2023 MLB power rankings: Houston Astros No. 1, Yankees and Padres in World Series mix

The Houston Astros are the best team in baseball heading into spring training, with the reigning champions sitting atop the consensus MLB power rankings. However, the history of baseball demonstrates that the defending champs rarely finish the next season at the top of the mountain.

MLB hasn’t had a repeat World Series champion since 2000 and despite the Astros’ dynasty run, few should count on the streak ending in October. Instead, an active MLB free-agency period puts the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and San Diego Padres in a position to snap their championship droughts.

Spring training will certainly help shape the early outlooks for a number of teams, with injuries and early breakouts all beginning during the preparation for the 2023 MLB season. For now, we’ll evaluate all 30 clubs based on their rosters heading into February.

Let’s dive into our 2023 MLB power rankings.

30. Oakland Athletics

Winning anytime soon is the last thing the Oakland Athletics seem focused on. With one of the worst rosters and lowest MLB payrolls in 2023, the A’s will live near the bottom of the MLB standings. We’ve reached a point where relief for the fan base might be the A’s relocating.

29. Cincinnati Reds

The only thing keeping the Cincinnati Reds from the bottom of the 2023 MLB power rankings is their promising future. Fans should be excited for the young rotation trio (Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft). Cincinnati also boasts one of the best farm systems in MLB, with Elly Da La Cruz and Noelvi Marte likely just a year away from their MLB debuts. With that said, the Reds will be one of the worst MLB teams in 2023.

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28. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t anywhere close to contention, making their refusal to trade Bryan Reynolds more baffling. While Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana are nice veteran additions to the clubhouse, neither change the fact that this will be one of the worst lineups in baseball. While there are plenty of prospects worth getting excited about, pitching still projects as a long-term weakness.

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27. Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals rebuild is underway, but there is a lot of work to be done. Stephen Strasburg is a massive question mark and bloated contracts elevate the Nationals’ payroll. On the bright side, fans can enjoy watching CJ Abrams, Keibert Ruiz, Cade Cavalli and MacKenzie Gore develop in front of their eyes.

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26. Detroit Tigers

Hiring Scott Harris as general manager could be one of the best offseason moves made by the Detroit Tigers in recent years. He is taking over a team that saw several of its young arms suffer injuries, whilst top prospect Spencer Torkelson fell well short of expectations in his rookie year. Given the roster isn’t all that different, Detroit is likely destined for another season under 80 wins.

25. Colorado Rockies

The Kris Bryant contract was always a bad idea and his first season with the Colorado Rockies just proved it immediately. Even if he stays healthy and plays at an All-Star level for the entire season, Colorado’s lack of pitching and surrounding talent will keep them near the bottom of the 2023 MLB power rankings for most of the year.

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24. Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals lineup will be entertaining, with Bobby Witt Jr, BMJ Melendez and Vinnie Pasquantino serving as core parts of this foundation. Things could be even better if Adalberto Mondesi stays healthy. Unfortunately for Kansas City, it is home to one of the worst rotations in MLB and a shaky bullpen will help keep this team short of .500.

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23. San Francisco Giants

Failing to sign Carlos Correa might be the best long-term move for the San Francisco Giants, but it will come at the cost of ballpark attendance. Carlos Rodón is gone, the rotation will regress, the farm system is thin and the reliance on platooning players and oft-injured contributors comes with alarming risks. Hired to recreate the Los Angeles Dodgers model, Farhan Zaidi has fallen well short of expectations.

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22. Miami Marlins

Adding Luis Arráez and Jean Segura to the lineup are nice moves by the Miami Marlins, but it falls well short of adequately fixing a lineup that ranked 25th in isolated power (.133) and 28th in runs scored (586). Even if Trevor Rogers rebounds and Jesus Luzardo is healthy, a .500 record is unlikely.

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21. Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs lineup will be significantly improved in 2023 thanks to the signings of Dansby Swanson, Trey Mancini and Cody Bellinger. We’re also counting on some improved defense, making life easier for a pitching staff that now boasts Jameson Taillon. However, the bottom half of the 2023 MLB power rankings is where the Cubbies will live for a while.

20. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox saved their offseason from becoming a total disaster by signing Rafael Devers to a contract extension. Unfortunately, the departure of Xander Bogaerts and the Trevor Story injury means an improved bullpen won’t be enough to prevent Boston from finishing near the bottom of the AL East. Revenue over results has consequences, just not for ownership.

19. Texas Rangers

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While the Texas Rangers deserve credit for spending aggressively, it doesn’t make them a viable contender. Even if Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney all stay healthy – which is unlikely – this is still a below-average lineup. In the best-case scenario, Texas is tied with the Los Angeles Angels for a distant third place in the AL West.

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18. Arizona Diamondbacks

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The Arizona Diamondbacks won’t be challenging for a Wild Card spot in 2023, but they are one of the teams in our 2023 MLB power rankings to monitor closely. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the trio of Corbin Barroll, Alek Thomas and Gabriel Moreno. With Kyle Lewis and Lourdies Gurriel Jr. also in the lineup, there will be some hot streaks. After three down seasons, 80-82 wins is possible next season.

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17. Baltimore Orioles

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
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After such a promising 2022 season, it’s underwhelming to see the Baltimore Orioles not be active spenders in the winter. A core headlined by Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander should keep this team relevant in 2023. Barring a huge addition to their starting rotation, though, Baltimore likely finishes 2023 outside the WC race.

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16. Los Angeles Angels

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We’ve learned our lesson with the Los Angeles Angels. There is significantly more depth on the roster, with Brandon Drury and Hunter Renfroe adding much-needed punch to the lineup. However, betting on the Angels to snap their eight-year playoff drought requires a belief that Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon all stay healthy. No one should expect that to happen.

