Official 2013 MLB Power Rankings

Ah, it’s back. The sweet game of baseball begins Easter Sunday and I, along with many others are nostalgically ecstatic that the season is less than a week away. So, without further ado, here are my 2013 preseason power rankings:

  1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- With the three-headed monster of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton along with a solid rotation, the Halos are looking to bring a World Series title back to Anaheim for the first time since 2002.
  2. Washington Nationals- The Nationals owned the best record in baseball a year ago with 98 wins and 64 losses and made more transactions for the better. Look for the Nats to win over ninety-five games once again.
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers- After several large moves made last trade deadline and this past offseason, Dodger Blue has a squad capable of going the distance.
  4. Toronto Blue Jays- The Jays basically bought the Marlins’ one-year dream, among other moves,  and finally have a chance in the AL East.
  5. Cincinnati Reds- Undoubtedly the best team in their respective division, the Redlegs have a powerful lineup equipped with a top-notch pitching staff.
  6. Detroit Tigers- The Tigers have the best hitter and pitcher in the game paired with several other stars. There’s no reason that this team cannot repeat as AL pennant winners.
  7. Atlanta Braves- Atlanta’ll have another playoff team in 2013, especially after signing OF’s Justin and B.J. Upton.
  8. San Francisco Giants- The Bay Bombers can always pitch, can always be well coached, can’t always hit for power. If the Giants can find a consistent power stroke, then they will trump the almighty Dodgers.
  9. St. Louis Cardinals- Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Lance Lynn, Matt Holliday… The list goes on and on of under-the-radar Cardinals that find a way to win.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays- You just can’t bet against the Rays. They’ve got a superb manager, fantastic front office, and players with a ton of heart.
  11. Oakland Athletics- Yet another team that finds a way to win, the A’s are well managed by Bob Melvin. Platoons, unique rotation patterns, pretty much all strategies that will help his team win, Melvin uses.
  12. Texas Rangers- The word departure defines the Texas winter: Josh Hamilton gone. Micheal Young, adios. Mike Napoli, see ya. And all of these losses were pretty ugly. If the Lone Stars can pitch well and stick to the tremendous hitters that they do still have, they can compete for a wild card spot.
  13. Boston Red Sox- Now that cancer Bobby Valentine’s gone, the Red Sox are able to actually have fun playing baseball. No teenage-like drama in the clubhouse. Boston should be ecstatic with manager John Farrell at the helm.
  14. New York Yankees- Even though injuries are aplenty, the Bronx Bombers have the experience to compete in the toughest division in baseball. A wild card berth is within reach.
  15. Pittsburgh Pirates- Is this the year that the Buccos get over the hump? They’ve got most of the same guys across the diamond, and additions such as catcher Russell Martin and southpaw Francisco Liriano ought to help
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks- A difficult team to predict, the D-Backs have an altered roster after dealing away star outfielder Justin Upton. They now have Martin Prado to handle the hot corner along with young gun Paul Goldschmidt at first to carry the offensive load. If a decent rotation can pitch like an all-star rotation, Arizona could clinch a wild card berth.
  17. Philadelphia Phillies- As much as I like the Phils, I’m not sure what to expect. The word is that Chase Utley is completely healthy, but the word is that Roy Halladay had a poor spring. There are definitely question marks in Philly, but you’ve got to hope that 2012 was an illegitimate omen and that they can win the division once again.
  18.  Cleveland Indians- The Tribe is another unique team. They’ve made a few big transactions with the signings of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Brett Myers and the trades for young pitcher Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs are bound to make a difference.
  19. Baltimore Orioles- Last year’s Cinderella, the O’s must compete in, what I’ve written before, the most difficult division in the sport. Hopefully super-manager Buck Showalter can lead this team back into the playoffs in consecutive season for the first time since 1997-98 in spite of a weak rotation.
  20. Kansas City Royals- A popular pick to make the postseason for the first time in a while, the Royals’ young starters on offense must pick up the newly acquired pitchers Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis, and James Shields.
  21. Milwaukee Brewers- As long as Ryan Braun continues his MVP-like success and isn’t suspended for his convicted PED use, the Brew Crew have a shot at the playoffs. But with a young rotation and 1B Corey Hart out until June, it’s hard to see Milwaukee contending.
  22. Chicago White Sox- The South-siders had the AL Central in the bag until Detroit came out of no where. Can this squad get it together and topple the Motor City Kitties? No chance. Last year was their only year in the next decade that they could have made the playoffs given the Tigers’ future and the White Sox’s aging stars.
  23. New York Mets- The Mets’ pride and joy last year, Cy-Young winner R.A. Dickey, is out the door. I have a hard time taking the The Kings of Queens’ playoff chances seriously.
  24. Seattle Mariners- When you’re in a division that owns not one, not two, but three potential playoff teams, the losses will pile up quite rapidly.
  25. San Diego Padres- Hey, maybe the friars won’t finish in last place if 3B chase Headley leads the NL in RBI again. (115 in 2012)
  26. Chicago Cubs- Well, the Cubs are the unanimous last-place pick now that the Astros have switched leagues. although it’ll be a long year at Wrigley, things are moving in the right direction on the north side.
  27. Colorado Rockies- On paper, the Rox contain one of the most powerful lineups with perennial MVP candidates SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez. But then when you take a glance at their rotation, you know why they’re not taken with a straight face.
  28. Minnesota Twins- The Twinkies dealt two young stars in OF’s Ben Revere and Denard Span. Although they got veteran arms in return, their lineup needs more than Joe Mauer.
  29. Miami Marlins- Even though they didn’t total 100 losses last season, doesn’t keep the Marlins from being categorized as the laughing stock of the league. The Fish bartered all of the guys they’d just signed and are easily projected to have the lowest attendance in the MLB.
  30. Houston Astros- As much as I desire a winning record for my hometown team, the ‘Stros will finish at the basement of their respective division, once again.

