Opening Day for Major League Baseball arrives Thursday, a little late after an offseason lockout, and there are clear lines between the haves and have-nots in MLB.
Naturally, the team that tops the MLB Power Rankings and enters the season with the highest win total and shortest odds to win the World Series is the Los Angeles Dodgers, the biggest spenders in the sport.
Spending all that money does not guarantee the Dodgers a championship but it puts them in the conversation every year. The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves have had recent titles, too, but there are some other challengers that have not. That group includes the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers, two teams that took a step forward in 2021 and will try to keep moving in the right direction.
Here are my preseason MLB Power Rankings, with season win totals and World Series odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
MLB Power Rankings
(Totals and World Series Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (97.5; +475 to win the World Series)
The Dodgers won the World Series in 2020 and have played at better than a .640 pace in four of the past five seasons. They expect to win and spend accordingly, which ensures that they have strong depth. It also allowed them to add another star, adding first baseman Freddie Freeman in the offseason. A late spring trade for closer Craig Kimbrel shored up one potential area of concern.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (92.5; +900)
A team on the rise that won 91 games last season, the Blue Jays added third baseman Matt Chapman to a loaded lineup, led by first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette. The pitching staff lost American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray in free agency but countered that loss by signing Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi.
3. Houston Astros (91.5; +1000)
The Astros have made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, winning at least 95 games in four of those seasons. They lost shortstop Carlos Correa in free agency, and starting pitcher Lance McCullers will not be ready to start the season, but they are getting Justin Verlander back after he recovered from Tommy John surgery, and the Astros still have enough at the plate to be contenders.
4. Atlanta Braves (91.5; +1000)
The reigning World Series champs. The Braves lost Freeman to the Dodgers but added first baseman Matt Olson from the A’s and brought in closer Kenley Jansen from the Dodgers. The Braves will also get a boost relatively early in the season when right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. returns from a knee injury that cost him half of the 2021 season.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (89.5; +1600)
Having made the playoffs in four straight seasons, the Brewers have a dominant starting rotation, consisting of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser, and Eric Lauer. That consistently keeps them in the game. The lineup could still use a jolt or two, and a return to form from left fielder Christian Yelich would make a major difference.
6. Philadelphia Phillies (85.5; +2200)
The Phillies have not made the playoffs since 2011 and have powered up their lineup with the additions of Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. Front-end starters Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are strong, but the question for the Phillies is whether they can get enough support from the rest of the staff.
7. San Francisco Giants (85.5; +2800)
After a shocking 107-win season in 2021 – the most wins in franchise history following four straight losing seasons – the Giants enter this season with more manageable expectations. Catcher Buster Posey has retired, but the biggest change for the Giants is in the starting rotation, where Logan Webb and Alex Wood remain, but are now surrounded by Carlos Rodon, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Cobb.
8. Chicago White Sox (91.5; +1200)
This is a lower ranking than expected for the White Sox, but it is partially due to the knee injury that will keep ace starter Lance Lynn sidelined for the first few months of the season. The White Sox added outfielder A.J. Pollock in a trade with the Dodgers and figured to be even more dangerous offensively with a full season from power-hitting left fielder Eloy Jimenez.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – MARCH 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a single in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during a Grapefruit League spring training game at George Steinbrenner Field on March 30, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Julio Aguilar / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
9. New York Yankees (91.5; +900)
The Yankees have made the playoffs in five straight seasons, but they won 92 games last season with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton staying relatively healthy. Adding Isiah Kiner-Falefa at shortstop and Josh Donaldson at third base might not be enough to push the Yankees over the hump.
10. Minnesota Twins (81.5; +6000)
After a couple of strong seasons, the Twins took a step back in 2021 and got busy in the offseason trying to improve. They landed shortstop Carlos Correa from Houston and acquired catcher Gary Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela in the deal sending Donaldson to the Bronx. They have added Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer to a rotation that will depend heavily on relatively young arms Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober.
11. New York Mets (88.5; +1100)
The Mets’ ranking would have been notably higher if not for Jacob deGrom’s injury, a stress reaction in his scapula that will keep him out until at least late May. When he’s healthy, deGrom headlines a rotation that includes newcomers Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt. A competent lineup gets a boost from outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha.
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12. Seattle Mariners (83.5; +4000)
Although the Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001, they did win 90 games last season and had some significant offseason acquisitions, including AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, outfielder Jesse Winker, second baseman Adam Frazier, and third baseman Eugenio Suarez. The wildcards for the Mariners are top prospects as Julio Rodriguez has landed the center field job and Matt Brash has earned a spot in the starting rotation.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (84.5; +3500)
The Cardinals have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and have not finished below .500 since 2007. They brought back Albert Pujols, though that is not likely to help much, and they added Steven Matz to a starting rotation that will be missing ace Jack Flaherty for at least the first couple of weeks of the season.
14. Los Angeles Angels (83.5; +3500)
It’s hard to believe that the Angels, boasting a lineup with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, have not made the playoffs since 2014, though Trout was limited to a career-low 36 games last season. Nevertheless, the Angels brought in injury-plagued starter Noah Syndergaard in the hopes of giving this Angels team a shot at a winning record.
