The National League power rankings will look similar to the American League rankings, it will have a member of each division in the top 3 positions.
The San Francisco Giants have been given top spot because of their World Series victory. Right now they are the team to beat. This would be the case even if they traded their whole team away. Texas was not afforded the same spot in the AL simply because they did what every team could do,–and that includes amateur teams–lose.
1. San Francisco Giants– A World Series championship is all the explanation they need to be in top spot. The Giants have promise otherwise. Starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner will all start the year under the age of 27. That usually means their best years are still ahead of them. Add to that Rookie of the Year winner, catcher Buster Posey (24) and the Giants should be competitive for the foreseeable future.
2. Philadelphia Phillies– Last season the Phillies starting rotation was one of the best. It featured Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay as well as a couple other front end starters, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hammels. They added highly desired starter Cliff Lee in the offseasn and should be a favorite based on pitching alone. Injuries to Dominic Brown and Chase Utley will hurt, but there are other bats capable of stepping up. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco to name a few.
3. Milwaukee Brewers– Sticking with the trend of pitching, the Brewers made sure they had just that this offseason. They traded for Shaun Marcum and former Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke. That gives them three–including Yovani Gallardo–top notch starters in a Central division that isn’t particularly strong. Add power hitters Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and the Brewers are as good a bet as any to take the division crown.
4. Atlanta Braves– The Braves have a lot of talent on their roster, and coming up through their minor league system. According to the Baseball Prospect Handbook, the Braves have the second best farm system. Depth is always important for teams when adversity strikes. The Braves won 91 games last season and could even improve this season. Adding second baseman Dan Uggla to a lineup that already features 2010 Rookie of the Year finalist Jason Heyward (18 home runs) and Brian McCann (21 homeruns in 2010).
5. Colorado Rockies– The Rockies have a dynamic young pitching staff headed by Ubaldo Jiminez (19 wins 2.88 ERA in 2010) and great young hitters in shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Once the season starts, the Giants lose their automatic spot in top position and could very easily be replaced by the Colorado Rockies.
6. Cincinnati Reds– The reigning division champions will more than likely see some regression this season, especially from their pitching staff. Any regression first baseman Joey Votto has though could be made up by outfielder Jay Bruce who has been improving every season. The NL Central is going to be a tight 4 team race this season, with the Reds in the thick of it.
7. St. Louis Cardinals– Initially the Cardinals were ranked higher, but losing their staff ace Adam Wainwright for the season to Tommy John surgery will be difficult to overcome. A healthy season from Chris Carpenter and a monster season from future hall of famer Albert Pujols will help them overcome it.
8. Chicago Cubs– The Cubs are hoping the former Tampa Rays they have picked up–starting pitcher Matt Garza and first baseman Carlos Pena–help them return to the winning side. A switch from the AL East to the NL central could see Garza put up some gaudy numbers.
9. LA Dodgers– The Dodgers are looking to bounce back under new manager Don Mattingly. They boast a pitching staff that is second to only the Giants in the division, led by 22 year old Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw had a very impressive season in 2010, with a 2.91 ERA and 212 strikeouts it is scary to think his numbers could be even better this season.
10. San Diego Padres– The Padres had a breakout season last year and fell just short of a return to the playoffs. Any chances of building on that success dwindled when they traded first basemen Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. The Padres got a good return for him, but none of these players will be impact players this season.
11. Florida Marlins– Always riddled with talent but never with payroll the Marlins traded second baseman and 30 homerun man Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves. They still have talented hitters in their line-up, including shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Big things are even expected of sophomore right fielder Mike Stanton. The Marlins, however, have a long way to go to reach the Braves and Phillies.
12.Washington Nationals– The Nationals have a lot of upside, but not a lot has changed since last season. They did lose Adam Dunn, but they have replaced him nicely with Jayson Werth. Stephen Strasburg won’t make an appearance this season–he underwent Tommy John surgery–but he should be back next season, just in time for some more of the Nationals talent pool to come through. This year will be a learning year for the Nationals and better than a 4th place finish shouldn’t be expected.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates– The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since Barry Bonds played in the organization. That was 1992, 18 seasons ago. There is no reason to expect that run of futility to end this season. The Pirates lost 105 games last season and the outlook this year is still bleak. Andrew McCutchen could be on the verge of a breakout season. A success for this team is to avoid losing 100 games.
14. New York Mets– Nothing has gone right for the Mets the last few seasons. This year hasn’t started any differently. There have been mixed reports on Johan Santana’s surgically repaired shoulder, but the Mets will need more than a healthy Santana to contend this year. There is still a lot of talent on their roster, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay to name a few. A return to their previous career norms could change the Mets from 5th in the division to 3rd, maybe even a chance at a Wild Card berth. That is a long shot though. Realistically, some of these players may be traded by seasons end.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks– Pretty bleak outlook for the Diamondbacks once again.
16. Houston Astros- Finishing ahead of one team in the NL would be a success for the talent deprived Astros.