MLB Power Rankings: Who Is Baseball's No. 1 Team on Opening Day?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: Who Is Baseball's No. 1 Team on Opening Day?

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    After an offseason of trade rumors and free-agent signings, and following a full slate of spring training games, Opening Day of the 2014 MLB season is finally here.

    The first day of spring may have officially been March 20, but for me—and I'm sure many other baseball fans around the country—Opening Day is when it finally feels like spring.

    Whether your favorite team is expected to contend for a title or dwell in the cellar, it's hard not to approach the start of a new season with some level of optimism.

    I've once again been entrusted with penning the official Bleacher Report MLB power rankings, and this year will be my third season at the helm.

    I look forward to the barrage of angry comments that will be thrust my way in the weeks and months ahead. Nothing seems to bring out of the passion of a fanbase like black-and-white rankings of where their team stands among the other 29 clubs; I only ask that you be civil and argue rather than insult.

    With that said, what follows is my take on where all 30 MLB teams stand at the start of the 2014 campaign. In the weeks to come, these rankings will change based on weekly performance, and I'll lay out everything that goes into my decision-making in next week's article.

    For the sake of these Opening Day rankings, though, it is largely subjective on my part. It is worth clarifying that these are not necessarily predictions on where teams will finish, but an overview of where they stand right now (so injuries play a major role).

    That should cover all the necessary prep work. Now, on with the show.


    Note: Opening Day rosters and injury information courtesy of All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

30. Houston Astros

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    Carlos Osorio
    CF Dexter Fowler RHP Scott Feldman
    LF Robbie Grossman RHP Jarred Cosart
    C Jason Castro LHP Brett Oberholtzer
    2B Jose Altuve RHP Lucas Harrell
    DH Chris Carter LHP Dallas Keuchel
    1B Marc Krauss BULLPEN
    3B Matt Dominguez RHP Jerome Williams
    RF Alex Presley RHP Brad Peacock
    SS Jonathan Villar RHP Anthony Bass
    BENCH LHP Kevin Chapman
    C Carlos Corporan RHP Josh Fields
    1B/OF Jesus Guzman RHP Matt Albers
    IF Marwin Gonzalez RHP Chad Qualls
    OF L.J. Hoes 


    Upcoming Games

    vs. New York Yankees (3)
    vs. Los Angeles Angels (4)


    Team Outlook

    The rebuilding process has not been a quick one in Houston, as the Astros have suffered through three straight 100-loss seasons. Another last-place finish seems likely this year, but they finally look to be headed in the right direction.

    With a number of impressive prospects on the way and a handful of offseason acquisitions—headlined by Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman—they should be more competitive this year.

    Core pieces like catcher Jason Castro, second baseman Jose Altuve and right-hander Jarred Cosart need to continue their development, as they are the current building blocks. Look for top prospect George Springer to join that core once he's inevitably called up.

29. Chicago Cubs

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    Chris Carlson
    SS Starlin Castro RHP Jeff Samardzija
    2B Luis Valbuena RHP Edwin Jackson
    1B Anthony Rizzo RHP Jason Hammel
    RF Nate Schierholtz LHP Travis Wood
    3B Mike Olt RHP Carlos Villanueva
    LF Junior LakeBULLPEN
    C Welington Castillo RHP Hector Rondon
    CF Ryan Sweeney RHP Brian Schlitter
    BENCH LHP Wesley Wright
    C John Baker RHP Justin Grimm
    IF Darwin Barney LHP James Russell
    IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio RHP Pedro Strop
    OF Ryan Kalish RHP Jose Veras
    OF Justin Ruggiano  


    Upcoming Games

    at Pittsburgh Pirates (3)
    vs. Philadelphia Phillies (3)


    Team Outlook

    Speaking of rebuilding, the Cubbies are set to kick off their third season under the Theo Epstein regime. While they may be in for another long season, the future is incredibly bright, and 2015 has long been pointed to as a potential turning point for the franchise.

    Third baseman Mike Olt won a job this spring, as he becomes the first of what could be a parade of potential impact position prospects to make their way to Chicago. Top shortstop prospect Javier Baez will be up at some point, but in the meantime the team is counting on bounce-back seasons from the core trio of Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.

