Although we are still in the offseason, the arrival of the New Year represents a perfect marker for baseball fans.
It’s almost halfway between the end of the World Series and the start of preseason games.
At MLB.com, we do two Power Rakings over the winter. The first is right after the World Series ends and the second is just around the New Year, when we get a better idea of what teams might look like next season.
The general consensus among our voting group is that while it’s been a busy winter in terms of trades, there’s still more work to be done and the best teams on paper often don’t even make the postseason.
With that in mind, here are these early Power Rankings, New Years Edition:
1. Astros (106-56 during the 2022 regular season)
Winning the World Series back-to-back isn’t easy, but the Astros probably deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have played in six consecutive American League Championship Series, winning two Fall Classics in that span. They have a six-pitching rotation, which allowed them to let Justin Verlander — the AL Cy Young Award winner — go to the Mets, simply because they really don’t need him. There probably won’t be much of a “fatigue effect” this year, considering Houston played just two more games than the minimum in the postseason and had several rest days between rounds. Although the AL West has improved in some areas – the Mariners will again be a tough opponent, while the Rangers have improved a lot – the Astros will once again be the favorites to win another division title.
This ranking, in a way, is based on Carlos Correa and the Mets eventually reaching an agreement, but as we’ve seen, there’s really no telling where the shortstop (or third baseman?) will end up. But it can also be argued that the Mets made several impact signings in free agency and played very well in 2022, despite the way the year ended. Beware, though: Teams of a certain age can go off the rails fast, and the Mets’ rotation has plenty of mileage on some of its arms.
The Braves didn’t need to make a ton of moves in the offseason, just get healthy and stay healthy. And assuming that happens in 2023, they should be in a good position to fight for the NL East title again. The roster looks very strong after the arrival of catcher Sean Murphy. If Curaçao’s Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. pick up their game and the pitching staff — led by a stable group of young starters — pitches as expected, Atlanta will be a tough opponent for the rest of the East teams. of the National, a division that is becoming one of the most difficult in the Major Leagues.
It’s been a while — years, actually — since the Dodgers weren’t in the top five of the Power Rankings. There is clearly a lot of confidence among our voters in the Padres’ ability to make a big jump in 2023, considering they lost the division to the Dodgers by 22 games in 2022. Yes, the Padres knocked out Los Angeles in the postseason, but expectations this time seem to be higher. The Padres have a well-rounded lineup, bolstered by the signing of Xander Bogaerts, and this could be the last big chance for a rotation that could lose some pieces in free agency next winter. Will 2023 be the year of the Parents?
The Yankees solved one of their biggest problems this offseason when they signed left-hander Carlos Rodón. Now the rotation could be one of the best in the Big Top. There will be more doubts around a lineup that could still benefit from more reinforcements. They may not need to be brought in from the outside if infielders like Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe are able to produce consistently.
Blue Jays (92-70)
White Sox (81-81)
Red Sox (78-84)