Stan ‘The Fan’ Charles’ 2023 MLB Power Rankings: Dress Rehearsal

At the outset, I want to make clear this is merely a dress rehearsal for my real MLB power rankings. I will have my first real rankings on the website in mid-March. But getting ready for even this first dress rehearsal has made one thing abundantly clear: My weekly task of ranking teams from 1 to 30 won’t be easy.

Well, let me explain what I mean by that. I am sure the initial order of my top 12 will raise a little stir, but I think most objective observers will agree with the makeup of the top 12. Likewise, I think folks will pretty much agree with the makeup of Nos. 22-30.

However that leaves quite a wide swath of teams from Nos. 13-21 that are easily flipped on a week-to-week basis. That is something I can’t say I have really seen before. In most years the top 5-7 are pretty clear and then there is about an 8-9 team scrum from, say, Nos. 8-17 and then a group of 12-13 have-nots.

So, what has changed? I think it’s clear that the days of tons of teams tanking are over. There is a much smaller group of teams that will go into spring training with a snowball’s chance in hell of making the playoffs.

For example, in the American League West, no question Oakland is in the snowball’s-chance-in-hell category. Seattle and Houston appear to be head and shoulders above the division. But Texas and Los Angeles are both spending a lot of money to compete and while I don’t see both challenging for a playoff wild-card spot, I could see one of those two — likely the Rangers, having added ace right-hander Jacob deGrom and skipper Bruce Bochy — surprising folks and contending for the postseason season. I’d feel the same way about the Angels if I felt it was at all likely that Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon would both play between 145 and 150 games.

In this dress rehearsal, I’ll rank each team by their predicted order of finish in their respective divisions along with their overall ranking. There’s still a lot of runway before Opening Day, which is more than two months away. Spring training doesn’t even start for another three-plus weeks.

AL East

Toronto Blue Jays (No. 5)
New York Yankees (No. 6)
Tampa Bay Rays (No. 13)
Baltimore Orioles (No. 15)
Boston Red Sox (No. 20)

AL Central

Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 11)
Minnesota Twins (No. 12)
Chicago White Sox (No. 18)
Kansas City Royals (No. 25)
Detroit Tigers (No. 26)

AL West

Seattle Mariners (No. 7)
Houston Astros (No. 8)
Texas Rangers (No. 19)
Los Angeles Angels (No. 21)
Oakland Athletics (No. 30)

NL East

New York Mets (No. 1)
Atlanta Braves (No. 2)
Philadelphia Phillies (No. 9)
Miami Marlins (No. 17)
Washington Nationals (No. 29)

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals (No. 3)
Chicago Cubs (No. 14)
Milwaukee Brewers (No. 16)
Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 24)
Cincinnati Reds (No. 28)

NL West

San Diego Padres (No. 4)
Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 10)
Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 22)
San Francisco Giants (No. 23)
Colorado Rockies (No. 27)

Some random questions on information I am looking for during the early stages of spring training before my first mock ranking comes out in six weeks or so:

AL East

• Is Rays ace right-hander Tyler Glasnow all the way back? If so, No. 13 may be a tad low for the Rays. They could possibly move into the top 10.

• Is Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle playing free and easy and producing? He could be a huge wild card for the Orioles. How good does Grayson Rodriguez look? Is he heading north?

Ryan Mountcastle (Photo Credit: Colin Murphy/PressBox)

• Does Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom really have a plan? Can former ace Chris Sale come back and be a force? And what about Corey Kluber, who bounced back from three injury-plagued seasons to pitch well for the Rays in 2022? It looks like cacophony to me.

AL Central

• The Twins dealt contact bat Luis Arráez to the Marlins for right-hander Pablo López. Is that enough pitching to fortify their position in my top 12?

• In the White Sox camp, is there optimism that Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and Mike Clevinger are capable of elite performances? Who will replace José Abreu as the heart and soul of an underachieving group? How good a skipper will Pedro Grifol be? That’s part of the calculus.

AL West

• Is Robbie Ray looking like the 2021 or 2022 version in Mariners camp? If the ’21 Cy Young version shows up, Seattle could move into the top 3-5.

Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray (Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox)

• Do I really believe, like most pundits, that the loss of Justin Verlander won’t be that big of a deal for the Astros?

• How healthy are the Angels midway through March? Is their starting pitching legit?

• Will new ace Jacob deGrom stay healthy throughout the spring for the Rangers?

• Will there ever be more clarity on the location of a new Bay Area stadium for the Athletics? Commissioner Rob Manfred won’t wait forever. Athletics owner John Fisher isn’t at all sentimental about his stewardship of a once-great franchise.

NL East

• In Port St. Lucie, how well are Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander getting along? Is Kodai Senga capable of filling Taijuan Walker’s shoes? One thing we know for sure: The Mets’ in-game managing will be handled as well as anyone by Buck Showalter.

• In Braves camp, are Ronald Acuna Jr., Michael Harris II and Ozzie Albies ready to rumble from Day 1? Will Vaughn Grissom have the goods to take over for Dansby Swanson? Was Spencer Strider a one-hit wonder or is he the real thing? Who will emerge as the closer with Kenley Jansen in Boston?

• In the Phillies camp, it’s all about welcoming in Trea Turner and seeing how much swagger the team has given that Bryce Harper (Tommy John surgery) will likely miss a chunk of the season. Is the bullpen turning into a real tool for skipper Rob Thompson?

• Have the Marlins added any offense at all to help out the starters and rookie skipper Skip Schumaker?

• Are the Nationals any closer to being sold? Is the MASN mess any closer to resolution?

NL Central

• Clearly, the Cardinals are the best of a weak division, but are they as good as I see them right now? How is free-agent catcher Willson Contreras fitting in? And is right-hander Jack Flaherty going to be healthy? If so, the Cardinals deserve my high advanced billing.

• The Cubs have made a lot of music. Is it all on key? Dansby Swanson, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Cody Bellinger and Jameson Taillon bring a lot of interesting talent to the North Side, but will they each perform at a high enough level to move the Cubs back to relevance?

• Can Brewers skipper Craig Counsell keep this strangely constructed boat afloat to make another run to the playoffs? Is Christian Yelich ever going to be able to play like the MVP he was prior to breaking a kneecap?

NL West

• In Padres camp, we all know that AJ Preller’s best talent is convincing his owner to spend more and more money. But can manager Bob Melvin really create something as special as the roster looks on paper when you glance at it? Will Fernando Tatis Jr. come back and star as an outfielder?

Fernando Tatis Jr.
Fernando Tatis Jr.

• Are the Dodgers even worthy of a top-10 position, albeit as low as I have them at No. 10? Gone are Trea Turner, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. The only significant addition is designated hitter JD Martinez. Do they really believe that Gavin Lux can take over at shortstop? And who is going to emerge as the closer?

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