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Gordy’s baseball rankings

By Gordy Stillman

Section: Sports

March 4, 2011

As spring training begins and baseball starts up again, it’s time to start some weekly rankings. Unlike the NFL, where it is possible to make picks by each game, baseball is played more often (162 games per season plus spring training and postseason) and power rankings are the best way to keep everything in order.

The real season does not start until March 31 and until then we have about four weeks of pre-season to go through. Let’s get started. The rankings are organized by league and by conference.

The American League (AL)

East Division

1. Tampa Bay Rays: Surprising many, the 2010 Rays managed to edge out the Yankees for the top of the AL East and, in doing, they so prevented the Red Sox from reaching the postseason. Whether Tampa can stay strong remains to be seen.

2. Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox always seem to be viable contenders. With only a small level of change between this year and last, they should be able to overcome the, at the moment, weak Yankees.

3. New York Yankees: Speaking of teams for Bostonians to pay attention to, there are of course the New York Yankees. The team may be surprisingly low-placed to start off the preseason, however, the Yankees are expected to have a relatively weak year. After failing to acquire Cliff Lee and losing a starting pitcher to retirement, the Yankees are going to need to show that their farm system can produce quality players; or they could always try to trade for what they need.

4. Toronto Blue Jays: I’ll be honest that I have a level of disdain for the Blue Jays. It was in a game against the Blue Jays that Twins star Justin Morneau suffered a concussion and was lost for the rest of the season. That being said, they were one of four teams in the AL East to secure winning records last year and are a large part of what keeps that division so competitive.

5. Baltimore Orioles: Unfortunately for the Orioles, they cannot seem to mimic the success of the original Orioles (the Yankees).

Central Division

1. Minnesota Twins: The Twins have been consistently making strong runs for the postseason. Last year was the first in three that the AL Central was not decided by an extra (163rd) game. Despite losing a few players during the offseason, new members, as well as returning closer Joe Nathan, should ensure the Twins remain a team to watch.

2. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are one of the three teams that typically fight it out all season in the AL Central division. Out of the AL Central, these Sox are the most recent world series champs (2005) and never seem to be out of the running.

3. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers, despite the best efforts of the White Sox and the Twins, help keep the AL Central a three-way fight. Last year they split their season 81-81; this year they are hoping to finally secure their first division title since the creation of the AL Central.

4. Cleveland Indians: The Indians were a successful team in the late ’90s but have since slumped against division competition from the Twins, White Sox and Tigers.

5. Kansas City Royals: Another perennial weak link of the AL Central. I personally like them because they appear to win whenever it benefits the Twins.

West Division

1. Texas Rangers: While being the runner-up to the world champions earns a high ranking, I’m awarding this spot because the Rangers were the team to stop the Yankees’ bid for a repeat championship; that’s worth a lot in my book.

2. Oakland Athletics: Oakland, like Detroit, had a split season as well. Whether Oakland will make it remains to be seen. Last year they ended a full nine games behind the Texas Rangers.

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels bring the total count to five teams. The Angels ended last year with a record of 80-82. After breaking a three-year division winning streak, the Angels are hoping to regain their division-leading reputation as they celebrate their 50th season.

4. Seattle Mariners: I like the Mariners for one simple reason—Nintendo owns them.

The National League (NL)

East Division

1. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies won it all in 2008 and spent both 2009 and 2010 losing in the postseason to the eventual champions. With the reacquisition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies should be ready to make a strong run again.

2. Atlanta Braves: The Braves made it to the post-season last year, securing the wildcard spot only after all 162 season games. Additionally, for Boston fans at least, the Braves should be an interesting team to follow considering they were once the Boston Braves.

3. Florida Marlins: With a disappointing losing record last year, the Marlins are probably wishing they could have the success of their AL counterparts the Tampa Bay Rays.

4. New York Mets: Another team with an AL counterpart. The Mets are a team I’m hoping has some success this year not only because I despise the Yankees, but because I really don’t mind the Mets.

5. Washington Nationals: The third team to be based out of D.C., this is the only one to be in the NL.

Central Division

1. Cincinnati Reds: The Reds returned to the playoffs last year after a 15-year absence. It took a sweep by the heavily favored Phillies to knock the NL Central team out of the running last year. Additionally, they were able to sign (and re-sign) more players than not. The Reds should stay strong this year.

2. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals are an interesting team to say the least. They have recently been in the news because star player Albert Pujols suspended contract negotiations at the start of spring training and will not look at a contract for the future until the end of this season.

3. Houston Astros: It is no surprise that a state with two NFL teams and three NBA teams is also a state with two MLB teams. The Astros ended last year with a 76-86 record.

4. Milwaukee Brewers: I hate Wisconsin teams on basic principal. That isn’t the case with the Brewers because they simply are not worth the attention.

5. Chicago Cubs: The Cubs may be one of the oldest franchises in the NL, but they still appear to need a miracle a la Rookie of the Year in order to be competitive.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates had the worst record in baseball last year with less than 60 wins.

West Division

1. San Francisco Giants: As the reigning world champions, they automatically get the top spot.

2. San Diego Padres: The Padres were the only team in the entire MLB last year to win 90 or more games and not make it to the postseason. Their season came down to the 162nd game, which happened to be against the San Francisco Giants. The Padres almost forced an extra game but the Giants got it together and started their World Series run.

3. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies are a team not to underestimate. Sure they have only been around since ’93 and sure they have never won a division title, but they did make it to the World Series in 2007. A team that can make it to the World Series in its first 15 years is definitely not one to underestimate.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are no longer managed by Joe Torre and are also coming off of a season where their longtime rival, the Giants, won it all.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks won a world series in their fourth season as a franchise back in 2001. Other than that, nothing suggests they will be front-runners this year.

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