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Season preview: MLB 2022 power rankings

Sportsnaut
Jul 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (left) shortstop Bo Bichette (center) and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez during the 2021 MLB All Star Game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer will make $43 million this season. Mike Trout and nine others will earn upward of 33 rocks.

Checking in at No. 12 on the list: The Oakland Athletics. Yes, the whole bottom shelf. And No. 15: The Baltimore Orioles.

In a game of 1-on-28, who you taking in your pool?

Yeah, me, too.

Here’s my 30-stop power rankings from the basement to the penthouse of Major League Baseball this season:

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

They’re calling it a total rebuild, but really it’s a total destruction after going backward from MLB’s worst record in 2020 to 101 losses last season. And to the rescue comes … a starting pitcher who went winless with a 6.43 ERA last season, Jose Quintana.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

Poor Madison Bumgarner. First, he leaves the Giants and they turn good again. Then he joins the Diamondbacks and they turn bad again. And now the suits take away his bat. The good news? A trade to Oakland could mean starting at first base.

28. Cincinnati Reds

No more Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker and Sonny Gray … but with the same rally cry: We’re still better than the Pirates.

27. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles closed camp by trading two of their top relievers to the Marlins. Guess they don’t expect to have to hold many late leads.

26. Oakland Athletics

When MLB banned shifts this season, one team took its complaint to an extreme. The A’s will start the season without a first baseman. Maybe commissioner Rob Manfred should have considered prohibiting THAT.

25. Kansas City Royals

They are calling this a “transition” year in KC. That’s not to be confused with the “transition” decade or two that tends to follow its championships.

24. Miami Marlins

Wonder what bothered Derek Jeter more: That majority owner Bruce Sherman didn’t turn into George Steinbrenner or that the Marlins didn’t turn into the Yankees basically overnight? Hey, Sherman did spend $36 million on a guy (Jorge Soler) who hit 48 homers three years ago. That’s good, right?

23. Colorado Rockies

The bombers are back. And while it might be fun watching Kris Bryant and Randal Grichuk swing for the fences, nothing is fun about seeing the Dodgers, Padres and Giants about 60 times in six months.

22. Washington Nationals

What is it about D.C. and old men? Who’d have ever thought we’d see Nelson Cruz back in the National League? (Note: The last time he took a swing at the Senior Circuit, he lasted eight games.)

21. Texas Rangers

Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. Hey, it’s a start. But look around: The supporting cast is a couple of guys named Calhoun (Kole and Willie) and imported pitchers still dizzy from recent experiences in Band Box East (Boston) and Band Box West (Colorado). Ticket another $58 million for a Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard reunion next year, then we’ll talk playoffs.

20. Chicago Cubs

Japanese import Seiya Suzuki replaces Kris Bryant. Or maybe Anthony Rizzo. Or possibly Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Soler or Addison Russell. The problem is: The Cubs need him to replace six guys, and even the great Shohei Ohtani can only replace two.

19. Minnesota Twins

Nothing says “it’s all about the money” more than Carlos Correa joining a tail-spinning team that … well, that just traded for Gary Sanchez of all people. It could get cold in the Great North awfully early this summer.

18. Los Angeles Angels

New DH rules will mean more Ohtani. But any Mets fans will tell you: Expecting more Syndergaard leads one to bang himself in the head with Thor’s hammer.

17. Cleveland Guardians

They’ve changed names and changed hitting coaches, but really the only thing different about the pitchers and position players is they’ve gotten a year older. Each group was the youngest in baseball last year, so improving upon 80 wins with healthier front-line arms would seem likely.

16. Seattle Mariners

We’ll get to see, thanks to the pilfering of former Cincinnati standouts Suarez and Winker, if there’s any truth to: Red sea at night, Mariners delight. This much almost surely will be delightful: The debut of Julio Rodriguez.

15. Milwaukee Brewers

The generally Christian Yelich- and Lorenzo Cain-less club winning the NL Central last year says more about the division than the Brewers. But lo and behold, the division is actually weaker in 2022, so a team that basically sat on a vastly overrated roster (Andrew McCutchen, seriously?) might actually fool themselves again.

14. San Diego Padres

It appears the last thing Bob Melvin did on his way out the door in Oakland was remind management just how expensive Sean Manaea would be in the near future … before getting to San Diego and trading for the talented lefty on the cheap.

13. Detroit Tigers

The future is here with Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene and Casey Mize ready to take center stage. And with hole-plugging imports such as Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Pineda, Baez and Tucker Barnhart, a team that finished 77-85 last season could be this year’s Giants.

12. San Francisco Giants

Speaking of which … let me get this straight: They lost three big-money guys in Buster Posey, Bryant and Kevin Gausman and were forced to replace them with scrap-heap discards. You know, kinda like they did last year with a bunch of no-names and a magic-wand-waving manager, Gabe Kapler. And Las Vegas is projecting a 20-plus-game slip in wins? Why?

11. Philadelphia Phillies

Schwarber, Castellanos, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius … that’s not going to be easy for any pitcher to navigate this season. Especially when you throw Bryce Harper’s 100 walks into the middle of it.

10. Tampa Bay Rays

They lost … whoa, does it really matter? Been there, done that, finished ahead of the New York Yankees, repeat. As long as seemingly the greatest manager of all-time, Kevin Cash, is doing his thing, it usually doesn’t matter whose strings he’s pulling.

9. Boston Red Sox

The Trevor Story-Xander Bogaerts pairing might play second fiddle to Semien-Seager in Texas, but the supporting cast in Boston assures its Dynamic Double Play Duo actually might bat with runners on base and get some pitches to hit.

8. New York Yankees

Sadly, the Sanchez era is over in New York. You’re next, Giancarlo Stanton.

7. Atlanta Braves

The defending champs lost the NL MVP and the World Series MVP, start the season with significant injuries (Ronald Acuna, Mike Soroka, Charlie Morton) and, worst of all, brought in Kenley Jansen. Come to think of it, maybe this is too high.

6. St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols. Yeah, nice story. But what’s new in St. Louis this season is something that’s gotten real old — injury comebacks. If the untouchable Jordan Hicks completes his, the Cardinals will win the division (they might by default anyway). If Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty follow, one Missouri team could be wearing a crown.

5. Houston Astros

The AL West has gotten better at all stops except Oakland, and the Astros believe they can power on without Correa and Zack Greinke. It might be harder than they’ve gotten accustomed to.

4. New York Mets

Down goes deGrom. No problem because we now have … oops, down goes Scherzer. Paraphrasing John Elway for all long-suffering Mets fans: “Why does this always happen to us?”

3. Chicago White Sox

You might have missed this in the high-rent business transactions: The team with $72 million worth of pitching (the White Sox) dealt $16 million of it (Craig Kimbrel) to a team that thought spending $79 million on arms wasn’t enough (the Dodgers). And next week on “Selling Sunset” …

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Scherzer, Jansen, Seager, A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly … the Lakers wish they could jettison five of their biggest names so easily. And remember, this juggernaut didn’t win its division last season. Even at $277 million and a scout at Opening Day in Oakland, there’s hope for the challengers.

1. Toronto Blue Jays

Are you telling me that one team employs Vladimir Guerrero, Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Gausman, Jose Berrios, Hyun-jin Ryu and Yusei Kikuchi? And they don’t let unvaccinated opponents in the door? Hardly seems fair.

–By Dave Del Grande, Field Level Media