 23

Given the current state of the game, it’s really encouraging to see a team like the Royals (with no great hope of contention in 2021) still trying to improve its roster. GM Dayton Moore added starter Mike Minor and first baseman Carlos Santana on two-year contracts and traded for outfielder Andrew Benintendi among other offseason moves. The progression of several young pitchers will likely play a role in just how respectable the team’s 2021 season will be, but a .500 record or even slightly better isn’t out of the question, and that alone would be another step forward.

21) Boston Red Sox | Mid-offseason rank: 22

After bringing back Alex Cora, the Red Sox will be looking to rebound following a rough 2020 campaign and have the core group of hitters to potentially do so in Xander Bagaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo. The additions of Hunter Renfroe and Enrique Hernández help as well, but with Chris Sale still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, the team’s rotation options still leave a lot to be desired. Unless the offense is utterly dominant or a few pitchers prove to be legit aces, the Red Sox’s ceiling would appear somewhat limited.

20) Cincinnati Reds | Mid-offseason rank: 13

The Reds were a disappointment for most of the 2020 season but were able to get things in gear down the home stretch, making you wonder what they could have accomplished in a full season. They’ll now head into the upcoming season with an objectively worse roster, though, with Trevor Bauer departing via free agency, closer Raisel Iglesias being dealt to the Angels and no significant additions outside of signing veteran lefty Sean Doolittle, whose best days on the mound are likely behind him. Like every other NL Central team not named the Pirates, there is still plenty of potential for the Reds, but also plenty of questions.

19) Milwaukee Brewers | Mid-offseason rank: 21

It’s the same story for the Brewers in many ways. Plenty of potential, plenty of questions. The team hasn’t traded away key players or lost big names via free agency, but aside from the signing of Kolten Wong (who should if nothing else significantly improve their defense) there haven’t been many notable additions. How will Lorenzo Cain look after not playing most of the 2020 season? Can Christian Yelich bounce back? Just how good is Corbin Burnes? Milwaukee’s roster isn’t built to compete if several key players disappoint again, particularly on the offensive end.

18) San Francisco Giants | Mid-offseason rank: 19

The Giants have somewhat quietly had a pretty productive offseason, adding Tommy La Stella to a really solid lineup, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood to the rotation (while bringing back Kevin Gausman) and Matt Wisler and Jake McGee to the bullpen. They’re nowhere near the level of the Dodgers and Padres, to be clear, but the front office has pieced together an intriguing roster as they attempt to make a final push with Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford still in the fold. Pitching quality is the biggest question.

17) Chicago Cubs | Mid-offseason rank: 14

It appears Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Wilson Contreras will still be with the Cubs come Opening Day, meaning the offensive potential for this team remains high, though the lineup has disappointed for multiple years now. Joc Pederson was a solid add but ultimately doesn’t figure to move the needle much on his own, and with Yu Darvish now in San Diego, there are plenty of questions about the strength of a rotation that’s poised to feature Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta and Alec Mills alongside Kyle Hendricks.

16) Cleveland Indians | Mid-offseason rank: 20

On principle alone, I’d like to place the Indians among the bottom 10 teams on this list after they unsurprisingly traded Francisco Lindor (plus Carlos Carrasco) this winter under a directive from ownership to further cut payroll. But the reality is that despite clear weaknesses, Cleveland’s roster still has the potential to be at least somewhat competitive. Even with Carrasco gone, the club’s rotation has incredible upside thanks to a group of young, exciting, but largely unproven starters. The lineup has plenty of holes but does now feature Eddie Rosario, Franmil Reyes and Cesar Hernandez alongside José Ramírez. The White Sox and Twins are the clear top two teams in the AL Central right now, but don’t expect a complete collapse from Cleveland.

15) Philadelphia Phillies | Mid-offseason rank: 17

The Phillies answered the biggest question of their offseason in bringing back J.T. Realmuto and also re-signed Didi Gregorious, but those were additions by avoiding subtraction rather than actually adding. The team did add a few key pieces (Archie Bradley, José Alvarado and Brandon Kintzler) to a bullpen that was horrendous in 2020, but other than that the Phillies are essentially running it back with the same group that finished below .500 this past season. Will the bullpen improvements be enough on their own? Or will something else make a major difference? Only time will tell.

14) Los Angeles Angels | Mid-offseason rank: 16

I have not been very impressed by the Angels’ offseason, as a team in desperate need of proven high-end pitching has apparently decided that adding José Quintana and Alex Cobb is enough on that front. Still, the addition of Raisel Iglesias helps the bullpen and the middle of the club’s lineup — Trout, Rendon, Upton and Ohtani — would seem to be too good for the team to disappoint so massively again. But this franchise hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt in recent years. Positive results are the only thing that’s really going to change the narrative.

13) Oakland Athletics | Mid-offseason rank: 9

Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks, Khris Davis, Tommy La Stella, Robbie Grossman, Joakim Soria, Mike Minor, Yusmeiro Petit. All of those players have departed Oakland either via free agency or trade this winter, and the team has done next to nothing to replace them other than bringing in Elvis Andrus as part of the Davis trade with the Rangers. No one expected Oakland to go hard after any of the very top free agents, but the A’s haven’t added a single free agent of real consequence. The core (Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Jesús Luzardo, etc.) is there for a solid team but there’s still little reason to predict the A’s for an AL West title repeat.

12) St. Louis Cardinals | Mid-offseason rank: 15

The Cardinals made the big offseason splash in a division where few teams worked to improve, acquiring Nolan Arenado from the Rockies in a clearly favorable trade for St. Louis. That move alone is enough to distinguish them from the pack in the NL Central, but it doesn’t answer all of the questions for this team or make them top-tier National League contenders along with the likes of the Dodgers, Padres, Mets and Braves. Still, with Arenado in the fold, the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup is looking better than it has in several years.

