Who heads into this MLB season looking good? Who has work to do?
Opening Day is arguably the best day of the year. Ballparks full of hopeful fans as a new
season begins. It feels as if everyone has a glimmer of hope for their team as they embark on their 2023 journey of 162 games. New faces, old faces, sweet returns, and bitter departures. That is what every offseason bestows on the baseball faithful.
In this new strand of articles we will be releasing at the beginning of each month, we will
analyze each team and where they stand across the entirety of Major League Baseball.
We will watch teams rise and fall in the rankings based on a variety of different
variables, such as injury, star performance, and additions/subtractions made throughout
the season. The March/April rendition is by far the most difficult, as you have to
approach things blind. I have also taken the new rules into consideration from top to bottom.
I also want to say that this is in no way a playoff predictor. These are simply projections for regular season success. As we saw last season, you really just need to make it to the dance. You can go as far as the talent will allow you. When analyzing regular season success, you must put focus on depth, which is not nearly as important in a postseason setting.
Starting at number 30, a team that I do not expect to reach much higher than this
position in 2023, the Oakland Athletics. This team deserves very little-to-no
analysis. It was between them and the Nationals for the coveted “Worst Team in the
League” title. However, for their abysmal trade of Sean Murphy this offseason that
landed them almost nothing, the Athletics get the title. This team should be in no way
fun to watch this season, and I would give an Oakland native $100 to name 13 of the 26
players on the Opening Day roster without looking it up. It is a bleak future for this literal poverty franchise.
In the Nationals case, at least there is some light at the end of this very long tunnel. At
this point, they actually have acquired prospects who are worth respecting, such as C.J.
Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and a few others. This season is all about taking those young players and seeing what step forward they can take in 2023. I do not
foresee them making it any higher than 27 on this list all season. However, it could be a
fun team to watch if you are a Nats fan.
Pirate fans are here for two things and two things only: the grand return of Andrew McCutchen and what return they get for Bryan Reynolds. You may also throw in what Oneil Cruz will provide this season, as 2023 feels like a pivotal year in his young career after a so-so rookie season in 2022. This really feels like a team that needs to somehow acquire an entire starting rotation, which is not an easy task. If you are outside the market, this is likely a team you will only check in on if they are about to have a run-in with your team.
Was it just a year ago that everyone, including myself, believed the Tigers were a dark horse for the AL Central? This team is nine years removed from contention, and all this year might do for fans is leave a bad taste in their mouths with Scherzer and Verlander reuniting in New York this season. The new front office absolutely tore down this franchise from the ground up and seem to have a new, more clear direction, but we are not likely going to reap any benefits from that process in 2023.
It is 2023 and the Rockies are, well, still the Rockies. They have absolutely no plan for the present or future of this club, and if they do, they are hiding in a vault that not even D.B. Cooper could get to. This team is likely one that will leave you questioning life after they come in and steal a series here and there from teams such as the Dodgers and Padres. The reason I'm starting them so low is purely because their ceiling is not much higher than 26. But with a possible, but unlikely, full season of Kris Bryant, the call up of Ezequiel Tovar, and another season of C.J. Cron in Coors, the Rockies are the first on the list that could be a fun team to watch in 2023.
Although the Royals will not be good in 2023, they will be extremely fun to watch. With a full season of future MLB stars, Bobby Witt Jr. and M.J. Melendez, and what could possibly be the last season of Salvador Perez, this team could produce a lot at the plate in 2023. Their biggest problem is there is not much pitching to get excited for outside of Scott Barlow, Brady Singer, and Zack Greinke’s antics. This is going to be a good build-on season for Singer, Witt, and Melendez as they try to help build the core of this team in 2023.
The Reds are in a very similar spot as the Royals. I really applaud what they did in 2022 with their returns of Luis Castillo and a few other rental players they flipped for highly touted prospects. And to many fans' surprise, I actually really like their front three in the rotation built up of Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, and Nick Lodolo. The lack of bullpen would need significantly more attention if they want to compete in any way this year, but with those three starters, the return of Jonathan India, and prospects like Nick Senzel attempting to reach their potential, this team could come out and shock a lot of people.
The Miami Marlins have a super high ceiling in 2023, but unfortunately for fans like myself, they have a very low floor as well. I genuinely believe that in the July Power Rankings we could have this team in the top 15 of the league, but on the other hand, this team could also land itself in the bottom 5 if they are not careful. This whole season is really relying on starting pitching to take yet another step forward, players like Jazz Chisholm, Jon Berti, and Joey Wendle to stay on the field, and players like Jorge Soler, Avisail Garcia, and Jacob Stallings to return to past versions of themselves. If we are being honest with ourselves, they cannot play any worse than they did a year ago. We will see where they end up, but as a Marlins fan I can tell you this team could be really fun to watch or not watchable at all.
