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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Gordy’s MLB rankings: The season starts now

Published: April 1, 2011
Section: Sports

Baseball season finally began last night signaling the start of the six-month race to the World Series. While spring training has had some very interesting moments, including a Brandeis alumnus reaching starting pitcher on the Astros, the records are reset, as are this year’s statistics. The records below are the final spring training records. While spring training has no impact on the regular season, it will be interesting to see whether some teams continue to dominate, rise to the challenge or fall from the top.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (21-14): Aside from their position as a leader in the Grapefruit League, the Phillies have one of the best collections of pitchers in Baseball. Whether great pitching can carry them remains to be seen.

2. Boston Red Sox (14-19): Another favorite for the World Series this year, the Red Sox have one of the best batting lineups in baseball. It’s funny how one of the top two teams is known for its pitchers while the other is known for its batters. If both make it to the top, it will be interesting to see which side wins.

3. Atlanta Braves (17-13): The Braves’ biggest problem is that they share a division with the Phillies. The Braves will have to be careful to still aim for a division title despite the challenge.

4. Texas Rangers (13-16): Despite losing Cliff Lee, the Rangers are set to maintain their leadership in the AL West due to their strong batting lineup.

5. Minnesota Twins (20-12): The Twins are finally healthy with the return of Joe Nathan, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Expect Jim Thome to reach the elite 600-homerun club this year as they fight it out in the competitive American League (AL) Central. Additionally, the Twins have added Kosher hot dogs to their stadium this year and while that may have no impact on the game, it certainly will not hurt.

6. San Francisco Giants (23-12): The Giants may be the defending champions, but their weakened batting lineup may bring down a team with an amazing group of pitchers.

7. New York Yankees (13-15): The Yankees, while expected to do well by normal standards, are considerably weak this year. Aside from players aging and not playing as well as expected last year, the Yankees had to use their time in Florida to determine not one, but three of their pitchers for the season.

8. Detroit Tigers (20-14): The Tigers promise to be a threat in the AL Central this year as one of the leaders of the Grapefruit League, along with their rivals the Twins, while mutual enemy the White Sox have squandered this last month.

9. Cincinnati Reds (17-14): The Reds have both young and talented batters to put runs on the board, but their pitching staff is still a cause for concern.

10. Chicago White Sox (11-20): The White Sox are never a team to underestimate. They may not have had a great spring training record, but they have been consistent contenders for the AL Central for a while and cannot be counted out so early.

11. Colorado Rockies (20-10): The Rockies had a great spring training, but with the highly competitive National League (NL) West, that alone won’t be enough to overcome division rivals like the Giants.

12. Milwaukee Brewers (19-11): The Brewers are among the teams that keep the NL Central almost as competitive as its AL counterpart. With the Reds and the Cardinals, this three-way battle may prove to be interesting.

13. St. Louis Cardinals (14-16): One of the biggest strengths the Cardinals can hope for is that Albert Pujols manages an amazing year and decides to return next year. The Cardinals were unable to agree to a contract extension before training and Pujols will not return to the negotiation table until the season ends in October.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (16-14): The Blue Jays would probably be a great team, if they didn’t have to face the Yankees and Red Sox so often.

15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (18-13): The Angels had a less than stellar performance last year. In their 50th season, the Angels will have extra reason to make a run for the title.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers (14-21): The Dodgers new manager needs to show that he can hold his own in a division that includes the defending World Champions. After following a four-time World Series-winning manager, Don Mattingly will have to show that he can coach as exceptionally as he once played.

17. Tampa Bay Rays (15-14): It’s still too early to tell whether last year was a fluke or a sign of things to come. Having lost many players in the off-season, one may suspect the former, but with a great pitching rotation, they may remain a force to be reckoned with.

18. New York Mets (17-15): I’m hoping that if any New York team does well that it be the Mets. At the same time, they have an established history of being a team that disappoints its fans.

19. Kansas City Royals (20-10): The Royals are widely considered to have one of the better farm systems (network of minor-league affiliates) in the country. With a spring record second only to the Giants, they may help create some difficulty for their division rivals.

20. Baltimore Orioles (15-15): The Orioles tend to be fine as far as batters go, but their pitcher skills are their Achilles Heel in the cut-throat AL East.

21. Cleveland Indians (15-14): The Indians may be in a competitive division, but they haven’t been part of that competition for years now. Their batters are fine, but like the Orioles, their pitching sucks.

22. Washington Nationals (15-14): The Nationals are an average team in an above-average division. Competing against the Phillies and the Braves, the Nats have almost no shot at the division title, and against the entire NL, they have almost no shot at a post-season berth.

23. Oakland Athletics (12-21): Oakland has great pitchers, but getting runs on the board is an important part of the game and is also their greatest weakness.

24. Seattle Mariners (16-13): Another AL West team, the Mariners will have an even slimmer chance of making the post-season­—having not only the Rangers and Angels, but also the Athletics in the way.

25. Florida Marlins (15-15): The Marlins have plenty of great players. Unfortunately, history has shown that even with great players, the Marlins rarely do better than mediocre.

26. Houston Astros (11-24): The Astros’ pitching rotation includes the one Brandeis alumnus to make any professional sports team. Either that’s great news for Brandeis or terrible news for Astros fans.

27. Chicago Cubs (14-19): The Cubs are a team that is hard to cheer for. As one of the oldest teams in baseball (one of two remaining founders of the NL), they haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and haven’t won a pennant since World War II.

28. San Diego Padres (13-17): The Padres have retained what some consider the best bullpen in baseball to assist a great pitching staff. Unfortunately with the loss of Adrian Gonzalez and the acquisition of only a few new batters, their offense appears unready to be a threat to anyone this year.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks (12-25): It’s been said before and I’ll repeat it to drive the point home, the Diamondbacks aren’t a threat in the NL West this year and should focus on building as a threat for 2012.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-21): The Pirates have had losing seasons for as long as I can remember (18 seasons to be specific). The Pirates need to settle down and focus, at the very least, one or two seasons on building. The trick will be to avoid trading all their great players to other teams. Take a lesson from the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA): Building doesn’t occur overnight and trading top players doesn’t help.