The 1st Power Rankings of Spring Training '21

February 22nd, 2021

Spring Training camps are in full swing, players are in the best shape of their lives and baseball cliches are being debated on Twitter -- all hints that glimmers of normalcy are starting to poke through. With that, let’s kick off our first Power Rankings of the spring season, with an eye on what to watch in 2021.

Top Five

1. Dodgers
This isn’t difficult -- when a team has too many aces among its crowded field of starting pitchers and the biggest conundrum entering Spring Training is which potential All-Stars will get pushed to the bullpen ... well, you get the drift.

The Dodgers were already the perceived best team in baseball, then they added reigning National League Cy Young Award winner . So while we’re drooling over the notion of watching the Dodgers and Padres claw each other for the top spot in the NL West -- and we fully expect that to happen -- for now, Los Angeles gets deference as No. 1 in our Power Rankings.

Fun fact: the Dodgers’ record over last year’s 60-game season translates to 116 wins over a full campaign, which would have tied the 2001 Mariners and 1906 Cubs for the most in baseball history.

2. Padres
Non-San Diegans probably know more about and at this point, but there are others who could help tip the NL West scales in the Padres’ favor -- namely, , who, in the wise words of MLB.com Padres beat reporter AJ Cassavell, “is really, really good, you guys.”

If Lamet is healthy, this rotation could rival the Dodgers' staff. It’s a big if, but it's also a promising one. Lamet was shut down early in 2020 with arm issues, and that was a big blow. But if that leads to him being healthy in ’21 and beyond, then it was more than worth it. The test will be when Lamet is cleared to ramp up his throwing program and test out the slider. Stay tuned.

Related

3. Yankees
Position battles always headline the news this time of year, but in the Yankees’ case, it’s the position battle that isn’t happening that is drawing attention. After several springs of having to fight for a role on the Opening Day roster, 's status has been elevated to projected starting left fielder. He rounds out an outfield that includes and , with projected as the designated hitter.

The other storyline to track is the depth in the rotation -- and are proven big leaguers, but they’re also coming off pretty serious injury issues. Who slots in behind ace is still very much in flux.

4. Braves
One general theory among those who like to theorize is that the Braves, winners of three straight NL East titles, will have to prove they aren’t up to the task before we anoint another team as the kings of that division. So while the Mets look ready for a fight, the Braves, however imperfect, get the edge here.

Atlanta needed rotation depth and added and ; it re-signed , deciding his offensive upside is worth taking on the problematic defensive shortcomings. And the Braves have , who, by the way, had arguably one of the worst COVID-19 cases in baseball and rebounded to win the NL MVP Award last year. So yeah, the Braves are probably going to be very good, again.

5. Mets
OK, so while we clearly believe the Braves are going to finish ahead of the Mets in the NL East race, we’re just as certain this will be a race that will be undecided heading into the final stretch. Regardless of whether it’s Braves-Mets or Mets-Braves, it’s guaranteed to be a fun run to October.

What’s different this year than the past, when expectations for the Mets started high but ended with a thud? New York had a legitimately productive offseason and fortified its roster with winners. That includes -- a major upgrade to that rotation.

The rest of the field of 30

  1. White Sox
  2. Twins
  3. Blue Jays
  4. Rays
  5. Astros
  6. Cardinals
  7. A’s
  8. Brewers
  9. Nationals
  10. Indians
  11. Cubs
  12. Angels
  13. Phillies
  14. Red Sox
  15. Reds
  16. Marlins
  17. Giants
  18. Royals
  19. Mariners
  20. D-backs
  21. Tigers
  22. Rangers
  23. Orioles
  24. Rockies
  25. Pirates

Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn