Round three of The Game Haus’ 2017 MLB Rankings. In recent news nothing of any real note has occurred. This is spite of the ever swirling trade rumors and non-stop speculation that plagues these dreary months. Although there is little to get our baseball starved brains excited, as die-hard baseball fans, we must press on.
To pull us out of the dregs, this week we’ll tackle ranks 20-16. At first glance many of these rosters are recognizable but don’t exactly jump off the page. This group is an interesting mix of teams that appear to be in decline, and teams that are few pieces short of making a splash. Regardless, this spot in the rankings often has one or two surprise contenders playing spoiler at years end.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks
2016 Record: 69-93
Rest in peace 2016 Diamondbacks. A 93 loss season isn’t what Arizona had in mind heading into last season, and it cost the front office their jobs. Injuries certainly played a factor in the overall result and a “healthy” roster should give D-Backs fans some optimism.
There is enough talent in the field to do some damage between the return of A.J. Pollock, the pop of Jake Lamb, and the overall dominance of Paul Goldschmidt. The real question facing Arizona is whether Zack Greinke and the rotation can hold down their end of bargain. The acquisition of Taijuan Walker won’t hurt their chances and adds a solid young arm for depth. If the injury bug stays away the D-Backs should look for a much more successful season in 2017.
19. Atlanta Braves
2016 record: 68-93
The Braves are undoubtedly a team to watch heading into next season. Freddie Freeman led the charge for this group leading the team in batting average, home runs, on base percentage, hits, and runs batted in.
Despite a slow start, the Braves finished the season strong and have an impressive battery of talent waiting in the wings. Infield breakout star Dansby Swanson should continue to develop while backed by pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and a number of other young arms.
The youngsters won’t have to do it alone as the team has also acquired veterans R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to help anchor the rotation. The Braves appear poised to take a big step forward next season and may be a serious contender sooner than some may guess.
18. Baltimore Orioles
2016 record: 89-73
Someone get some gravy to go along with those 253 mashed taters. If the Orioles do decide to pass on resigning Mark Trumbo, they may experience a drop in pop. That said, there is no shortage of remaining power to go around. The mix of Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and MVP contender Manny Machado, in long ball friendly Camden Yards, can’t look good to opposing pitchers.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, that field works both ways. Outside of a solid Chris Tillman and a developing Kevin Gausman the Orioles appear to lack the arms they need. Based on last year alone the Orioles probably deserve more respect. However, until they make a play to shore up the rotation, their October aspirations seem limited.
17. Seattle Mariners
2016 record 86-76
The offseason saw the Mariners trade decent pitching for decent hitting in the Taijuan Walker for Jean Segura deal. Outside of that, not much has changed for Seattle, and they haven’t been tied to any deal of significance since. With an aging roster and little to celebrate in the farm system, Seattle appears poised for regression in 2017.
Bright spots remain with Robinson Cano discovering a massive resurgence of power and an improved batting average over 2015. Furthermore, King Felix remains atop the rotation with two extremely solid pieces in Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton right behind him. The Mariners are a coin flip for 2017 in terms of performance but safe money doesn’t see Seattle seriously contending in the short term.
16. Kansas City Royals
2016 record: 81-81
2017 appears to be the final year for Ned Yost’s small ball contenders. The Royals have leveraged a scrappy lineup and dominant bullpen for the last several years. Unfortunately for Kansas City, many of those core components are seeing their contracts expire at the end of this year.
The trade for Jorge Soler procured a bit of youth, but given Soler’s struggles, it’s hard to determine short term impact. The Royals were another team that suffered from ill-timed injuries in 2016. Given a healthy lineup this year should see improvement for KC, but it likely won’t be enough to unseat the top of the AL central.
All logo images courtesy of MLB.com.
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