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The 2023 MLB Preseason Power Rankings

MLB Opening Day is almost here, and baseball has a hierarchy. Can anyone unseat the defending champs? Can the Padres topple the Dodgers? And who might end up on the playoff bubble?

AP Images/Ringer illustration

Professional baseball might have already peaked in 2023, when Shohei Ohtani struck out Mike Trout to clinch a World Baseball Classic title for Japan. But there are still 2,430 regular-season MLB games plus playoffs to go before the year is through, and with them come plenty of new rules, new story lines, and new faces around the majors. So as is annual tradition at The Ringer, let’s power-rank the teams ahead of Opening Day, from the clubs most likely to win the 2023 World Series to those most likely to lose 100-plus games.

1. Houston Astros

The Astros have reached six consecutive league championship series, and the defending champions just keep rolling no matter which stars they lose. George Springer’s gone? Now Kyle Tucker’s ready to make good on his potential. Gerrit Cole’s in New York? It’s OK, Framber Valdez is here. Carlos Correa’s departed? Well, Jeremy Peña can win a Gold Glove and World Series MVP as a rookie replacement.

The latest free agent to leave Houston is ace Justin Verlander, but the Astros are well-equipped to replace him because last year’s group had more good starters than could fill a rotation. Touted prospect Hunter Brown, who spun a 0.89 ERA in 20 1/3 innings last season, even looks like Verlander when pitching.

Elsewhere, Houston went outside the organization to upgrade the lineup, with José Abreu and his 137 wRC+ in 2022 replacing Yuli Gurriel’s 85. A bigger bat at first base should help compensate for the early-season absences of José Altuve and Michael Brantley. Repeating as World Series champions is a tall order for any team—nobody’s done so since the 1998-2000 Yankees—but the Astros enter the season as favorites once again.

2. Atlanta Braves

With nearly the entirety of Atlanta’s division-winning core locked up for the next half decade or more, I might as well write a good introductory sentence now and copy-paste it for many Marches to come: Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy, and Ozzie Albies form the foundation of a dynamic, five-tool lineup, while Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright lock down the top of the rotation.

Atlanta’s 2023 roster has a couple of lingering questions—is Orlando Arcia really the answer at shortstop? If not, can Vaughn Grissom repeat his rookie success at a more demanding position? Can’t they do better than Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna at left field/designated hitter?—but the rest is clear: This team is loaded, and only the presence of two other powerful NL East squads can threaten its chances at a sixth consecutive division title.

New York Mets pitcher Kodai Senga pitches during spring training workout in Port St. Lucie, Florida
Kodai Senga
Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images

3. New York Mets

An active offseason for the Mets ultimately amounts, counterintuitively, to relative roster equilibrium. In came Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, and José Quintana (now injured) to boost the rotation; out went Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker. The lineup added Omar Narváez and subtracted James McCann. David Robertson’s the probable closer now, with Edwin Díaz out for the season following his World Baseball Classic celebration disaster.

That sort of stasis is acceptable for a team that won 101 games in 2022, the franchise’s best mark since its title-winning 1986 triumph. But as they compete with Atlanta and Philadelphia this summer, the Mets might end up one Carlos Correa–sized bat short of a division title.

4. San Diego Padres

For the savvy MLB.TV customer, a vital component of the viewing experience over the course of a season is a vibrant West Coast team, to accompany the spectator through dish-washing and tooth-brushing and other nighttime chores.

And to that savvy viewer, I say, get ready to watch a whole lot of the Padres this season. Especially after Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from his 20 remaining games of suspension, this lineup—which also includes new Padre Xander Bogaerts, MVP runner-up Manny Machado, a full season of Juan Soto, and the delectable DH platoon of Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz—will be incredible, in terms of both production and entertainment value. Heck, even Blake Snell will be more fun to watch this season, thanks to the pitch clock.

The Dodgers-Padres rivalry is stronger than ever, after San Diego upset the division champs in the 2022 NLDS. Every game between the two teams should be must-watch in 2023.

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Miguel Vargas
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

This team is probably going to make the playoffs, with decent World Series odds; it’s also the worst-projected Dodgers team in more than a decade, stirring much discontent among the fan base. Such is the curse of high expectations for a team with nine division titles and a 106-win second-place finish in its past 10 seasons.

There’s a world in which the Dodgers’ limited offseason activity—after losing Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Tyler Anderson, and others—makes sense. At some point, they have to figure out whether prospects like Miguel Vargas, James Outman, and Ryan Pepiot can play, as the organization’s perpetual player-development motion machine churns.

But that approach inherently fosters a less stable roster than is typical for the powerhouse Dodgers. The prospects could excel, but the backup plan features heavy doses of J.D. Martinez, Jason Heyward, David Peralta, and Miguel Rojas. Already, both the rotation and defensive alignment are in flux due to Tony Gonsolin’s and Gavin Lux’s injuries, respectively. Check back in July to see whether the Dodgers require another midseason blockbuster to keep pace in the title race.

6. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies started lower on this list because—despite rampaging through the NL playoff bracket last October—they won only 87 games last season and Bryce Harper’s out for half this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. But they kept leapfrogging competitors the more I considered the quality of their roster.

Philadelphia’s rotation should be deeper this season than last, with Taijuan Walker on staff. The bullpen has more options. The defense will certainly be better, and the lineup more dynamic with Trea Turner joining J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber atop the order.

First base is an unfortunate question mark with Rhys Hoskins out for the season, but Hoskins is only a two-WAR player. The Phillies can recover from that level of loss. Their real problem is the caliber of their competition: Philadelphia places sixth overall in these rankings, but fifth in the NL and third in the NL East.

7. New York Yankees

At full health, the Yankees might boast the majors’ most talented roster—but there’s the rub, because three-fifths of the projected starting rotation (Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas) and multiple key relievers (Lou Trivino, Tommy Kahnle) are out to start the season. Given how much the rest of the lineup flatlined around MVP Aaron Judge last season, the Yankees are just one Judge injury away from real trouble.

Even though they’re the top AL contender trying to chase down the Astros, it’s fitting that the Yankees fall so far below Houston in these rankings. Last season’s ALCS between these two teams ended in an anticlimactic sweep; nobody else in the league looks close to the Astros at the moment.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
José Berríos
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

8. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have improved incrementally each year, from 67 wins in 2019, to the no. 8 seed and a brief playoff appearance in 2020, to 91 wins in 2021, to 92 wins and a real playoff berth in 2022. Now’s the time for another step forward.

It would help if José Berríos rediscovered his All-Star form. The 2021 prize deadline acquisition received down-ballot Cy Young votes after his first half season in Toronto, but he regressed last season to a 5.23 ERA and 20 percent strikeout rate (versus 26 percent in 2021), then coughed up six runs (five earned) while recording only three outs against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman form a fantastic 1-2, and Chris Bassitt is a strong no. 3—but the back of the Blue Jays’ rotation could prevent them from reaching their full potential.

9. Tampa Bay Rays

En route to the American League’s best record in 2021, the Rays relied just as much on their offense (5.3 runs per game, second in the majors to Houston) as on their always stellar pitching staff. The latter was typically stingy in 2022, but the offense fell to 21st in runs.

There’s considerably more scoring upside in 2023, because the team’s top two projected position players—Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe—missed a combined 176 games last season and looked compromised by injury when they took the field. If the lineup rebounds to match a superb but mostly anonymous rotation—how many baseball fans could pick Shane McClanahan out of a crowd, let alone Drew Rasmussen or Jeffrey Springs?—and a superb but mostly anonymous bullpen, the Rays will return to the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers
Jordan Walker
Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

10. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals’ last four full seasons (2020 excluded): 88 wins, 91 wins, 90 wins, 93 wins. Some of this roster’s faces might be new—former Cub Willson Contreras replaces Yadier Molina behind the plate; 20-year-old Jordan Walker is ready to mash—but the result will probably look the same as ever. St. Louis should post a low-90s win total again and seize another NL Central title.

11. Seattle Mariners

The rotation should be excellent, as Seattle rejoices in a full season of both Luis Castillo and George Kirby. But is the new trio of Teoscar Hernández, AJ Pollock, and Kolten Wong that much better than the old trio of Mitch Haniger, Carlos Santana, and Adam Frazier? They’re upgrades, sure, but not by enough to boost the Mariners’ mediocre offense to a higher tier. Julio Rodríguez should dazzle in his sophomore season, but it still seems like Seattle is closer to fourth place than first in the potentially more competitive AL West.

12. Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland famously embraced a put-it-in-play approach at the plate last season, in a sport racing in the opposite direction. The 2022 Guardians finished with the majors’ lowest strikeout rate and highest contact rate. Which makes it all the more hilarious that their new starting catcher is Mike Zunino, he of the 35 percent career K rate, the third-highest in MLB history among non-pitchers (minimum 1,500 career plate appearances).

As always, the Guardians’ greatest advantage is playing in the AL Central. But the new, more balanced schedule will make it even harder for any team from this division to grab any of the AL’s three wild-card spots.

13. Milwaukee Brewers

If the division rival Cardinals look the same every year, the Brewers do as well. Great starting pitching? Check. Shaky lineup that’s quixotically depending on Christian Yelich to regain his MVP form to score enough runs? Also check. Milwaukee could eke out another division crown this season; it also might trade Willy Adames, Corbin Burnes, and/or Brandon Woodruff at the deadline, with all three poised to reach free agency after the 2024 season.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Tyler Mahle
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

14. Minnesota Twins

When the Twins rotation is good, the team makes the playoffs; when the rotation is bad, the team tends not to. That’s not the most groundbreaking analysis this ranking contains—but it’s notable for Minnesota regardless, because the starting staff looks much better on paper this season. Kenta Maeda is back after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Midseason acquisition Tyler Mahle is around for a full 162. And Pablo López is the new Opening Day starter after an offseason trade, which gives Minnesota six viable options—that trio plus incumbents Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober—to round out its rotation.

