Power Rankings: Griff's 2023 Power Rankings #7
May 23, 2023
At one point, early this 21st century, a debate raged about re-alignment and whether the Blue Jays leaving the powerful, free-spending AL East, paced by the deep-pocketed Yankees and Red Sox, would be advantageous for a struggling low-payroll franchise. Back then Toronto was considered medium to small market. GM Gord Ash argued against it, suggesting wisely that if you ever want to be the best then you will always have to beat the best. Besides, for Canadian fans, there’s something about Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium and thousands of northern invaders making the trek for a weekend series that makes the AL East special to be part of.
Here are the six MLB divisions and the 2023 Opening Day payrolls, combined, for the five teams in each division. (Cot’s Baseball Contracts)
1-NL East 970.2M … 2-NL West 947.6M … 3-AL East 812.7M …
4-AL West 782.0M … 5-AL Central 638.8M … 6-NL Central 635.4M
Numbers in parentheses are Edition 6 power rankings.
Griff’s Power Rankings – Edition 7
A quarter season is enough to finally say the Rays start is for real, taking over No. 1 spot in this week’s Power Rankings. The early Rays offence is, of course, unsustainable. LH Shane McLanahan and RH Zach Eflin combined 13-1 in 18 starts. Also, likely unsustainable. But, for now, hard to deny them top spot.
RF Ronald Acuna Jr. on pace for an MVP year with 11 homers, 18 steals and a 1.031 OPS. He is surrounded by all-stars, some of whom have yet to find their groove. Sorting out the back end of the bullpen is an issue with struggling CL Raisel Iglesias.
As irritating as they can be, never write off the Dodgers. A slow start was always going to be corrected. RF Mookie Betts has played 2B and SS and is inspirational. 1B Freddie Freeman is back to form and 3B Max Muncy is most valuable.
If you would choose to spend five seasons (2017-21) finishing a cumulative 202 games under .500, accumulating top draft picks and a deep farm while your fans drift off to other entertainment, then you too can be like the Orioles. C Adley Rutschman is a legit star.
MGR Bruce Bochy is nobody’s fool. He must have been sitting at home feeling like a young 67-year-old with a Hall-of-Fame track record as manager when the Rangers came calling. He made the right decision. Switch-hitting Buffalo native C Jonah Heim has been a revelation.
With 40-percent of the starting rotation on the IL (RH Jose Urquidy; RH Luis Garcia) the Astros are hanging in and stalking the Rangers. Free agent 1B Jose Abreu has yet to hit a homer and has a paltry .534 OPS. DH Yordan Alvarez is an MVP candidate.
CF Harrison Bader may be the best outfielder in the division, but the Yankees bottom four in the order is far from a Murderer’s Row. They are built around RF Aaron Judge and were able to get deep into the heads of the Blue Jays coaching staff in winning 3 of 4.
8-Red Sox (8)
Who would have thought a Red Sox resurgence would be led by the outfield of RF Alex Verdugo (.848 OPS), CF Jarren Duran (.917 OPSA) and LF Masataka Yoshida (.875). LH Chris Sale has allowed 7 ER in his last 27.1 innings, with three straight wins.
C Gabby Moreno is an everyday line-drive, contact hitter, while LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is second on the team with 8 HRs and 27 RBIs. RH Zac Gallen and RH Merrill Kelly are a combined 11-5 in 20 starts, both with ERAs under three.
Exciting WBC Team Canada star 2B Edouard Julien should still be up when the Blue Jays visit on the weekend. SS Carlos Correa has yet to show his all-star form, but the rotation is solid and the bullpen has big arms. More expected from rebounding DH Byron Buxton.
Have a balanced offence with 40 homers (DH Jorge Soler – 12) and 43 steals (CF Jazz Chisolm – 14). 2B Luis Arraez leads the NL in hits. Cy guy RH Sandy Alcantara and the rest of the Fish rotation still struggling but too good for that.
12-Blue Jays (6)
Seems counter-intuitive that the last place team in the AL East would rank 12th overall, but the toughest division in baseball is a combined +51 above .500. Starting pitching led by RH Chris Bassitt gives them a chance to win most nights, but clutch hitting is a running gag.
Nice to see C Chad Wallach (son of Tim) with an extended role as a backup catcher for the Halos. The Angels seem to have found a closer in RH Carlos Estevez with a 1.23 ERA, 12 saves and 29 Ks in 22 innings.