15. Chicago White Sox

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
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Parting ways with Tony La Russa was the first step toward fixing the most disappointing MLB team in 2022. Unfortunately, the Chicago White Sox did very little to improve the roster. If everyone avoids multiple trips to the injured list, the White Sox can win the AL Central. If the injuries mount up, just surpassing the .500 mark becomes the most realistic outcome.

14. Milwaukee Brewers

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds
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The Milwaukee Brewers have the pitching to be dangerous in the MLB playoffs, it’s just a question about if they get there. Adding William Contreras and Jesse Winker to the lineup provides much-needed reinforcements. If everything clicks, even without any big in-season additions, Milwaukee’s upside would put them in the top 10 of the 2023 MLB power rankings.

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13. Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
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While the Tampa Bay Rays were in the mix for several top free agents, they only came away with Zach Eflin to strengthen their starting rotation. There is a lot of All-Star talent in both the lineup (Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena) and pitching staff (Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow), but the choice to operate with one of the lowest budgets in MLB prevents Tampa Bay from becoming a World Series threat.

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12. Minnesota Twins

MLB: Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins
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After acquiring Pablo Lopez, the Minnesota Twins now boast the rotation necessary to challenge the Cleveland Guardians for the AL Central. There’s an element of risk with the arms, mainly durability, but it could be one of the best staffs in the American League. If Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco stay healthy, the

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11. Cleveland Guardians

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at New York Yankees
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The Cleveland Guardians are a perfect example of a club with a high floor and a low ceiling. After playing as the youngest team in MLB last season, Cleveland gained the necessary experience and proved it can win the division even when there are restraints put on the payroll. However, the roster it takes into Opening Day won’t be all that different from what we see in September. As a result, the Guardians’ ceiling is capped as a playoff contender.

10. St. Louis Cardinals

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
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The St. Louis Cardinals will miss the presence of Yadier Molina in the clubhouse and his work behind the plate, but Willson Contreras is simply a massive talent upgrade at the position. With two MVP candidates in the lineup and great help around them, St. Louis should have one of the best MLB lineups in 2023. Factor in the wealth of pitching and you can bet on the Cardinals playing meaningful games in October.

9. Seattle Mariners

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The Seattle Mariners ended one of the longest playoff droughts in sports, reaching the postseason for the first time since 2001. It happened for a variety of reasons, but rookie Julio Rodriguez immediately becoming a superstar played a pivotal role. Teoscar Hernández adds an All-Star bat to the lineup while Kolten Wong improves the situation at second base. If the starting rotation plays up to its potential, this team could challenge for the AL West.

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8. Philadelphia Phillies

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Tommy John surgery is unlikely to impact Bryce Harper at the plate in 2023, which is all that really matters for the Philadelphia Phillies. Even when he’s sidelined to open the 2023 season, Trea Turner is a viable MVP candidate when at his best. With that said, on paper, the Phillies are a tier below the elite teams in the 2023 MLB power rankings.

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7. Toronto Blue Jays

MLB: Wild Card-Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays
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The Toronto Blue Jays will have one of the best MLB lineups in 2023, headlined by perennial All-Stars but now featuring impact bats from the top to the bottom of the order. Adding Chris Bassitt to the rotation now erases any questions with the front-line starters, with Toronto now boasting a 1-4 that gives it a shot in any postseason season.

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6. San Diego Padres

MLB: San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies
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Already one of the best teams in MLB, the San Diego Padres made another offseason splash with Xander Bogaerts. The All-Star shortstop fills the void in the lineup until Fernando Tatís Jr. returns from suspension (April 20). There’s more than enough hitting and pitching talent to win the World Series, it’s just a question of execution in October.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres
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Bet against the Los Angeles Dodgers if you want, their history says it’s a foolish endeavor. They can always pull off a blockbuster trade, thanks to one of the best farm systems in MLB. Even if they don’t you can count on two NL MVP candidates (Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman), multiple All-Star selections and phenomenal depth to help this team battle for the NL West crown and a deep playoff run in October.

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4. New York Mets

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We’ll start with the positives. The New York Mets still have an elite rotation, even after losing deGrom and Bassitt. New York also built arguably the best bullpen in baseball and it will be much better at catcher in 2023 with Omar Narvaez and Francisco Alvarez. What prevents the Mets from snagging a top-three spot in the 2023 MLB power rankings is a bottom-of-the-lineup that could prove to be too weak to win in an NLCS series against the Padres or Atlanta Braves.

3. Atlanta Braves

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Fans certainly would’ve liked to see the Atlanta Braves use their long-term payroll flexibility to fill the void created by Dansby Swanson’s departure. Even with the hole at shortstop, though, Atlanta still projects as the best team in the National League without him. A deep farm system backs up a loaded lineup and a top-flight rotation, putting the Braves in a position to win another pennant.

2. New York Yankees

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Props to the New York Yankees for spending what it takes to keep this team in World Series contention. Re-signing Aaron Judge is one thing, a necessary move both from a baseball and marketing perspective. Adding Carlos Rodón, giving New York two viable Cy Young threats and a postseason rotation capable of overwhelming opponents in November, could snap the title drought after 13 years.

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1. Houston Astros

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The Houston Astros are No. 1 in the 2023 MLB power rankings, in large part out of respect for the reigning World Series champs. Losing Justin Verlander is a massive blow for this pitching staff, even if they have the depth to mitigate the damage over a 162-game season. After replacing Yuli Gurriel with Jose Abreu, the Astros’ lineup might be what carries it the furthest in 2023.

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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