MLB AL Power Rankings – Reigning Champions Favored

MLB AL Power Rankings:

#1 – Houston Astros

Starting with the reigning World Series Champions, who were the second-best team in the American League last year with a 101-61 win-loss record. They have not added any position players and they did not need to. With stars like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer they did not have any pressing need. They also have a top, young talent coming up the pipeline in outfielder Kyle Tucker and is expected to make an impact this season.

They did add to their pitching staff in a trade for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and two free agent signings in relief pitchers Joe Smith and Hector Rondon. Cole would have been an upgrade for any team’s rotation and it gives the Astros more depth. They even have two very capable starters currently projected to be in their bullpen in Brad Peacock (13-2 with a 3.00 ERA last year) and Collin McHugh who was injured most of the year, but is a proven MLB starter.

#2 – New York Yankees

Coming in at #2 comes the surprising underdogs of last year’s postseason. They came within one game of reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009, the last time they won. With a good mix of younger and middle-aged players, the Yankees are primed to win now and in the future. Not to mention, GIANCARLO STANTON. The trade moving the biggest contract in history was easily the top story of the offseason as they now have the top two home run hitters from last year, Stanton and Aaron Judge.

The Yankees anticipate the #3 prospect in the game, according to Baseball Prospectus, Gleyber Torres to either win the second base job out of Spring Training or to wait 16 days after to gain an extra year of control over him. The Yankees starting rotation is the same as it was at the end of last year, which was very solid. The bullpen is likely to be in the top 3 in the majors, if not #1. Everyone is returning from last year. There are at least 4 pitchers in the Yankees bullpen who could close for other teams.

#3 – Cleveland Indians
Speaking of another deep team, last year’s #1 seed are poised to make another run at the championship. They had some talent leave their roster, but they still have a strong core. Their stars will be leaned on more this season. They’re also hoping for a comeback seasons from Jason Kipnis after not being able to trade him and Michael Brantley after being injured most of last year (although highly effective while healthy).

The back-end of their bullpen is one of the strongest in the MLB and their rotation is strong, however their depth is being tested already with Danny Salazar already experiencing shoulder issues this early in Spring Training. Whoever ends up as the odd man out in the #5 rotation spot between Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin will most likely be needed earlier than originally thought.

#4 – Boston Red Sox
They finally got what they truly needed, a big-time power threat in J.D. Martinez. This dramatically improves their lineup because even out of their great hitters, none of them are consistent 30-home run threats. The rest of the lineup features offensive threats Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers, all of them young and before their prime.

Now, their main problem lies with their rotation, currently their #5 starter is Steven Wright and that is not a very inspiring option considering the competition their facing in the AL. They also have an inconsistent Rick Porcello, two highly injury-prone pitchers in David Price and Drew Pomeranz, and the amazing Chris Sale. Sale is really the only one without a question mark. However, if there are not too many problems, the top four could lead the team to a spectacular year.

#5 – Los Angeles Angels
With the addition of Japanese superstar, Shohei Ohtani, the Angels could have added that impact player to take them from a mediocre team to a playoff contender. With a dearth of pitching depth, the Angels are much better positioned than the last few years when injuries inevitably occur. They are going with a 6-man rotation to keep Ohtani on his Japanese-league pitching schedule so that could also potentially help keep their staff fresh. Along with pitching depth, they added Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler to fill their infield spots and re-signed Justin Upton to improve their offense and defense as well. They are primed to compete for a wild card spot this year.

#6 – Minnesota Twins
Last year’s surprise contender, the Twins have added to their rotation which they desperately needed in order to contend again this year. They do start the season in a little bit of trouble, however. Their biggest home run threat, Miguel Sano, is recovering from leg surgery and will possibly be suspended due to a sexual harassment claim. Also, last year’s ace Ervin Santana will be out until early May while recovering from finger surgery. With their addition of Jake Odorizzi, they have definitely upgraded their rotation and also didn’t spend a lot of money on a free agent so they have room to add midseason. They should also be in the hunt with the Angels for the Wild Card race.

#7 – Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have almost always underwhelmed as a franchise. Everytime they’re supposed to be good, they’re mediocre at best. They have good pieces and they’ve made excellent additions with soon to be converted outfielder Dee Gordon, first baseman Ryon Healy, and relief pitchers Shawn Armstrong and Juan Nicasio. I’m expecting them to be over .500, but not make the playoffs again after a close race with the Twins and Angels for the second Wild Card spot.

#8 – Texas Rangers
The Rangers’ lineup is great, Adrian Beltre is a model of consistency even at his age along with Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, and Rougned Odor are all formidable hitters but have their weaknesses as well. They’ve added a lot of pitching this offseason, but who they’ve added are not really impact pitchers. It’s more like they added pitchers just to round out their rotation behind Cole Hamels. Matt Moore had his worst season last year, they signed Mike Minor to start who’s been a reliever recently, and Doug Fister is more of a swingman than a significant addition. They’re acting more like a team who hopes everything will go right, but not really going for contention.

#9 – Toronto Blue Jays
They have too many question marks to be considered a playoff contender. Their rotation is decent and that’s the best part of their team, but much of it depends on whether Aaron Sanchez can stay healthy throughout the season. They have a decent offense, but not enough to carry them. If they get off to a terrible start like last year, they’ll look to trade Donaldson early and try to maximize on his value.

#10 – Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles had a tough job to do this offseason. With limited payroll space they had to add at least two, preferably three starting pitchers. They acquired two in Andrew Cashner and bounceback candidate Chris Tillman and seem to be content with that. This is a typical Orioles team that hopes to mash its way to a good record, but this year their pitching will not do enough and they’ll have to face the fact that Manny Machado is not going to resign and will probably look to move him and maybe even Adam Jones this summer.

#11 – Chicago White Sox
Barring serious injuries to their starting rotation, I see the White Sox taking a big jump up compared to last year because their young starters Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer will have the chance to prove themselves. Also, we will most likely see the promotion of pitcher Michael Kopech and maybe even top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez sometime during the year.

#12 – Oakland Athletics
Another small market team, the A’s are looking to trend positive this year with some promising young talent on their roster like Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Stephen Piscotty, and a couple of their top prospects waiting in the wings in middle infielder Franklin Barreto and outfielder Dustin Fowler. For them, this year is really for assessing who’s going to be apart of their next winning team and they’ll shop slugger Khris Davis in July.

#13 – Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are already preparing to tank this season as they have recently Steven Souza Jr. and designated a great hitter, Corey Dickerson, for assignment. Not to mention they got rid of the longtime face of their franchise, Evan Longoria. Chris Archer will likely be gone by the end of the season as they look to stockpile young talent for rebuilding. Unfortunately, that’s how the Rays have to play it because of their small market in Tampa Bay.

#14 – Kansas City Royals
It was hard to choose between the Tigers and Royals for the worst team in the AL. They are both going to be so bad that it’ll be hard to watch. I chose the Royals because they have a little more to look forward to than the Tigers. They have a better rotation with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel at the forefront. They can also get a look at their next potential cornerstone of their franchise, corner infielder Hunter Dozier. Plus, Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, and Jorge Bonifacio are also solid players.

#15 – Detroit Tigers
Now for the worst team, the Tigers were already the worst last year and it’ll either be them or the Royals this year. They don’t even have many attractive trade chips as Miguel Cabrera is still owed a ton of money over the next five years. Michael Fulmer is really the only one, but they should probably keep him because he could be their ace when they are finally good again. It’s going to be a tough season for them, as they barely have any players who could be worth a win over replacement.