I see a bunch of these everywhere, but I think it needs a definitive approach (which of course is mine), so here’s how it’s gonna go.
I’m doing a weekly Power Poll to drop each Monday to reflect where the Major Leagues are at. I’ll try to present an accurate mixture of Standings, streaks & statistical placement. But division leaders aren’t guaranteed to dominate the top 6 spots, because in a lot of instances Wild Card leaders are better teams (i.e. The ’10 Yanks vs Twins). Also, I’ll do bi-weekly updates on how I see the MVP, Cy Young & Rookie of the Year races going as well.
Keep sitting in the CHEAP SEATS, you’ll never get to far away from all the action.
POWER POLL #1
1. Red Sox: The weight of the world is in their expectations, but with the diversity of their lineup & the deepest overall pitching in the game, they can get it done.
2. Phillies: Injuries will keep the lineup from being at full strength for a while, but with Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels on the rubber, they won’t need a lot of runs to win.
3. Yankees: The game’s best lineup still makes them a force to be reckoned with despite uncertain starting pitching. In the end, Mariano is still lurking, so everything that’s well WILL end well.
4. White Sox: Adam Dunn brings even more power to town & should feast on AL pitching in his first bat-only season.
5. Giants: The unlikely champs will have to battle all summer with a target on their backs, but with Lincecum, Cain & company on the hill, they’ll still be a world of trouble to crack.
6. Rangers: The pitching worsened with Cliff Lee’s departure, but the lineup in improved with Adrian Beltre in the mix. I say they offset & break even.
7. Reds: The Reds youth will improve overall, and they still have a deep well of young arms to pull on to fight off multiple contenders in the NL Central.
8. Brewers: Once Zack Greinke is back healthy & joins Yovani Gallardo & Shaun Marcum, the Brewers will finally have a rotation that matches their dangerous lineup in potential.
9. Braves: An intriguing mixture of veterans, youth & guys at new positions make Atlanta a high risk, yet high reward club.
10. Twins: How effective Joe Nathan & Justin Morneau can be will tell a lot about if the Twins can make a run to hold off the White Sox & Tigers in the Central.
11. A’s: They boast the deepest pitching staff in all of baseball, and could be prone to upset both the AL West race & the Wild Card scenario.
12. Rockies: A team that underachieved last season, but could make up for it this summer if consistency they couldn’t find last year stills around this year.
13. Tigers: Victor Martinez gives the offense a spark, and if Max Scherzer can perform for a whole season like he did in the second half along with Justin Verlander, the Tigers have two top notch arms to work with.
14. Rays: They lost a lot from their lineup, but MVP candidate Evan Longoria is still in tow, as is Cy Young runner up David Price, so they are from an after thought.
15. Cardinals: They are hoping the defensive sacrifices they made to boost the offense (Lance Berkman, Ryan Theriot) are enough to change their fortunes. However, it looks like a much bigger risk now that ace Adam Wainwright is sidelined to til next April.
16. Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw may be the the best young arm in baseball, but how Matt Kemp & Jonathan Broxton perform on a nightly basis means everything to the Dodgers potential.
17. Angels: Their full potential for a rebound campaign won’t be clear until slugger Kendrys Morales finally returns from a broken leg suffered last summer.
18. Cubs: The Northsiders boast an impressive collection of pitching, but stll have no semblance of a leadoff hitter to set the table for their big contract hitters.
19. Blue Jays: Travis Snider, Adam Lind & Aaron Hill all are primed for rebound seasons, and they have a solid group of pitchers. However they still suffer from being in a division with two of the top 5 teams in the AL.
20. Orioles: Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee & Mark Reynolds give this young club new experience & should raise production, but their pitching is still questionable.
21. Mets: Johan Santana, Jason Bay & Carlos Beltran could all miss Opening Day. The Mets only hope is at least a few of them make a rare trip off of it soon to help in Citi Field.
22. Marlins: They made a lot of smart veteran additions, but their defense didn’t improve along the way to help out the strength of their attack: pitching.
23. Padres: The departure of Adrian Gonzalez makes last year’s surprise out west a lot more vulnerable. They still have a strong pitching group to keep games close & not demand a lot from the offense to pull off a win.
24. Astros: The Houston rebuilding process in underway, but a good year from a few of the hold overs, such as Carlos Lee & Hunter Pence, would make the process a lot easier to go along with.
25. D’Backs: Another rebuilding project, however Zona has a solid offense intact that just needs to make more contact to find quick success.
26. Mariners: Ichiro & Felix are about all there is to get guatanteed excited about, but youngsters Michael Pineda & Dustin Ackley could provide reason to believe in a Mariner reboot soon.
27. Nationals: They spent big money to land Jayson Werth to ignite a change in DC, but watching the progress of Bryce Harper in the minors may give more hope than anything in the Majors.
28. Indians: If (once again) Grady Sizemore can get back on the field, and join Shin-Soo Choo & Carlos Santana, the Indians may put on a few interesting performances. But not enough to be a threat.
29. Royals: They are on the verge of something big, with many of the top prospects in baseball a step away from doning the Royals cap, but right now the verge doesn’t forecast for many wins in the time being.
30. Pirates: They haven’t had a winning season since the first year of the Clinton Administration. The “Curse of the Bambino” got the most headlines, but the “Curse of the Ghost of Barry Bonds” sure is being more brutal in Pittsburgh.
See the final MLB Preview from yesterday for my current MVP, Cy Young & top rook nods.