MLB preview: Team rankings and staff predictions

March 29, 2014 

The News Tribune staff ranks all 30 Major League baseball teams and predicts how each team will finish the 2014 season.

RANKING THE TEAMS

(By John McGrath)

  • 1. Los Angeles Dodgers: With a $235-million payroll, they've ended the Yankees' 15-year run as baseball's biggest spenders.
  • 2. Boston Red Sox: Between World Series MVP David Ortiz (38) and rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts (21), defending champs boast two generations of talent.
  • 3. St. Louis Cardinals: Best fans in baseball? Meh. Best organization in baseball? Absolutely.
  • 4. Oakland A's: Girding for a third division title in three years, but injuries have thinned the starting rotation.
  • 5. Tampa Bay Rays: The AL East's version of the A's: Both think out of the box, maximize payroll efficiency, and play in ballparks that are dumps.
  • 6. Washington Nationals: Star outfielder Bryce Harper is 21, looks 31, acts like he's 15 going on 16.
  • 7. Detroit Tigers: New manager Brad Ausmus, a former honors student at Dartmouth, might be outguessed; he won't be outsmarted.
  • 8. Kansas City Royals: Playoff drought dating back to 1985 World Series title could end this season.
  • 9. Pittsburgh Pirates: MVP Andrew McCutcheon anchors the best outfield defense on the planet.
  • 10. Cincinnati Reds: Ready for Billy Ball? A Las Vegas proposition bet lists the over-under on Billy Hamilton's stolen bases at 63.5.
  • 11. Cleveland Indians: Terry Francona will be challenged to replicate 2013 magic in a tough division.
  • 12. Atlanta Braves: If Aaron Harang is the answer, the starting rotation has more questions than the Braves want.
  • 13. New York Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka is a Rookie of the Year favorite, but his new teammates have age and durability issues.
  • 14. San Francisco Giants: Since winning his second Cy Young Award in 2009, Tim Lincecum's record is 49-54.
  • 15. Texas Rangers: The curse of Ian Kinsler? Injuries have decimated the rotation and created holes at second base and catcher.
  • 16. San Diego Padres: Speaking of curses, the injury-jinxed Padres will begin with the season with prize free-agent starter Josh Johnson on the DL.
  • 17. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: No doubt about Mike Trout, but Angels need Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to combine for more than 38 homers and 143 RBI.
  • 18. Seattle Mariners: The bad news? The back end of the rotation is unsettled. The good news? So is everybody else's.
  • 19. Arizona Diamondbacks: Hopes of climbing above .500 took a blow with season-ending injury to ace Patrick Corbin.
  • 20. Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado's knee isn't completely healed yet after reconstructive surgery.
  • 21. Milwaukee Brewers: Crew needs Ryan Braun to stay out of the headlines and return to the league-leaders' stat boxes.
  • 22. Toronto Blue Jays: Was it only a year ago the Jays were the chic preseason pick to win the AL East?
  • 23. New York Mets: No breakthrough this season, but the farm system is stocked, and the future is promising.
  • 24. Philadelphia Phillies: Former skipper Charlie Manuel survived heart surgery and cancer, but managing this group would have been the ultimate health risk.
  • 25. Colorado Rockies: 2013 NL batting champ Michael Cuddyer, 35, is the Rockies' version of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
  • 26. Miami Marlins: Now that Hurricane Ozzie is a memory, the Marlins are taking baby steps back to respectability.
  • 27. Chicago White Sox: Invested $68 million in Jose Abreu, a Cuban import expected to boost league’s most anemic offense.
  • 28. Minnesota Twins: Killer early-season schedule (41 of first 50 games against opponents with at least a .500 record in 2013) assures the Twins will limp into June.
  • 29. Chicago Cubs: As farm talent develops, Cubs a cinch to extend string of non-championship seasons to 106.
  • 30. Houston Astros: Lastros went 51-111 in their AL debut, but finished 10-9 against the Angels and 9-10 against the Mariners.