With the additions of Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson in the offseason, this team took a step forward going into 2023. But in order to be competitive, their starting rotation has to stay healthy. There are just too many question marks surrounding this team, such as can Bellinger bounce back in any way after three seasons of being a borderline bust? We know Dansby is going to take a step back from his 2022 campaign, but how far? Can Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki continue to bud into All-Star caliber players? Is Ian Happ still bought in to this team? Not to mention the impact of the loss of Willson Contreras. Even with all those questions, they could be one of the more interesting teams in league in 2023, and I for one am excited to watch it play out.
21. Red Sox
The Red Sox have received a lot of negative attention since losing Xander Bogaerts, but this team is not as bad as the media wants you to think. Their biggest weakness is their health. This team is similar to the Marlins, but with a lower floor and a higher ceiling. If a team had Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and James Paxton in 2016 they would have had the best rotation in baseball, but with all of those on the back ends of their careers, there is definitely a chance they do not reach 35 starts combined. There are a few players to keep an eye on, such as Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas. If Chris Sale and other pitchers can stay on the field, the Sox are another team that could shock the league.
20. White Sox
The White Sox have as much talent as almost anyone in the league, with a great staff and many All-Star caliber players. However, this team has a horrible history with injuries and seems to have the worst team chemistry in MLB history. You cannot convince me that Tony La Russa was the only problem this team had. In fact, it seemed as if the team embraced La Russa as their manager, and after losing their team captain in Jose Abreu, they may be worse in 2023 than they were in 2022. Still, the potential for a playoff run is there if Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Tim Anderson can stay on the field.
I am on the side of the Giants not having a bad offseason, I think, in the end, they will have dodged two bullets in Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, but that does not change the fact that their roster is pretty bad to begin with. Losing a key piece of their rotation in Carlos Rodon and not adding much back to it is a big minus. I think the Giants are going to end the season in the bottom third of this list, but for now I'm putting them in the top 20, just barely. This is going to be a very boring team in 2023.
The Diamondbacks are a sneaky team in 2023. Although I don't think they are quite a playoff team, they will be a team to pay attention to. With Zac Gallen coming off a breakout 2022 season, Merril Kelly becoming a steady #2, Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno getting a full season to show what they have to offer, adding Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Kyle Lewis, and Ketel Marte being Ketel Marte, this team could be .500+ team.
The Rangers had a crazy offseason. They added Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, a sneaky pickup in Jacob deGrom, you may not have heard of him. Add those three to Martin Perez, who is coming off an outstanding 2022, and Jon Gray, and this injury-riddled-but-talented group could make up the best rotation in baseball. I still don't think they are in the top 15, yet. I do not believe their rotation will stay healthy or that their bullpen can shut it down, so this team has something to prove before I really give them their props.
The baby O’s are up and ready to play a full season in 2023. Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson are looking to build upon their strong showings in 2022, and even after a disappointing end of spring training, Grayson Rodriguez is waiting in the wings for his call-up. Although they did not do much this offseason, Cole Irvin is a fantastic addition to this weak rotation. The Orioles are towards the end of their rebuild era and are very close to being a competitive team in a competitive division.
Ah yes, the yearly hype around the Angels that leads to them eventually falling flat on their faces. This year is different, though. An impressive offseason that may actually pick them up. Similar to their division opponent, the Texas Rangers, I just need them to prove themselves a little bit before I buy into the hype.
The Twins are the definition of mid. Mid-grade rotation, mid-grade bullpen, and a mid-grade offense leads them to a middle of the pack ranking in March/April. This is a team that I expect to have a carbon-copy result in 2023 as 2022, where they battle out with the Guardians and White Sox all year until they eventually fall just short. I could be wrong though, as they get less opportunity to feast on the lower tier of the Central. Excited for Twins fans that they retained Correa, but this season fully hangs on Byron Buxton's health and what newly-arrived Pablo Lopez can bring to this club.
The Rays are the most forgotten about franchise in the league, and after injuries bit nearly every player on the roster, they still managed to slide into a playoff spot. Tampa arguably has the most disgusting front three in MLB in Glasnow, McClanahan, and Rasmussen, and if those three can make it through the season relatively unscathed, they can carry this team a long way. Offensively, they need the two players up the middle, Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe, to stay on the field. They're definitely excited about the electric performance from Randy Arozarena in the World Baseball Classic for team Mexico, which I am sure he is hopeful to carry into the season.
The Phillies are the ultimate example of “get in and see." After being the last team into the dance in 2022, they road momentum all the way to their eventual fall in the World Series to the Astros, then turned around and signed star free agent Trea Turner and somewhat washed Craig Kimbrel this offseason. Unfortunately, Rhys Hoskins is out for the season and we will not see Bryce Harper until likely June. This team could go North or South very easily, but for now I like them at 12.