The Twins led the AL Central for most of last season but collapsed down the stretch. A more balanced pitching performance in 2023 could help them replicate the former without the latter coming along for the ride.

15. San Francisco Giants

Fifteenth is a perfect spot for the Giants, who finished 81-81 last season and enter 2023 with a mostly average lineup, a mostly average rotation, and a mostly average bullpen. After missing out on Carlos Correa and Aaron Judge (Arson Judge, too) in free agency, they settled for mostly average updates, with Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto in the lineup and Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling in the rotation.

16. Los Angeles Angels

I’m not going to jinx it! I’m not going to rave about the Angels’ smart offseason additions, or the depth that should prevent them from giving so much playing time to sub-replacement players again, or Patrick Sandoval’s tantalizing WBC performance. Because every year, it looks like the Angels might finally contend for a playoff spot again, and every year, they fail miserably, to the point that they’re now tied for the majors’ longest active playoff drought (eight seasons and counting).

So in the final season before Shohei Ohtani reaches free agency, I can’t do it again. Let’s just plop the franchise with the sport’s two best players in the middle of the rankings and move on.

Spring Training
Jacob deGrom
Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images

17. Texas Rangers

The 2022 Rangers weren’t nearly as bad as their 68-94 record indicates. Thanks to an unsustainably terrible 15-35 record in one-run games, they underachieved their Pythagorean record by nine wins, the majors’ largest gap. So take a team that was secretly nearly .500 by underlying metrics; add Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi to fix a rotation that ranked 26th in fWAR; and baby, you’ve got a stew going.

Alas, the upgraded rotation is high-ceiling but brutally brittle, and the outfield/DH situation remains a mess even after Robbie Grossman signed in free agency. The Rangers are still unlikely to return to the playoffs this season—but give them credit for an earnest effort, and cross your fingers that the pitchers stay healthy all year.

18. Chicago Cubs

The 2022 Cubs weren’t just bad; they were boring, with almost no remaining connections to the 2016 curse-breakers and a murky outlook for contention. But a series of offseason moves added stability (Jameson Taillon, Trey Mancini) and a combination of upside and sterling up-the-middle defense (Cody Bellinger, Dansby Swanson). If some of the young starters (such as Justin Steele and Hayden Wesneski) fulfill their potential, the Cubs could fast-forward their rebuild and become dark horse contenders for another playoff spot as soon as this year.

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox
Masataka Yoshida
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

19. Boston Red Sox

The Athletic noted that projections say the Red Sox have “the most players in baseball with a wide gap between their best-case and worst-case outcomes.” Could Adalberto Mondesi, Kiké Hernández, WBC standout Masataka Yoshida, and an injury-prone rotation flash real upside this season? Could all those same players come up short instead, as seemed to happen to most members of the last-place Red Sox in 2022? Is James Paxton already injured instead of filling a rotation slot? The answer to all of those questions is yes.

20. Baltimore Orioles

Fresh off their most exciting season in years, as not one but two national no. 1 prospects (Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson) debuted and the team’s win total jumped from 52 to 83, the Orioles … added Cole Irvin, Kyle Gibson, and Adam Frazier while telling fans they weren’t ready to spend yet. That’s quite the offseason for a team with the 29th-ranked payroll in the sport, per Spotrac; even the Marlins are outspending the Orioles by 60 percent this season.

The young lineup plus pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez may well keep the Orioles oriented in the right direction—but the winter’s wasted opportunity, plus Bill James’s “plexiglass principle,” point to a less successful 2023 campaign. Remember: The Astros emerged from their tanking nadir to reach the playoffs in 2015, only to miss out in 2016 before rebounding to start their dynastic reign a year later.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks
Corbin Carroll
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

21. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks probably won’t make the playoffs this season, but they’re the favorites to be the exciting team that hipster MLB.TV viewers can’t stop raving about. Recently extended national no. 2 prospect Corbin Carroll leads the way, while Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno—both acquired in the Daulton Varsho trade—add loads of intrigue to Arizona’s lineup. Next up is a fleet of young starting pitchers who could join Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly: Brandon Pfaadt (no. 16), Drey Jameson (no. 78), and Ryne Nelson (no. 89) all made FanGraphs’ top 100 prospects list, with Jameson and Nelson impressing in brief MLB cameos last September.

