By Phillip White aka Phill11ASU

 

It’s almost opening day and here’s this year’s first power rankings for Major League Baseball.

 

 

1. Anaheim Angels

 

The addition of Pujols makes this a very powerful team. They are deep in the outfield and have some great pitching. Their biggest concern heading into the 2012 season is the bullpen and the left side of their infield. Can Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo produce in this lineup?

 

2. Texas Rangers

 

After being a strike away from winning the World Series, twice, can the Rangers make it back? Will the addition of Yu Darvish pay off? The Rangers do have a lot of question marks around them this season, especially with slugger Mark Hamilton relapsing during the offseason but look for them to out slug teams in 2012.

 

3. New York Yankees

 

The Yankees have the best infield and starting rotation in the league hands down, this cannot be disputed. However, there are holes at their catcher position and in the middle of the bullpen with the freak accident injury to Joba Chamberlain.

 

4. Philadelphia Phillies

 

The Phillies are the first National League team to make this list with a very strong American League this year. Keeping the team healthy will be the key for the 2012 campaign. Currently stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are both battling injuries to attempt playing for the season opener.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Last season was not a fluke under Manager Kurt Gibson. Instead the Diamondbacks returned the core players, added power to the lineup with Jason Kubel, added experience and potential to the rotation with Trevor Cahill and depth in the bullpen with Takashi Saito. Look for this team to battle with the Phillies all year long for the title of best team in the National League.

 

6. St. Louis Cardinals

 

Does the loss of Albert Pujols hurt St. Louis? There is no doubt about it. However, the Cardinals return ace Adam Wainwright. The addition of Carlos Beltran will help the Cardinals lineup, but he is no Pujols. The Cardinals play in a weak division and should beat up on the Brewers, Cubs and Astros.

 

7. Cincinatti Reds

 

The addition of Mat Latos makes the Reds contenders for the Central, however, look for them to lock up one of the Wild Card spots. The Reds will score runs like past teams, but finally have a solid rotation from start to finish. Gone are the days of Bronso Arroyo as the opening day starter.

 

8. Tampa Bay Rays

 

The Rays will return their talented young core in 2012 and beat out the Boston Red Sox for a Wild Card spot. Look for an even bigger year from slugger Evan Longoria, despite hitting 31 home runs and driving in 99 runs. His batting average will not be below .250 in 2012.

 

9. Boston Red Sox

 

Will the loss of Johnathan Papelbon hurt the Red Sox this year? Will the banning of boozing during games help? The circus in Boston this year only elevated with the addition of manager Bobby Valentine. The Red Sox will take advantage of the additional Wild Card spot in 2012.

 

10. Detroit Tigers

 

Detroit did add the second best slugger on the market, Prince Fielder, however their rotation behind ace Justin Verlander is shaky at best. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer should be entering the prime years of their careers at ages 28 and 27 but Rick Porcello and Andrew Oliver at the fourth and fifth spot are scary. The Tigers have much money locked into their corner infield positions, did they forget that they have to field 9 guys?

 

11. Washington Nationals

 

Experts predict the Nationals to win their division next year, but 2012 looks promising. A limited Stephen Strasburg brings life to this rotation and the off season addition of starter Gio Gonzalez really gives the Nationals a formidable 1-2 punch. The offense is shaky but should manufacture enough runs behind this pitching staff.

 

12. Miami Marlins

 

A new look and a whole new season for the Marlins. A very deep pitching staff that features ace Josh Johnson, Mark Buherle and fifth starter Carlos Zambrano should anchor the Marlins all season. Manager Ozzie Guillen will love that fact that his team has speed up and down the lineup with Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Emilo Bonafacio.

 

13. Atlanta Braves

 

How will Chipper Jones’ farewell season go? Can the Braves take advantage of an additional Wild Card spot? This team does have a lot of questions marks surrounding it, but look for outfielder Jason Heyward to improve upon his 2012 campaign. The Braves pitching should be anchored by it’s young and talented staff.

 

14. San Francisco Giants

 

The team lacks offensive spark, however their pitching should carry them to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a run for the NL West. A healthy catcher, Buster Posey, should create some runs for this pitching powered team.

 

15. Toronto Blue Jays

 

The Blue Jays struggled all of last year to close games. This off season they added four arms to their bullpen, particularly Sergio Santos. This converted shortstop pitched very well for the White Sox last season and saved 30 games. A revamped bullpen can do wonders, just ask the Arizona Diamondbacks.