    Some experience for their prospects and a return to form by those three would constitute a successful season, and with an improved bullpen and handful of other additions, at the very least the Cubs will be shooting to avoid reaching 90 losses again.

28. Minnesota Twins

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
    2B Brian Dozier RHP Ricky Nolasco
    1B Joe Mauer RHP Phil Hughes
    RF Oswaldo Arcia RHP Kevin Correia
    LF Josh Willingham RHP Mike Pelfrey
    DH Jason Kubel RHP Kyle Gibson
    3B Trevor Plouffe BULLPEN
    C Kurt Suzuki RHP Anthony Swarzak
    CF Aaron Hicks LHP Caleb Thielbar
    SS Pedro Florimon RHP Casey Fien
    BENCH LHP Brian Duensing
    C Josmil Pinto RHP Samuel Deduno
    1B/OF Chris Colabello RHP Jared Burton
    IF Eduardo Escobar LHP Glen Perkins
    IF/OF Jason Bartlett 


    Upcoming Games

    at Chicago White Sox (3)
    at Cleveland Indians (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Twins turned their attention to the starting rotation this offseason, and understandably so after they had the worst starting pitching ERA (5.26) in the game last year. Right-handers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes should be an improvement, but it's still a weak staff.

    Face of the franchise Joe Mauer makes the move from catcher to first base this year, and a big offensive season could be the result. He'll need to have a big year because the offense is not going to scare anyone.

    Catcher Josmil Pinto will be one to watch, as he could take over starting duties by midseason and has plus offensive tools. The 2014 season could be a tough one, but the game's top prospect—Byron Buxton—headlines one of the best farm systems in baseball, and the future is bright.

27. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Kathy Willens
    CF Ben Revere LHP Cliff Lee
    SS Jimmy Rollins RHP A.J. Burnett
    2B Chase Utley RHP Kyle Kendrick
    1B Ryan Howard RHP Roberto Hernandez
    RF Marlon Byrd RHP Jeff Manship
    LF Domonic BrownBULLPEN
    C Carlos Ruiz LHP Mario Hollands
    3B Cody Asche RHP B.J. Rosenberg
    BENCH RHP Justin De Fratus
    C Wil Nieves LHP Jake Diekman
    1B/OF John Mayberry RHP Brad Lincoln
    IF Jayson Nix LHP Antonio Bastardo
    IF/OF Cesar Hernandez RHP Jonathan Papelbon
    OF Tony Gwynn Jr. 


    Upcoming Games

    at Texas Rangers (3)
    at Chicago Cubs (3)


    Team Outlook

    The bottom three teams in our rankings are rebuilding franchises that are loaded with young talent. The Phillies are the polar opposite, as they have an aging roster of declining stars, and they got even older this offseason with the additions of A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd and the re-signing of Carlos Ruiz.

    Cliff Lee should once again give the team a chance to win every fifth game, but Cole Hamels opens the year on the disabled list, and he'll need to come back quickly.

    This is a roster that needs to be blown up and a franchise that needs to start rebuilding. There is still talent here, but a third-place finish in the NL East looks like the best-case scenario—and a last-place finish is not out of the question.

26. Chicago White Sox

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    Paul Sancya
    CF Adam Eaton LHP Chris Sale
    LF Alejandro De Aza RHP Felipe Paulino
    1B Jose Abreu LHP Jose Quintana
    DH Adam Dunn RHP Erik Johnson
    RF Avisail Garcia LHP John Danks
    SS Alexei RamirezBULLPEN
    3B Conor Gillaspie RHP Maikel Cleto
    2B Marcus Semien LHP Donnie Veal
    C Tyler Flowers RHP Daniel Webb
    BENCH LHP Scott Downs
    C Adrian Nieto RHP Ronald Belisario
    1B Paul Konerko RHP Matt Lindstrom
    IF/OF Leury Garcia RHP Nathan Jones
    OF Dayan Viciedo  


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Minnesota Twins (3)
    at Kansas City Royals (3)


    Team Outlook

    The White Sox finally committed to rebuilding last August when they shipped out Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, and they have quickly assembled a promising young core of hitters led by Avisail Garcia and offseason pickups Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.

    The pitching staff will again be anchored by one of the game's best—and my pick for the 2014 AL Cy Young Award—Chris Sale. A big spring has John Danks looking like a bounce-back candidate, and rookie Erik Johnson is one to watch as well.

    There is still work to be done, and the farm system remains relatively thin, but the White Sox had a very good offseason and look to be building toward something good a few years from now.

25. Miami Marlins

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    Jeff Roberson
    LF Christian Yelich RHP Jose Fernandez
    2B Derek Dietrich RHP Nathan Eovaldi
    RF Giancarlo Stanton RHP Henderson Alvarez
    1B Garrett Jones RHP Jacob Turner
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia RHP Tom Koehler
    CF Marcell Ozuna BULLPEN
    3B Casey McGehee RHP Kevin Slowey
    SS Adeiny Hechavarria LHP Brad Hand
    BENCH RHP Carlos Marmol
    C Jeff Mathis LHP Dan Jennings
    1B/3B Greg Dobbs RHP A.J. Ramos
    IF Donovan Solano LHP Mike Dunn
    IF/OF Jeff Baker RHP Steve Cishek
    OF Reed Johnson 


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Colorado Rockies (4)
    vs. San Diego Padres (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Marlins hit a meager .231 as a team last year, scoring 85 fewer runs than the second-worst offensive team and a whopping 340 fewer runs than the league-leading Boston Red Sox. They still aren't going to make a run at being the league's highest-scoring team in 2014, but the additions of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Jeff Baker and the currently injured Rafael Furcal should help.

    Jose Fernandez will again be atop one of the most promising young rotations in the game, and with some extra run support they could take another step forward as a group this year.

    If Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy in the middle of the order and Christian Yelich can build on a strong showing as a rookie, this team has a chance to surprise some people. The Marlins could even push the Phillies and Mets for third place in the NL East.

24. San Diego Padres

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    SS Everth Cabrera RHP Andrew Cashner
    CF Will Venable RHP Ian Kennedy
    3B Chase Headley RHP Tyson Ross
    2B Jedd Gyorko LHP Eric Stults
    1B Yonder Alonso LHP Robbie Erlin
    LF Chris Denorfia BULLPEN
    RF Seth Smith RHP Tim Stauffer
    C Nick Hundley RHP Donn Roach
    BENCH RHP Nick Vincent
    C Yasmani Grandal LHP Alex Torres
    C Rene Rivera RHP Dale Thayer
    1B/OF Tommy Medica RHP Joaquin Benoit
    IF/OF Alexi Amarista RHP Huston Street
    OF Xavier Nady 


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
    at Miami Marlins (3)


    Team Outlook

    While lacking in star power, the Padres have put together a solid roster from top to bottom and have no glaring weaknesses. They certainly don't compare favorably to the division rival Dodgers and Diamondbacks on paper, but they could be the dark-horse team of 2014 if everything breaks right.

    The pitching staff is the biggest question mark, and it could wind up being one of the NL's best or worst. Andrew Cashner looks like a legitimate ace atop the staff, and Eric Stults and Tyson Ross were both solid in 2013, but who knows what they'll get from Ian Kennedy and the already injured Josh Johnson?

    Offensively, they could have two stars in the making in Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso, while Chase Headley will be looking to bounce back in a contract year. The Padres could finish anywhere from second to fifth in the NL West, and they will be one of the more interesting teams to watch over the first few months.

23. Seattle Mariners

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    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
    CF Abraham Almonte RHP Felix Hernandez
    3B Kyle Seager RHP Erasmo Ramirez
    2B Robinson Cano LHP James Paxton
    1B Justin Smoak LHP Roenis Elias
    DH Corey Hart RHP Chris Young
    RF Logan MorrisonBULLPEN
    LF Dustin Ackley RHP Hector Noesi
    C Mike Zunino LHP Joe Beimel
    SS Brad Miller RHP Yoervis Medina
    BENCH LHP Charlie Furbush
    C John Buck RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
    IF Willie Bloomquist RHP Danny Farquhar
    IF/OF Stefen Romero RHP Fernando Rodney
    OF Michael Saunders 


    Upcoming Games

    at Los Angeles Angels (3)
    at Oakland Athletics (4)


    Team Outlook

    It was a busy offseason for the Mariners, but will it be enough for them to make it to the postseason? My money is on "no," but they are undoubtedly improved.

    Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison join an offense that has perennially been one of the worst in the American League, and it's put up or shut up time for guys like Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders. Third baseman Kyle Seager remains one of the game's more underrated young players.

    Injuries have already struck, as Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker open the year on the DL. Felix Hernandez is still one of the best in the business, but it's a patchwork staff behind him to start the year. Rookie James Paxton has the stuff to be a Rookie of the Year candidate, but he'll be pitching higher in the rotation than the team would have liked.

22. New York Mets

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    Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
    LF Eric Young Jr. RHP Dillon Gee
    2B Daniel Murphy RHP Bartolo Colon
    3B David Wright RHP Zack Wheeler
    RF Curtis Granderson RHP Jenrry Mejia
    CF Chris Young 
    1B Ike DavisBULLPEN
    C Travis d'Arnaud LHP John Lannan
    SS Ruben Tejada RHP Carlos Torres
    BENCH RHP Gonzalez Germen
    C Anthony Recker RHP Jeurys Familia
    1B/OF Lucas Duda LHP Scott Rice
    IF Omar Quintanilla RHP Jose Valverde
    IF Josh Satin RHP Bobby Parnell
    1B/OF Andrew Brown 
    OF Juan Lagares  


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Washington Nationals (3)
    vs. Cincinnati Reds (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Mets were not quite as active as some expected them to be this offseason, though they did make a pair of significant additions in Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon, and they also nabbed a potential bounce-back candidate in Chris Young.

    With ace Matt Harvey on the shelf, this looks like a team with an eye on making some noise in 2015. For the time being, they look like a better team than last year, but they still aren't ready to make a run at the Braves and Nationals in the NL East.

    Look for a big season from David Wright, as he now has some much-needed protection in the lineup. Also, don't sleep on this starting rotation, as Dillon Gee is very underrated and Zack Wheeler could be even better in his second season.

21. Colorado Rockies

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images
    CF Corey Dickerson LHP Jorge De La Rosa
    RF Michael Cuddyer LHP Brett Anderson
    LF Carlos Gonzalez RHP Tyler Chatwood
    SS Troy Tulowitzki RHP Juan Nicasio
    1B Justin Morneau LHP Franklin Morales
    C Wilin RosarioBULLPEN
    3B Nolan Arenado RHP Tommy Kahnle
    2B DJ LeMahieu RHP Wilton Lopez
    BENCH RHP Chad Bettis
    C/1B Jordan Pacheco RHP Adam Ottavino
    IF/OF Charlie Culberson RHP Matt Belisle
    OF Brandon Barnes LHP Rex Brothers
    OF Charlie Blackmon RHP LaTroy Hawkins
    OF Drew Stubbs  


    Upcoming Games

    at Miami Marlins (4)
    vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Rockies were the surprise team of the first month or so last year, and while their pitching eventually returned to earth, they were still a vastly improved staff. After posting an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA in 2012, they lowered that to 4.44 last season and climbed to 28th in the league.

    The additions of Brett Anderson and Franklin Morales have the staff potentially improved once again, though ace Jhoulys Chacin has been slowed by injury and will start the season on the DL. If Anderson can stay healthy, though, he could make a serious impact, and he's my pick for NL Comeback Player of the Year.

    Offensively, they should be strong once again, with the health of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez once again being the X-factor. Another step forward by young bats Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario could potentially give the Rockies one of the most potent attacks in the NL.

20. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
    SS Jose Reyes RHP R.A. Dickey
    RF Jose Bautista RHP Drew Hutchison
    1B Edwin Encarnacion LHP Mark Buehrle
    DH Adam Lind RHP Brandon Morrow
    CF Colby Rasmus RHP Dustin McGowan
    LF Melky CabreraBULLPEN
    3B Brett Lawrie RHP Todd Redmond
    C Dioner Navarro RHP Jeremy Jeffress
    2B Ryan Goins LHP Brett Cecil
    BENCH RHP Esmil Rogers
    C Erik Kratz LHP Aaron Loup
    C Josh Thole RHP Steve Delabar
    IF Maicer Izturis RHP Sergio Santos
    OF Moises Sierra 


    Upcoming Games

    at Tampa Bay Rays (4)
    vs. New York Yankees (3)


    Team Outlook

    After a horribly disappointing 2013 season, the Blue Jays open the year with essentially the same roster but significantly less hype, and that could work to their advantage.