Well thanks for reading folks! Comment with your predictions and let’s look forward to a remarkable season!

More MLB MVP Picks

3. Josh Hamilton- 2010’s AL MVP is at it again with the Rangers. He leads all of baseball in RBI’s, and is second in home runs. He started out slow, but later picked it up, most notably a four home run game in July. He plays terrific defense, and is a quiet leader in the Texas clubhouse.

2. Miguel Cabrera- If the season ended today, a .331 average, 33 home runs, and 111 RBI season would be a career year for 90% of the MLB’s players. But Miguel is not done yet. He was a triple crown contender last year, and still has got a shot in 2012. He is very deserving of his first MVP this year.

1. Mike Trout- Duh. Everyone’s pick for MVP this season (except for Jim Leyland) has had a season that puts us all in awe. He leads all of baseball with 107 runs and 42 runs without playing a whole month. Plus the fact that he is 21 and is arguably the best rookie in MLB history just adds a little more to make his case for MVP. He has got a knack for making Torii Hunter-like catches, and could be the best we’ve seen since Willie Mays.

Picking the MLB MVP Award Winners

National League:

3. Ryan Braun- A year removed from his MVP season and controversial steriod test, Braun has put up a .309/36/92 batting line going into September 2nd. Not as good as last year but eye-popping nonetheless. He’s got a good glove, a good arm, and 22 stolen bases. He’s been the only leader up in Milwaukee. If it weren’t for the next two candidates, then he’d be my pick.

2. Buster Posey- The Giants’ catcher has been remarkable this year, from sidekick to Melky Cabrera, to hero for the entire offense. He isn’t far from a batting title at .330, and 19 bombs with 82 RBI’s are pudge-like stats. He is the best catcher in the game, as he controls a tremendous pitching staff.

1. Andrew McCutchen- Cutch is a 6-tool player. Not a five, but six. He’s got all of the intangeables. He has been consistent, leading a regularly last-place squad to a potential wild card spot. And if not this year then at least three in the next five years.

Don’t agree? Comment!

April’s National League All-Stars

For more of you early ballot-ers, this is the list of the top NL ballplayers by position through the first month of baseball:

C-   Yadier Molina; Cardinals- Molina has gotten off to a hot start, with a .316 batting average, 4 HR’s, and 15 RBI’s, at the top of the list for National League hind catchers. Not to mention an NL-best 43% caught-stealing percentage.

1B-   Bryan LaHair; Cubs- Who? I know, not many have heard of Mr. LaHair. But the way he’s started 2012, Bryan LaHair is as important to the Cubbies as anyone to any team if you’d like to compare. The 29-year-old is batting .382, topping studs like Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman. He’s also tied for the lead in home runs of all NL first basemen with four. He is currently surmounting the same criteria with OBP, SLG, and OPS.

2B-   Jose Altuve; Astros- Look, I may be a homer here, but the “Mighty Mouse,” Jose Altuve is fun to watch. At a miniature stature of 5’5 155 lbs, he’s at the top of the following offensive categories for all NL second basemen: hits, doubles, stolen bases, batting average, and on-base percentage.

