Buster Posey & Co. are the defending champs until someone knocks them off. They won 94 regular-season games in 2012, and Tim Lincecum wasn’t his usual self, going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA.
2. Angels 0-0 —
Trout, Pujols and Hamilton, oh my. Mike Scioscia’s club is one of the four favorites in Vegas – that’s good enough for us.
3. Nationals 0-0 —
They had a real good taste last season before a heartbreaking NLDS Game 5 loss to the Cardinals. With no late-season shutdown of Stephen Strasburg, they are the biggest threat to dethrone the Giants.
4. Tigers 0-0 —
The returning Triple Crown winner? Justin Verlander (sans contract tension)? A weak AL Central? Expect Jim Leyland’s crew to return to the postseason as division champs, again.
5. Dodgers 0-0 —
Can $$$ buy a pennant? Don Mattingly better hope so or he’ll have some explaining to do.
6. Reds 0-0 —
Excluding injuries, only Dusty can screw this up. With Aroldis Chapman closing the door, and Joey Votto batting third, Cincy is the favorite to repeat at NL Central champs.
7. Braves 0-0 —
Beware of the Uptons. With Justin and B.J. in the same lineup and a solid pitching staff, the Nationals are well aware of their biggest threat in the NL East.
8. Blue Jays 0-0 —
This is basically a combination of last year’s club and the best of the 2012 Marlins, minus Giancarlo Stanton. Knuckle in R.A. Dickey and an AL East title wouldn’t be a surprise.
9. Cardinals 0-0 —
This team just knows how to win. With Adam Wainwright as the ace and a scrappy offense, beware, Cincinnati. Beware.
10. Athletics 0-0 —
Last year’s charge was impressive. Can they follow it up? We think so … and we really like cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick’s beard.
11. Rangers 0-0 —
Josh Hamilton is gone, but the offense still excels at the Ballpark in Arlington. Plus, more games – and wins — against new AL West member Houston will help.
12. Phillies 0-0 —
A healthy Ryan Howard makes this team — which features some of the best starting pitchers — a contender, again. What happened last season? We’re still not sure.
13. Orioles 0-0 —
Adam Jones, Adam Jones, Adam Jones. Buck Showalter continues to find a way to make teams play above their capabilities.
14. Rays 0-0 —
Joe Maddon is a great skipper, they have a scary offense anchored by Evan Longoria, and David Price is one of the best starters in the majors. The Rays could make a nice run … but if they do, will anyone in Tampa notice?
15. Brewers 0-0 —
As long as Ryan Braun can stay out of trouble, the Brew Crew is capable of stealing the NL Central if everything goes … according to plan.
16. White Sox 0-0 —
Does a 3-4-5 lineup of Rios, Dunn and Konerko scare you? At least Robin Ventura’s club can take pride in being the best in the Windy City … but that’s not saying much.
17. Diamondbacks 0-0 —
Watch out for Kirk Gibson’s sleeping giants in the NL West. If the players keep picking up their skipper’s attitude and habits, the Snakes could be the surprise team of 2013.
18. Yankees 0-0 —
It will be fun to watch Mariano Rivera’s farewell tour, but face it: Outside of Robinson Cano, this team is boring and should be checking out retirement communities in Florida.
19. Indians 0-0 —
If only Ricky Vaughn was the closer and Willie Mays Hayes was swiping bases. Joking aside, there are some nice pieces in place for this team to continue to improve in a weak AL Central.
20. Red Sox 0-0 —
How things have changed the last few years on Yawkey Way. The Sox need Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to stay healthy and produce to avoid another ugly, forgettable season.
21. Pirates 0-0 —
Even though Andrew McCutchen is one of the most exciting players in the league, the Bucs rank 21st to commemorate what will be the franchise’s 21st consecutive losing season.
22. Rockies 0-0 —
CarGo and Tulo can be very good when healthy. But do they have help? Could be a short season for first-year skipper Walt Weiss.
23. Royals 0-0 —
There’s some good young, exciting talent in KC. But pitching is the downfall for Ned Yost’s crew.
24. Cubs 0-0 —
Yea, the Cubs aren’t last, but the misery on Chicago’s North Side continues. Maybe Derrick Rose will be healthy by the All-Star break?
25. Twins 0-0 —
Ron Gardenhire’s club features several All-Star-caliber players and the AL Central is weak minus the Tigers – but someone has to finish last in the division. Keep an eye on rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks.
26. Mets 0-0 —
Times are tough in the Big Apple. Excluding David Wright, this team resembles a good Triple-A club. Go ahead, try and name the Mets’ leadoff hitter … or anyone else in the starting lineup not named Wright.
27. Mariners 0-0 —
If the M’s were in the AL Central, they’d have a fighting chance to finish second. They’re definitely worth paying attention to every fifth game when King Felix takes the hill, but that’s about it.
28. Padres 0-0 —
Such a beautiful ballpark. Such a beautiful city. Too bad the team can’t match that theme, but the Friars are young. So who knows what the future might bring.
29. Astros 0-0 —
AL West teams are licking their chops to welcome the newest member of their division. Carlos Pena is their cleanup hitter. The over/under for wins in Vegas is 58½. It’s actually a surprise they’re not ranked 30th.
30. Marlins 0-0 —
OK, maybe the Astros should be here, but when the owners in South Florida continue to disrespect their fans, we’ll stick them right here at the bottom. We do feel bad for Giancarlo Stanton; he deserves better.