Yesterday I gave you the bottom third of my 2013 Preseason Rankings and today I present you with the middle third. Remember, this is how I view the quality of each team for 2013 and not how many wins I believe each team will accumulated. For example, I have the #21 Pirates winning more games than the team ahead of them because I expect them to have an easier time in their own division and think they’ll benefit from more good fortune as well.
20. Boston Red Sox
It’s been a rough 18 months for the Red Sox, but they enter 2013 without the weight of big contracts or expectations. They shed payroll thanks to the big spending Dodgers and made smaller commitments to free agents this offseason like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, David Ross, Johnny Gomes, and Ryan Dempster. The Sox have a pitching staff that should bounce back to some degree in 2013 and adding Joel Hanrahan should thicken up the back end of the pen. I think the Sox will be respectable this season, but I couldn’t make a case for them in the top half of the teams in the league and felt more comfortable calling them the 20th best team for 2013.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are a pretty good offensive team led by Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, but their pitching is somewhat suspect. Without any serious moves to improve their rotation or bullpen, I couldn’t do much to move them up this list. Expect the Crew to hit well, but I can’t see them preventing enough runs to make a postseason run.
18. New York Mets
I think the Mets are one elite outfielder and one pretty good outfielder away from being a legitimate playoff contender. They have a franchise player in David Wright and some nice supporting pieces on offense, but that usually won’t be enough to knock on the door of 90 wins. I’m a huge fan of the Mets rotation, even without Dickey in 2013 and think the bullpen should be better than it was a season ago. I don’t think this is the year for the Mets, but I also think they are a lot better than people think.
17. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles had a great 2012 season, but that greatness came on the backs of a lot of good fortune. I find it hard to believe they’ll be as lucky in extra inning and one run games again in 2013 and they also didn’t make any upgrades to the roster. A full season of Manny Machado will help and Dylan Bundy may get a chance to make an impact, but I’m expecting a low to mid 80s win total rather than a mid 90s one.
16. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are just a really average team. They have some frontline arms, but not much depth in the rotation or the pen for my taste. A lot of their bats have breakout potential, but they’re also very inconsistent. We saw last season, with much of the same roster, that a team like this can have a few good months, but they almost never hold up over a full season. This is an 80-85 win team in its purest form.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dbacks made a lot of moves this offseason. They dealt Justin Upton, Chris Young, and Trevor Bauer, but got back Martin Prado, and many prospects and depth pieces. I think their pitching depth is phenomenal, but I think their top tier is lacking. On offense they have a lot of players I really like, but also have holes and question marks. This is a pretty good team and their ranking is more a function of how I feel about other teams than how I feel about them. While I told you I couldn’t put the Red Sox higher than 15th, I should probably say I can’t imagine putting the Dbacks any lower than this.
14. Oakland Athletics
Oakland is going to need some good luck to get back to 94 wins this season, but Billy Beane and they A’s had a nice offseason. They added some low cost high upside pieces that I think will pay off, but if last year’s formula is going to work, a lot of players are going to have to repeat career best type performances. I’m not sure they can do that, but I’d look for them to remain relevant into September.
13. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have an incredible top three in their rotation and one of baseball’s best relievers anchoring their pen. They also have a great middle infield and an up and coming centerfielder. I worry deeply about everything else. They are a mess in the corners and their catcher is out for the first twenty five games of the season. This team has the ability to be very good, but I think their floor is also pretty low as well. I like them enough to put them in the top 13, but they could easily fall back if some of their gambles start to turn sour quickly.
12. New York Yankees
The Yankees are aging, but they’re still a talented team even if they aren’t the best team in the league anymore. The top of the rotation is good, but it lacks depth and offensive side is deep even if their star power is waning. A playoff berth wouldn’t surprise me for the Yanks, but I think they’ll be just on the outside this year.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers
They spent a ton of money via free agency and trades, but I’m still not sold on the Dodgers as a great team. They’re weak at 3B, 2B and potentially in the corner outfield spots depending on health. They have an excellent top two in the rotation, but I don’t love it south of there. The Dodgers are a good team, but paying Crawford and Gonzalez $40 million a season doesn’t scream playoff berth. You know how I know that? The Red Sox have already tried it twice.
Check back tomorrow for spots 10-1.