1. Kansas City Royals: Since 2013, defending champs have won 43 more games than projected by the PECOTA analytic formula.
2. Chicago Cubs: Winter acquisition of contact hitters Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist should make strikeout-prone offense more efficient.
3. New York Mets: A scary-good starting rotation only will get deeper when Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery in July.
4. Houston Astros: Astros are favorites to win first division title since their 2001 NL Central championship.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates: A second wave of homegrown talent set to supplement core of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison.
6. Texas Rangers: They’ll get a full season from ace Cole Hamels, and Yu Darvish figures to be back as soon as mid-May. If rest of the rotation produces, Rangers could be a beast.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kyle Seager’s 21-year-old brother, Corey, also will be known as ROY — Rookie of the Year.
8. Toronto Blue Jays: Jesus Montero ... Justin Smoak ... Michael Saunders. Connect the dots, and it’s clear the Jays are intrigued by former Tacoma Rainiers.
9. San Francisco Giants: They’ve won each World Series played in an even year since 2010, and according to a Fox Sports report, corroborated by ESPN and the MLB Network, this is an even year.
10. Boston Red Sox: After signing $217 million contract to shore up shaky rotation, David Price has a last name as appropriate to his sport as the last name of drag-racing legend John Force is appropriate to his.
11. St. Louis Cardinals: Decimated by injuries to cornerstone stars in 2015, the remarkably resilient Cards still managed to win 100 games.
12. Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper wants an end to baseball’s “unwritten code” that discourages players from celebrating excessively during a game. Guess he missed that time in 2014 when Fernando Rodney, en route to blowing a save, fired off a victory arrow in the eighth inning.
13. Seattle Mariners: Mantra of “Owning the Zone” apparently extends to owners’ opposition to a basketball-hockey arena in SoDo neighborhood.
14. Cleveland Indians: Shortstop Francisco Lindor arrived last June as a top prospect and improved team’s shoddy defense overnight.
15. New York Yankees: Heart-of-the-batting-order trio of Alex Rodriguez (40), Carlos Beltran (38) and Mark Teixeira (35) might require a pacemaker.
16. Detroit Tigers: Superior starting staff is a thing of the past, but free agent Jordan Zimmerman, signed from the Nats, gives Tigers a solid one-two punch with Justin Verlander.
17. Tampa Bay Rays: Their departure from Cuba was delayed more than six hours on the runway, and you’ve got to wonder if retired Yankees catcher Jorge Pasada was involved.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ace Zack Greinke, 32, is among only four D-backs over age 30 projected for the opening day roster.
19. Chicago White Sox: After the feud between the supporters of Adam LaRoche and team vice president Kenny Williams, no club’s April will be more closely watched.
20. Miami Marlins: Before Giancarlo Stanton suffered a season-ending hand injury, the slugger hit 45 balls tracked over 110 mph — more than the Braves, Reds, Phillies and Giants combined to hit for the year.
21. Baltimore Orioles: O’s planning to commemorate 50-year anniversary of 1966 championship team, which included Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio and Jim Palmer.
22. Minnesota Twins: General manager Terry Ryan concedes that center fielder Byron Buxton, the team’s uber-prospect, was rushed to the big leagues last season.
23. Oakland Athletics: Lights-out bullpen is one of the best in baseball, but how often will Bob Melvin be able to call on it to protect a late-inning lead?
24. Cincinnati Reds: Reds set an MLB record last season by starting rookie pitchers 64 consecutive times.
25. Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, rehabbing from foot surgery, got some work in at first base during spring camp, but he knows — and the Angels know — his future is as a DH.
26. Colorado Rockies: In the mile-high home of the Super Bowl champs, Rockies will be challenged to make Denver fans notice after finishing last in three of past four seasons.
27. San Diego Padres: Ownership wants to increase the Padres’ visibility in Mexico, but striking a deal for them to appear on Tijuana television has been difficult.
28. Atlanta Braves: They won’t contend for another season or two, but the Braves loaded up on young talent acquired from Arizona in the trade that sent starter Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks.
29. Milwaukee Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell grew up rooting for the Brewers in Milwaukee, where his father worked for the team’s front office.
30. Philadelphia Phillies: Job of overseeing rebuilding has gone to former Dartmouth shortstop Matt Klentak, an advanced numbers cruncher who served as Jerry Dipoto’s assistant with the Angels.
John McGrath: firstname.lastname@example.org