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MLB Power Rankings: Where every team stands as Opening Day awaits, plus the overlooked races to watch

MLB Power Rankings: Where every team stands as Opening Day awaits, plus the overlooked races to watch

The first Power Rankings of the regular season are here with the 2024 campaign set to kick off in earnest

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Kim O’Reilly, CBS Sports

Sure, two of the 2,430 scheduled games for the 2024 MLB regular season have already been played (I’ve covered my issues with this here), but I’m still giddy with excitement over Actual Opening Day, which lands on Thursday, March 28. I’m also happy that every team plays. In case you don’t remember, it wasn’t too long ago that several series didn’t start on the first day of the season, which meant their fans had to wait. Or we’d get three games on Sunday and 12 on Monday or something similar. I just love one day with 15 games kicking things off. That’s amazing. I guess I’ll just ignore that two games already happened. 

Regardless, the 2024 season is an exciting one for many reasons. 

I was just pondering the waves of remarkable young talent. The Mike Trout-Bryce Harper-Manny Machado group came about right after I took over the Official Power Rankings here at CBS Sports. All three should be healthier this year and ready for bounce-back seasons. There was a wave of absurdly talented youngsters a few years ago, spearheaded by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto. They are mid-prime superstars now. And then there’s the upcoming wave that includes players like Jackson Holliday, Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter. And everyone in between. There’s just so much talent in the majors at present. 

We’ve already talked plenty about the Dodgers, who have Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts on the field, even with the Ohtani interpreter gambling scandal now clouding the start of their season. Last year’s Braves had one of the best offenses in baseball history and it is similar in personnel this year. The Rangers are coming off their first-ever World Series title and how fun would it be if they repeated? If the Astros won another, would they be considered a dynasty? That would be three titles in eight years. The Orioles jumped all the way up to 101 wins last season and look loaded again (with more prospects on the way). The Twins won their first playoff series in ages and are probably the best AL Central team this year, so what’s their encore? The Phillies have made the NLCS two years in a row; can they break through and win it all now? 

On the team level when it comes to races, though, I find myself zeroing in on two in particular. 

NL Central

Did you know the Pirates were in first place as late as June 15 last year? For real! They’ll get one of baseball’s most exciting players back in Oneil Cruz, too, and there are reasons to believe they could be better after a 76-86 season. The Cardinals appear to be the computer and betting favorites after a last-place finish and shoring up their rotation. The Cubs have the best roster, to me. The Reds could have the best roster, though, as they are loaded with young talent and should have a much-improved rotation. The Brewers won the division last year by nine games. 

That’s everyone. A five-team race, perhaps? We can dare to dream. 

Second place in NL West (huge Wild Card implications)

The Dodgers are going to win the NL West and one of the few things that dampens my mood heading into the season is a surety like that. I suppose we could throw in the Rockies coming in last as well. Those finishes are both near locks, if not outright guarantees. 

In between, though, is where lots of fun will be had. 

Last season, the Diamondbacks won 84 games and then, in a shocking upset, the NL pennant. The Padres missed the playoffs with 82 wins. The Giants won 79 games. The Diamondbacks will be improved. The Padres lost Soto, Blake Snell and Josh Hader, but they had a lot more talent than 82 wins last season and circumstances held them back. The Giants added Snell to Logan Webb in the rotation along with stud prospect Kyle Harrison. They’ll eventually get Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray back. 

I keep going back and forth on these three and it’s not necessarily which one I like the most. Sometimes I look at all the potential pitfalls of the three, and they are plentiful. 

Another aspect to these two races is that they could intertwine. The Phillies are overwhelmingly likely to grab the top NL wild-card spot (behind the Braves in the division again), but the rest of the NL East is lackluster. This means it’s possible the three NL West teams mentioned here in addition to some (all?!?!!) of the non-division winning NL Central teams compete for the last two NL playoff spots. 

I can’t wait. First, we’ll need Opening Day to happen and before that, I’ve gotta rank some teams and hope to hold your attention with interesting comments. I’ll look to get off to a hot start. 

As for any movement, spring training performance had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. There were injuries and transactions during the spring and I always reserve the right to change my mind when I re-gather myself six weeks after the last time I ranked. 

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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Rcrd

1

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Braves

Just in case any of the Well Actually people saw me call the Braves one of the best offenses in history above and loaded up with a correction: The 2023 Braves were the first team in MLB history to finish with a .500+ slugging percentage. For those curious, the vaunted ’27 Yankees slugged .488. 0-0
2

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Dodgers

Players used to score a lot more runs as individuals. I’m talking like in the 1800s. The single-season record is 198 (Billy Hamilton, 1894) and the leaderboard is 150-plus run seasons is littered with 1800s players. If we went with the Integration Era (1947-present), though, Jeff Bagwell’s 152 runs in 2000 is the standard. Acuña got to 149 last season. Betts scored 126, but with Freeman and Ohtani sitting behind him, could he challenge 152? Hilariously, I did all that legwork before the Dodgers’ first two games and while he scored two runs, he also drove home seven(!). 1-1
3

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Astros

The last ALCS that didn’t involve the Astros took place in 2016. Yep. 0-0
4

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Orioles

I’ve already predicted the Orioles to come out of the American League. It would be their first pennant since 1983. I’ve found myself this spring a few times worried about the rotation in light of the injuries to Kyle Bradish and John Means. They might have to piecemeal the back-end of the rotation for a bit. Of course, they did that a lot last year and still won 101. Let’s see how it looks come October. 0-0
5

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Phillies

My predicted World Series champs right here. Yes, I’m predicting a wild-card to win it all. One did last year and in 2019. In 2021, the Braves won their division but had the worst record among playoff teams. It happens. 2 0-0
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Rays

Remember how Jeffrey Springs was amazing out of the gate last season, looking like a Cy Young winner? My prediction for this time around is Zack Littel. Hopefully it happens without the injury that came to Springs. 2 0-0
7

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Mariners

My 2024 AL MVP pick: Julio. It’s time. He’s ready. 4 0-0
8

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Yankees

Gerrit Cole is hurt. DJ LeMahieu is hurt. Questions remain about Aaron Judge. They’ll still be good. Probably. Maybe. 2 0-0
9

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Twins

The Twins finished fifth in runs and fourth in OPS among the 15 AL teams last season. They had Royce Lewis for 58 games, Byron Buxton for 85 with a .207 average and Carlos Correa’s worst career offensive season. Even if you want to say Buxton won’t play more games (and I wouldn’t argue), things are bound to get better. 1 0-0
10

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Rangers

With a new champion, I love looking through the promotional calendar. The Rangers are giving away the following items: Evan Carter ALCS catch bobblehead (April 8), World Series replica trophy (April 10), Corey Seager World Series MVP bobblehead (April 24), Corey Seager replica World Series rings (May 14) and Adolis García ALCS MVP/Gold Glove bobbleheads among many other things. Last year was your year, Rangers fans, and now you get to keep enjoying the memories. 5 0-0
11

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Blue Jays

I’d be worried about any pitcher injury right now, but with Kevin Gausman it’s his shoulder and that is particularly troublesome. 1 0-0
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Cubs

They really needed Cody Bellinger to help round out the offense, but the star of the team this season is going to be Seiya Suzuki. 2 0-0
13

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Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks were starved for home runs last season, relatively speaking. More experience for the likes of Gabriel Moreno and Alek Thomas helps (and, sure, throw Corbin Carroll in there), as do the additions of Eugenio Suarez and Joc Pederson. 4 0-0
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Padres

As I mentioned in the intro, I go back and forth on the Padres, Diamondbacks and Giants. I do not, however, have any doubt that Fernando Tatis Jr. is gonna have a monster season. He’s my NL MVP pick. 1 1-1
15

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Giants

If the Giants do make the playoffs and have full health from everyone — both big ifs — a Logan Webb-Blake Snell-Robbie Ray-Alex Cobb (or Kyle Harrison) playoff rotation is killer. 5 0-0
16

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Reds

Only the A’s and Rockies had worse rotation ERAs last season than the Reds. There’s plenty of variance in there, sure, but it’ll be a lot better this season. 1 0-0
17

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Cardinals

They’ll certainly be better and that offense has the potential to be great, but the Sonny Gray hamstring injury — or, more specifically, looking at the starting staff without him — should underline the rotation concerns. 1 0-0
18

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Mets

As noted in the Blue Jays comment, shoulder injuries in spring training to pitchers terrify me. Kodai Senga looked like one of the few bright spots on this squad, too. 0-0
19

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Tigers

Potentially fun season on tap here. I’ll join in with everyone in being excited for Tarik Skubal, but I’m more on the Riley Greene/Spencer Torkelson combo in the lineup. 4 0-0
20

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Pirates

Mitch Keller, Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes all have extensions. Henry Davis is here and Paul Skenes is coming (hopefully) soon. And remember, Cruz basically didn’t even get to play last season. There are reasons for optimism. 1 0-0
21

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Brewers

They had already lost Brandon Woodruff to injury. Then late in the offseason, the Corbin Burnes trade happened. And now the Devin Williams injury. Rough. 2 0-0
22

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Red Sox

Lucas Giolito is done for the season and they didn’t even bother to replace him. That doesn’t bode well for the immediate future with this team. 5 0-0
23

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Guardians

The Guardians were 12th in the AL in both runs scored and slugging percentage last season. It’s hard to see where they’ve gotten much better. 1 0-0
24

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Royals

The Royals have only had one pitcher ever start the All-Star Game (Bret Saberhagan in 1987). Hello, Cole Ragans? 2 0-0
25

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Marlins

The Marlins were already down Sandy Alcantara this season, but they’ve added Edward Cabrera (shoulder injury), Braxton Garrett (shoulder injury) and Eury Perez (elbow injury) problems to the list. 3 0-0
26

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Angels

Please just stay healthy, Mike Trout. Feel free to stay home, Anthony Rendon. 1 0-0
27

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Nationals

An interesting storyline will be if Lane Thomas can follow up his breakout season and cement his status as a fixture in that lineup. Those types of pickups go a long way in helping teams emerge from rebuilds. 0-0
28

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White Sox

The franchise record for losses in a season is 106 (1970, a team with Tommy John and Luis Aparicio). Just wanted to get out in front of this one. 0-0
29

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Rockies

With the rest of the division made up of a “superteam” and three likely contenders, I guess the good news for the Rockies is the overly unbalanced schedule is gone? 0-0
30

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Athletics

They’ll win more games than last season. Sure, they only won 50, but they have to start somewhere, right? 0-0

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