PTBPR: MLB End-of-Season Power Rankings

Last week, the Kansas City Royals snapped a 30-year championship drought, topping the New York Mets four games to one in the World Series, capping off a most sublimely unpredictable 2015 season.

With the year complete, let’s take a stroll down (not-too-distant) memory lane and examine all 30 MLB teams in one last Place To Be Nation Power Rankings!

The Kansas City Royals capped 2015 with their first Word Championship in 30 years.
The Kansas City Royals capped 2015 with their first Word Championship in 30 years.
Team, Record, Prior Rankings Final Thoughts
Kansas City Royals, 95-67 The World Champions did it through several years of high draft picks, patience, and a series of smart decisions, including the midseason acquisitions of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The rotation still looks weak, but the defense is very good, and the Royals were excellent at putting the ball in play. They got a little lucky, too, as most winners are. The pieces for a competitive 2016 are still there, but the team will need to retain Alex Gordon and/or Zobrist, while grabbing a couple arms as well.
New York Mets, 90-72 An offense that looked like garbage at the start of the year turned things around once the team acquired Yoenis Cespedes and got everyone (read: David Wright) healthy. The young pitching was excellent, despite the drama that Matt Harvey creates. Kudos to the Mets for a great season. They’ll need to stay busy this winter, replacing Cespedes and 2B Daniel Murphy. Could they move one of those arms to do so? Time will tell, but the NL Champs will be a fascinating watch this offseason.
St. Louis Cardinals, 100-62 It’s amazing how the Cardinals keep doing this. The pitching was crazy-good this year (ML-best 2.62 ERA) and the offense had enough depth to cover injuries, so the Redbirds were an October presence once again. The biggest question seems to be if free agent Jason Heyward will return to St. Louis, or depart for the biggest possible payday. Regardless, the Cards seem well-prepared either way, with Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty emerging this year as potential replacements.
Pittsburgh Pirates, 98-64 It’s getting depressing to see Pittsburgh finally, after years of futility, be so excellent, only to drop these one-game wild card contests. Still, there’s a point to the single-game showdowns, so the Pirates have incentive to keep improving and capture a division crown. They’ll need some pitching miracles again to replace the retiring A.J. Burnett and free agent J.A. Happ, but they seem to have a good shot at adding Korean 1B masher Byung-ho Park (we’ll find out who posted the winning bid on Monday). Until they show it, don’t count the Pirates out.
Chicago Cubs, 97-65 Much like the Houston Astros, the Cubbies got to the dance a year ahead of schedule, thanks to the excellent offensive seasons from rookie Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo. Big offseason splash Jon Lester wasn’t outstanding, but rotation-mate Jake Arrieta was, blossoming from a mid-level guy to an ace. The Cubs planned all along to make some noise during this offseason, so look for them to do just that, landing at least one big fish, and continuing their quest to change history.
Los Angeles Dodgers, 92-70 Zack Greinke was fantastic and might win the Cy Young. Clayton Kershaw was amazing and might win the Cy Young. Corey Seager looks like a star at SS. Joc Pederson looks like a solid player, maybe more if he can make some offensive adjustments. Despite significant roster turnover from last year, the Dodgers gelled and reached the playoffs for the third straight year. Losing skipper Don Mattingly hurts, and we don’t know his replacement yet. This decision, as well as what happens with free agent Greinke, could hugely impact 2016 in La-La Land.
Texas Rangers, 88-74 Most the 2014 injuries healed up, and while it looked bleak when ace Yu Darvish went down to Tommy John in March, the rest of the team stayed reasonably healthy this year. A bad April (7-14) was overcome by an excellent May (19-11) and the Rangers closed out the season with a 38-22 (.633) run that saw them come within one win of the ALCS. The offense should be strong again, and the two-headed monster of Cole Hamels and Darvish atop the rotation keeps Texas as a 2016 contender.
