It may still be winter and we’re all bundling up to head to class, but spring has sprung for baseball fans.
Pitchers and catchers reported to their camps in Arizona and Florida last week and most position players arrived over the weekend. All are preparing for a long season ahead. Between now and Opening Day on April 3, hundreds of games will be played, thousands of pitches will be thrown, and the home runs will start to soar over the outfield.
Did your team make the power rankings? Find out the top ten teams to watch as Spring Training gets underway.
1. Kansas City Royals
Besides being the 2015 World Series Champions, when it comes to playoff baseball, the Royals know exactly what they’re doing. Defense, base running and a dominant bullpen appear to be strengths once again heading into 2016. Not much has changed for them and we can expect them to perform just like last year.
2. New York Mets
Every team envies the Mets current pitching rotation. They are ranked the best in the MLB with names like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, plus they are getting the talented Zach Wheeler back this year. Not much else needs to be said about the Mets and their chances of taking it all home in 2016.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
The young outfield duo of Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty are the key for this team’s success. With Adam Wainwright returning this season from injury, the Cardinals have high expectations to once again lead the majors in ERA.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
With easily the most powerful and most productive offensive lineup in the league, the Blue Jays look to overcome pitching struggles and make it back to the playoffs. Hopefully, young arm Marcus Stroman and the acquisition of Jesse Chavez will help with said pitching problems.
5. San Francisco Giants
After winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, 2016 is the year of the Giants. Adding Johnny Cueto to the pitching rotation is lethal, especially with seasoned pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Pair that pitching staff with the bats of Hunter Pence and Buster Posey and the fact that it’s an even year, the Giants aren’t going out easily.
6. Chicago Cubs
No team looks more talented than the Cubs do on paper.
They recently signed the best right fielder available, Jason Heyward and with so many young players and star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs have what it takes to prove themselves this year.
7. Pittsburg Pirates
This year, the Pirates aim for their fourth straight playoff trip – and are hungry for a division title. With the loss of A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ, the bullpen may have some work to do. With returning elite players like Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, along with the speedy Starling Marte, and young talent in Gregory Polanco, the Pirates look to continue to be contenders in the toughest division in the MLB.
8. Houston Astros
The Astros team is filled with young and very talented players. A few of these include the American League Rookie of the Year, Carlos Correa. Tag team Correa with Jose Altuve and your batting is strong. Lance McCullers, Dallas Keuchel, and Collin McHugh headline a very solid pitching rotation. Newly acquired closer, Ken Giles, should help anchor a bullpen that struggled last season—only making this Astros team even tougher.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers will once again look to be in playoff contention but have hopes of making it through the first round. This could be possible because Clayton Kershaw remains. Hopefully, Yasiel Puig will hit his full potential this year if he can keep his head on straight.
10. Texas Rangers
A full season from my favorite Cole Hamels gives the Rangers a fighting chance in 2016.
With star pitcher Yu Darvish and star sluggers such as Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and potential breakout candidate Joey Gallo, the Rangers hope to have a very successful season.
Although this is a top ten, we cannot forget the potential of other teams. My two sleepers are the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians. My two picks I believe will make an unexpected playoff run are the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. Of course, this list can quickly change barring injuries and trades. It will be an exciting season for all … except for Phillies fans. . . like myself. GO PHILLIES!!