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The WSL Pre-Season Power Rankings return with a bang (not to be confused with a bang bang, as that's stupid). As this is the first PR using WAR as a metric, a few notes:

- WAR is calculated based on the expected every-day lineup, 5-man rotation, and 5-man bullpen listed on the team pages. Teams that plan to platoon heavily will be understated.
- WAR does not factor closer ratings, so elite closers are arguably understated.
- Seth's a snake in the grass and the Chowds suck.

Team Name Total WAR (Rank) Hitter WAR (Rank) Starter WAR (Rank) Reliever WAR (Rank) Comment
New York NL 86.5 (1) 48.7 (1) 28.9 (1) 8.9 (3) An embarrassing NLDS loss to Atlanta seems to have pissed off the ACs. Despite years of generally avoiding big FA tickets, New York added the top SP in free agency this year in Gerrit Cole...and made him one of the highest paid SP in the league. He joins arguably the best NYN rotation in years, alongside mainstay Justin Verlander, Mike Clevinger, Kyle Freeland, and Jack Flaherty. The AC lineup is where things get nasty, however. Top to bottom, there are all-star game candidates at every position; and that doesn't include Jesse Winker, Jeff McNeil, or Josh Reddick off the bench. Throw in the usual AC war chest of prospects to add pieces in July and it's World Series or bust this year. Give a big thanks to Ron, everybody.
Chicago NL 70.4 (2) 35.4 (3) 25.9 (2) 10.1 (1) The 2018 Juice squad is group full of contradictions. On one hand, they have the second-highest WAR total in WSL. On the other, nearly 2/3 of their WAR is spread among only 5 players. Similarly, Chicago showcases two CY candidates in Aaron Nola and Jacob deGrom...only to surround them with arguably the worst defensive team in the league. The disparity between the team on paper and its individual parts puts a few scenarios in play: Chicago could steamroll the NL Central and win 100 games, or they could stifle against the depth of Kansas City and St. Louis and sell off by July, or anything in between. The pressure on newly-acquired infielder Max Muncy and closer Blake Treinen must be immense.
Pittsburgh 69.0 (3) 38.3 (2) 22.1 (3) 8.6 (4) The Yinzers have been alternating good and bad seasons and, well, this is one of the good ones. Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer head a rotation that's the best in the AL by a considerable margin. Similarly, Francisco Lindor and JT Realmuto have strong arguments at being the best at their premium positions. Importantly, the Yinzers hold a number of trade assets as the season wears on. This is key, given there is a good bit of overlap within the 1B/DH/OF spots of the PIT lineup. It feels weird to say, but some consolidation here could make a great team elite by the end of the season.
Kansas City 58.8 (4) 32.6 (5) 20.3 (4) 5.9 (8) WSL waited with baited breath to see how Kansas City would handle this past off-season. The results...well, the results didn't give us the definitive answer we may have expected. True to form, the Monarchs focused on bargains and players that fit their system vs big ticket items in the Jose Ramirez/Christian Yelich/Gerrit Cole vein. That big splurge seems one more season away, to the dismay of quite a few teams with expiring contracts. What remains is a roster featuring arguably the best SS in the NL in Trevor Story, as well as this FA period's steal of the year in Tommy Pham. True to form, KC's lineup and rotation lack the starpower of NYN and CHN, but they're solid from top to bottom. Given there's a 3-team race brewing in the NL Central, that depth might be the key that puts Kansas City ahead of their rivals.
San Diego 57.6 (5) 31.5 (6) 18.7 (5) 7.4 (5) What a difference a year made for San Diego, right? After the death of Jose Fernandez sent the franchise into a tailspin, the Madres have finally reentered the playoff conversation. They did so with an aggressive off-season that featured the acquistions of Javy Baez, Matt Carpenter, and you won't believe this, major FA signings in James Paxton, Marcell Ozuna, and Adam Ottavino. Importantly, SD finally added some notable left-handed bats to balance out how badly their park eats up right-handed power. The always dangerous Max Scherzer is joined with fellow CY candidate James Paxton and rookie Walker Buehler. One thing to watch is how San Diego addresses a major need in CF as the year goes on, as they weight the current run's cost vs need while Victor Robles recovers from the elbow injury he suffered in spring training.
Cleveland 49.9 (6) 30.3 (7) 17.6 (6) 2.0 (21) Cleveland has spent the bulk of the last year rebuilding a rotation that now features a top-3 in Chris Sale, Jose Berrios, and Mike Foltynewicz that can rival any team in WSL. More importantly, they feature as left-handed a lineup as any team in the league, while WSL as a whole is shallow on lefty bats. Travis Shaw and future HoFer Eddie Rosario lead a lineup that should give RH SP headaches for days. The Crusaders do have some depth to fill holes at the back of the rotation, OF, and a desperate need in the bullpen. Interestingly, many of their off-season moves overlap positions that already seemed secure at 2B with Jed Lowrie and Joey Wendle, and SS withJose Iglesias and Jean Segura. If Cleveland can clarify their roster issues and add some bullpen pieces, a 5th starter, and one more OF, they should be the top contender for the AL Wild Card.
