A dominant Mets rotation–made up of five young starters with the ability to strike out 200 guys a year and consistently post ERAs under 3.00 across the board–was something that had been forecast for the last three or four seasons, but with devastating injuries to Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in consecutive seasons, it was beginning to feel like a prophesy that would go unanswered. However, after a preview last season helped the Mets grab the NL pennant, we’re finally here. The Mets rotations heading into the season looks like this: Jacob deGrom (27), Harvey (26), Noah Syndergaard (23), Steven Matz (24), and Grandfather Time (42-year-old Bartolo Colon), until Wheeler (25) comes back in June or July. (more…)
St. Louis Cardinals (101-61)
Team Ace: Adam Wainwright
Breakout Player: Matt Adams
The Cardinal’s one weakness last season was their defense, and improving that aspect of their game was the top priority in the offseason. The Cardinals cut ties with Carlos Beltran in order to get younger, faster and to steal a few more runs in center field with Peter Bourjos. They moved Matt Carpenter to 3rd base to replace David Freese, and now have the combination of Mark Ellis and Kolten Wong at second base, both who bring consistent offensive production and top defensive skills. Also, by moving Allen Craig to the outfield, they have an opening for Matt Adams at first, which with the addition of Jhonny Peralta will try to replace Beltran’s bat in the lineup. Even if the Cardinals suffer some injuries in the outfield, middle infield or at first, they have options to replace them. Jon Jay always’s manages to steal at bats every year, and is a great piece in the outfield. Prospect Oscer Taveras looks like he’ll be joining the big team sooner rather than later, giving them even more versatility. And they still have Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, who played around 130 games each last season, riding the bench and ready to fill in at 3rd, 2nd, or short if needed. (more…)
8. Cincinnati Reds (90-72)
Team Ace: Mat Latos
Breakout Player: Billy Hamilton
I can’t see this team beating the Cardinals for the division title, but even with there injuries coming into the year I don’t see a scenario where the Reds fail to make the playoffs either.
The only real change in the offseason was replacing Sin Shoo Choo with speedster Billy Hamilton in center field. Defensively Hamilton is a huge improvement (Choo ranked at the bottom of the league in defensive runs saved last season), and the two players are completely different offensively. Choo was an all around player, combining modest speed with a great OBP and some power. Hamilton won’t be nearly as effective getting on base, or driving in runs from the leadoff spot, but when he gets on base will give the team a lot of options.
It’s unrealistic to expect Cueto to start more than 16 or 17 games at this point, but the team does have a few strong options at the top of the rotation. Homer Bailey has been improving ever so slightly every season since he’s been in the major, and he’ll take another step this year, and can be a poor man’s Madison Bumgarner.
You’ll be finding playoff contenders from this point on in my rankings.
Since I started writing my power rankings a few weeks ago, a lot of things have changed, most of them injury related. I’ve adjusted my remaining team rankings accordingly but am leaving my projected records the same (they’re too hard to change across the board, and I’ve already published so many that I wouldn’t want to go back and change all of them) So the records and ranks might not make too much sense together at this point, but I am confident with my order.