The Brewers had a sneaky-good offseason, acquiring breakout catcher William Contreras from the Braves in the deal that sent Sean Murphy to the Braves from Oakland, but the main focus is on that Brewers staff. Even with his disdain for the franchise after they clashed in arbitration, I still fully expect Corbin Burnes to be in contention for the Cy Young, and if Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta can remain healthy, this rotation could be lethal. Willy Adames and Christian Yelich also have a lot of eyes on them, as they are fully expected to lead this offense to a successful season in 2023.
Cleveland had the youngest team in the league in 2022. They enter 2023 a bit more mature, and adding Josh Bell gives this lineup a little more pop. This team is still very young, but with the pitching depth they have, Cleveland could find themselves winning a lot of close games that could swing their record in a positive direction. The Guards were a year too early in 2022, but this team could really break out and make a push in 2023.
Everyone bought in to the Seattle hype in 2022, and for good reason. The Sea-men embark on a journey in 2023 to finally take down the Astros after years of being in their shadow, and after breaking the playoff seal, this team has the young talent and staff to make a real push at a championship. All eyes are on the J-Rod show, and if he can avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, combined with guys like Robbie Ray really locking it in, the league is in trouble.
This lineup is absolute bliss. In my own opinion, the second best in baseball, and with the addition of Willson Contreras and World Baseball Classic champion Lars Nootbaar, this team is one of the few that can outslug their lack of pitching. I am sure reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt will take a step back, but between him, Nolan Arenado, Nolan Gorman, Tyler O'Neill, Tommy Edman, Nootbaar, Contreras, and fresh call-up and top prospect Jordan Walker, does that really matter? Really looking at Jordan Montgomery and Matthew Liberatore to have solid seasons. If that happens, boy this team could end with a fantastic record.
The Yankees retained reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge and re-signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo this offseason, but you cannot expect Judge to have a repeat season after setting the AL home run record. Star prospect Anthony Volpe finally gets the call, and I expect him to make an immediate impact in 2023. I would have this team in the top 3, if their pitching staff didn't drop like flies throughout Spring Training. As they return, I guarantee this team moves up these rankings.
6. Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are my favorite to win the AL East. Really looking for Vlad Jr. to return to MVP-caliber form, Bichette to improve on his excellent 2022, and Alek Manoah to be an AL Cy Young frontrunner this season. By adding help to the bullpen this offseason and trading out of their very deep catching depth to acquire super utility player Daulton Varsho, this team has the legs to outlast the AL East.
I would not bet against the Padres topping this rankings list in June/July after the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., but for now, top five will have to do. It's really just based on their shaky pitching rotation. If Musgrove, Snell, and Darvish can limit the bad outings early on, it could be a very fun season for this stacked team in SoCal. The scariest part about this lineup, headlined by Manny Machado, Juan Soto, and the newly acquired Xander Bogaerts, is that we are guaranteed to see it for at least another year after this one.
Money can’t buy everything? Steve Cohen seems to disagree, as he has built this team to near perfection. That is, until Edwin Diaz was ruled out for the year after a Puerto Rico win in the WBC. Even after eventually passing on Correa once he failed a physical, this team is still full of stars and talent, and are in a fantastic position to make a run at the 2023 World Series. It is going to be very fun to watch Scherzer and Verlander reunite and make another run at a championship together.
As much as I hate to say it, the Braves are good. Like, really good. Built around a young core of power and speed, the return of Ozzie Albies and a healthy Ronald Acuna Jr., this team is fully capable of walking into their second World Series in three years. Their biggest threat is Spencer Strider flaming out, as he seemed to do towards the end of 2022. But if he can stay on the field, the Rookie of the Year runner-up should be in NL Cy Young discussions. Not to mention the Rookie of the Year winner patrolling centerfield in Michael Harris, who I fully expect to steal 50+ bags this season.
I put the Astros at #2 just because they are putting a lot of faith in a young staff, which has undoubtedly performed at an elite level to this point. However, when any team loses their ace, reigning AL Cy Young award winner, and staff leader Justin Verlander, it is going to hurt. Then again, the Astros have lost players like George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Gerrit Cole in recent years and have not seemed to bat an eye, so we will see if this affects them at all.
I know it is boring, but I never thought the Dodgers would be a controversial pick as the best team in the league. Sure, they lost Trea and Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger, but they still have Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Will Smith, Gavin Lux, Max Muncy, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and… need I go on? The Dodgers are still plenty good and seem to be a lock to win the NL West with 100+ wins in 2023. The Dodgers may possibly be the best regular season franchise in all of sports, and I see no reason why that should change in 2023.