We've made it. The 2018 Major League Baseball season is finally upon us, kicking off in just a few days.
Boy, what an offseason, too. It was annoying and actually pretty ugly. I see no need to go back through it right now, because I'm in a happy-go-lucky mood. Instead, let's look forward to the season that is to come.
For me, the biggest thing to jump out at me when putting together the power rankings is how clear-cut I feel like the top seven teams are. In fact, I already felt like this when putting together the pre-preseason power rankings with the Red Sox seventh, and they went out and added J.D. Martinez since then.
Interestingly, these seven teams all made the playoffs last season, too.
Some people might consider this bad for business, but powerhouse teams are a pretty big deal, historically, as well. For me, I like turnover, generally speaking, but compelling baseball is compelling baseball.
Plus, it's not like the season is going to go exactly how it looks like it should on paper.
Speaking of which, the SportsLine model projections line up with my thinking. The Dodgers, Nationals, Indians, Cubs, Astros, Yankees and Red Sox (in order of projected regular-season win totals) are all projected for at least 95 wins with no other team projected to win more than 88.
That's quite a separation. Hopefully it isn't that drastic this coming regular season, otherwise the only exciting races will be the AL East, the second AL wild card and both NL wild card spots. Sure, the playoffs would figure to be epic, but we all loves us some great regular-season races, too, right?
It needs to be said here that this isn't to say only these seven teams can win the World Series. Sports in general are predictable and the MLB playoffs are amazingly so. It was less than five years ago that a pair of wild card teams met in the World Series. I'd bet the champ is one of these seven powerhouses, but the chances of it being another team are higher than zero percent for sure.
As far as the rankings go, there might be movement but it's based upon personnel changes, injuries and simple mind changing. Neither team spring records nor individual spring stats have any impact on my thought process here because history has shown there's little-to-no correlation between spring and regular-season performance.
If you'd like to make comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at @MattSnyderCBS. As regulars know, any disagreement between us is likely due to ignorance and/or bias and it's unlikely that's on my end. We'll be right back here in two weeks and then weekly until the end of the season. Thanks for reading and it's great to be back!
|Loaded! Wait, doesn't a hangover come next?||--||21-17|
|Dark horse MVP pick: Willson Contreras. Watch. You'll see.||2||17-19|
|With the hoopla surrounding Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, let's not forget about Gary Sanchez. In fact, dare I say he'll have the best season of the three?||1||20-17|
|In all the Yankees adulation, did the Red Sox get left a bit behind? They won 93 games last year without a healthy David Price and have added J.D. Martinez to what was a power-starved offense.||3||23-16|
|Here we are for what feels like the 20th straight year (I said "feels like," Mr. WELL ACTUALLY Internet Guy), saying something like, "the Nationals can't have a successful season until they finally win a playoff series." Once again, they have plenty of talent.||--||14-19|
|They're still taking the West and are still a powerhouse (hence being in the Big Seven), but the Turner injury worries me even once he returns, just as I'm concerned for Corey Seager's nagging elbow injury and the rotation's collective ability to stay healthy.||3||20-17|
|They're definitely worse than last season, but who cares? There are three terrible teams in their division. It'll all come down to October again for the Indians.||1||21-14|
|The Cardinals haven't gone three straight years without the postseason since 1997-99. Should they miss again this year, it's three straight.||2||23-15|
|Just remember, Shohei Ohtani is only 23, has never played full-time outside Japan, is on a new continent, in new ballparks, with new teammates and in a new culture. That is to say, if he gets off to a slow start, only the foolish will start making negative declarations.||1||16-20|
|I like the Rockies going heavy on bullpen. Look, they're never going to be great at run prevention at home, but exposing their starters to a lineup a third time in Coors is a death trap. Gotta shorten that game. Good work, front office.||4||14-24|
|Due to injury and the Blue Jays not being very relevant last season, I feel like Josh Donaldson's season flew under the radar. Specifically, he hit 33 home runs in just 415 at-bats. If he got 600 at-bats (he averaged 602 per season the previous three years), that home run pace prorates to 48 homers. Only Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge hit more.||4||20-16|
|I thought it a savvy front office move to grab Steven Souza once the Rays started to offload, but the JD void (even a half season's worth) is a huge one to fill. And now Souza is starting the season hurt. Uh oh.||3||17-21|
|I really feel like it was a big-time missed opportunity to not add any starting pitching better than Jhoulys Chacin/Wade Miley/Yovani Gallardo. Hey, I've been wrong before, though.||--||20-18|
|Earlier this offseason, I had major concerns about their rotation. They traded for Jake Odorizzi and signed Lance Lynn. That's good. Not great, but good.||2||12-23|
|James Paxton's career high in innings pitched came last season at 136. I'd love to see what a full season would look like from the talented lefty.||3||18-20|
|Overall, things seem pretty promising this spring with the rotation, but it's the spring. I'm done trusting Matt Harvey or the health of Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard. The potential is still big, of course.||1||18-13|
|This is the last year on Adrian Beltre's contract. Let's make a pact to enjoy him.||1||18-21|
|I already liked them as a sleeper and then they signed Jake Arrieta. Love it.||3||20-18|
|Great, cheap, late addition of Jonathan Lucroy. He's not too far removed from being an elite catcher. I don't think he goes back, but it's worth the deal to find out.||--||23-16|
|Very good pitching staff additions since last ranking in Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner, at least relatively speaking. The best versions of Cobb, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Cashner and Chris Tillman actually make for a good rotation. How close can they get to their "best" version, though?||6||16-21|
|I actually worked these up late last week. I had the Giants 11th. Then the Jeff Samardzija injury happened. I thought, "eh, let's wait and see." Left 'em there. Then the Madison Bumgarner fractured pitching hand happened. Now the rotation behind Johnny Cueto is Derek Holland, Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and ... someone. This team must be paying back all those answered prayers from 2010, 2012 and 2014. Yikes.||10||23-14|
|The Pirates actually have enough talent to not be nearly as bad as many thought right after deals offloading Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. The NL Central looks tough, though.||--||15-22|
|It's a bit of a transition year here. They often seem to win more games than most people think they will, but it looks an especially uphill battle this time around.||3||20-19|
|Here I was all ready to pump the Reds up for an encouraging season, teasing at possible contention, and then Anthony DeSclafani (again), Brandon Finnegan (again) and Michael Lorenzen go and get injured. Even if they are all back soon, the Disco and Finnegan injuries are a reminder of their recent history.||1||17-18|
|This season will be all about sorting out the young pitching while seeing what kind of strides Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and 2018 Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna make.||1||17-20|
|How can a season be exciting for die-hard fans with lots of losses? When those fans get to see the big-league development of players like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech.||2||22-13|
|General manager Dayton Moore has signed a bunch of big-league caliber players (and Alcides Escobar) to cheap deals this offseason in order to make sure the wheels don't completely come off, the cherry on top being Mike Moustakas' return. Good on Moore.||--||16-20|
|The Padres will have better talent this season, but it's possible they go backward from 71-91 due to the division being strong.||3||21-17|
|I would like to request a huge Miguel Cabrera season. Thanks.||--||13-24|
|Hmmm ... (Internal voice: "Try to say something nice, Matt.") J.T. Realmuto is good!||--||17-20|