Baseball is back, and fans could not be happier. This year's spring training features revamped and retooled rosters but now that the preseason is underway, where do certain teams stand?
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
They still have the best team in baseball, even without the presence of Yu Darvish and several bullpen arms. This year, there can be no mistakes.
2. New York Yankees
The only other qualifier for the tag the Dodgers have earned is the Yankees, who added Giancarlo Stanton, last year’s NL MVP. The infield is the only area holding this team back, with Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade dropoffs at third and second.
3. Houston Astros
Last year’s World Series Champions will still be one of the favorites and believe it or not, they’ve added even more pitching with the additions of Gerrit Cole to the starting rotation and Hector Rondon to the bullpen.
4. Chicago Cubs
This club’s big question was how they would remedy the likely loss of Jake Arrieta, and they blew everyone out of the water by signing Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract.
5. Washington Nationals
With minimal changes to the lineup, the Washington Nationals will again contend for the National League, or they should at least, as the Bryce Harper clock will be ticking in the back of everyone’s minds.
6. Cleveland Indians
Rounding out a group of six teams I’m calling the unequivocal favorites for the Fall Classic, it’s hard to see any noticeable holes in this lineup. Remedied the loss of Jay Bruce well with Melvin Upton.
7. Boston Red Sox
Adding JD Martinez to the outfield may throw a hornet into the Killer B’s nest, but it certainly gives the Boston Red Sox more ammo as they look to put pressure on the top teams in the American League.
8. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants get a big A-plus for this offseason adding Andrew McCutchen to the outfield and Evan Longoria to the infield. Let's hope the team can bounce back in 2018 like their front office did.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
The team strengthened the outfield with the addition of Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins and will test the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central, as they usually do.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s been a big week for the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing JD Martinez in the outfield, but they did well to replace him with Domingo Santana. As a result, they still project as one of the best teams in the NL.
11. Los Angeles Angels
Is Mike Trout finally getting the team he deserves? At least his front office is trying, re-siginng Justin Upton in the outfield, adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart in the infield, and Shohei Ohtani to the pipeline (for now).
12. New York Mets
It would be foolish not to expect things from the New York Mets given their pitching, and adding veteran presences such as Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Adrian Gonzalez will hopefully bring some consistency to the lineup.
13. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew have gone all-out in their attempts to put pressure on Chicago in their division, making opportunistic additions to their hitting with Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, and they may not be done yet.
14. Minnesota Twins
The Twins made some smart pitching additions in hopes of defending last year’s incredible turnaround, including Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Fernando Rodney. Is the rest of the team good enough to think Wildcard Game again in 2018? Well, new DH Logan Morrison certainly ups their chances!
15. Seattle Mariners
Another team thinking Wildcard Game will be the Seattle Mariners, who will hope to bounce back behind a resurgent year from Felix Hernandez.
16. Toronto Blue Jays
A once-powerful team has certainly aged quickly, so much so that pundits are now discussing the possibility of trading Josh Donaldson, where a few years ago he was the straw that stirred the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series hopes.
17. Colorado Rockies
It could be the pitching (Yes, the pitching) that carries Colorado to the postseason this year. Wade Davis is a great addition at closer as is Bryan Shaw to the bullpen. The Rockies always play well at Coors Field, and could do the same away from home this year?
18. Tampa Bay Rays
Fighting off irrelevancy, much like their ballpark, is Tampa Bay’s mission for 2018. They rewarded Longo for his decade of service to mediocrity by trading him to San Francisco and have brought in Carlos Gomez and Denard Span. Best of luck, guys.
19. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers’ biggest headline of the offseason, adding closer Seung Hwan Oh, never actually happened, as the team withdrew their contract offer after he failed a physical. Or, apparently, Oh’s camp rejected the contract? Who knows, but the Rangers have a lot of work to do to keep up in the AL West this year.
20. Baltimore Orioles
Manny Machado was added to the trade block during Winter Meetings, but then subtly taken off when offers did not come in strongly enough. Surely attempting to trade their best player tells you a little of where the Baltimore Orioles are at right now.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates barely look like the Pittsburgh Pirates anymore as they’re set to go through their first season of no Cole or McCutchen since 2009. That’s sure to deliver plenty of goodwill from the fans to owner Robert Nutting.
22. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have more than a little to be excited about this season, with Rhys Hoskins set to put in his first full campaign with the club and Carlos Santana grooving his way to the City of Brotherly Love. Come what may, but the Phillies aren't quite ready with their young core just yet.
23. Chicago White Sox
Some projections for the Chicago White Sox have been downright brutal, most of which I think are unfair. Realistically, I like the direction the club is heading in with Avisail Garcia, Carlos Rodon, and Yoan Moncada. However, they will lose a lot of games.
24. Atlanta Braves
I’m a little more bullish on the Atlanta Braves’ young talent than some others. Freddie Freeman is great, and Ender Inciarte and Julio Teheran are getting there. Finally, the team looks like it’s taking shape.
25. Kansas City Royals
Kansas City is about to enter a world of pain thanks to their attempt to outlast the sting of time to try to win another Fall Classic. That band is now broken up for good, with Cain and Eric Hosmer gone, and Mike Moustakas likely following.
26. Oakland Athletics
The addition of Stephen Piscotty is about the only notable move the Oakland Athletics have made all offseason, which means this year’s team will be roughly as bad as last year’s.
27. San Diego Padres
Chase Headley is back in a San Diego Padres uniform, as is new signee Eric Hosmer for some reason, but all the infield additions in the world won’t make up for one of the worst pitching staffs in MLB.
28. Cincinnati Reds
It’s unknown how much longer the Cincinnati Reds will hang onto Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto, but surely they’ll be traded somewhere in 2018. They may attempt to stave off full rebuild mode for now, but the grim reaper lurks.
29. Detroit Tigers
The real fun will come in Detroit this season where the Tigers will battle with temptations to entertain chatter for Miguel Cabrera. If they do, they will completely ruin their fans’ seasons, but perhaps it’s for the best.
30. Miami Marlins
I am one of the few on board with the Band-Aid Miami have mercilessly ripped off. They needed this just to get back into financially workable operating order, which tells you about Jeff Loria. Let's hope ownership never get that bad again.