3B-   David Wright; Mets- David Wright is arguably off to his best start since his days at Shea Stadium with a .397 average. He might not have the amazing power numbers we’ve witnessed in the past, but Wright has gotten on-base and been a true facilitator for the surprisingly worthy Mets club.

SS-   Starlin Castro; Cubs- Another precious piece to the Cubs’ future, Castro has had a great start through April 29th. He’s posted NL shortstop bests .326 average, 13 RBI’s, 28 hits, and 10 stolen bases.

LF-   Carlos Gonzalez; Rockies- Car-Go has gotten off to a satisfying inception here in 2012. Hitting .288, with four long balls and 16 RBI’s, and four stolen bases, Gonzalez will need to lead this club as he has thus far.

CF-   Matt Kemp; Dodgers- You could say say that Kemp is the best player in all of baseball without a discussion. The man born in Midwest City, Oklahoma predicted a 50 homer, 50 stolen-base season for himself. Although he’s on pace for only 15 stolen bags, the beast in on-pace for 81 home runs and 177 RBI’s. He is lighting it up right now and I predict will hit over .375 the way he’s hitting the baseball through one month. (A .425/11 HR/24 RBI line.)

RF-   Jay Bruce; Reds- Bruce has been a captain in Cincinnati’s line-up, picking up the slack of Joey Votto’s poor April. He’s got a .296 average with 7 four-baggers and 17 RBI’s going into April 30th. I believe he barely edges Ethier in LA and Hart in Milwaukee so far in the right field position.

SP-   Kyle Lohse; Cardinals- A solid five starts has earned Lohse a 4-0 record, with a 1.62 ERA and 21 strike outs. Lohse has picked it up as Chris Carpenter is out for a while and Adam Wainwright recovering after not pitching at all in 2011. He has fared better than a lot of aces even, with a lower ERA and more wins than guys like Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Zach Greinke. Though stats aren’t going to stay as is, as of now, Lohse is the top candidate as the NL’s All-Star starter.

Just missed the starting line-up:

SP- Stephen Strasburg; Nationals

1B- Adam LaRoche; Nationals

RF- Andre Ethier; Dodgers

LF- Jason Kubel; Diamondbacks

Don’t agree? Comment!

April’s American League All-Stars

If you’re an early season ballot-er, this is my starting American League All-Star roster if the Mid-Summer were to be scheduled today:

C-  A.J. Pierzynski; White Sox- This is probably the hottest start in the 35 yearold catcher’s career, as A.J. is hitting .309, second best of all AL catchers. He’s racked up four home runs and is leading all catchers across baseball with 17 RBI’s.

1B-   Paul Konerko; White Sox- Two Southsiders in the starting line-up at the All-Star Game? That’s how it’s got to be as Paul Konerko is tied for most home runs and second in RBI’s among all AL first basmen, while batting .383.

2B-   Ian Kinsler; Rangers- Kinsler has displayed dominant numbers thus far into 2012, as he’s tied for RBI’s and leading AL second basemen in hits, home runs, and on-base percentage. Playing on the best team in baseball always helps also.

3B-   Miguel Cabrera; Tigers- Although his fielding is not admirable as projected, Cabby leads all AL third basemen with 7 homers, 20 RBI’s and ranks fourth with a favorable .298 average at the dish.

SS-   Derek Jeter; Yankees- At 3,124 hits and 37 years young, Mr. November could win title as Mr. April as he’s finishing this month with an MLB-leading 36 hits and an MLB shortstop topping .396 batting average.

LF-   Josh Willingham; Twins- Willingham is unarguably the only concrete bright spot in Minnesota’s line-up. He’s leading all left fielders in average, on-base percentage, OPS, and slugging percentage by a fairly considerable margin. Also he’s at the top some way or another with 5 home runs and 15 RBI’s.

CF-   Josh Hamilton; Rangers- This guy is a statistical juggernaut, topping all American League outfielders in nearly every offensive category including runs, hits, home runs, RBI’s, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. Total preponderance in Arlington.

RF-   Nick Swisher; Yankees- The total ascendancy might not be demonstrated by Swish, but he’s bringing together a solid 2012 campaign so far. He’s hit 6 dingers and 23 RBI’s through April 29th, leading AL right fielders.

DH- Edwin Encarnacion; Blue Jays- A dark-horse Silver Slugger candidate, Encarnacion has blasted seven wallops and 20 RBI’s through 87 at-bats. Although David Ortiz might have stats a bit better, the Red Sox’s power numbers aren’t as good as Edwin’s and is playing on a losing squad.

