Starting out the top 10 for us is the Detroit Tigers, a 2016 playoff team and division winner. The Tigers have only made minor moves thus far, shipping out Matt Holliday for draft picks, as well as some swapping of draft picks. That said, he is carrying a talented roster into this season, so maybe he hasn’t seen the need to shake things up too much. On offense, carrying the load will be Miguel Cabrera, a healthy Nick Castellanos (who is having a nice spring), Victor Martinez, Brad Miller, Rajai Davis and Curtis Granderson. Dexter Fowler is no slouch either, and another step forward from Javier Baez would be huge. There is some promise in the pitching staff too, though there is one open spot, and two spots occupied by minors’ players. Still, he’s got Scherzer, Verland, Salazar, and Dyson. I think Norris takes a step forward this year too. Plus, if Boyd can put forth some improvements, things are looking pretty good for a team that may only be a few acquisitions (free agency or trade), away from another run.
Last year, the Nationals were a wildcard team, coming in second place in the division to perennial powerhouse Miami. They were also a team that eclipsed that elusive 23,000 mark, which was a number that netted all teams who hit it a cash reward last year. The Nationals come back this year with a strong team. In the offseason, the Nationals made a few moves, highlighted by a major deal in which he sent AJ Ramos, Adam Jones, a 5th round pick, and Danny Duffy to the Braves for the 1st overall pick, which brought him Carlos Santana. This is in addition to an offense that has a good mix of talent and promise, with names like Anthony Rendon, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, and Jurickson Profar. Some nice names on this pitching staff, too. I like Jon Gray taking the next step, and he’s got Strasburg, Britton, Kimbrel. Smyly’s injury doesn’t help, and Ryu hasn’t been the same for a while, but he could be a dark horse to have a nice year. Promising prospect Gioloto is in the minors too, though he hasn’t matched up to the hype that’s surrounded him for a while just yet. Overall, probably a team that has ammo to be a top scoring team again this year.
- Tampa Bay Rays
Surprise, surprise. The Rays were in one of the least competitive divisions in the league last year. Even after selling off a number of pieces in that Dansby Swanson deal (with me), he still almost made the playoffs. Tampa has been crazy busy this offseason. (Seriously, go check out the trade history for this season). Major or notable acquisitions include Ian Kinsler (who he just traded to me for Johnny Cueto, by the way), John Lackey, Brian Dozier, Addison Reed, and David Freese. Make no mistake, this (like most teams), will be a team carried by its offense. In addition to Dozier and Swanson, and led by Mookie Betts, the team also has Andrew McCutcheon, Howie Kendrick, Nori Aoki, and some bit players who will help too. In addition to Cueto and Lackey, the staff has guys that will help, like Odorizzi, Colome, and to a lesser extent, Boxberger, Gallardo, and Gibson. Miranda, with the injury of Smyly, has the chance to pitch his way into the permanent rotation. He could end up being a nice player that would really help the Rays in their efforts to go on a run and make the playoffs this year.
- Texas Rangers
Another team that has made a ton of transactions this offseason, having acquired players lik, Lorenzo Cain, Masahiro Tanaka, Ken Giles, Dan Straily, Kendall Graveman, Drew Pomeranz, Jeurys Familia, Jorge Soler, and prospects like Josh Bell and Anderson Espinoza. The rather-deep offense includes Travis d’Arnaud, Mike Napoli, Starlin Castro, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, and Kendrys Morales, as well as bench players like Wilmer Flores, Adeiny Hechavarria, Soler, Delino Deshields (acquired this year), and Steven Souza. Some serious depth. The pitching staff will rely heavily on new guys Tanaka, Giles, and Familia, but will also get contributions from Straily, Casilla, Graveman, and Buchholz. Looks like a team that benefit by adding another starter, but whether or not they do, this team will be putting up points again in 2017.
- Houston Astros
The Astros, another 23,000-point club from last year and a team that went 44-4 in their division, bring back a stacked lineup. Jose Altuve, Chris Davis, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Adam Duvall, Yoenis Cespedes, and George Springer. Whoa. On top of this, they added Yuli Gurriel and Danny Duffy. Pitchers for the Astros, one of only two teams to win 80-plus games last year, include Chris Archer, Gio Gonzalez, Lance McCullers (breakout?), and David Robertson, but still has plenty of guys that will contribute, like Gregerson, Devenski, and Guerra. I don’t see any reason why the Astros won’t once again be one of the top scoring teams in the league—poised to go on another deep playoff run, and possibly ready to unseat Boston in the AL.