15. Boston Red Sox (85.5; +2200)
Even though the Red Sox won 92 games last season, expectations are relatively modest for them in 2022. With Chris Sale and James Paxton out, their starting rotation features Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill – more than a few question marks there. They did add Trevor Story and should have the bats to be competitive but those pitching questions will linger.
16. Tampa Bay Rays (89.5; +1700)
A team that breaks the forecasting model because of their unusual pitcher usage patterns. The Rays won 100 games last season and have made the playoffs for three straight seasons but, with Tyler Glasnow out for the season, they don’t have an established ace starter and the lineup has some bright lights – Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, and Brandon Lowe among them – but it is not overpowering, either.
SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 23: Yu Darvish #11 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park on September 23, 2021 in San Diego, California. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by DENIS POROY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
17. San Diego Padres (90.5; +1800)
Expectations are high for the Padres, even though they won 79 games last season and will be missing superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for the first couple of months due to a broken wrist. They are committed to this season, though, acquiring starting pitcher Sean Manaea from the Oakland A’s to join Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell in a formidable rotation.
18. Miami Marlins (76.5; +8000)
Another team looking to take a step forward, the Marlins won 67 games last season and while they added veteran outfielders Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, the real potential with the Marlins is on the mound, as the starting rotation of Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez, and Jesus Luzardo gives them a chance to be competitive.
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19. Cleveland Guardians (76.5; +10000)
Last season was Cleveland’s first season finishing under .500 since 2012 and there are legitimate questions about how this team is going to score runs. It’s mostly star third baseman Jose Ramirez and maybe DH Franmil Reyes trying to power through. The Guardians do have some talent on the mound, though, with a starting rotation featuring Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantrill, and Triston McKenzie. That might be enough for them to be mediocre.
20. Kansas City Royals (74.5; +12000)
There is a hint of optimism in Kansas City, as top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is set to open the season at third base and veteran starting pitcher Zack Greinke returns to the fold. Catcher Salvador Perez is coming off a monster season and right fielder Whit Merrifield is reliably productive but there are too many holes to expect the Royals to have a winning season.
21. Chicago Cubs (75.5; +10000)
While the Cubs have overhauled their roster, and have a questionable lineup as a result, they did sign Japanese free agent outfielder Seiya Suzuki and bolstered their pitching staff with Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Wade Miley. This isn’t earth-shattering but is a sign that the Cubs won’t completely bottom out, either.
22. Detroit Tigers (77.5; +6500)
The Tigers are on their ascent, with a lot of young talent starting to get acclimated to the major leagues. They will be missing top prospect center fielder Riley Greene for a couple of months, but first baseman Spencer Torkelson could be an impact bat and veteran shortstop Javier Baez was a big get in the offseason. The rotation gets a lift from Eduardo Rodriguez, who will join young starters Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.
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23. Texas Rangers (74.5; +10000)
Even after making some splashy offseason moves, bringing in infielders Marcus Semien and Corey Seager along with outfielders Kole Calhoun and Brad Miller, plus pitchers Jon Gray and Martin Perez, the Rangers still have a long climb from their 60-win season in 2021.
24. Cincinnati Reds (74.5; +15000)
The Reds went into cost-cutting mode in the offseason, and it leaves first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Jonathan India without much support. With Luis Castillo injured to start the year, the rotation is Tyler Mahle surrounded by a lot of unproven arms.
25. Washington Nationals (71.5; +15000)
A team that won the World Series in 2019, the Nationals are in the rebuilding process, trying to find talent to complement superstar outfielder Juan Soto. At this point, it’s a work in progress, though veteran sluggers Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell should provide some pop. The rotation is full of question marks, not least of which is when (or if) Stephen Strasburg will be healthy.
26. Colorado Rockies (68.5; +25000)
The Rockies lost Trevor Story to Boston and Jon Gray to Texas in free agency but signed Kris Bryant and made a trade to acquire Randal Grichuk, so they have not thrown in the towel. It is just hard to put expectations on the Rockies with suspect pitching, a story as old as Coors Field.
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27. Arizona Diamondbacks (66.5; +25000)
Is it making much of a statement to suggest that the Diamondbacks are not necessarily as bad as the team that was 52-110 last season? They are not good, but they have brought in some veteran relievers and have some decent young talent that will get a chance to play. The question is whether they can get enough starting pitching for it to matter. A rotation of Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, and Zach Davies does not offer a strong answer.
28. Baltimore Orioles (62.5; +30000)
While the Orioles are not to be confused with a good team – they won 52 games last season, their fifth straight losing campaign – they can sell hope based on top prospects who should find their way to Baltimore this season. Catcher Adley Rutschman and starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez both have star potential and the Orioles do have dynamic center fielder Cedric Mullins but it’s a long climb up the ladder from a 52-win season.
29. Oakland Athletics (68.5; +20000)
The A’s won 86 games last season and that snapped a streak of three consecutive playoff appearances, but they just gutted the squad in the offseason, and it probably won’t be long before starting pitcher Frankie Montas gets moved out, too. Their most compelling position player is center fielder Ramon Laureano, who will miss the first month while finishing a PED suspension. This A’s decline looks like it will be sudden and unpleasant.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (65.5; +30000)
Although the Pirates made the playoffs in 2015, they have not had a winning record since, and last season’s 61-win season was their worst since 2010. That did not stop the Pirates from demoting top prospect Oneil Cruz, just to make sure that there was no reason for hope on Opening Day.
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