22. Chicago White Sox

Between December 2016 and July 2017, the White Sox pivoted to a rebuild and traded their cost-controlled core of Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and José Quintana. In return, they received prospects Yoán Moncada, Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning (later dealt to Texas for Lance Lynn), Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease, and Eloy Jiménez, among others.

And now that new core already looks exhausted, after an underwhelming 2022 season and a subsequent underwhelming offseason, in which the Sox added Andrew Benintendi to and subtracted José Abreu from their lineup. Unless 2023 brings a revival, that whole rebuild will culminate in only two playoff appearances, both punctuated by first-round losses. Projections say the White Sox should finish close to .500 this season and thus merit better than a 22nd-place ranking here, but their trajectory is so dispiriting—while the Orioles and Diamondbacks, conversely, are on their way up—that I’m docking them a few extra spots.

23. Miami Marlins

The Padres, as the joke goes, built their entire lineup out of shortstops. The Marlins, uh, did the same but with second basemen. Luis Arraez is here now. Jean Segura’s the new third baseman. Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s in center field.

I’ll say this for the Marlins: They set out to improve their teamwide strikeout rate, and they almost certainly will. FanGraphs projects them for the fifth-lowest strikeout rate this season, after they ranked 26th in 2022. I’m just not sure whether that makes them better overall, because they have very little power—they project for the fewest homers of any team—and their pitching declined with the trade of Pablo López.

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates
Oneil Cruz
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

24. Pittsburgh Pirates

Here’s a list of the players with the hardest-hit batted balls of 2022:

  • Oneil Cruz (maximum exit velocity: 122.4 miles per hour)
  • Giancarlo Stanton (119.8)
  • Shohei Ohtani (119.1)
  • Aaron Judge (118.4)
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (118.4)

Cruz is a 6-foot-7 shortstop with 80-grade raw power, albeit accompanied by a 35 percent strikeout rate. There’s nobody else in the sport quite like him.

25. Cincinnati Reds

Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft are all 25 or younger, and they’re all popular breakout picks for this season. So enjoy the three young starters, Reds fans, because there’s not much else on the MLB roster to entice viewers. Cincinnati projects for the worst WAR at three different positions this season: center field, shortstop, and first base (tied with the Rockies and Athletics), where Joey Votto will spend what might be his last season with the club.

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians
Vinnie Pasquantino
Photo by George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images

26. Kansas City Royals

The Royals roster isn’t devoid of interesting players. Vinnie Pasquantino is a hitting machine, Brady Singer made a leap in 2022, and former top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., who rated terribly by every advanced defensive metric in his half season at shortstop, is poised to play the position every day.

Yet this season is less about Kansas City’s progress on the field than it is about the behind-the-scenes strides for the franchise’s new head of baseball operations, manager, and pitching coach, who all were promoted or arrived in a long-awaited organizational overhaul. Over the past half decade, only the Tigers and Orioles have fewer wins than the Royals, but it took until now for Kansas City to make real changes.

27. Detroit Tigers

Detroit might already be in the rebuild-from-a-rebuild stage, as new president of baseball operations Scott Harris figures out what to do with a club that severely face-planted last season. Here’s a not-so-fun fact for Tigers fans: Over the past decade (not counting 2020), the three worst lineups by wRC+ belonged to the 2018 Tigers, 2019 Tigers, and 2022 Tigers.

In his first season in Detroit, big-ticket free agent Javier Báez suffered his worst full season at the plate. Touted prospect Riley Greene was slightly below average with the bat (albeit with better underlying numbers). And fellow top prospect Spencer Torkelson completely lost his way, following up his tear through college and the minor leagues with a 76 wRC+ in the majors. At least the pitching staff is—wait, the Tigers’ young starters are injured? Yikes, yikes, yikes.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins
MacKenzie Gore
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

28. Washington Nationals

Which recent minor leaguer has the best long-term prognostication for the Nationals?

  • MacKenzie Gore, former top-five prospect, who posted a 4.50 ERA with an elevated walk rate last season before missing time due to inflammation of his pitching elbow
  • CJ Abrams, former top-10 prospect, who hit .246/.280/.324 in 90 MLB games last season
  • Josiah Gray, former top-60 prospect, who had a 5.02 ERA and led the NL in both homers and walks allowed last season
  • Cade Cavalli, current top-60 prospect, who’s out for the season due to Tommy John surgery
  • Joey Meneses, who as a 30-year-old non-prospect outhit Juan Soto after the 2022 trade deadline

29. Colorado Rockies

When even owner Dick Monfort isn’t overenthusiastically predicting his team will win 94 games, instead hoping it will “play .500 ball,” you know the Rockies’ outlook isn’t great.

30. Oakland Athletics

A grand total of two A’s—Ramón Laureano and Tony Kemp—are projected for even two WAR, which denotes average production. The rotation is full of vaguely intriguing youngsters, but this lineup is going to be just as dreadful and hopeless as the franchise’s stadium boondoggle.