Well, it’s that time of year again. Baseball is back; and as usual, we already have been reminded numerous times why we love America’s Pastime. Trevor Story’s magical start, the fundamentals and heart of those pesky Royals, Noah Syndergaard’s 95 mph slider, and so much more have given us a tease of how great this season might be.
Although only two weeks of this young season are in the books, some teams have come out of the gate blazing in the early going, while others have sputtered at the starting line. Is it time for your team to panic? Find out in my inaugural power rankings for the 2016 season.
30. Atlanta Braves (3-9)
You know you’re off to a bad start when your GM is using the ‘E’ word and the ‘U’ word after nine games as General Manager John Coppolella did after the Braves’ 0-9 start, their worst in franchise history. While it might be a bit early to call the performance of a team “embarrassing”, the chagrin of the Braves GM is justified. With the Braves moving into SunTrust Park next April one has to wonder how they will sell that stadium out considering how bad this current product is.
29. San Diego Padres (4-9)
The Padres were shut out twice this week by none other than rookie Vincent Velasquez and Charlie Morton, who has a 4.55 career ERA. Not exactly Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. They have been shut out five times in their first 12 games. It’s looking like another long season in San Diego.
28. Minnesota Twins (3-9)
Despite being tied for the worst record in baseball, the Twins do have enough talent to get out of this hole. Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, and rookie Bryon Buxton are all currently hitting under .200. If those guys can get going and former All-Star Glen Perkins can return strong from the DL, they could be a respectable team.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (5-7)
The Brewers are playing in by far the best division in baseball with three teams that could all win over 90 games again. Look on the bright side, they have a lot of young talent and that Ryan Braun guy is still pretty good.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (5-8)
Free agent acquisition Zach Greinke has made a rough transition to his new team. He is currently 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA after losing only 3 starts all of last season. They traded number one overall pick Dansby Swanson among other players to Atlanta for Shelby Miller. I do not like the direction this team is headed.
25. Philadelphia Phillies (6-7)
Vincent Velasquez is off to a smashing start in his first year in the major leagues. The rookie has 25 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched and threw a complete game shut out this week against the Padres. After starting 0-4, the Phillies have won six out of their last nine. Things aren’t that bad….yet.
24. Oakland Athletics (6-7)
Sonny Gray beat the Royals yesterday and continues to shine brightest for an Athletics team that has been just gutted over the past few years. It is easy to forget that once upon a time, Yoenis Cespesdes and reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson hit in the middle of this lineup. It is truly a shame what has happened to Oakland.
23. Miami Marlins (3-7)
The funny thing about the Marlins is they actually have a lot of talent in their lineup. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon form a strong, young core that they can build around for the future. For this year, Miami appears to be the front-runner for the “other team that isn’t hopeless in the NL East” award.
22. Colorado Rockies (7-5)
Have the Rockies found their next Tulo? Maybe not. But two weeks in Trevor Story already looks like the real deal. The rookie leads the league in homers with 7 and is third in the league in RBIs with 13. Nobody can name anyone in their rotation besides Jorge De La Rosa but hey, at least Story is fun to watch.
21. Tampa Bay Rays (5-7)
If Tampa played in a different division they actually would have a chance to contend. As expected, their offense has sputtered out of the gate as they have already been shut out twice. It will be interesting to see how their young pitching staff develops throughout the season.
20. Cincinnati Reds (6-6)
The Reds should have taken a picture of NL central standings entering Sunday and frame it, because it will probably be the only time all year they are in second place. Their 7 run outburst against Adam Wainwright was impressive, though.
19. Houston Astros (5-8)
Thankfully for Houston, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. The Astros have stumbled out of the gate and currently sit in the AL west cellar at 5-8. Carlos Correa is one of the most exciting young players in baseball and is off to a flying start. They will be fine, but they need guys other than Dallas Keuchel to step up and pitch well.
18. Seattle Mariners (5-7)
The good news for Seattle is Robinson Cano has seemed to find his MIA power stroke. After hitting just 35 combined homers the last two seasons, Cano already has 5 in the first two weeks of 2016. Cano along with Nelson Cruz form a powerful duo in the middle of their lineup, but a lack of depth both in their rotation and lineup may haunt the Mariners.
17. Anaheim Angels (5-7)
Mike Trout is off to a slow start with only one home run through two weeks of games. Despite the power outage, Trout will be fine. Unfortunately for the Angels, the rest of their lineup won’t be.
16. Cleveland Indians (5-5)
The Indians are built on their rotation which was expected to be one of the best in baseball this season. However, ace Corey Kluber has yet to win a start and has an ERA north of 6. Despite the early success of Carrasco and Salazar, the tribe need a dominant Kluber to make noise in the AL central.