    Pitching was the biggest problem last year, as they struggled to find consistency behind veterans R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle and were bit hard by the injury bug. Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow are back healthy now, and they will both be paramount to the team's success.

    Keeping Jose Bautista on the field will also be important, and when he's healthy there might not be a more dangerous one-two punch than him and Edwin Encarnacion. Melky Cabrera had a big spring, and he could surprise some people after how bad he was last year.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
    RF Gerardo Parra RHP Brandon McCarthy
    2B Aaron Hill LHP Wade Miley
    1B Paul Goldschmidt RHP Trevor Cahill
    3B Martin Prado RHP Bronson Arroyo
    LF Mark Trumbo RHP Randall Delgado
    C Miguel Montero BULLPEN
    SS Chris Owings RHP Josh Collmenter
    CF A.J. Pollock LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
    BENCH LHP Joe Thatcher
    C Tuffy Gosewisch RHP Will Harris
    1B/3B Eric Chavez LHP Oliver Perez
    IF Cliff Pennington RHP Brad Ziegler
    OF Tony Campana RHP J.J. Putz
      RHP Addison Reed


    Upcoming Games

    vs. San Francisco Giants (4)
    at Colorado Rockies (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Diamondbacks entered the offseason looking for a power bat to protect Paul Goldschmidt, while they also needed an upgrade at closer and a front-line arm. Check and check on the first two—with the additions of Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed—but they wound up settling on Bronson Arroyo as their big addition to the rotation.

    For a team that already lacked a bona fide ace, losing projected Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin this spring to Tommy John surgery was a big blow, and Arroyo has also battled a bad back. The arrival of top prospect Archie Bradley can't come soon enough, and there's a good chance he'll be up before the break.

    Offensively, the team looks solid, especially if Miguel Montero can return to form, but they will have their work cut out for them keeping up with the Dodgers in the NL West. The team should be a fringe contender for a wild-card spot, though.

18. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
    CF Carlos Gomez RHP Yovani Gallardo
    SS Jean Segura RHP Kyle Lohse
    RF Ryan Braun RHP Matt Garza
    3B Aramis Ramirez RHP Marco Estrada
    C Jonathan Lucroy RHP Wily Peralta
    1B Lyle OverbayBULLPEN
    LF Khris Davis LHP Zach Duke
    2B Scooter Gennett LHP Wei-Chung Wang
    BENCH RHP Tyler Thornburg
    C Martin Maldonado LHP Will Smith
    1B/3B Mark Reynolds RHP Brandon Kintzler
    2B Rickie Weeks RHP Francisco Rodriguez
    IF Jeff Bianchi RHP Jim Henderson
    OF Logan Schafer  


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Atlanta Braves (3)
    at Boston Red Sox (3)


    Team Outlook

    After leading the NL in runs scored in 2012, the Brewers scored 136 fewer runs last season and fell to eighth in the league in that category. Much of that had to do with the suspension of Ryan Braun and an injury-plagued season for Aramis Ramirez, but those two are both back and looking to rebound in 2014.

    In their absence last season, the duo of Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez shouldered the offensive load, while Jonathan Lucroy was quietly one of the most productive catchers in the game. The pieces are all there for them to again be one of the league's highest-scoring attacks.

    Pitching is the X-factor here, and the addition of Matt Garza gives them a solid rotation from top to bottom. A big season from Yovani Gallardo in a contract year along with the other four guys pitching up to their potential could make the Brewers surprise contenders in a deep NL Central.