So Cal 49.3 (7) 30.0 (9) 14.5 (11) 4.8 (12) So Cal came out of nowhere to have one of the better off-seasons in WSL, reinvesting heavily in their lineup with darkhorse MVP candidate Anthony Rendon, Brandon Belt, and a pair of first round OFs in Franmil Reyes and Tyler O'Neil. With so much attention on bats, it's possible So Cal will wish they added some more pitching, as both the rotation and bullpen are relying on depth rather than overpowering anyone. Luckily, the AL West is looking weak for 2018, so it should be the Locos first division win since 2013.
San Francisco 47.8 (8) 24.9 (12) 15.7 (9) 7.2 (7) Ever see one of those crime thrillers where the gang gets back together for one last score? That's the Road Warriors in 2018. Faced with an aging roster and a few young stars that needed to be paid, few teams in WSL needed to ace this off-season quite like San Francisco. Unfortunately, former #1 overall SS Carlos Correa was shipped out of town, while Nolan Arenado signed with St. Louis. In response, the RWs doubled down by patching holes using their draft picks in trades. What remains is a team that's pretty good at most everything, but not necessarily elite in any one area. The hope is that SF's experience in past division races and general competence will allow them to push San Diego for the division, else they may be better off rebuilding rather than competing with Seattle, St. Louis and others for the Wild Card spot. Keep an eye on how the RWs look early on, as the first two months could decide their season.
St. Louis 47.6 (9) 24.4 (14) 15.9 (8) 7.3 (6) It's been 21 seasons since St. Louis has finished better than 3rd place in the NL Central. Bill Clinton was still in office, the Twin Towers were still standing, and RW was only an apprentice barn builder. To break that trend, the Amish turned their roster over seemingly every week this off-season. What remains is a team built on young pitching, with their top 5 starters all under 30. Further, St. Louis invested as heavily in their bullpen as any team in the league. All this focus on pitching underlines a lineup that may have trouble scoring runs vs good teams, as Nolan Arenado is likely the only bat that will keep opposing teams up at night. In a perfect world, the Amish's defense and plus pitching keeps them in the division crown hunt. Realistically, they're a Wild Card contender in a year where Chicago and Kansas City will be throwing haymakers all season.
Brooklyn 47.5 (10) 30.2 (8) 11.5 (16) 5.8 (9) Injuries and, perhaps, unreasonable expectations crippled the Dodgers in 2017 following a stellar 2016 season that saw Brooklyn rack up 108 wins. 2018 represents a sea change in philosophy for Brooklyn, as they essentially punted addressing their rotation in favor of supplementing their lineup with first rounder Scott Kingery and FA signings Jackie Bradley, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers. Steering into strength may be enough to push the Dodgers to their first division win since 2006, as MVP candidates Lorenzo Cain and Matt Chapman are true difference makers in a division that has few. The hope is that the Brooklyn rotation will keep the team in games long enough to allow the annually strong Dodgers bullpen to shut games down. Even a moderate rotation upgrade could turn this into a very dangerous team.
Seattle 46.8 (11) 22.5 (16) 15.2 (10) 9.1 (2) After a few years of turmoil, it looks like Seattle is positioned to make some noise again in the NL West. In theory, the usual robust Yeomen defense and spacious park should allow a decent rotation and stellar bullpen to play up significantly. Seattle has historically been a place rival teams dread to play, and the prospect of low-scoring games with Josh Hader, and Matt Strahm waiting to shut the door is only making the situation worse. As usual, the Yeomen's fate will rest on a lineup that has some interesting pieces like Michael Conforto and Aaron Hicks and a mishmash of aging stars like Robinson Cano and lottery ticket youth like Byron Buxton. Realistically, they're probably in the Wild Card hunt rather than a threat to win the division, but it should be a fun season in Seattle.
Boston 45.8 (12) 27.2 (11) 14.4 (12) 4.2 (13) The Chowds went all in during the 2017 season, dealing Andrew Benintendi and Alex Bregman among others. It paid off in Boston's 5th World Series title, returning the team to prominence as arguably WSL's premier franchise. The follow up started strong this off-season, with the Chowds acquiring Didi Gregorious on a below-market return, then the steal of the year dumping Jake Arrieta's contract within the division in Florida. Karma took hold once free agency hit, however, and mostly all of the Chowds advances were rebuked. Where once it looked like Boston could defend their WS crown, a lack of depth and strong decline in the rotation has the team looking like an eventual rebuild. After that Arrieta trade opened up Boston's cap situation for years, the Chowds are playing with house money. Expect a return to the front sooner rather than later.
