Normally, by this time in the offseason, we’re plowing full-steam ahead into the “let’s analyze what is to come” phase of the calendar. I still like to look back at the past season, but moreso in the context of how it allows us to frame the conversation and analyses for how a player or team will performing this coming season. I mean, pitchers and catchers report in a month, after all.
But because so much of the offseason is left undone across baseball, it’s a really challenging thing to do. How do you project performances when so many rosters are left incomplete?
To that end, I feel for Buster Olney, who undoubtedly had a publishing schedule to keep, and had to rank MLB’s teams as of today. With the offseason context in mind, though, it can actually make for an interesting discussion of where things stand, and what lies ahead for teams to accomplish.
With input from evaluators and statistical researches, Olney ranked the top ten MLB teams, and the Cubs show up sixth, behind the Indians, Dodgers, Astros, Nationals, and Yankees. The Cardinals, for what it’s worth, are nipping at the Cubs’ heels at eight.
Although I’d probably have the Astros at the top of the pile, and would probably put the Yankees ahead of the Nationals, it’s hard to quibble with that top five, as things stand now. Without another addition to the rotation, the Cubs will rightly be viewed as “taking a step back” from where they were last year at the end of the year, and they’ll also get dinged for a lack of faith that Brandon Morrow and wholly replace Wade Davis.
The Cubs still very much look like a playoff team, but probably just below that top tier.
… until and unless they add another quality starting pitcher, that is. At that point, I think you’d have to say they’re right there with those top five again. And I’m not sure any of the teams below the Cubs can realistically leap them with a move or two to close out the offseason.
I’m curious: how would you rank the top teams in baseball, as we sit here today?