STAFF PICKS

BOB DUTTON, MARINERS WRITER

  • AL West: Oakland, Texas, L.A. Angels, Seattle, Houston
  • AL East: Tampa Bay, Boston, N.Y. Yankees, Toronto, Baltimore
  • AL Centeral: Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
  • AL Wildcard: Kansas City over Boston
  • ALDS: Tampa Bay over Kansas City; Oakland over Detroit
  • ALCS: Tampa Bay over Oakland
  • NL West: L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado
  • NL East: Washington, Atlanta, Philadelphia, N.Y. Mets, Miami
  • NL Central: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
  • NL Wildcard: Pittsburgh over Atlanta
  • NLDS: St. Louis over Washington; L.A. Dodgers over Pittsburgh
  • NLCS: L.A. Dodgers over St. Louis
  • World Series: Tampa Bay over L.A. Dodgers

JOHN MCGRATH, COLUMNIST

  • AL West: Oakland, Seattle, Texas, L.A. Angels, Houston
  • AL East: Boston, Tampa Bay, N.Y. Yankees, Baltimore, Toronto
  • AL Central: Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
  • AL Wildcard: Tampa Bay over Kansas City
  • ALDS: Boston over Detroit; Oakland over Tampa Bay
  • ALCS: Boston over Oakland
  • NL West: L.A. Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado
  • NL East: Washington, Atlanta, N.Y. Mets, Miami, Philadelphia
  • NL Central: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
  • NL Wildcard: Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
  • NLDS: L.A. Dodgers over Pittsburgh; St. Louis over Washington
  • NLCS: L.A. Dodgers over St. Louis
  • World Series: L.A. Dodgers over Boston

DAVE BOLING, COLUMNIST

  • AL West: Oakland, Texas, L.A. Angels, Seattle, Houston
  • AL East: Tampa Bay, Boston, N.Y. Yankees, Baltimore, Toronto
  • AL Central: Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
  • AL Wildcard: Boston over Texas
  • ALDS: Tampa Bay over Oakland; Detroit over Boston
  • ALCS: Detroit over Tampa Bay
  • NL West: L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado, San Diego
  • NL East: Atlanta, Washington, N.Y. Mets, Philadelphia, Miami
  • NL Central: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
  • NL Wildcard: Washington over San Francisco
  • NLDS: Washington over Atlanta; St. Louis over L.A. Dodgers
  • NLCS: St. Louis over Washington
  • World Series: St. Louis over Detroit

TODD DYBAS, STAFF WRITER

  • AL West: Texas, Seattle, Oakland, L.A. Angels, Houston
  • AL East: Boston, N.Y. Yankees, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Toronto
  • AL Central: Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
  • AL Wildcard: N.Y. Yankees over Kansas City
  • ALDS: Boston over Texas; Cleveland over N.Y. Yankees
  • ALCS: Boston over Cleveland
  • NL West: L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado, San Diego
  • NL East: Washington, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, N.Y. Mets
  • NL Central: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
  • NL Wildcard: Cincinnati over Atlanta
  • NLDS: St. Louis over L.A. Dodgers; Washington over Cincinnati
  • NLCS: Washington over St. Louis
  • World Series: Washington over Boston

DARRIN BEENE, SPORTS EDITOR

  • AL West: Texas, Oakland, L.A. Angels, Seattle, Houston
  • AL East: Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, N.Y. Yankees, Baltimore
  • AL Central: Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
  • AL Wildcard: Tampa Bay over Oakland
  • ALDS: Tampa Bay over Texas; Boston over Kansas City
  • ALCS: Tampa Bay over Boston
  • NL West: L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco, San Diego, Colorado, Arizona
  • NL East: Washington, Atlanta, Miami, N.Y. Mets, Philadelphia
  • NL Central: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
  • NL Wildcard: Pittsburgh over Atlanta
  • NLDS: Washington over St. Louis; L.A. Dodgers over Pittsburgh
  • NLCS: Washington over L.A. Dodgers
  • World Series: Washington over Tampa Bay

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