Let's get ready to rank 'n' roll in 2011
Every Friday, a fistful of MLB.com columnists and editors are assigned to submit their power rankings for all of the 30 MLB clubs. In what must be due to some "Bank Error in Your Favor" Chance/Community Chest-like razz, I somehow found myself involved into this process.
Since this is the final column I'll be writing until Baseball Season 2k11 starts, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to (a) give you a behind-the-scenes look at how our power rankings process works, (b) work this into my own public season preview, (c) wrap two convenient responsibilities (weekly power rankings + weekly column) into a one-stop shop and (d) I should have just ended this list at (c) -- that's all I got.
Anyway, here's an in-depth look at the Feldmania Power Rankings, garnished with predicted record and a couple sentences of unsolicited commentary.
1. Boston Red Sox
Record: 104-58 (1st, AL East)
One-liner: Best lineup in baseball combined with a Top 5 rotation makes this an easy pick.
Dark cloud: The line in the sand has been drawn between the Orioles and Red Sox after Buck Showalter's "I like whipping [Bostons]'s butt" tirade the other day. For some reason I think the Red Sox are OK with this.
2. Atlanta Braves
Record: 99-63 (1st, NL East)
One-liner: The most balanced team in all of the land and sneakily the best lineup in the NL East.
Dark cloud: Can a team win a division and approach 100 wins with a rookie first baseman whose first name is Freddie? Has this ever been done before? Would Tom Emanski ever release a baseball fundamentals video featuring Freddie McGriff? Worth thinking about.
3. New York Yankees
Record: 97-65 (2nd, AL East; Wild Card winner)
One-liner: I don't wear cardigans, I don't wear skinny jeans and I also don't know why it's become trendy to say things like "This is the year the Yankees fall apart".
Dark cloud: Bartolo Colon. Rinse and repeat.
4. Chicago White Sox
Record: 93-69 (1st, AL Central)
One-liner: The over/under on Adam Dunn home runs this season is somewhere around 83.5.
Dark cloud: The Jake Peavy injury situation is definitely worth watching but don't discount the fact that Ozzie Guillen doesn't have Bobby Jenks to use as a punching bag anymore. It's always hard to find a new punching bag you are comfortable with.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 92-70 (2nd, NL East; Wild Card winner)
One-liner: At the end of the day, this is the best pitching staff we've seen since the Braves of the early '90s*.
Dark cloud: The Phillies are slowly morphing into the Giants of the NL East -- incredible pitching staff backed up by what is becoming a seriously suspect lineup. That's not a good thing.
* Assuming no more line drives to Roy Oswalt's face.
6. Texas Rangers
Record: 92-70 (1st, AL West)
One-liner: Has a team ever had two different outfielders win MVP in consecutive seasons? We'll find out after Nelson Cruz wins it this year -- he's that good.
Dark cloud: It's not a good thing when your best starter is your closer and your second-best starter (Brandon Webb) hasn't pitched since Opening Day 2009.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 91-71 (1st, NL Central)
One-liner: Prince Fielder in a walk year plus the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum has to be worth an additional 14 wins from their 77-win campaign of last season, right?
Dark cloud: Greinke is starting the year on the DL and last we heard Marcum's fastball is topping out at around 86 mph. So, yeah, maybe not.
8. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 90-72 (2nd, NL Central)
One-liner: Where do I buy two tickets on the Jay Bruce Will Hit 40 Homers train?
Dark cloud: This NL Central comes down to the Brewers and Reds. If Greinke and Marcum are healthy, I like the Crew.
9. Detroit Tigers
Record: 88-74 (2nd, AL Central)
One-liner: If the Phil Coke-to-the-rotation experiment actually works out, the Tigers could win the AL Central.
Dark cloud: You probably don't want the balance of your season lying in the hands of Phil Coke.
10. San Francisco Giants
Record: 88-74 (1st, NL West)
One-liner: I had the Giants ranked 13th a couple weeks back and the only reason they rank higher now is because I watched this.
Dark cloud: Cody Ross is already on the DL, Brian Wilson is a serious question mark and about 80 percent of the offense is squarely on the on the shoulders of a catcher who has 423 career at-bats.
11. Minnesota Twins
Record: 87-75 (3rd, AL Central)
One-liner: The Twins are never a fun team to pick to win the AL Central. The Twins always win the AL Central.
Dark cloud: The fact that Justin Morneau could play anywhere from 20 games to 160 games this season, and we wouldn't be surprised in the least bit if either actually happened, is petrifying.
12. Colorado Rockies
Record: 87-75 (2nd, NL West)
One-liner: Good news: Carlos Gonzalez is arguably the most exciting up-and-coming superstar in baseball.
Dark cloud: Bad news: Carlos Gonzalez is the quintessential guy who now goes in the first round of every fantasy draft and gives you fifth-round production.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 86-76 (3rd, NL West)
One-liner: Between Donnie Baseball turning Matt Kemp's career back around and Ted Lilly being named the ace of the Most Underrated Pitching Staff All-Stars, the Dodgers can contend in the NL West.
Dark cloud: Three years and $21 million seems just a bit much for Juan Uribe, no? And how many games will Donnie Baseball let Jonathan Broxton blow before giving Hong-Chih Kuo the keys to the closer gig?
14. St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 86-76 (3rd, NL Central)
One-liner: Get ready for a full-blown Colby Rasmus breakout and get ready for Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday to be the best duo in the whole wide world -- again.
Dark cloud: The Adam Wainwright injury is just too much to overcome, sorry kiddos.