The high-priced duo of RH Justin Verlander and RH Max Scherzer has made just 11 combined starts in the Mets’ first 48 games. Fra from cost-efficient. The revamped bullpen is led by 38-year-old RH David Robertson and 37-year-old Adam Ottavino. Not ideal.
Finally took over the lead in the NL Central and remain tied after being handed the opportunity for two weeks by a fading Pirates, who’d been off to a jackrabbit start. 1B Rowdy Tellez leads the Brew Crew in homers and RBIs, while LF Christian Yelich is slowly finding his previous form.
The Bucs are somewhere in-between their shockingly fast start and the slumping squad that was swept by the Blue Jays a couple of weeks ago. 1B Carlos Santana and DH Andrew McCutchen brought breaths of fresh air to the clubhouse.
With SS Xander Bogaerts, LF Juan Soto, 3B Manny Machado and RF Fernando Tatis Jr., there is no way this team should be five games below .500. RH Michael Wacha is the surprise ace of the staff, with LH Blake Snell and RH Joe Musgrove struggling.
LF Kyle Schwarber is the ultimate all-or-nothing major-leaguer with only 105 of 199 plate appearances where the ball is in play. Having DH Bryce Harper back in the lineup helps and the bullpen is an interesting jigsaw.
The highly anticipated second year for the new face of MLB CF Julio Rodriguez has been a struggle thus far, while the addition of 2B Kolten Wong has been disappointing. One would think that more has been expected from RF Teoscar Hernandez.
Best team in the Bay Area. RH Logan Webb is beginning to right the ship, but free-agent RH Ross Stripling has been disappointing and is on the IL. The last remaining player from the glory World Series years, SS Brandon Crawford may be done as a factor.
After embarrassing the highly touted free-agent C Willson Contreras, who was expected to replace Yadier Molina, the Cards have bounced back and are rising through the standings of the NL Central. A plan or just dumb luck? At seven below .500 Cards have a +17 run differential.
While 1B Josh Naylor leads the team with 31 RBIs, his overall performance has been disappointing. The infield was expected to be a strength, but offensively only 3B Jose Ramirez has an OPS above .675. Bullpen led by CL Emmanuel Clase with 16 saves.
Lost 14 games vs. the AL East and only two within their division in seven games. Thus have a chance to move up in the intramural portion of their schedule. LH Eduardo Rodriguez finding himself (4-3, 2.06 ERA in 9 starts). CL Alex Lange and setup RH Jason Foley have been solid.
One of the most anonymous teams in baseball as the Nuggets go for the NBA title, is playing in the random Mountain Time Zone, where even Chinese spy balloons have no interest in going near Coors Field. Yes, OF Randal Grichuk is still there and may be a trade chip at deadline.
The vines have not turned green on the walls at Wrigley and the Cubs have already begun to wither. Team’s 1-2 starters LH Justin Steele and RH Marcus Stroman are fine, but Stroman’s good numbers don’t result in wins. Cubs 4-6 in Stro starts scoring 4+ runs just three times.
Have 13 players currently on the IL including the rumour that has become 1B Joey Votto. With new contract in tow, RH Hunter Greene is still looking for a first win after 10 starts. All you really need to know is that C Luke Maile has highest OPS on the team after 47 games.
Come to think of it, tells you everything you need to know that C Riley Adams has highest OPS on the Nats after 47 games. RH Josiah Gray is having a solid season for a bad team. Are actually a game over .500 since April 30.
28-White Sox (28)
Another disappointing team expected to contend. A top-tier rotation that started 48 of the first 49 games has posted just 13 total wins, while the bullpen sorely misses CL Liam Hendriks who thankfully is on his way back to health. Too many good bats to be this pathetic when healthy.
SS Bobby Witt Jr. is a special talent and will be a great major-leaguer. His .664 OPS does not reflect the 7 homers, 13 steals, 4 triples and 18 extra-base hits. DH Franmil Reyes can only hit against the Blue Jays it seems (.333 average, .963 OPS).
The A’s have given up on themselves with a recent attendance of 35,031 for an entire 7-game homestand vs. Rangers and D’backs. The last 50/50 draw rumoured to be $34.50. Their in-stadium contest is “Count the Attendance.” Currently on pace for 34 wins and a trip to Vegas.