SP- Jake Peavy; White Sox- It’s very difficult to choose an All-Star Game starting pitcher as most hurlers have had only a handful of starts, but Peavy has dropped my jaw with only five games started under his belt. Posting a 1.67 ERA and .162 opponent’s batting average through 37.2 innings pitched, Peavy is fourth among AL starters with 33 K’s. He has a 3-1 record, the only loss being a “tough loss,” a sabermetric stat measuring the ache of how a pitcher has lost a game. This is a true rebound year, as it still seems at times like he is still recovering from the arm injury he suffered from when he was the ace in San Diego.

Just missed the starting line-up:

DH- David Ortiz; Red Sox

3B- Evan Longoria; Rays

RF- Matt Joyce; Rays

SP- Jered Weaver; Angels

Don’t Agree? Comment!

Intriguing Games TWIB

TWIB, or this week in baseball, there are two series I’m looking forward to in each league. That is, the Tampa Bay Rays at the Detroit Tigers. We’ll get to view the young arms from Tampa go up against the powerful lineup in Mo-Town that includes Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. The two combined for 5 home runs and 11 RBI’s this past weekend, sweeping the Boston Red Sox. AL MVP Justin Verlander will start on the second game on Wednesday against my Cy Young dark horse James Shields. In the other pitching match-ups, phenom Matt Moore is scheduled to face Rick Porcello, and Jeff Niemann against youngster Drew Smyly.

In the National League, we’ve got heated division rivals competing as the St. Louis Cardinals will visit the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series. The top two NL central perennial powers go head to head, and are always on edge when playing each other. Jake Westbrook and Homer Bailey will both be making their first appearances in 2012, starting game one. Kyle Lohse will try to repeat the gem he hurled in his first outing in Miami, where he took a no-hitter into the seventh, giving up a run. On the Reds’ side Mike Leake will be on the bump trying to bounce back from a shaky campaign in 2011. In game three, lefty Jaime Garcia will face Reds number one starter Johnny Cueto.

Other match-ups to look forward to:

  • Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies series

The Marlins will try to prove they can hang with their division front runners. On the mound in this three game series? Anibal Sanchez vs. Cole Hamels, Josh Johnson vs. Roy Halladay, and Mark Buehrle vs. Joe Blanton.

  • Daniel Bard’s first start

Former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard is switching to the number five spot in the rotation, as Boston will travel to Toronto for a three-game series. Bard is supposed to be on the mound Tuesday.

  • Stephen Strasburg vs. Johan Santana

Both started and dominated on Opening day. Strasburg pitched seven innings and gave up one run at Wrigley Field and will be making his second start of the season, and his second on the road. Santana pitched in a Major League game for the first time since 2010 after he missed all of last season with an elbow injury. He pitched well versus Atlanta, considering it’s been a year.

2012 Opening Day Power Rankings- MLB Week 1

In the first series for each team, everybody’s 0-0. But some teams are better than others…

30. Houston Astros- The Astros were the worst team last year, and not much has changed on paper. They added Jed Lowrie at shortstop, but the youth is not there yet. Another 100 loss year in southeast Texas.

29. San Diego Padres- With a disappointing year last season, the Padres have made a few moves in the last two years, but nothing too notable that will affect their record too much. The trade giving away Mat Latos was nice for the club, but losing closer and face of the franchise Heath Bell won’t help.

28. Baltimore Orioles– Last season the O’s were the worst team in the American League. I don’t see a change as they must rely on premature pitching.

27. Chicago Cubs- After 104 year World Series win drought for the Cubbies, this is…. Not the year. Shaky pitching,bad hitting, bad team. They will lose north of 95 ames.

26. Minnesota Twins- Former MVP Justin Morneau is not the same, and that’s who this team has to lean on. In addition, their rotation isn’t exactly playoff caliber.

25. New York Mets- It may not look as bad in Queens, as injuries aren’t plaguing the Mets yet. However, I can’t trust their lineup even with the shorter fence dimensions in the outfield.

24. Oakland Athletics- I highly doubt all of the losses in the rotation helps this rebuilding team. And Manny won’t be a factor as the A’s won’t be able to sell tickets again.

23. Chicago White Sox- Another bad team from Chicago, the White Sox don’t have a true ace or a true run producer.

22. Seattle Mariners- Ichiro is no longer an all-star, and they still do not have big bat in their lineup. Still, we can’t forget bright spots Dustin Ackley at second, and their ace pitcher, Felix Hernandez.