15. Oakland Athletics
Record: 86-76 (2nd, AL West)
One-liner: Anytime you have the most talented young pitching staff (Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy, Rich Harden) in baseball, that's a good thing.
Dark cloud: I really, really want to love the A's this year, but I just don't see where the offense is coming from here. Unless they give the keys to the offense to Chris Carter and Michael Taylor and they just go gangbusters with youth, we're looking at the Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham show.
16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Record: 85-77 (3rd, AL West)
One-liner: If the Kendrys Morales injury proves to be nothing and Mark Trumbo becomes the next big thing, the Angels will have the offense to match their stellar pitching staff and compete in the AL West.
Dark cloud: We saw what happened last year when Morales was out for a lengthy period of time -- and it wasn't pretty. I also think they're going to miss Mike Napoli's bat a lot more than they think they will.
17. Florida Marlins
Record: 83-79 (3rd, NL East)
One-liner: The Marlins are always counted out and the Marlins always surprise.
Dark cloud: At this juncture of column, I'd like for you to draw a picture of Hanley Ramirez's reaction when he was told that they are replacing Dan Uggla with Omar Infante and John Buck. Thanks.
18. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 83-79 (3rd, AL East)
One-liner: Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of Jonah Keri's new book that makes Rays management look like a cross between Ken Jennings and Doogie Howser, but I can see myself fully hopping on the Tampa bandwagon a week from now.
Dark cloud: There's a lot of unknowns when it comes to the Rays offense. They're going to need a Manny Ramirez revival, 2011 Ben Zobrist to look like '09 Ben Zobrist and breakout campaigns from Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, Dan Johnson and/or Matt Joyce. It could happen, we're just asking a lot here.
19. New York Mets
Record: 82-80 (4th, NL East)
One-liner: A fully motivated and injury-free Jose Reyes should pair nicely atop the lineup with Angel Pagan.
Dark cloud: It's not even Opening Day and things aren't looking good on the Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana forefront. Are we really expecting R.A. Dickey to repeat his knuckleball magic of last year or Jon Niese to become a legitimate No. 2-3 starter?
20. Chicago Cubs
Record: 82-80 (4th, NL Central)
One-liner: The Central is wide open, and if Carlos Pena clocks 40 bombs, Aramis Ramirez bounces back, Tyler Colvin emerges and Alfonso Soriano flashes a pulse, we might be cooking with something here because I like the Garza-enhanced pitching staff.
Dark cloud: You can easily go through the first five rounds of a fantasy draft without a single Cubs player drafted. And no, I don't mean AL-only leagues.
21. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 82-80 (4th, AL East)
One-liner: This is the quintessential fun team that I'll be watching the most on MLB.TV.
Dark cloud: I really love this O's team and you have to like what they did with that lineup but I'm just not buying this staff once we get past Brian Matusz. But hey, this whole Jake Fox home run fiesta is fun for everyone, right?
22. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81 (5th, AL East)
One-liner: Brandon Morrow is exactly the type of pitcher who can break out as a legit ace this season and carry the Jays on his back every fifth day.
Dark cloud: But the fact that he's starting the season on the DL with a forearm problem is a huge red flag.
23. Washington Nationals
Record: 80-82 (5th, NL East)
One-liner: I'm a firm believer that the Jayson Werth contract is not going to come back to haunt the Nats -- well, at least not in the first season.
Dark cloud: It's always bad news whenever Livan Hernandez is your ace and the year isn't 1997.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 78-84 (4th, NL West)
One-liner: The NL West is pretty much a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book right now -- if Daniel Hudson proves his second-half breakout from last season is legit and Justin Upton catapults into CarGo territory, the D-backs will make some noise.
Dark cloud: The D-backs had arguably the worst bullpen in baseball last season. That might still be the case.
25. San Diego Padres
Record: 77-85 (5th, NL West)
One-liner: With Adrian Gonzalez out of the equation, the Padres will be playing the "We're not getting any respect" chip on their shoulders all season.
Dark cloud: I'm not giving the Padres much respect.
26. Seattle Mariners
Record: 76-86 (4th, AL West)
One-liner: I'm thoroughly looking forward to watching Michael Pineda win AL Rookie of the Year and Erik Bedard surpass 20 starts this season.
Dark cloud: The 3-4-5 for the M's lineup could legitimately look something like this: Milton Bradley-Justin Smoak-Jack Cust.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 74-88 (5th, NL Central)
One-liner: There isn't a more exciting franchise-building, young duo than Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez.
Dark cloud: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Pirates Opening Day starter -- Kevin Correia!
28. Cleveland Indians
Record: 73-89 (4th, AL Central)
One-liner: Come on, part of you really thinks that 2011 Grady Sizemore can turn back into '08 Grady Sizemore, right?
Dark cloud: The bad news is that I don't think the Tribe have the pitching staff to make even their June interesting. The good news is that Lonnie Chisenhall looks like he'll be their starting third baseman for the next 15 years.
29. Houston Astros
Record: 69-93 (6th, NL Central)
One-liner: I like what they have in Brett Wallace and watching Michael Bourn summit the gratuitous mini-mountain in Minute Maid Park's center field never gets old.
Dark cloud: The 'Stros have a seriously lethal duo of a punchless offense and a top-heavy rotation here.
30. Kansas City Royals
Record: 66-96 (5th, AL Central)
One-liner: I know Kansas City fans must be getting sick of this but, it's really all about 2012 and beyond for absurdly talented and youthful Royals organization.
Dark cloud: Until then, enjoy the Year of the Frenchy-Melky-Alex Gordon outfield.
Dave Feldman is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.