When a team full of rookies reaches the NL Championship Series a year after finishing in last place, people tend to take notice. When that same team happens to have the reigning NL Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year award winners, people start to take them seriously. When that team adds, significantly, to their roster pushing their preseason projections ahead of everyone else’s, they’re called the best team in baseball.
It happened once before, and now it’s happening again: The Cubs are on top of the CBS MLB’ Pre-Season Power Rankings.
Indeed, according to Matt Snyder, the Chicago Cubs are the team to beat in 2016, even more than the defending World Series Champions – Kansas City Royals (second overall) – and the team that knocked the Cubs out in the NLCS – the New York Mets (third overall).
You can see the entire rankings here, as well as write-ups on each team. As for the rest of the NL Central, the Cardinals and Pirates come in at eight and ninth, respectively, while the Brewers (27) and Reds (29) round out the back end of the list.
The top ten is pretty evenly split, with six teams from the NL and four from the AL, but eight of the next ten teams come from the American League. Still, the distribution in the National League highlights an issue for the Cubs we’ve previously discussed – the more difficult NL West and Central vs. the slightly depreciated build up in the NL East.
With five of the six top NL teams coming from the West and Central, the New York Mets look primed for another playoff berth. Even without winning their division, they will have an easier shot at taking one of the Wild Card slots, due to imbalanced schedules. Obviously, pre-season rankings aren’t the end of the conversation, but the next closes NL East team, the Washington Nationals, ranked 13 on the list.
This wasn’t the first pre-season power rankings with the Cubs on top, and I doubt it will be the last. You might be inclined not to avoid these types of articles for superstitious reasons, but I advise against that disposition. The Cubs are so rarely this well-positioned and well-liked ahead of the season. Just enjoy it. Who knows, they might actually be pretty good.