- Cleveland Indians
You all know the story by now. Jeff’s movements have been the main offseason story line. Let’s take a look at some of his main acquisitions: Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana, Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta, Hector Neris, Aroldis Chapman, and Edwin Encarnacion. Whoa. Who else is on the offense you ask? How about Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor, Nomar Mazara, Tyler Naquin, Max Kepler, and a stashed Wilson Ramos on the bench. On the pitching side, joining the aforementioned pitchers are guys who will contribute, like Joe Ross, Brandon Maurer, etc. This has to be the quickest turnaround we’ve seen in this league right? I’d tell Boston, and maybe the NL too, to watch out for Cleveland come later this year.
- Arizona Diamondbacks
A little odd to do your own team’s preview, but here we go. I’ve made a few offseason moves that are worth mentioning, having moved Adam Eaton and Joe Blanton for Asdrubal Cabrera and Francisco Rodriguez; then Todd Frazier for Austin Hedges and Jedd Gyorko (who I flipped for Robert Gsellman), then Archie Bradley, Bryan Shaw, and a pick for Andrew Miller. Then I moved Hector Rondon for Brad Brach, Greinke for Bauer in a salary dump, and Johnny Cueto for Ian Kinsler. In addition to the players mentioned before, I’ve got Goldschmidt, Lamb, Desmond, Pollock, Cruz, Solarte, and Inciarte. Even moving Cueto, I think the staff looks solid. Carlos Martinez, Tanner Roark, Tyler Skaggs, Shawn Kelley, Fernando Rodney, Jason Grilli, and Drew Storen. Desmond is already injured, and there are a few question marks in guys like Skaggs, Storen, K-Rod, and possibly Roark, as well as Hedges and Pollock, but I do feel confident in my ability to make it back to the playoffs. From there, I may need some luck, some moves, or some breakouts.
- Boston Red Sox
Two out of the last three seasons, Boston has made it to the championship round. Could this be the year they finally win it all? Let’s have a look at their chances. First, the offseason moves. Boston acquired catching prospect Jorge Alfaro by moving Jonathan Lucroy, and also acquired Archie Bradley, Bryan Shaw, and a prospect for Andrew Miller. Other notable additions include Steven Wright, JD Martinez, Brian McCann, and Miguel Sano. Some nice offseason moves, for sure. Looks like a powerful offense, with guys like Xander Bogaerts, Evan Longoria, Joey Votto, Andrew Benentendi, joining those other players. But there aren’t really holes in the offense, as they round out the roster with Odubel Herrera, Mitch Moreland, and Chris Young (With Blake Swihart waiting in the wings.) He probably needs another pitcher or two, but the staff looks good. Rick Porcello, Jameson Taillon, David Price, Patrick Corbin, Edwin Diaz, Joe Kelly (who will have sneaky good value early), as well as Wade Miley and the other players mentioned above, will all contribute this year. In total, I expect Boston to be competing with Cleveland, Houston, and so on, come the end of the year.
- Chicago Cubs
The reigning champions aren’t number one? They probably should be, but still, I am strictly going off of the point projection system that was developed. Will Chicago repeat this year? Well, they have as good a chance as any team to win it all this year. Notable offseason acquisitions include Adam Eaton, Neftali Feliz, and Tyler Thornburg. So maybe not an overly busy offseason, but maybe they didn’t need to make too many moves. This is an offense that boasts Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, Logan Forsythe, Stephen Vogt, Denard Span, and Addison Russell. Then on the bench, he’s got Luis Valbuena, Seth Smith, and Josh Phegley. Deep. That’s more than 650 points (from 2016) on the bench. The pitching staff is strong, too. Jon Lester, Carlos Carrasco, Mark Melancon, and Kyle Hendricks anchor the staff, but every other pitcher will be contributing points too, with names like Joe Blanton, Ryan Dull, Jason Vargas, and Kyle Barraclough. On paper, they are as strong a team as any, and barring any major injuries, should be right in the thick of the race later this year.
- Milwaukee Brewers
Last year, the Brewers didn’t even win their division. It’s fun to point out, only because even though this is true, they still had the fifth most wins in the league, and the third most points (eclipsing the 23,000-point mark.) It doesn’t look like this year is going to be a letdown for Milwaukee, either. Notable offseason additions include Kole Calhoun, Blake Snell, and Francisco Liriano. If you want to talk about having a deep team, how about the fact that this guy has Troy Tulowitzki on his bench, along with Keon Broxton and Tom Murphy. Then on the rest of his offense, he has Evan Gattis, Travis Shaw, Josh Donaldson, Jonathan Schoop, Jhonny Peralta, Khris Davis, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Bautista, and the players mentioned above. Over to the pitching staff, where a group of Toronto pitchers are leading the way: Aaron Sanchez, JA Happ, Robert Osuna, and Marco Estrada. He’s also got Jeremy Hellickson, Rich Hill, and others who will help throughout the year. And you know that Tony has more moves up his sleeve. Just try to make sure you don’t end up scratching your head, wondering how he got your best player for so little.