Power Rankings: Griff’s 2023 Opening Day Power Rankings
The initial Griff’s The Pitch power ranking was released Jan. 31. Since that time, there have been changes … significant injuries, a terrific World Baseball Classic, hot rookie performances and veteran disappointments for all 30 teams. While an angry shot has yet to be fired in 2023, we will nevertheless revisit the power rankings heading to Opening Day.
These final results will be altered by the new rules and considerations unique to any prior seasons, since MLB went inter-league and to six divisions. First among those won-lost changes is the move to a balanced schedule with every team playing every team, every year. That will contribute, at least initially, to bumping up historically stronger divisions that no longer have to beat up on each other 19 times. With the championship season underway, power rankings will be a weekly feature of GTP newsletter.
W/L records are from 2022.
GRIFF’S POWER RANKINGS – 2
Opening Day: LH Framber Valdez…CL Ryan Pressly. Champs remain the champs until proven otherwise. Deep rotation and a formidable offence, however, the loss of 2B Jose Altuve for an extended period will hurt early on.
Opening Day: LH Max Fried…CL A.J. Minter. An early nagging shoulder injury to CL Raisel Iglesias will hurt. Can 28-year-old SS Orlando Arcia reoplace SS Dansby Swanson? GM Alex Anthopoulos won’t settle for anything less than a return to the World Series.
Opening Day: LH Julio Urias…CL Brusdar Graterol. How much will they miss the two SS’s Trea Turner and Gavin Lux (IL)? Plus up to seven pitchers begin the year, out with various lengths of injury.
Opening Day: RH Max Scherzer…CL Dave Robertson. They are not trumpeting Robertson. The loss of Edwin Diaz, the best closer in baseball is a blow. They will have to discover someone for that role if they want to win it all…and they do. Owner Steve Cohen has deep pockets.
5-Blue Jays (92-70)
Opening Day: RH Alek Manoah…CL Jordan Romano. The fifth starter contest was never really a contest with LH Yusei Kikuchi grabbing it by the throat early on. It’s only spring training, but the defence was much improved heading up to a re-configured Rogers Centre.
Opening Day: RH Aaron Nola…CL Seranthony Dominguez. The long-term loss of 1B Rhys Hoskins is a blow, joining DH Bryce Harper who remains out for at least half the year. However, two all-world players C J.T. Realmuto and SS Trea Turner provide a floor of excellence.
Opening Day: RH Gerrit Cole…CL Clay Holmes. Re-signing your best player doesn’t make you better, so Aaron Judge contract doesn’t really factor into the ’23 evaluation. Lot of pressure on 22-year-old SS Anthony Volpe. Consider 8 of 10 players in opening lineup are over 30.
Opening Day: RH Shane Bieber…CL Emmanuel Clase. The injury to RH Triston McKenzie is a blow, but the best closer in baseball and an underrated middle infield combo combined with perennial MVP candidate 3B Jose Ramirez make them a serious contender.
Opening Day: RH Luis Castillo…CL Paul Sewald. Taking over as the best five-tool player in baseball is CF Julio Rodriguez. The rotation is deep. But a one-dimensional power offence, other than J-Rod, makes acquiring Teoscar seem like bringing (Darnell) Coles to Newcastle.
Opening Day: LH Blake Snell…CL Josh Hader. The Padres continue to spend tremendous amounts of money chasing the Grail, but have only won 90+ games one time this century. They are hoping at $249-million in payroll, that the 23rd attempt is lucky.
Opening Day: LH Shane McLanahan…CL Pete Fairbanks. The WBC demonstrated how good LF Randy Arozarena can be. Add SS Wander Franco to the future stars. But we have learned don’t underestimate the Rays because they always cobble pitching good enough to contend.
Opening Day: RH Miles Mikolas…CL Ryan Helsley. Continuing as the strongest team in the weakest division in baseball, they will miss RH Adam Wainwright early and the leadership of Team Puerto Rico manager and former C Yadi Molina. Corner infielders are MLB best.
Opening Day: RH Jacob deGrom…CL Jose Leclerc. The Rangers found out how to align their position-players by the end of ‘22, then added a trio of starting pitchers, led by deGrom. With middle infield Semien and Seager settling in, changes vault them to contender status.
Opening Day: RH Kyle Gibson…CL Felix Bautista. Great young position players, a shutdown back end of the bullpen and not-very-good starting pitching is the O’s formula for finishing above .500 but not good enough to play into October. No one is looking past a ’23 series vs. the O’s.
