Westside League Home


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 in the Kenley Jansen, Andrew Miller vein 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
Atlanta 71.6 (1) 41.1 (1) 21.8 (2) 8.7 (Tied-1) Atlanta has emerged as one of the more aggressive teams in WSL, yielding mostly major results. Atlanta traded for Stephen Strasburg, Jose Ramirez, Justin Upton, Zach Cozart and others in the last year or so. For the most part, all of them came undervalued due to a variety of doubts, but the Pharaohs are confident in their ability to rehab and improve talents. Early returns project Atlanta as having the strongest lineup, bullpen and near-strongest rotation with a solid defensive profile...you know, outside of Nelson Cruz in RF. This team will be hard to beat in 2017, though it will be worth watching whether Atlanta can acquire additional talent later in the season without creating holes elsewhere. Either way, the Eddie Rosario MVP watch is on!
New York NL 65.7 (2) 38.5 (3) 18.7 (4) 8.5 (3) The two-time defending champs return in 2017 with a few new faces and the usual crop of exciting prospects. The ACs have been through three straight World Series pushes, likely leading management to conclude fatigue was setting in. In keeping with that idea, the NYN projections have considered the likelyhood of injuries to at least some of their core players. The loss of JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts for youth should alleviate some concern. With getting younger, however, there comes some risk. The ACs project to do everything well, but an upgrade at SS may be necessary to push them back to the favorites list vs a stacked Atlanta team. As always, New York will be busy in the trade market, so stay tuned.
Colorado 65.50 (3) 37.4 (6) 20.5 (3) 7.6 (5) Colorado's likely return to prominence is a boon for an AL West that has left fans wanting in recent years. Led by hometown products Corey Seager, Luis Severino, Anthony Rendon, and Marcell Ozuna, the newly-christened Blue Rocks have as much star power as any team in WSL. They were also as aggressive as any team in WSL, adding big names in Miggy Cabrera, Alex Avila, Jon Lester, Jake Odorizzi and others alongside Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen in the bullpen. Unfortunately, Colorado features a stars-and-scrubs philosophy that may limit their upside. Holes in the OF, back of the rotation, and back of the bullpen project to keep Colorado closer to the pack than they'd prefer in a suddenly brutal AL West. No truth to the rumors of ownership insisting on using hard, thick, uncut Italian sausages in lieu of bats either.
Boston 65.10 (4) 32.3 (9) 26.4 (1) 6.4 (10) After a few years of swallowing Toronto's sword, Boston came into this off-season with a mission: Go all-in, baby. The results leave Boston with, by far, the best rotation in WSL this year. Corey Kluber won last year's Cy Young award and is the early favorite to win it again. He's flanked by Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Martinez. Seems safe to say there will be no easy games vs the Chowds this year. Their lineup features some real name value too in JD Martinez, Kevin Kiermaier, and blooming star Alex Bregman. Trade depth exists in Josh Bell, Greg Bird and others still. With a division title all but certain, the Chowds will have their eye on an October battle with the winner of the AL West bloodbath.
San Francisco 61.2 (5) 37.5 (5) 18.3 (5) 5.4 (14) The Road Warriors annually rank highly on the WSL pre-season power rankings due to an ample amount of star power in Nolan Arenado, Zach Greinke, future HOFer Buster Posey, and future MVP Carlos Correa. They also have the fortune of playing in arguably the weakest division in WSL. On the other hand, that has been the argument for a San Francisco division win the past two years and we know how that has gone. The Road Warriors have as high a variance of outcomes as any team in WSL. They could win the NL West by 20 games and it wouldn't be a surprise. They could also poop their pants, throw a tantrum, and lose the division for the third year in a row. Everything is in play here, folks.
Arizona 60.5 (6) 37.6 (4) 14.2 (10) 8.7 (tied-1) After years of Scace's contracts clogged the books and management's position squarely on the fence post, Arizona suddenly has a very interesting team. They feature a number of young players like Marwin Gonzalez and Joey Gallo that can play multiple positions. At the core of the resurgence of the Desert Storm was the fleecing of Cleveland for Joey Votto. Votto adds a legit MVP candidate to a lineup featuring off-season acquistions Michael Conforto and Yasmani Grandal. Their pitching is hit or miss, with Dallas Keuchel leading a staff that could be great or awful depending on the day. In comparison with their AL West rivals, however, the Arizona bullpen could be a real difference maker. Archie Bradley, Mychal Givens, and Yusmeiro Petit should get a lot of run in 2017. Here's your sleeper playoff team for this year.