17. Los Angeles Angels

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
    RF Kole Calhoun RHP Jered Weaver
    CF Mike Trout LHP C.J. Wilson
    1B Albert Pujols RHP Garrett Richards
    LF Josh Hamilton LHP Hector Santiago
    3B David Freese LHP Tyler Skaggs
    DH Raul IbanezBULLPEN
    2B Howie Kendrick RHP Matt Shoemaker
    SS Erick Aybar RHP Michael Kohn
    C Chris Iannetta RHP Fernando Salas
    BENCH LHP Nick Maronde
    C Hank Conger RHP Kevin Jepsen
    IF Grant Green RHP Joe Smith
    IF John McDonald RHP Ernesto Frieri
    OF Collin Cowgill  


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Seattle Mariners (3)
    at Houston Astros (4)


    Team Outlook

    The Angels may have had their best offseason in years this winter, and they managed to do it without handing out another $100 million-plus contract.

    Trading slugger Mark Trumbo was the big move, as they acquired a pair of left-handers in Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs who will help fill out what was a disastrous back end of the rotation last year. Bleacher Report MLB lead writer Zachary Rymer pointed to Skaggs as a potential breakout star in 2014:

    Things should be better for Skaggs in 2014. ... a mechanical adjustment has returned some of the velocity that (he) lost in 2013. I also like the idea of him pitching regularly at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in front of what should be a solid Angels defense.

    I don't know about a Cy Young campaign or anything, but if Skaggs can manage an ERA in the mid-3.00s, he could be the best player from the Mark Trumbo trade in 2014.

    Mike Trout will once again do Mike Trout things, but the offense desperately needs to get its money's worth from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, especially with Trumbo gone. That said, this looks like a more complete Angels team from top to bottom, and they should be able to keep up with the Rangers and Athletics in the AL West.

16. Cleveland Indians

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    Chris Carlson
    CF Nyjer Morgan RHP Justin Masterson
    1B Nick Swisher RHP Corey Kluber
    2B Jason Kipnis RHP Zach McAllister
    3B Carlos Santana RHP Danny Salazar
    LF Michael Brantley RHP Carlos Carrasco
    SS Asdrubal CabreraBULLPEN
    RF David Murphy RHP Blake Wood
    C Yan Gomes RHP Scott Atchison
    DH Lonnie Chisenhall LHP Josh Outman
    BENCH RHP Bryan Shaw
    IF Mike Aviles LHP Marc Rzepczynski
    IF/OF Elliot Johnson RHP Vinnie Pestano
    OF Ryan Raburn RHP Cody Allen
      RHP John Axford


    Upcoming Games

    at Oakland Athletics (3)
    vs. Minnesota Twins (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Indians were the surprise postseason team of 2013, and they will have their work cut out for them if they hope to be playing baseball in October once again. That's not to say they don't look like a solid team, but the wild-card race in the AL figures to be ultra-competitive once again.

    Losing Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir from their rotation in free agency isn't as bad as it looks, as Corey Kluber was quietly one of the best pitchers in the AL last year and Danny Salazar seems poised for a huge year. Those two, slotted behind ace Justin Masterson, should give the team a solid staff once again, and it will be backed by a retooled bullpen.

    Offensively, they are essentially the same team, with David Murphy replacing Drew Stubbs in the outfield being the only major change. The Tigers are my pick to win the AL Central once again, and I actually have the Royals finishing second in the division and claiming a wild-card spot, but it should be a good race between those three teams.

15. Baltimore Orioles

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
    RF Nick Markakis RHP Chris Tillman
    LF David Lough RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
    1B Chris Davis LHP Wei-Yin Chen
    CF Adam Jones RHP Miguel Gonzalez
    DH Nelson Cruz RHP Bud Norris
    SS J.J. HardyBULLPEN
    C Matt Wieters RHP Josh Stinson
    3B Ryan Flaherty LHP Zach Britton
    2B Jonathan Schoop RHP Evan Meek
    BENCH LHP Brian Matusz
    C Steve Clevenger RHP Ryan Webb
    1B/OF Steve Pearce RHP Darren O'Day
    IF/OF Steve Lombardozzi RHP Tommy Hunter
    OF Delmon Young 


    Upcoming Schedule

    vs. Boston Red Sox (3)
    at Detroit Tigers (3)


    Team Outlook

    After sitting on their hands for much of the offseason, the Orioles pulled the trigger on a pair of late deals, signing free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. Those moves certainly improved the roster, but will it be enough in the AL East? My guess is they hang around but wind up missing the playoffs.

