MCB’s MLB Power Rankings: 15-11
Mar 6, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcherMasahiro Tanaka
(19) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
15. San Diego Padres
Pitching could be a question mark for the Padres this season (especially with bounce-back candidate Josh Johnson on the shelf to start the season), but the quality of the lineup could surprise those that don’t closely follow the team. Yasmani Grandal, Jedd Gyorko, Everth Cabrera, and Chase Headley have developed into a solid core. They’re not going to challenge the Dodgers in the division, but climbing back above .500 for the first time in four years is a possibility.
14. Atlanta Braves
The Braves were perhaps poised to once again steal the AL East crown that has already been bestowed upon the Nationals, but they were decimated by injuries this spring, losing both Kris Medlan and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John Surgery. They’ll also start the season with Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd on the disabled list. Signing Ervin Santana to patch some of the holes will help, but they’ll have a lot of work to do to catch the Nationals (probably).
13. Seattle Mariners
Signing a superstar like Robinson Cano will always make a club better, but for the Mariners the question remains: are they better by a big enough margin to stay in the hunt late into the season? It’s possible they get to the 86 (or so) wins that will be required to win a Wild Card spot, but most projections call for them to come up short. Beginning the season with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker on the DL won’t help any.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have a glaring hole at second base and a few question marks in the back half of the starting rotation, but the totality of the team is one that could be sneaky-tough in what is perennially baseball’s toughest division. In the end they’re probably not a division winner or a Wild Card winner (though there’s a chance for that), but an above-.500 finish could be in the cards.
11. New York Yankees
The Yankees have a lot of talent, but they’re surrounded by so many questions. How will Masahiro Tanaka perform in his first year in the United States? Can CC Sabathia bounce back after a down year last season? How will Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira perform after both missing last year due to injury? They could find their way into the division hunt, but their more likely route into the playoffs looks like via the Wild Card race.