15-White Sox (81-81)
Opening Day: RH Dylan Cease…CL Kendall Graveman. The loss of 1B Jose Abreu may hurt more than they believe and the return of CL Liam Hendriks (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) is something everyone prays for. The rotation is solid. Charlie Montoyo is the new bench coach.
Opening Day: RH Corbin Burnes…CL Devin Williams. Rotation is solid in a division ripe for the taking. SS Willy Adames is an underrated leader. Second best in MLB’s weakest division but with a more challenging schedule does not bode well for those extra wins for playoffs.
Opening Day: RH Pablo Lopez…CL Jorge Lopez. Starter Pablo was obtained at a steep price, for AL batting champ Luis Arraez. Circumstances brought SS Carlos Correa back into the fold. Bullpen is talented and deep. C Christian Vazquez and 1B Joey Gallo are interesting adds.
Opening Day: RH Logan Webb…CL Camilo Doval. Nice to see RH Ross Stripling earn a full shot at starting. Addition of OF Michael Conforto, Stripling and SP Sean Manaea, plus RP Taylor Rogers doesn’t offer enough of an upper-end boost to tip the playoff scales.
Opening Day: RH Marcus Stroman…CL Michael Fulmer. Wrigley is one place you will never sell fans on a long-term rebuild. Just win. In order to do that, the Cubs will require more unlikely rebounds from their current roster than when the Raptors go small.
20-Red Sox (78-84)
Opening Day: RH Corey Kluber…CL Kenley Jansen. The biggest unexpected need to triggering a Red Sox rebound may be if LF Masataka Yoshida can continue his superb WBC performance with Team Japan. One losing season and, all of a sudden, excuses sound small market.
Opening Day: RH Sandy Alcantara…CL Dylan Floro. A dynamic rotation will keep them in the majority of games, while budding superstar CF Jazz Chisolm and 2B Luis Arraez key the offence. RH Johnny Cueto brings veteran presence to a young starting group. Fish won’t flounder.
Opening Day: RH Zach Gallen…CL Andrew Chafin. Key pieces include LF Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. and C Gabby Moreno added to a team that believes it has the ability to compete. The rotation and bullpen need a couple of surprises in a top-heavy division.
Opening Day: RH Shohei Ohtani…CL Ryan Tepera. Is this the year the Angels with, arguably, the two most talented players in baseball finally return to the playoff mix. Well, in a word, no! This organization hasn’t made the post-season since 2014 or won a playoff game since ’09.
Opening Day: RH Zack Greinke…CL Scott Barlow. Have a chance to be one of the more improved teams in baseball, led by SS Bobby Witt, Jr., MJ Melendez and Vinnie Pasquantino. That improvement still would just bring them to approaching .500.
Opening Day: RH Mitch Keller…CL David Bednar. Beautiful ballpark, bad ballclub. Losing 100 in baseball’s weakest division does not bode well. But future is 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes and SS O’Neil Cruz. McCutchen’s return is like elephants finding their way home before their end.
Opening Day: RH Hunter Greene…CL Alexis Diaz. 1B Joey Votto begins the season on IL. Best player active may be C Tyler Stephenson. Need a rebound from 2B Jonathan India. Top three starters with a year or less of service time. Will battle Pirates for fourth in Central.
Opening Day: LH Patrick Corbin…CL Kyle Finnegan. Be wary of a team that wins 55 games then cuts payroll by 22% from one opening day to the next. They traded Soto to the Padres and not because someone was pushing for playing time. Hard to see this group improving.
Opening Day: LH Eduardo Rodriguez…CL Alex Lange. Being the closer for the Tigers is like being wine steward on an A.A. cruise. Injuries decimated them last year and three anticipated starting pitchers remain out. CF Riley Greene and SS Javier Baez worth watching.
Opening Day: RH German Marquez…CL Daniel Bard. The money still owed to 3B Nolan Arenado makes him the second highest paid Rockies this year. Rookie SS Ezequiel Tovar worth watching. OF Randal Grichuk (groin) likely won’t be ready.
Opening Day: LH Kyle Muller…CL Trevor May. No matter the benign neglect ownership heaps on A’s, they can’t escape Oakland. All you need be aware of regarding the 2023 A’s is that the largest guaranteed contract is interim closer Trevor May at $7.0 million.