21. Los Angeles Dodgers- The Dodgers made headlines with their buyout of a group including Magic Johnson. They have young superstars Clayton Kershaw and Mat Kemp, but not much else.

20. Pittsburgh Pirates- Though many think this is the Bucs’ year, they’ll have to wait one more year for a .500 season. Another hitter and the Pirates are better than a 81-81 record.

19. Colorado Rockies- I like this squad, but I have trouble seeing past Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Give me a pitcher to match up with their talented offense, and the Rockies are legitimate contenders.

18. Kansas City Royals- The wait is almost over as the Royals are almost there with Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon finally sprouting. With one more solid starter, the Royals could be wild-card predators.

17. Milwaukee Brewers- The Brew Crew could be in the NL Central race for a while, but after the depature of Prince Fielder, the Brewers lack a power bat, even with the pick-up of Aramis Ramirez.

16. Cleveland Indians- The Tribe had a magical year until the fallout in the dog days of last season. Without a healthy Sizemore all year, they could have trouble repeating 2011’s run.

15. Washington Nationals- The Nats have a good shot at a wild-card spot this season, something the nation’s capital hasn’t been able to say since 1933. Let’s hope mega-prospect Bryce Harper comes in and makes a huge impact, or the Nats are just short of October.

14. Toronto Blue Jays- The Blue Jays have gone retro with a new take on their logo, one they used during the glory days in Toronto. Hopefully, they can live up to the unworldly expectations, taking down one of the big three in the AL East.

13. Atlanta Braves- The Braves lost it on the last day of the season. They had locked up the wild-card, but had gotten sloppy and fell to the Cardinals in the long run. This year is just about the same team, besides a rookie shortstop in Tyler Pastornicky. Also, it being Chipper’s last year, makes 2012 that much more sentimental.

12. San Francisco Giants- After a disappointing year, the Giants are looking to bounce back with new offensive addition Melky Cabrera. He’s a guy they’re hoping will help pick up the run support, a problem for the Giants’ pitchers in 2011.

11. Miami Marlins- I like this team, but I’m afraid of the hoopla that comes with a new uniform, stadium, and their new out of control manager. They’ve got a great rotation with a heap of guys who know how to get on base.

10. St. Louis Cardinals- Of course the hole of Pujols will be a blow, but the Cards’ blue-collar offensive game plan and superior pitching may surprise many under a first-year coach who doesn’t own any managerial experience.

9. Cincinnati Reds- The Reds are the favorite in the NL Central after the Brewers lost Prince Fielder and the Cardinals, Albert Pujols. This group of ballplayers has a very powerful lineup and a sneaky good rotation. Don’t be surprised to see a pretty swell run in October.

8. Tampa Bay Rays- Though there are high expectations for this club, I don’t see the Rays topping the Red Sox or Yankees. They have the fresh arms, yes, but at the same time they don’t have the experience. I guess we’ll have to see what happens down in Tampa.

7. Boston Red Sox- The BoSox have way too much on the line this season with the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, and a high demand for winning after last year’s collapse. These guys are too talented to not perform well in 2012.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks- This year, the D-Backs are riding high after a dream of a season last year. If they can carry their success and the pitching can out-duel the division foe’s Giants pitchers, then get ready for a playoff run in Phoenix.

5. New York Yankees- I’m faithful of the Yankees this year, my World Series winner prediction. They have the exact same lineup as last year plus better depth in a hitter’s ballpark. Add a solid rotation with the new Michael Pineda? The Yanks look like the Yanks.

4. Detroit Tigers- The Tigers are poised for the World Series. They’ve got Verlander at the top of the rotation, and of course the new Bash Brothers in Mo-Town in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

3. Texas Rangers- Yu Darvish was the huge foreign deal of the year, as the Asian phenom gives Texas a solid starter. The Rangers have the best lineup in all of baseball and are looking to finally win a World Series this year after two straight appearances.

2. Philadelphia Phillies- Even with the health a question, the Phillies’ pitching will keep them in ballgames. First baseman Ryan Howard will be out until May and second baseman Chase Utley’s knees become a huge question mark. But again the Phils can pitch and win.

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- The Halos made the second biggest deal in MLB history with the 10-year deal of first baseman Albert Pujols. This will give their rotation ample run support, marked by aces CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver, and Dan Haren.

Don’t agree? Comment!