- 1. Yankees | 2009 Record: 103-59
No, this pick is not lazy or a cop-out. The Yankees have better starting pitching this time around and the addition of Curtis Granderson keeps the lineup very strong — in addition to bolstering the outfield defense. Are they a better team? I don’t know, but they certainly aren’t worse. When the defending champs don’t get worse, someone is going to have to prove they aren’t the best team on the field.
- 2. Red Sox | 2009 Record: 95-67
This team will really push the Yankees — as usual. Adding John Lackey makes the pitching staff absolutely menacing. The offense doesn’t have the punch of the Big Papi–Manny Ramirez years, but it’s plenty good enough to win close to 100 games with the stellar defense to support great pitching.
- 3. Phillies | 2009 Record: 93-69
A full season of Roy Halladay over less than half a season of Cliff Lee is a huge upgrade, and you can expect a better year from Cole Hamels. The third base swap appears to have weakened the defense, though Placido Polanco is a better fit for the offense. All in all, the only big question mark is the back end of the bullpen. I feel like this is the easiest pick of a division winner.
- 4. Rockies | 2009 Record: 92-70
You think that extended run last year was a fluke? Think again. This team is loaded, young and only getting better. You want a prognostication for MVP (I mean, is it really fun to just predict Albert Pujols is going to win it every single year?), I’ll give you Troy Tulowitzki. In the Rockies’ last 102 games in 2009, the 24-year-old shortstop hit .332 with 27 bombs and 76 RBI. His OPS during that span was 1.040 and he stole 16 bases. Now 25, he’s ready for even bigger things.
- 5. Rays | 2009 Record: 84-78
This lofty spot is assuming the development of David Price, Jeff Niemann and Wade DavisEvan Longoria early in the lineup makes this team well worth watching on a nightly basis. progresses during this campaign. If that happens, the Rays are good enough everywhere else to challenge the two titans atop the AL East — maybe even unseat them like they did in 2008. On a personal note, the duo of Carl Crawford and
- 6. Mariners | 2009 Record: 85-77
With the addition of Cliff Lee, the Mariners now have a pair of aces. They also have the best table-setting 1-2 punch atop the batting order in the league after acquiring Chone Figgins to slot behind Ichiro. The defense will remain stellar. The question mark here is if the run producers are good enough to get the Mariners to first place.
- 7. Rangers | 2009 Record: 87-75
They have enough talent to overcome the distraction that was Ron Washington’s drug revelation, but are they mentally tough enough? There’s a good mix of veteran leadership to make it happen. If Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Rich Harden can all stay healthy all season (which is, yes, a tall task), the Rangers will be right in the thick of the playoff race all season.
- 8. Cardinals | 2009 Record: 91-71
The best player in baseball, an All-Star left-fielder, two of the NL’s three best starting pitchers last season and a brilliant defensive catcher are enough to make them the favorites of an incredibly weak NL Central. Unless they get help from other places — like Colby Rasmus improving, Ryan Franklin staving off the aging process and Brad Penny reverting to 2007 form — they’ll get pushed by up to three teams.
- 9. Giants | 2009 Record: 88-74
The offense is still a bit of a patchwork one, but the pitching is just phenomenal. The rotation boasts the two-time defending Cy Young award winner, Tim Lincecum, along with Matt Cain and the still-promising Jonathan Sanchez. The bullpen is stacked too.
- 10. Dodgers | 2009 Record: 95-67
Here’s my vote for most disappointing finish this season. I should probably have dropped them a few more spots, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, for now. It’s possible the lineup is held together by the young stud outfielders, it’s possible Manny plays for another monster contract and it’s possible Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley pitch like All-Stars. If not, they’re in trouble. Hell, I should demote them even further simply for having Vicente Padilla as their Opening Day starter.
Full ranking here: http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/03/30/mlb-power-rankings-2010-inaugural
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