    The pitching is still suspect, as their rotation is essentially a collection of No. 3-starter types. Sure, Chris Tillman and Jimenez are capable of being better than that, but there is no one on this staff that can truly be pointed to as an ace.

    Offensively, the trio of Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Cruz should do plenty of damage, and a return to form for Nick Markakis wouldn't hurt either. Prospect Jonathan Schoop won the second base job with a big spring, while Manny Machado opens the season on the DL as he continues to rehab from offseason knee surgery.

14. San Francisco Giants

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    Ross D. Franklin
    CF Angel Pagan LHP Madison Bumgarner
    1B Brandon Belt RHP Matt Cain
    3B Pablo Sandoval RHP Tim Hudson
    C Buster Posey RHP Tim Lincecum
    RF Hunter Pence RHP Ryan Vogelsong
    LF Michael MorseBULLPEN
    2B Joaquin Arias RHP Yusmeiro Petit
    SS Brandon Crawford LHP David Huff
    BENCH RHP J.C. Gutierrez
    C Hector Sanchez RHP Jean Machi
    IF Ehire Adrianza LHP Javier Lopez
    IF Brandon Hicks RHP Santiago Casilla
    OF Gregor Blanco RHP Sergio Romo
    OF Juan Perez 


    Upcoming Games

    at Arizona Diamondbacks (4)
    at Los Angeles Dodgers (3)


    Team Outlook

    Despite returning essentially the same roster that won it all in 2012, the Giants came up well short of expectations last year and wound up tied for third in the NL West. They've made a few additions this offseason—with Tim Hudson replacing Barry Zito and Michael Morse signed to start in left—but the team will return the same core group once again.

    Madison Bumgarner was a stud last season, but behind him the rest of the rotation was disappointing and far from its formerly dominant self. Turnarounds from Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum will be the key to getting things back on track in 2014.

    Offensively, Buster Posey is the anchor once again, while Pablo Sandoval will be looking to cash in with a big contract year. The importance of a healthy Angel Pagan atop the lineup and in center field can't be overstated either, as the team was 39-32 with him and 37-54 without him last year. They won't catch the Dodgers, but they could make a run at a wild-card spot.

13. Kansas City Royals

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
    RF Norichika Aoki RHP James Shields
    2B Omar Infante LHP Jason Vargas
    1B Eric Hosmer RHP Yordano Ventura
    DH Billy Butler RHP Jeremy Guthrie
    LF Alex Gordon LHP Bruce Chen
    C Salvador PerezBULLPEN
    3B Mike Moustakas LHP Francisley Bueno
    CF Lorenzo Cain RHP Aaron Crow
    SS Alcides Escobar LHP Tim Collins
    BENCH RHP Kelvin Herrera
    C Brett Hayes RHP Wade Davis
    IF Pedro Ciriaco RHP Greg Holland
    IF/OF Danny Valencia 
    OF Jarrod Dyson 
    OF Justin Maxwell 


    Upcoming Games

    at Detroit Tigers (3)
    vs. Chicago White Sox (3)


    Team Outlook

    In 2013, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates who broke a lengthy playoff drought, and the Royals will be looking to do the same this year. After all, they have not reached the postseason since winning it all in 1985, and last year was their first winning season since 2003.

    Losing Ervin Santana hurts the rotation, but they signed a solid veteran in Jason Vargas to replace him, and the addition of flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura could actually make the staff even better than last year's version. Ace James Shields is also in a contract year and could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.

    Offensively, Kansas City added Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki to shore up to major holes at second base and right field, respectively. Those additions also allow the team to move Alex Gordon down to a run-production spot in the lineup, and alongside Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer, the team has some solid power bats.

    If the Royals can avoid the slow start at the plate that burned them last season, they should be right in the hunt for a playoff spot down the stretch.