Toronto Blue Jays, 93-69 The Josh Donaldson trade paid huge dividends for the Jays, as did the midseason acquisitions of SS Troy Tulowitzki and SP David Price. The Blue Jays rode a dominant offense, and a better-than-expected defense to their first playoff run since 1993. The team will take a hit with the (probable) exit of Price to free agency, but the loss of GM Alex Anthopolous looms larger, as the team and fanbase have raised expectations significantly.
Houston Astros, 86-76 Contention arrived a year early for the Astros, thanks to the promotion of superstar-in-training Carlos Correa, the emergence of LHP Dallas Kuechel as an ace, and a good bullpen that kept a lot of leads that slipped away in years prior. The midseason deal for CF Carlos Gomez did not help much, but with incumbent Colby Rasmus a free agent, having Gomez around, helps the depth. Now if only George Springer could stay healthy in 2016 …
New York Yankees, 87-75 A powerful offense (212 HR, team SLG of.421) kept the Bombers in contention all year, while an improved defense (Didi Gregorius in particular) helped too. The rotation lacked a true standout, but Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow held up while most of the other starters were good enough to get leads to the excellent ‘pen, led by Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. New York would be wise to follow a similar model in 2016, but endeavor to add youth where they can.
Los Angeles Angels, 85-77 Mike Trout had his best offensive season to date, while Albert Pujols smashed 40 HR for the first time since 2010 as a Cardinal. However, that was pretty much it on offense, as the rest of the Halo lineup was streaky, or outright terrible. A middle-of-the-road pitching staff (5th or 6th in most AL categories) lacks a true ace, but new GM Billy Eppler is more likely to add a mid-level guy instead.
Minnesota Twins, 83-79 The Twinkies were a surprise contender all year, getting average production from nearly every regular in the lineup. Eight of nine regular posted OPS+ of 89 or better, with catcher Kurt Suzuki (67) the only dead spot. Rookie DH Miguel Sano (146 OPS+, 18 HR in 279 ABs) looks like the best power threat in the Twin Cities since … well, Killebrew, maybe? The pitching was the same story: no stars, but no truly awful performers either.  
San Francisco Giants, 84-78 The best infield in baseball couldn’t prop up the injury-prone outfield and sub-par starting pitching (3.95 ERA). As long as the G-Men have their current leadership setup (Sabean, Evans, Bochy), this team will always be in the hunt. Look for them to make some small moves (and maybe one biggie) in hopes of another even-year championship.
Cleveland Indians, 81-80 A horrid April (7-14) crippled the Tribe’s shot at contention, but a few tweaks in the second half (calling up Francisco Lindor, jettisoning Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, moving Lonnie Chisenhall out of the infield) boosted the defense from awful to exceptional, and guided Cleveland to a 46-39 record in the final three months. The foundation for a contender is there; all they need is a another piece or two.
Tampa Bay Rays, 80-82 Rookie skipper Kevin Cash did an admirable job considering what he had to work with. The 2015 campaign saw the emergence of Chris Archer as a top-of-the-rotation starter, while Kevin Kiermaier came out as the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball. The post-surgery return of Alex Cobb, along with Drew Smyly, give the Rays a good shot at topping .500 and hanging with the contenders next year.
Washington Nationals, 83-79 The World Series favorite of many, injuries and in-fighting, along with ex-manager Matt Williams’ failings with both in-game and clubhouse management, doomed the Nats to a season of disappointment. Will new helmsman Dusty Baker help turn this ship around? Well, it’s unlikely to be worse.
Arizona Diamondbacks, 79-83 The continued excellence of Paul Goldschmidt, along with the emergence of A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, and Ender Inciarte, helped the D’Backs post a stellar offense, and a pretty sharp defense. However, they just couldn’t get that kind of mound support (4.04 staff ERA, 10th in the NL in strikeouts, 182 HR allowed).
Seattle Mariners, 76-86 Nelson Cruz was pretty much the only thing that went right at the plate for Seattle, as Robinson Cano struggled mightily in the first half and none of the other bats really stepped up. The bullpen went from one of the game’s best to one of its worst. Ditto for the starting staff outside of King Felix.
