First, a re-introduction. These power rankings aren't done by "CBS." I have a name. It's me who does these rankings: Matt Snyder. No one else gives me input. Also, these are subjective power rankings. If you don't know what "subjective" means, let me help you out. This is my opinion. So if you wanna disagree -- absolutely make your voice heard -- just make sure to be cool and say, "Yeah, well, you know, that's, just like, your opinion, man," a la The Dude in The Big Lebowski.
The overriding criterion is that when deciding between two teams, I'm estimating which team would win a seven-game series right now. That means the Yankees, for example, are going to be lower now than later in the season due to their injury problems.
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Also, considering what we saw last season in terms of the unpredictability these days in baseball, I'm going to be wrong on occasion. That's part of the job. One team I was wrong about last year from the get-go was the Baltimore Orioles.
And then earlier this spring, I did their team preview and discussed a serious regression coming and how I expected them to be fighting to stay out of last place in the AL East. And upon further review, I might have been wrong there again.
I'll bet Orioles fans scream every time they hear about run differential or how going 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra-inning games isn't sustainable (it's really not, by the way). But to balance that out, let's keep a few things in mind.
First of all, the Orioles at the end of the season weren't even close to the Orioles that took the field the first few months. They tinkered with the roster all season. Once they settled in, some of the anomaly disappears. Check the Orioles' August (18-9) and September (19-9) records. But let's take note that they lost their first two games in August and played three in October in the regular season.
In looking at the final 56 games, the Orioles went 38-18, which was the best record in baseball in that span. They outscored opponents (run differential alert!) 273-204 -- a plus-69 figure that can be prorated out to plus-200 over the course of 162 games. For perspective, the best run differential in baseball for the whole season was the Washington Nationals at plus-137.
I still don't love the chances at a repeat, but knowing what we do about the last two months and how great a manager Buck Showalter is, I think too much has been made of the run differential, extra-inning and one-run records and not enough has been made of their last two months of the season. In order to be fair, we have to weigh both.
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