Chicago NL 57.5 (7) 33.3 (7) 15.9 (7) 8.3 (4) After a brief reshuffling, the Juice enter 2017 as the clear favorite to win the NL Central. Their roster is practically all new, as off-season acquisitions George Springer, Mookie Betts, Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor lead the charge. That is part of the problem, however, as they have 4 starting OF for 3 spots, meaning Taylor is likely to play out of position at 2B. Chicago has arguably the league's top defensive OF behind arguably the league's worst defensive infield. With a rotation heavy on strikeouts and walks, it will be interesting to see if their attempt to limit home runs at the expense of base hits will come back to haunt the Juice.
Toronto 52.5 (8) 31.8 (10) 14.3 (9) 6.4 (11) After years of playoff runs culminating in two straight World Series losses, Toronto finds itself in a transition year. They've focused on adding youth through the draft while adding undervalued veteran contracts like Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Alex Cobb and others. They also have to be thrilled to bring Brian Dozier back given what DJ Lemahieu went for later in free agency. There's enough current talent on this team to project a wildcard birth if Toronto wants to continue winning, else there's plenty to move in a rebuild year. With Boston all-in this year, it's hard to project Toronto for much more despite them having a knack for pulling off division wins. Having mostly everyone netplaying probably won't help that playoff run either, of course.
Philadelphia 52.3 (9) 39.1 (2) 9.0 (19) 4.2 (17) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On one hand, Philadelphia can outslug nearly any team in the league with Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, and Aaron Judge in tow. Unfortunately, the two teams that could go toe-to-toe with that lineup also play in the NL East. Atlanta and New York both feature top rotations and bullpens, while Philadelphia features bottom-third versions of both. If everything breaks right, Philly could win 90 games and a wildcard birth. More likely, however, one or two of those big three are dealt in order to rebuild.
Anaheim 49.8 (10) 30.1 (12) 12.3 (13) 7.4 (6) On paper, Anaheim is a wildcard team and San Francisco will win the NL West. That was true last year, too, and we know how that played out. The Assassins get as much out of their roster as any team short of KC, so a lineup of Charlie Blackmon, Didi Gregorious and depth may be enough. Pair it with a rotation that goes three-deep with Jimmy Nelson, James Paxton, and Kenta Maeda and a bullpen that is solid and you can see a repeat of 2016 if you squint hard enough.
Brooklyn 48.4 (11) 31.0 (11) 10.5 (17) 6.9 (8) Brooklyn did a lot well in 2016, maximizing their roster and having big years from a number of their SP. Rumors of Noah Syndergaard hiding an injury and the natural regression of their rotation should concern the Dodgers brass. They feature the usual bevy of bullpen options, alongside one of the few heavily left-handed lineups in WSL. With Matt Chapman as a trade chip, there's a scenario where Brooklyn beats out Toronto for a wildcard spot. The dealbreaker may come down to Toronto's ability to acquire talent during the season, however.
So Cal 47.9 (12) 25.3 (14) 17.0 (6) 5.6 (12) Faced with a Colorado squad full of highs and lows, So Cal instead built a team of solid, if unspectacular, options. Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez return, flanked by newly-acquired Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Lucroy, and a rebuilt rotation. So Cal doesn't doing anything particularly well, but they won't be giving away games either (unless RW is drunk). They're in the conversation for a wildcard berth with possibly more if Colorado and Arizona stumble.
Milwaukee 47.1 (13) 28.2 (13) 13.8 (11) 5.1 (15) This Alchys squad is arguably the best Milwaukee has fielded in years. If ownership is paying attention, this team wins the AL Central by 15 games. If not, well, it's another year in Milwaukee.
Detroit 45.6 (14) 24.8 (15) 15.4 (8) 5.4 (13) Sins of free agencies past continue to haunt the Domos. Where once Hanley Ramirez took up nearly 1/4 of their cap, now a declining Andrew McCutchen fills that role. Along the way, Detroit managed to find some real gems in Justin Turner, Michael Fulmer, and Freddy Galvis. A strong off-season that included the acqusition of Carlos Santana and pure robbery of Carlos Carrasco has given the Domos a breath of fresh air. They should compete for a wildcard spot alongside the loser of the ATL/NYN battle, though the possibility of a Juice meltdown and Domos division title exists.
Cleveland 40.6 (15) 22.4 (18) 11.0 (15) 7.2 (7) Cleveland pivoted quickly from a rebuild to contention, though it's hard to say how successful that move will be. Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray give the Crusaders a top-of-rotation that will give them a shot most games. That may be enough in the AL Central this year, though Cleveland's offense or lack there of could destroy their playoff hopes before they begin. When Dee Gordon is arguably your best player, you're probably in trouble.
Chicago AL 39.3 (16) 21.8 (19) 12.7 (12) 4.8 (16) The Pigeons, slayers of the Pittsburgh dynasty, find themselves in a division that is extremely winnable. With the annual Milwaukee ownership vacation set to start soon and Cleveland's bizarre off-season, Chicago could be the division winner outright after taking the wildcard last year. Their roster has an MVP candidate in Jose Altuve, along with some major players in Christian Yelich, Lance McCullers, and Madison Bumgarner. Their lack of depth with be a problem vs the better teams in the AL, but it's par for the course in the Central in 2017.
