American League power rankings: Astros shine with super rotation
1. Houston Astros (106-56 last year)
The World Series champions offset the loss of Justin Verlander with a super rotation of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers Jr. They added 1B Jose Abreu, LF Yordan Alvarez (37 HR, 1.019 OPS) was third in the MVP voting and the lineup is stacked with 2B Jose Altuve (out until at least late May because of broken thumb), 3B Alex Bregman, CF Chas McCormick, RF Kyle Tucker and SS Jeremy Pena.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (92-70)
A formidable lineup led by SS Bo Bichette, 1B Vlad Guerrero Jr. and 3B Matt Chapman added DH Brandon Belt and OF Kevin Kiermaier. Chris Bassitt left the Mets to sign as a free agent, joining a rotation with Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios. If the bullpen shores up, this could be the Jays' big season.
3. New York Yankees (99-63)
Aaron Judge got a big payday (nine years, $360 million) after an AL-record 62 HRs and a baseball-leading 10.6 WAR and 1.111 OPS. The Yankees landed starter Carlos Rodon for six years and $162 million, but he'll start on the injured list. Rookie Anthony Volpe, 21, won the shortstop job. Pitching — Gerrit Cole leading the starters, and a strong bullpen — will make or break the Yankees.
4. Seattle Mariners (90-72)
The name of the game is pitching, and Seattle's staff will be among baseball's best, especially the bullpen. CF Julio Rodriguez was the AL Rookie of the Year as the Mariners reached the playoffs. They added 2B Kolten Wong and LF Teoscar Hernandez, and have a great prospect pool.
5. Cleveland Guardians (92-70)
A better-than-anticipated offense last season paid dividends for AL Manager of the Year Terry Francona. 3B Jose Ramirez (126 RBI) led the offense, and OF Steven Kwan and 2B Andres Gimenez (sixth in MVP voting) were revelations. Slugger Josh Bell and C Mike Zunino (33 HRs in 2021) signed as free agents, Shane Bieber is a gem to head the starting rotation and Emmanuel Clase could be baseball's best closer.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (86-76)
The deep Rays always seem to overachieve. They are pitching strong, with Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs emerging last season. SS Wander Franco is a rising star. Tyler Glasnow's return from Tommy John surgery sometime during the season would help, and 2B Brandon Lowe is also trying to rebound from injuries.
7. Chicago White Sox (81-81)
Chicago's high hopes in 2022 were dashed because of injuries to CF Luis Robert, OF Eloy Jimenez, SS Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal, and manager Tony LaRussa stepped down for health reasons and was ultimately replaced by Pedro Grifol. Closer Liam Hendriks is out while battling cancer, and Jose Abreu left for Houston in free agency. LF Andrew Benintendi was the key free-agent signing.
8. Texas Rangers (68-94)
The Rangers put together a fine rotation, adding two-time NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million), Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Odorizzi to join Jon Gray and Martin Perez. They gave huge contracts to SS Corey Seager and 2B Marcus Semien last season, and OF Adolis Garcia and 1B Nathaniel Lowe give them strong offense as well.
9. Minnesota Twins (78-84)
SS Carlos Correa fell back into their laps, solidifying the everyday lineup if CF Byron Buxton can stay healthy. Injuries sabotaged last season, but Kenta Maeda returns to the rotation after Tommy John surgery and Pablo Lopez joins after coming from Miami in a trade for AL batting champ Luis Arraez.
10. Los Angeles Angels (73-89)
Shohei Ohtani (34 HR, 15-9 with 2.33 ERA) and CF Mike Trout (40 HRs in 119 games) were a two-man gang in 2022. Now 3B Anthony Rendon is back from injury, and some veterans were added to fill holes in the lineup. The Halos haven't made the postseason since 2014, and will need a lot from the likes of free-agent starter Tyler Anderson.
11. Boston Red Sox (78-84)
Japanese OF Masataka Yoshida got a five-year, $90 million contract from a last-place team that lost Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez in free agency. Boston added some aging free agents such as IF Justin Turner, and pitchers Corey Kluber and Kenley Jansen. 3B Rafael Devers got a 10-year, $313.5 million extension; 2B Trevor Story (elbow surgery) is out until at least the All-Star break.
12. Baltimore Orioles (83-79)
The Birds improved by 31 games last season despite the league's lowest payroll and with young talent — C Adley Rutschman arrived and 3B Gunnar Henderson could be the league's best rookie this season. But pitching is an issue (Kyle Gibson was the top free-agent signing) unless another phenom, Grayson Rodriguez, catches fire.
13. Detroit Tigers (66-96)
The Tigers went big in free agency before last season, adding SS Javier Baez and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez. They only got worse, and GM Alex Avila was fired. Top pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are on the mend after arm surgeries, and Detroit was last in the AL in runs scored. They'll rely on youngsters such as CF Riley Greene.
14. Kansas City Royals (65-97)
A bunch of young players got copious playing time in 2022 for the Royals, but they'll need some breakout stars. IF Bobby Witt Jr., DH Vinnie Pasquantino and RHP Brady Singer are the most promising; C Salvador Perez is a veteran who sets the tone. RHP Zack Greinke, who joined the Royals as a 20-year-old, will be in his 20th MLB season.
15. Oakland Athletics (60-102)
The A's have traded away a boatload of fine players over the past two seasons, and the question is, what did they get for them? With no obvious help in sight, there's no hope by the Bay. Reliever Trevor May ($7 million) has the highest salary on this team.