Colorado 44.1 (13) 22.0 (18) 16.4 (7) 5.7 (10) Here's arguably WSL's most underrated team for 2018. While it's easy to be distracted by ownership's quirks, few teams had an off-season as productive as Colorado. They've added plus starters in Robinson Chirinos, Jesus Aguilar, Nelson Cruz, re-signed Yasiel Puig on a below-market deal, picked up a young starter in Sean Newcomb, and supplemented the bullpen with Brad Hand and Ryan Pressly all without trading many major assets or taking on long-term money. In fact, they dumped some high risk salaries in DJ LeMahieu and Chris Sale as part of the process. It's wild when you view it on paper, right? In total, Colorado's rotation takes a major step back from their dominant 2017 run and despite the additions in the lineup, plenty of questions remain. So Cal is likely the division winnner here, but the Blue Rocks will make the Locos work for it.
Detroit 39.1 (14) 29.7 (10) 8.4 (19) 1.0 (23) It's strange to argue that a team expected to finish last in their division has had the best 18 month stretch in WSL, but here we are. The Domos fell into a trap for years alongside many in WSL, always pushing for that one last run and spending a lot of draft capital and long-term cash to do so. The bottom fell out for Detroit in 2017, and the team has gone from being a wasteland of talent to sporting no less than 8 all-star level talents moving forward. Starting with the acquisitions of Miguel Andujar, Carlos Carrasco and Brandon Nimmo last year, Detroit added MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, Carlos Correa, George Springer, #2 overall pick Juan Soto, Miguel Cabrera, more high picks on Christin Stewart, Dakota Hudson, Shane Bieber and more. Make no bones about it, Detroit will be bad this year. There's a real strong chance the Domos are the marquee team in the NL Central moving forward though.
Arizona 38.6 (15) 33.2 (4) 1.9 (23) 3.5 (15) The Desert Storm are WSL's Jeckyl and Hyde team this year. Arizona held fast with their lineup, using what limited resources they had in FA and the draft to re-sign Nick Castellanos and trade for Jose Altuve. Without question, Arizona has the best lineup in their division and easily the 2nd best one in the AL. Now here's the bad part...their rotation is arguably the worst in WSL by a considerable margin, at least of teams that are trying to win. Zach Godley was acquired as a bandaid, but Arizona likely wishes they had not traded Dallas Keuchel last year. There's an interesting arm or two in the bullpen, but it's hard to see the Desert Storm really making a run at Colorado or So Cal until they acquire some SP that can at least make teams work for it.
Chicago AL 37.7 (16) 20.3 (19) 14.0 (13) 3.4 (16) Chicago had one of the more bizarre off-seasons in recent memory, re-signing Jurickson Profar as part of a 2B corp with Dee Gordon, Daniel Murphy, and Brock Holt. Similarly, the OF has David Dahl, Starling Marte, Nomar Mazara, Joc Pederson, David Peralta and more competing for three starting spots. There's positional versatility, certainly, so it's unclear quite how the CHA lineup will shake out. It's likely a few trades to consolidate those bats a bit is necessary. The Pigeons have a lot of resources invested in their rotation, featuring the always dangerous Madison Bumgarner, and Stephen Strasburg. Health will be a huge factor in whether Chicago has a great rotation or a possible time bomb. Chances are Chicago will be active in the RP market, as they need a real weapon to shut down opposing lineups. Given Pittsburgh is the clear best team in the AL and Cleveland is not far off, it's probably not Chicago's year.
Texas 36.2 (17) 24.0 (15) 10.0 (17) 2.2 (20) Texas faced a tough call this off-season, with a roster that needed major attention and their two best players hitting free agency in Christian Yelich and Xander Bogaerts. Yelich returns to Texas as a legitimate MVP candidate, though the team may regret giving him a no-trade contract given the lack of pieces surrounding him. After trading Trevor Story last year and losing Xander to Milwaukee, the Hitmen are hoping Paul Dejong steps up as arguably Texas' second best hitter. The rotation features three lefties in Jose Quintana, Rich Hill, and Mike Montgomery, while Chase Anderson and Michael Fulmer add balance. With a few breaks, Texas could overachive in the SP department, though rumblings of Fulmer's elbow barking have tempered expectations. If the Hitmen get a lead, they'll be hard pressed to hold it, as their bullpen lacks a real shut down option. While a 4th place finish is likely, Texas is likely to be as active as any team in WSL in trade talks through the season.