Baltimore 39.1 (17) 32.6 (8) 2.6 (23) 3.9 (18) After assurances that he was not cutting bait after a year of selling off for one big run, Big Larry did just that. What remained was a Baltimore squad in need of some TLC. The Crabcakes' lineup has the potential to pop some teams in the mouth with Manny Machado, Franky Lindor, and Eric Hosmer featured. Baltimore fans will cringe at this rotation throughout the season, as it's a veritable 2013 all-star team. Unfortunately, it's 2017. Yet, if there's a year for the Crabcakes to rebuild, it might as well be while their NL East brethren are throwing haymakers at each other all season.
Texas 37.7 (18) 23.7 (16) 7.6 (21) 6.4 (9) Through a handful of ownership changes, Texas' roster has the look of the Island of Misfit Toys. There's talent here, to be sure, but how it all fits together is anyone's guess. With the AL West looking as good as it ever has, this is not the year to be caught between winning and rebuilding.
Seattle 36.4 (19) 22.7 (17) 10.6 (16) 3.1 (19) Seattle is a team that has always played hard regardless of the composition of their roster. In the meantime, they've attempted to develop a ton of pitching in house. As most can tell you with young pitching, injuries are inevitable. In this case, injuries to Kevin Gausman, Anthony Reyes, and Eddie Butler have set the Yeomen back a year or two from challenging for a division title. Unfortunately, with an aging lineup of Robinson Cano, Brandon Crawford, and Brett Gardner up top, the bats may be behind the pitching by the time they're ready.
Kansas City 32.9 (20) 19.9 (20) 10.0 (18) 3.0 (20) Annually a tough team to measure, Kansas City features most of last year's division-winning squad. Unfortunately for them, regression is likely coming in full force after most everything went right for them in 2016, including a Jeremy Hellickson Cy Young win. The Monarchs quietly made some nice moves this off-season, adding Devon Travis and Trevor Story as starters for 2018 and possibly even 2017. KC will likely platoon their lineup as much as ever with options for most any situation. Where things fall apart, however, is the rotation. Assuming Hellickson does not repeat as Roy Halladay and Greg Maddux combined, the Monarch rotation could look old and broken in a real hurry. Given they're up against arguably the best Chicago NL squad in years, Kansas City will have to squeeze out every win possible.
Florida 25.3 (21) 16.7 (21) 8.6 (20) 0.0 (24) If you squint, you can almost see some building blocks on this Florida roster. There's a few former top-10 picks in Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Sano. They have some high-end youth in Clint Frazier and Jose Berrios, plus some lottery tickets in Jake Junis and Jose Peraza. They even have a few aging supporting players in Jason Hayward, Ian Kinsler, and Jose Iglesias. What they don't have is a real franchise player. Ownership very much likely wishes they could take back moving Jose Ramirez, Justin Upton, and Adam Jones to Atlanta in a cash dump. The deal didn't look terrible at the time, but it's played out as poorly as it could have. In the mean time, Florida will bide their time at the bottom of the AL East until someone notable, hopefully, takes the mountain of cash the Gators will be offering in free agency.
San Diego 23.4 (22) 11.0 (23) 7.6 (14) 1.1 (23) The Madres were in WSL-hell the last few seasons: Not good enough for the playoffs, not bad enough for a top-3 pick. After careful consideration, they've said screw it and sold off most everything of value except for Max Scherzer, who is likely out of town on 7/1. As with most of the teams at the bottom of the rankings, San Diego will be focused on giving their young guys some experience over winning games in 2017.
Pittsburgh 18.4 (23) 16.3 (22) -0.8 (24) 2.9 (21) Pittsburgh came back with a vengence in 2016, leading to a big division win. Unfortunately, the wheels came off in the ALDS vs Chicago AL. With an aging roster and an unclear path back to the playoffs, the Yinzers blew it all up...and then some. PIT somehow ended up with the top 2 picks in the WSL draft in Cody Bellinger and Rafael Devers, plus additions like Nomar Mazara, Lucas Giolito and two more first round picks. WIth the lack of WSL-ready talent on the roster, there'll be another top-3 pick in their future.
St. Louis 17.9 (24) 8.8 (24) 6.5 (22) 2.6 (22) As an annual tradition in St. Louis since the days of Bam Bam giving his best players to Toronto and Chicago NL, there is not much to get excited about in 2017. However, for the first time in maybe ever, the Browns have a plethora of young talent in need of playing time. The current year will be rough, but the hope is that Lewis Brinson, Amed Rosario, and the others are ready for prime time.

Copyright © 2018, Westside League