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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Extra Innings: 2023 power rankings

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Before the baseball season hits full stride, it’s time for some power rankings. Since no one cares about whether the Athletics or Nationals are dead last, I’ll stick to the upper tier of clubs. Here are my top 10 teams in the league for 2023.

10. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays can really pitch. Shane McClanahan emerged as one of the league’s elite starters in 2022, Tyler Glasnow will be back and they signed Zach Eflin in free agency. Their bullpen was also among the league’s best last year. Young star Wander Franco and the underrated Yandy Díaz are bright spots on offense, but realistically, the Rays will win by stifling opposing offenses.

9. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have two of the best players in baseball in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who finished first and third in National League MVP voting, respectively. They also added former Cubs catcher Willson Contreras to succeed Yadier Molina behind the plate. They have the added advantage of playing in the weak NL Central.

8. Toronto Blue Jays

It was an early exit in the wild card round for Toronto last year, and they’ll be looking for revenge in 2023. Although Teoscar Hernández left for Seattle, the Jays found a solid replacement in Kevin Kiermaier. As for pitching, they signed Chris Bassitt in free agency, and Hyun Jin Ryu will be healthy, which will make their rotation even stronger.

7. Philadelphia Phillies

After a surprise run to the World Series last year, the Phillies will have much higher expectations this year after bringing in shortstop Trea Turner and starting pitcher Taijuan Walker. Walker joins Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola in an elite starting rotation. Still, they’ll have a tough hill to climb in a division with the Braves and Mets, especially with Bryce Harpersidelined for at least two months.

6. New York Yankees

When healthy, the Yankees have the best rotation in baseball, between Gerrit Cole, new acquisition Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas. Re-signing Aaron Judge improves an otherwise outdated lineup, but this team doesn’t have to score 10 runs a game to win thanks to their pitching staff.

5. San Diego Padres

After a run to the National League Championship Series last year, the Padres added to their already stacked lineup by signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year deal. He’ll join stars Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatís Jr. in one of the best lineups in baseball, as the Padres look for their first division title since 2006.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers watched Trea Turner, Tyler Anderson, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger all walk in free agency. And yet, they’re still here. The Dodgers won’t be the team to beat, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t really good. This team won 111 games last year and are led by veterans Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

3. New York Mets

Even though the Mets lost Jacob deGrom and didn’t manage to sign Carlos Correa to their reported 12-year deal, this team is still elite, especially after adding future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga to bolster the rotation and re-signing outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Will this be the year that they finally dethrone the Braves in the NL East?

2. Atlanta Braves

Despite losing team leader Dansby Swanson in free agency, this is still one of the best teams in baseball. They have Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider all locked up through at least 2026, and made a key addition this offseason with catcher Sean Murphy. Although their 2022 postseason ended early, the Braves will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

1. Houston Astros

The defending champs are atop the preseason power rankings. Even though Justin Verlander left for Queens, the Astros still have one of the league’s best pitching staffs, headlined by Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and a lights-out bullpen. And if Yordan Álvarez, Jeremy Peña, Alex Bregman, José Altuve and Kyle Tucker didn’t make their lineup scary enough, Houston picked up first baseman José Abreu back in November.