Florida 36.8 (18) 20.2 (20) 12.6 (15) 3.0 (17) Florida, along with St. Louis, has been a franchise that's always just been kinda there. While it's not clear that will change in 2018, there's reason for optimism going forward. An aggressive trade for #1 overall pick Ronald Acuna Jr gives Florida a legit franchise player to pair with whatever the hell Shoehei Ohtani turns out to be. A couple of shrewd additions in Dallas Keuchel, Kyle Seager, and Greg Bird adds some intrigue and possible upside to Florida for 2018 and beyond, assuming they aren't trade chips later. Where the Gators got themselves in trouble was in taking on salary in a buyout deal for Jake Arrieta and acquiring Charlie Morton as the price of DJ LeMahieu's contract. Along with Jason Heyward, more than half of Florida's cap the next couple years is dedicated to role players or players not even on the team. It'll be 2021 before Florida has serious cash to spend in free agency, so the upside of the Gators prior to then will rest on their ability to address their cap situation.
Philadelphia 35.3 (19) 17.6 (22) 13.9 (14) 3.8 (14) Remember when Kent was going to show ol' Jack how it was done and beat that AC ass? Yeah, that was fun. The outlook in Philly these days is dim, with a roster featuring Aaron Judge and a cavalcade of expensive veterans and broken down SP. The Phillies seem destined for a rebuild regardless of whom ends up running the team.
Baltimore 34.5 (20) 22.2 (17) 9.5 (18) 2.8 (19) Baltimore's made no bones about neededing a multi-year rebuilding following KneeGate. The bones of the next Crabcakes playoff run are taking form, with Manny Machado and Whit Merrifield as legit all-stars alongside high-variance youth in Yoan Moncada, Ian Happ, and Rafael Devers. Baltimore will need at least two of those last three to develop into legit regulars for this lineup to really takeoff, else they may be a year behind schedule. Most importantly, Baltimore has major cash reserves for 2019, which is likely to address the major holes in their long-term rotation. Few things can make WSL nervous like Berg with $150M to spend.
Toronto 33.1 (21) 24.8 (13) 5.4 (22) 2.9 (18) It feels like the end of an era here. Toronto entered the off-season with many questions and ends the off-season with mostly the same questions remaining. On the one hand, the Avengers added pieces for a current run in Brian Dozier, re-signing Khris Davis, and trading for Giancarlo Stanton. On the other, they focused a lot of resources to rebuilding their youth in the rotation with high picks on Touki Toussaint, Joey Lucchesi, and a trade for Luke Weaver. Toronto lacks cap space moving forward and, frankly, it's unclear what their identity is for the time being. In a rough division with improved Florida and Brooklyn squads, as well as Boston, this is probably a rebuilding year for Toronto.
Atlanta 24.6 (22) 12.1 (24) 7.4 (20) 5.1 (11) The WSL epidemic of "oh I suddenly have no time/Jack's a dick/injuries suck/insert your favorite excuse" once a given team needs to rebuild hit the Atlanta franchise this off-season. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. Luckily, Atlanta's temporary owner wasted no time in trading what little was left, acquiring a variety of interesting pitching in first rounder Justus Sheffield and Freddy Peralta, plus second rounder Bryce Wilson. It's a long road back to relevance, but hopefully Ron's knee is okay or whatever it was this time.
Milwaukee 21.2 (23) 19.9 (21) 0.6 (24) 0.7 (24) Milwaukee joins Detroit in showing how a serious rebuild can change a franchise's fortunes quickly. The Alchys feature a litany of top prospects including this year's #3 pick Gleyber Torres, #6 pick Kyle Tucker, and former first rounders Rhys Hoskins and Alex Verdugo. Importantly, Milwaukee is another team with major cash reserves going forward; they've already been linked as a potential destination for Mookie Betts. One thing to keep an eye on: Outside of Kyle Wright, there is not a lot of pitching to get excited about in Milwaukee. With another high draft pick and pitchers like Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom hitting FA, watch how the Alchys address this need over the next year.
Anaheim 20.1 (24) 13.3 (23) 5.6 (21) 1.2 (22) For the first time in what feels like forever, St. Louis is not the worst team in the league. Anaheim's had one hell of a run, making the playoffs in 5 of the last 7 seasons. All good things must end, of course, and the Assassins are in a full rebuild. If you squint, you can see the bones of a framework for the next Anaheim playoff run if Lucas Giolito and Jaime Barria can develop into legit rotation pieces, and perhaps Addison Russell could hit a baseball as well as he hits his wife. Importantly, Anaheim is set to have essentially their whole salary cap to spend in next year's FA period. They'll have a lot of holes to fill, but $150M or so can solve a lot of problems. Stay tuned, folks.

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