Boston Red Sox, 78-84 New Sox boss Dave Dombrowski has a great farm system to work from, thanks to his predecessor, Ben Cherington. Now Dombrowski will get a chance to rebuild the Sox into a legit contender, rather than the up-and-down mess they’ve been for most of the past decade.
Detroit Tigers, 74-87 A pre-season World Series favorite by some pundits, the Tigers wound up disappointing many, including this writer, with their first last-place finish since the 2003 squad that finished 43-119. The bullpen failures were many, which saddled an inconsistent, but potent, offense, which too much of a burden. Justin Verlander finally found his way again in the second half, but this team needs a lot of work to hang with KC in the Central.
Chicago White Sox, 76-86 Too many holes in the offense doomed the Pale Hose, and nearly every major offseason move (Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, and Adam LaRoche) bombed. This team sucked when ace Chris Sale wasn’t on the mound. Another bad performance in 2016 could cost GM Rick Hahn his job.
Baltimore Orioles, 81-81 A drop-off for the Birds, who struggled in the rotation — five of six SP posted ERAs over 4.00 — along with a poor season by the entire bench. Outside of Chris Davis (47 HRs), Manny Machado (7.0 bWAR), and Adam Jones (27 HRs), no one else was up to expectations at the plate. Top SP Wei-Yen Chen, along with Davis, and C Matt Wieters, and setup master Darren O’Day are among the free agents that could be departing the Charm City, potentially slamming the O’s window of contention shut.
San Diego Padres, 74-88 A.J. Preller’s first full year as Padres’ GM was, well, “… a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” That’s Bill Shakespeare calling Preller an idiot, by the way. I think he’s got one more offseason to prove himself, but the Friars shouldn’t be afraid to move on if 2016 proves as disastrous as 2015 was. It could fascinating to see either a total teardown (which would be Preller admitting failure; not lucky) or a tweak-job rebuild in which the club targets a legit SS and maybe a legit CF, too.
Colorado Rockies, 68-94 Nolan Arenado had a fantastic season (.287 with a league-high 42 homers and 130 RBIs), supplanting Tulowitzki as the face of the franchise. Also, Tulo’s full name is Troy Trever Tulowitzki. Weird, right? Wouldn’t you expect Trever as the first name, and Troy as a middle name? That’s weird, right?
Miami Marlins, 71-91 Dee Gordon emerged as a star (but that garbage walk rate is a harbinger of a short peak) but little else went right for the Feesh. They fired their manager, replaced him with their GM, then let that guy go for a more famous name that probably won’t make a difference. As long as Loria owns this club, contention will be a rare sight in Miami.
Milwaukee Brewers, 68-94 Most of the Brew’s core is either injury-prone (Ryan Braun), ineffective (Jean Segura), unlucky (Jonathan Lucroy), or a terrible mix of all three (most of the pitching). They got a couple of good prospects when they dealt Mike Fiers and Gomez to the Astros, so a rebuild could be on the agenda of new GM David Stearns.
Oakland A’s, 68-94 Billy Beane finally laid an egg, as the Green ‘N’ Gold Express lost 20 more games than last season, and finished last for the first time since 2009. They finished near the bottom of most offensive categories and were pretty garbage on the mound too, despite Sonny Gray’s elite performance. Never count Beane out, but he’s got a lot of work to do this go-round.
Atlanta Braves, 67-95 The teardown was amazingly quick, as the Braves went from fringe contender to their worst record since 1990 (65-97, last place). There’s not much left to trade, although starter Julio Teheran could go, and do not rule out 1B Freddie Freeman getting moved if the right package is floated.
Philadelphia Phillies, 63-99 We all knew this was coming. The team did well to unload elder statesmen Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and especially Hamels, helping to restock the system. It’s still a long climb for the Phillies, but at least the front office finally acknowledged as much.
Cincinnati Reds, 64-98 A dismal season for the Reds, who dropped 14 of their final 15 contests. There’s still some talent onboard, with Joey Votto regaining his MVP form and Aroldis Chapman stellar out of the bullpen. But injuries to shortstop Zack Cozart and several starting pitchers, along with the offensive ineptitude of Billy Hamilton, crushed this team. I’m shocked Bryan Price remains at the helm, but he’ll have a super-short leash in 2016.

 

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.