12. Atlanta Braves

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
    RF Jason Heyward RHP Julio Teheran
    CF B.J. Upton LHP Alex Wood
    1B Freddie Freeman RHP Aaron Harang
    3B Chris Johnson RHP David Hale
    LF Justin UptonRHP Ervin Santana 
    2B Dan UgglaBULLPEN
    C Evan Gattis RHP Gus Schlosser
    SS Andrelton Simmons LHP Ian Buchter
    BENCH RHP Anthony Varvaro
    C Gerald Laird LHP Ian Thomas
    1B/OF Ryan Doumit RHP Jordan Walden
    IF Ramiro Pena LHP Luis Avilan
    IF/OF Tyler Pastornicky RHP David Carpenter
    OF Jordan Schafer RHP Craig Kimbrel


    Upcoming Games

    at Milwaukee Brewers (3)
    at Washington Nationals (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Braves slotted in at No. 6 in the power rankings to kick off spring training, but season-ending injuries to both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, along with Mike Minor opening the year on the DL, leave them with a decimated pitching staff and knock them out of the top 10.

    That ranking is simply a reflection of where the team stands on Opening Day and is not a prediction of where they will finish. Once Minor returns and free-agent signing Ervin Santana is ready, the staff should be solid, and this will be a team that once again contends for the NL East title.

    If B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla can provide something at the plate, and if Alex Wood continues to pitch like he did this spring, the Braves could be awfully dangerous. At the very least, they should be able to push for a wild-card spot.

11. Texas Rangers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    LF Shin-Soo Choo RHP Tanner Scheppers
    SS Elvis Andrus LHP Martin Perez
    1B Prince Fielder LHP Robbie Ross
    3B Adrian Beltre LHP Joe Saunders
    RF Alex Rios 
    DH Mitch Moreland BULLPEN
    CF Leonys Martin RHP Seth Rosin
    C J.P. Arencibia RHP Shawn Tolleson
    2B Donnie Murphy LHP Pedro Figueroa
    BENCH RHP Jason Frasor
    C/IF Robinson Chirinos LHP Neal Cotts
    C/OF Chris Gimenez RHP Alexi Ogando
    IF Josh Wilson RHP Joakim Soria
    1B/OF James Adduci  
    OF Michael Choice 


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Philadelphia Phillies (3)
    at Tampa Bay Rays (3)


    Team Outlook

    After losing some of their offensive firepower last offseason, the Rangers reloaded this winter with the free-agent signing of Shin-Soo Choo and the acquisition of slugger Prince Fielder in a trade with the Tigers. Throw in a full season of Alex Rios, acquired last August, and this team should again be among the highest-scoring in baseball.

    Injuries have hit them hard, though, as Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar will both miss significant time among position players, while Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are all missing from the starting rotation. As long as the neck issues that have plagued Darvish are nothing serious, the Rangers should be fine, but their depth is being tested.

    Luckily for them, division-foe Oakland has also had its fair share of injuries this spring, and chances are it will be a tight race between those two teams once again for AL West supremacy. Guys like Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Martin Perez will need to step their games up, though.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Carlos Osorio
    LF Starling Marte LHP Francisco Liriano
    SS Jordy Mercer RHP Gerrit Cole
    CF Andrew McCutchen LHP Wandy Rodriguez
    3B Pedro Alvarez RHP Charlie Morton
    2B Neil Walker RHP Edinson Volquez
    C Russell MartinBULLPEN
    1B Gaby Sanchez RHP Jeanmar Gomez
    RF Jose Tabata RHP Stolmy Pimentel
    BENCH RHP Bryan Morris
    C Tony Sanchez LHP Justin Wilson
    1B/OF Travis Ishikawa LHP Tony Watson
    IF Clint Barmes RHP Mark Melancon
    IF/OF Josh Harrison RHP Jason Grilli
    OF Travis Snider 


    Upcoming Games

    vs. Chicago Cubs (3)
    vs. St. Louis Cardinals (3)


    Team Outlook

    The Pirates were one of the best stories of 2013, and with the way they have built their roster with young, controllable players, they figure to be in the NL mix for the foreseeable future. There are some question marks heading into 2014, though.

    Losing A.J. Burnett hurts the rotation, and Edinson Volquez didn't show anything this spring to project as a useful fifth starter. Full seasons from Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton should help offset that loss, though, and top prospect Jameson Taillon co