11) Washington Nationals | Mid-offseason rank: 11

Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin likely don’t have a ton of years of high-level performance left in them, and GM Mike Rizzo made multiple moves this offseason to improve the club by strengthening what was a top-heavy lineup. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber should provide significant power production, and Brad Hand will slot in as the club’s closer with Jon Lester joining the rotation. They’re clearly still a step behind the Mets and Braves, but the Nationals certainly have the pieces to be successful, health permitting. 

10) Tampa Bay Rays | Mid-offseason rank: 8

Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Hunter Renfroe and Nate Lowe are out. Michael Wacha, Chris Archer and Francisco Mejia are in. The Rays unquestionably have a worse roster now than the team that deservedly won the AL pennant in 2020, and there’s little case to be made they’re a better team on paper than the Yankees, Twins and White Sox other than the “they always find a way to win, they’re the Rays” cliche. That’s not enough for me to rank Tampa Bay amongst the very top teams in the game, though a spot in the top 10 means I’m still confident they’ll be a real contender.

9) Houston Astros | Mid-offseason rank: 10

George Springer’s days in Houston are over, but the Astros lineup is still quite impressive with Michael Brantley re-signed and Yordan Alvarez returning from injury. There may not be a Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole pitcher at the top of the rotation (no offense to Zack Greinke), but there is plenty of quality young depth in the team’s rotation in Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy and others. Much of the Astros’ success will likely depend on what version of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa shows up. 

8) Toronto Blue Jays | Mid-offseason rank: 12

The Blue Jays jump several spots from the middle of the offseason thanks to the key additions of the aforementioned George Springer along with Marcus Semien and Kirby Yates. Questions remain in the rotation outside of Hyun Jin Ryu, but it’s hard to imagine Toronto’s lineup not being one of the best in the majors with those two bats joining Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and others. I couldn’t bump the Blue Jays into the next tier of teams, though, with Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson and Tanner Roark as their projected No. 2-4 starters.

7) Chicago White Sox | Mid-offseason rank: 3

After snapping an 11-year playoff drought in 2020, the White Sox have clearly gotten better this offseason, trading for Lance Lynn, signing Liam Hendriks to a historic deal for a closer and bringing back Adam Eaton to handle right field. With Tim Anderson, José Abreu, Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert in the lineup, the South Siders will likely have one of the best offenses in baseball and have a strong trio of top starters in Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Lynn. This is where I believe we enter the true top tier of teams, and I could see the argument for the White Sox as high as No. 3 on this list.

6) Minnesota Twins | Mid-offseason rank: 6

After several quiet months, the Twins front office has been quite active in the weeks leading up to Spring Training, adding shortstop Andrelton Simmons, starter J.A. Happ and reliever Alex Colomé to an already well-rounded roster. In 2020 Minnesota narrowly won a tight AL Central race against a White Sox team that’s only gotten better, but despite a few key personnel losses the Twins have improved as well. I’ll still give them a very narrow advantage — for now.

5) New York Yankees | Mid-offseason rank:  7

The Yankees answered the biggest question of their offseason by re-signing DJ LeMahieu, and we all know just how incredible that lineup can be when healthy with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit in the mix. Instead of bringing Masahiro Tanaka back, though, the team elected to go with cheaper, high-risk, high-reward additions in Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. With Luis Severino expected back at some point in the upcoming season, the upside for this group is high. The downside is the rotation turns into Gerrit Cole plus a mess, and that uncertainty is why the Yankees sit below the final four teams on this list.

4) New York Mets | Mid-offseason rank: 5

A lineup that features Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto. A rotation that has Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and eventually Noah Syndergaard. And a bullpen that now features Trevor May along with Edwin Diaz. The Mets clearly have the roster of a legitimate World Series contender, which seems quite weird to say or type given how the last few years have gone. Had the Braves not made some improvements of their own, I’d likely have the Mets a spot higher. But given Atlanta’s additions as well I’ll give the slight edge to the three-time defending NL East champs.

3) Atlanta Braves | Mid-offseason rank: 4

Some projection systems may be down on Atlanta, but I haven’t changed my tune, particularly since the team brought back Marcell Ozuna to provide protection for Freddie Freeman in the lineup. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies are the real deal, and the team addressed its biggest weakness, starting pitching depth, by signing Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly to slot in alongside Max Fried and Ian Anderson. If Mike Soroka is able to return at close to full strength, the combination of top starters and a great lineup could make the Braves close to unstoppable. 

2) San Diego Padres | Mid-offseason rank: 2

Part of me wishes we could move the Padres to the NL Central so that when they win something like 95 games they’re guaranteed more than a winner-takes-all Wild Card game. The other part can’t wait to see them battle it out in the NL West for a chance to topple the all-mighty Dodgers. Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Keone Kela, Mark Melancon, Ha-seong Kim. Those are just some of the key additions for San Diego this offseason for one of the best and most exciting teams in the sport.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers | Mid-offseason rank: 1

With an incredibly deep roster and just one high-profile free agent, the Dodgers were going to be favored to repeat even if they didn’t make a single notable move. The Padres’ active offseason certainly caught their attention, though, and the team responded with the addition of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer along with eventually bringing back Justin Turner. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections have the Dodgers pegged for 104 wins. FanGraphs’ projection system gives them roughly 99 victories and the USA Today panel’s aggregate projection for the team is 105 wins. All three have the Dodgers with the most wins in MLB. 

Photo by “slgckgc” / Flickr

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