As we embark upon the 2010 major league baseball season, all is rosy throughout much of the league. Most clubs have at least some reason for optimism (a hot young prospect, an exciting newcomer, a legitimate shot at the postseason, etc.) and the Evil Empire is alone at the bottom of the league standings.
Well, depending on who you root for, let these power rankings and season predictions either give you some additional hope or burst your bubble a bit. Of course, that assumes that I actually know what I’m talking about, which is no guarantee.
1) Philadelphia Phillies
It’s hard to bet against the defending champs, but an upgrade of Roy Halladay from Cliff Lee and the addition of Placido Polanco make a World Series-calibre team even better.
2) New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers are in tough to repeat after losing Hideki Matsui (Angels), Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera (Detroit), but the addition of Curtis Granderson will help.
3) St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards boast a vaunted one-two punch in the rotation (Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright) and line-up (Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols), and don’t have a team ready to fight them for the division.
4) Boston Red Sox
The Bosox made some nice moves in the off-season (John Lackey, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron), but lack that one fear-inducing hitter who could threaten the Yanks.
5) Los Angeles Angels
The Angels look vulnerable after losing Lackey and Vlad Guerrero, but Matsui and a full season of Scott Kazmir help. Plus, this team is simply too strong and deep to free-fall from the top of the AL West.
6) Minnesota Twins
All was sunny in Minny (new building, title hopes and a newly signed Joe Mauer) until Joe Nathan’s injury. Twins still seem to find a way to get it done, at least in the regular season.
7) Tampa Bay Rays
They’re still the young, up-and-coming Rays, but didn’t do much to upgrade their roster over the summer. Look for another third-place finish in the same ol’ hyper-competitive AL East.
8) Colorado Rockies
The best of a weak division, the Rox will rely once again on a potent offence that led them to 92 wins a year ago. However, the key to the season could very well be the health of Jeff Francis.
9) Texas Rangers
The chic pick as a team to watch this season, the Rangers opened eyes last season with an 87-win campaign and appear poised to build on it after adding Guerrero and Rich Harden.
10) Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers’ season hinges on the development of the young guns (Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Ethier), the growth of Clayton Kershaw and which Manny Ramirez shows up at Chavez Ravine. Oh, and the McCourt divorce mess that has paralyzed the team’s front office.
11) Atlanta Braves
The “it” team of the spring could challenge the Phillies in manager Bobby Cox’s final season. The Braves boast a balanced line-up and solid rotation, but all the buzz is about rookie phenom Jason Heyward.
12) San Francisco Giants
Can newcomers Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff help Pablo Sandoval boost the Giants’ putrid offence, or will Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain’s pitching talents continue to be wasted?
13) Seattle Mariners
Many are jumping aboard the M’s bandwagon after a summer haul that included Lee, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Eric Byrnes, but I’m not sold on their pitching depth beyond Lee and King Felix.
14) Chicago White Sox
Hard to project a White Sox team that could be dangerous if they get full seasons out of Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Andruw Jones and, most importantly, Jake Peavy. Gordon Beckham is a rookie to watch.
15) Chicago Cubs
Sorry Cubs fans, but signing Xavier Nady and trading Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva will not bring you any closer to a division crown in the NL Central.
16) Detroit Tigers
Tigers’ mini-youth movement sees rookies Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore get starting jobs and Rick Porcello continue to rise in the rotation. Also, will Damon bring back the scruffy look post-NYY?
17) Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew’s setback last season was to be expected from a young team with a shaky rotation. The talent’s there, but questions still abound regarding the four arms behind Yovani Gallardo.
18) Cincinnati Reds
All the talk is about Aroldis Chapman, but this team’s success will depend upon the development of Jay Bruce and the contributions of the new left side of the infield, Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera.
19) Florida Marlins
Was Florida’s 87-win 2009 campaign for real? Continued growth will come down to the rotation after Josh Johnson and if Chris Coghlan, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, can rise towards stardom.
20) New York Mets
A team with the star power of the Mets should not be losing 92 games, and I doubt we’ll see a repeat performance this year. That said, the addition of Jason Bay isn’t enough to contend with the Phillies.
21) Oakland A’s
Ben Sheets at $10 million is a risk, but these A’s should be a young, scrappy bunch who may surprise. The question is: can they hit?
22) Houston Astros
An intriguing dark horse, with solid protection around Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman and a strong top three of Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. They just don’t have the track record of recent success, though.
23) Arizona Diamondbacks
This D-Backs squad isn’t far off from the 2007 division-winning club, but losing Brandon Webb ‘til at least mid-May will hurt and young guys like Chris Young and Stephen Drew haven’t fully developed.
24) Baltimore Orioles
Blue chippers Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz have arrived and having Kevin Millwood at the top of the rotation will help, but man, does it suck to be an AL East also-ran sometimes.
25) Cleveland Indians
Expect struggles at the Jake with an iffy rotation anchored by high-risk Fausto Carmona and mediocre Jake Westbrook and the incorporation of young prospects like Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley.
26) San Diego Padres
If and when Adrian Gonzalez gets ships out, who can get on base on this team?
27) Toronto Blue Jays
It’ll be a looong season in T.O. Things to look for: can Vernon Wells have a bounce-back year, who will comprise the rotation going forward and when will guys like Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace arrive.
28) Kansas City Royals
Some interesting acquisitions, including Scott Podsednik (nice pick-up), Rick Ankiel (curious) and Jason Kendall (what are they thinking?). This is still, however, Zach Greinke and not much else.
29) Pittsburgh Pirates
What’s with all the poor teams with one standout star? D-Backs and Webb, Indians and Grady Sizemore, Padres and Gonzalez, Royals and Greinke and, of course, the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen.
30) Washington Nationals
… And maybe the Nats and Ryan Zimmerman? Although Stephen Strasburg should change that once he arrives.
The 2010 Picks
AL Division Winners:
East – Yankees
Central – Twins
West – Angels
Wild Card – Red Sox
NL Division Winners:
East – Phillies
Central – Cardinals
West – Rockies
Wild Card – Dodgers
AL – Yankees over Twins; Red Sox over Angels
NL – Phillies over Dodgers; Cardinals over Rockies
AL – Yankees over Red Sox
NL – Cardinals over Phillies
Yankees over Cardinals
About the Author
Written by Ben Fisher