Welcome to Article #1 of my 6th annual set of MLB preseason power rankings and 5th annual MLB power ranking series. Back in 2015, I got the idea to break up my pre-season Power Rankings into 5 articles from David Schoenfield of ESPN. Even though Schoenfield no longer posts power rankings in this format, I have stuck with it and given the rankings my own flavor in recent years. In this article, though I am covering some of the worst teams in the league, all of these teams have some good pieces, and I will be pointing those out. Click the links below for other articles in the series (I will add them as I post them):
2019 MLB Preseason Power Rankings Series:
Ranking The Teams #30-25, My Version: The Bottom of the Barrel
Ranking The Teams #24-19, My Version: Who will have to Wait till Next Year?
Ranking The Teams #18-13, My Version: Who else Misses out on Playoff Contention?
Ranking The Teams #12-7, My Version: Who has Playoff Chances?
Ranking The Teams #6-1, My Version: Super Six?
I also released my 3rd annual preseason Baseball Bits!
30. Miami Marlins
The Case for the Marlins
The Marlins traded away most of their best players a year ago, and after dealing away C J.T. Realmuto this off-season, things can only get worse from here. The hole Realmuto left behind should outweigh the upside of Miami’s younger players, for now. The Marlins did add a couple veterans to the lineup and signed a new closer in Sergio Romo. Plus, the bulk of the prospects acquired from their recent rebuild should be making their way up as 2020 and 2021 approach, and when that time comes, this team will be on the rise again. But for now, they remain in the NL East basement after a rough 2018.
The Bright Spot
It was not easy coming up with something here. A lot has gone wrong in Miami in the last year and a half. But I think the bright spot of this team is the top of the rotation. Jose Urena, Miami’s longest tenured player, leads the group, with seasoned veterans in Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily behind him. Straily has had a lot of success with the Marlins, and when Chen is healthy, he shows flashes of dominance.
Projected Finish: 61-101, 5th in NL East
29. Baltimore Orioles
The Case for the Orioles
Baltimore’s 2018 season was historically bad, as they won just 47 games. But with Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb (likely out of it early in 2018 after lack of Spring Training time) primed to bounce back, they should improve at least slightly from their nightmare season. Adam Jones’ departure hurts, but Cedric Mullins is ready to replace him, and Yusniel Diaz will be here soon. Maybe Chris Davis can even rise to the occasion with Jones out of the lineup. The bullpen is still a major concern, and the lineup could be better, but I don’t think we’ll see any team perform worse than the 2018 Orioles for a long time.
The Bright Spot
The rotation could be better, but so long as Bundy and Cobb bounce back, the rotation could potentially be a bright spot for this team. Bundy and Cobb could provide Baltimore a 1-2 punch, with Andrew Cashner and Nathan Karns among others serving as depth.
Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL East
28. Detroit Tigers
The Case for the Tigers
Detroit’s rebuild kicked into full swing in 2018 after they dealt away several older players at the 2017 Trade Deadline. Their remaining veterans, even Miguel Cabrera, are declining quickly. This rebuild has dragged on for a while now, leaving the Tigers among the league’s worst teams for a third straight season. Even in a weak division, I can’t see them doing much. Before they contend, Casey Mize and Matt Manning will need to make their way up and Christin Stewart, Jeimer Candelario, and others will need to make their big break through. In the meantime, it could be a long year for the Tigers despite some new additions to their lineup including Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison.
The Bright Spot
The infield could shine with the additions of Mercer and Harrison. If Candelario continues to develop this year, and Cabrera regains a bit of what he has lost during the last couple of years, people may begin to wonder how the Tigers are stuck in the AL Central basement.
Projected Finish: 66-96, 5th in AL Central
27. Kansas City Royals
The Case for the Royals
The Hosmer-Moustakas era in Kansas City is officially over, with Alcides Escobar leaving in free agency, and Mike Moustakas leaving at the 2018 Trade Deadline. The team still has a capable rotation, but the bullpen lacks the depth it has contained in past years. The lineup may lack power this year with Salvador Perez on the IL and Hosmer and Moose gone, but hopefully, Billy Hamilton’s speed will at least partially make up for it. Even with Hamilton and Chris Owings on board, this team is bound to decline a little bit more before the rebuilding is over. The next crop of prospects is not ready yet, and during this transitional period for the Royals, things could get ugly.
The Bright Spot
Speed and youth will make the Royals special this year. A lot of young players are primed to breakout, including INF Hunter Dozier, RHP Jorge Lopez, and C Cam Gallagher. Hamilton and Gore will make for a dynamic outfield and add speed to an otherwise dull starting lineup.
Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in AL Central
26. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Case for the Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks declined a bit in 2018 despite minimal roster subtractions. You might think they would bounce back considering their young roster, but after trading away star 1B Paul Goldschmidt, this team is not going far. The lineup lacks big hitters beyond underrated outfielder David Peralta and new addition Adam Jones. The pitching staff is thin behind Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray. In a tough division, the Diamondbacks will struggle this year, as Manny Machado leads the Padres to outperform them, the Giants exceed expectations, and the Rockies and Dodgers sit on top.
The Bright Spot
The rotation may have lost some of its depth. But until Greinke or Ray leaves, the rotation will still highlight this team. Taijuan Walker’s return from the IL will only boost this strong rotation further. Luke Weaver is also underrated and could make an impact.
Projected Finish: 68-94, 5th in NL West
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Case for the Pirates
The Pirates exceeded expectations with a sub-.500 season in 2018. But the departures of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer (both fled for Detroit) leave a huge hole in the middle infield, and the rotation is extremely top-heavy. The Pirates would perform better with 5 average starters than their Big 3 and little depth behind them. The outfield is this team’s strong point right now, but Gregory Polanco will be missed during his time on the IL. 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes and other top prospects may fix Pittsburgh’s infield problems once they make their way up, and Mitch Keller could make this rotation even scarier. But for now, the Pirates will be stuck on the bottom of a tough division.
The Bright Spot
There are multiple bright spots to consider for this team. But the infield is in such bad shape that it’s hard to rank them much higher than this in such a tough NL Central. The outfield could make things interesting once Polanco returns, as they will own three outfielders who could be considered Top 10 at their positions. The incoming prospects could help accelerate their progress as well.
Projected Finish: 67-95, 5th in NL Central
That’s all for Part 1 of my MLB 2019 preseason power rankings. Stay tuned for my next power rankings article, where I will look at the teams I ranked #24-19 and discuss things to look forward too for those teams.