15. New York Yankees (5-6)
Another season, another dominant bullpen. Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are once again making the late innings a nightmare for opposing teams. Starlin Castro has been a solid addition and certainly provides depth in their order. When Aroldis Chapman returns this has the potential to be one of the best bullpens in the history of baseball.
14. New York Mets (5-6)
Matt Harvey’s 0-3 start has Mets fans worried about their Dark Knight. Luckily for the Mets and their fans, he isn’t even the ace of this staff. Noah “Thor” Syndergaard has been ridiculously dominant in his first two starts and they do have Jacob Degrom and Steven Matz, which will keep their starting pitching excellent. The Mets will need their offense and bullpen to contribute if they want to make a World Series run again.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6)
The Pirates will need to perform well against the NL central if they want any chance to contend in it. Their three game sweep of the Cardinals to open the season was definitely a good place to start.
12. Texas Rangers (7-6)
The Rangers currently lead an AL West division that will probably be a battle between them and the Astros all season. The return Texas is getting for the Cole Hamels deal is growing by the day. A healthy Yu Darvish could make Texas a formidable playoff contender.
11. Boston Red Sox (6-5)
David Price is already paying dividends for the Red Sox and is the ace their staff was missing last season. Rotation depth, however, could be a major Achilles Heel for this Red Sox team. Oh, and by the way, that David Ortiz guy can still hit.
10. St Louis Cardinals (7-5)
It’s easy to forget that the Cardinals won 100 games last year before losing in the first round to the upstart Chicago Cubs. Despite the Cubs being the trendy pick to make the World Series in 2016, counting the Cards out is a bad idea. Also, did anybody see Jaime Garcia’s performance against Milwaukee? The guy threw a complete game one hit shutout. Unbelievable.
9. Baltimore Orioles (8-3)
Are they for real? The Orioles were the last undefeated team at 7-0 before losing to the Red Sox 4-2 and have proceeded to drop three of its last four. While their offense is legit, I am not convinced their pitching is good enough to keep up in the clogged AL East.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (6-7)
The Blue Jays just continue to do what they do best: crush baseballs. Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista have already combined for eight home runs and Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki have also each chipped in a pair. Marcus Stroman has looked like an ace so far. They are the best bet to win the AL East.
7. Chicago White Sox (8-4)
The White Sox could very well be a team that contends with the Royals in the AL central. Their rotation has solid depth with guys like Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana and they have a bona fide ace in Chris Sale. It will be interesting to see if they can sustain their hot start but hey they currently tied for first place with the Royals, whatever that means.
6. Detroit Tigers (7-4)
The Tigers have one of the better lineups in baseball with their addition of Justin Upton. Sluggers JD Martinez and Miguel Cabrera could combine for 50 plus homers in the middle of their order. The acquisition of Jordan Zimmerman will be a big help to their starting rotation. There is a lot to like about the Tigers.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (7-5)
How cool was it to see Ross Stripling’s dad support for Dave Roberts’ decision to take out his son with a no-hitter at 100 pitches? Despite losing that game, Yaisel Puig is currently hitting .357 and seems much more comfortable under manager Dave Roberts than he did under former manager Don Mattingly. They also became the first team in major league history to start out the season with three shutouts. Did I mention they also have Clayton Kershaw?
4. San Francisco Giants (7-5)
Madison Bumgarner hasn’t exactly been “lights out” in his first three starts of 2016 and is currently 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA. However, Johnny Cueto, Matt Cain, and Jeff Samardzija form a rotation that has the potential to be very effective. They also have a ton of excellent professional hitters like Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, and Hunter Pence. Plus, it’s an even year so you know what that means.
3. Washington Nationals (9-2)
It is amazing the impact a manager can have on a team. The Nationals have already won many games that they probably would’ve lost last season. Their pitching has been stellar and up until yesterday against the Phillies, Jonathan Papelbon had been lights out. Reigning MVP Bryce Harper is just scratching the surface with how good he can be.
2. Kansas City Royals (8-4)
It is beyond me why sabermetrics don’t like the Royals. Every single player on this Royals team knows exactly what his job is and embraces it. The more people doubt them the better they get. Would it surprise you if they made the World Series again?
1. Chicago Cubs (9-3)
Someone asked me recently if I thought the Cubs could win 100 games, and the answer is a resounding yes. Chicago has one of the deeper lineups in recent memory anchored by young, homegrown starts Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Jake Arrieta is once again dominating in 2016, out to prove his Cy young campaign in 2015 was no fluke. The injury to Kyle Schwarber will hurt but if any team can overcome it, it’s the Cubs.