Every week, the Pitcher List team publishes an update to our MLB Power Rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article … but where’s the fun in that?
Whew! We made it to the end of the regular season. For some fans, your team is still alive and holding hopes of raising the World Series trophy at the end of October. For the rest of you, take solace that the games are done. Now, your team can begin work on getting better for the 2024 season.
One thing that many predictors or pollsters don’t do is take a look back at where they went right and where they went wrong. But here at the Pitcher List MLB Power Rankings, we take ownership in our season’s worth of ranking all 30 teams.
There are really three categories that matter. Who did we underestimate? Who did we overrate? Who did we hit perfectly? So, let’s take a review of our season as we get ready for the Wild Card Series to begin.
Who Did We Hit Perfectly?
1. Atlanta, 13. Mariners, 29. Rockies, 30. Athletics
Nailing the team that finished No. 1 isn’t always easy to do in any sports season, much less the 162-game MLB schedule, but Atlanta essentially brought the same cast of characters back from a team that won its fifth straight National League East title. Atlanta’s biggest offseason move was acquiring catcher Sean Murphy in a three-team trade with the Oakland A’s and Milwaukee Brewers.
Pretty much everything went right for Atlanta. Sure, there were injuries, but Atlanta has not only depth on the 40-man roster, but throughout the system and did have to tap a few prospects to step up on the mound. Ronald Acuña Jr. had a remarkable season in which he became the first player in MLB history with 40 homers and 70 steals and Matt Olson crushed 54 homers to lead MLB.
But it was a surprise in shortstop Orlando Arcia who helps make a season like this. Arcia, acquired from the Brewers during the 2021 season and a bench player or in the minors since, was shockingly handed the starting job late in spring training over youngster Vaughn Grissom, the presumed starter entering camp.
All Arcia did was slash .264/.321/.420 with career highs of 17 homers and 65 RBIs and was a first-time All-Star. That brought his career numbers up to .247/.300/.379.
Pair that with what Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder and others did in the rotation and you can see why Atlanta started and finished at No. 1, with a slight interruption early thanks to the Tampa Bay Rays‘ amazing start.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners starting and finishing 13th almost seems appropriate. The M’s didn’t get back to the postseason after surprisingly making it last year and falling just short this year.
They are young enough and good enough where they will be considered a contender again in 2024, but what types of moves they make in the offseason will determine whether they will be higher or lower than No. 13.
In the least surprising result, the A’s started and finished 30th. We all knew the A’s were going to be bad this season and they surpassed our expectations early by being even worse and conjuring up images of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who are considered the worst team in history after posting a 20-134 record and a run differential of minus-734.
Well, the A’s got marginally better as the season went along and managed 50 wins (against 112 losses) and being outscored by 339 runs.
Who Did We Overrate?
23. Mets (-19), 25. Cardinals (-14), 16. Padres (-13)
This list is not surprising. A lot of words have been said on these three teams both here and elsewhere on the internet and TV. Is there a pattern or trend that led to these disappointments?
The Mets had the biggest Opening Day payroll in MLB history at $330.6 million, while the Padres were third at $248.9 million. (The New York Yankees, a disappoint in their own right, were No. 2 at $277.7 million.) Edwin Diaz’s injury in the World Baseball Classic did not affect the Mets to the point he would have been a 29½-win difference in the National League East.
Baseball clubhouses are a fickle thing and need chemistry and leadership to excel. It would appear neither the Mets nor Padres had enough leadership to overcome whatever chemistry was lacking. The lack of success has already led to major changes with the Mets, who traded away a pair of three-time Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
Owner Steve Cohen finally landed the executive he coveted to lead the Mets’ baseball operations in David Stearns, whom he lured from the Brewers. In a related move, four-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter was told he could quit or be fired and Showalter chose to force the Mets to chop him.
The Padres appear to be more of a case of chemistry gone bad, both in the clubhouse but more importantly between president of baseball operations A.J. Preller and manager Bob Melvin. It could result in Preller moving on from Melvin, in just his second season with the Padres after leading the team to the NL Championship Series in 2022. There is a lot at stake this offseason for the Padres.
Regarding the Cardinals, it came down to starting pitching. St. Louis didn’t enter the season with enough pitching depth and the players they did have didn’t have the type of swing-and-miss stuff that every other team does.
Injuries happen and the Cardinals found themselves looking up from the bottom of the NL Central, a position they were not familiar with. Fixing the pitching woes will be the top priority this offseason.
Special mention to the Cleveland Guardians, who dropped from ninth to 20th, the Yankees, who fell from seventh to 17th.
Who Did We Underrate?
3. Orioles (+16), 15. Reds (+13), 11. Marlins (+12)
What is more shocking, that the Baltimore Orioles finished third in our final Power Rankings or that they started out 19th? Considering last season, their low start was definitely a stunner.
Even if you did pick them fourth in the American League East, we should have remembered how good that division was in 2022 and figured it was going to be just as brutal to get through in 2023.
But the Baby Birds didn’t pay attention and instead thrived in the competition. The O’s were such a fun team to watch, with Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson leading the kiddie corps and joining veterans Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays to lead the offense.
Pitching has been more of a work in progress, but nonetheless has held its own, with Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer shouldering the starting workload and Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista at the back end of the bullpen.
The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, were an even bigger revelation. Recent trades, international signings and draft picks have started to pay off at the major-league level. Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Alexis Díaz were among the first to arrive, but the piece that seemed to ignite the Reds was the June call-up of Elly De La Cruz.
The 6-foot-5 switch-hitting shortstop has dazzled since his first day in the bigs with speed and power and just overall athleticism. Sure, he has things still to work on, but that is just part of the excitement that lies ahead for him and the Reds.
There are more rookies who made an impact for the Reds this season, including Spencer Steer, Andrew Abbott and Noelvi Marte, which now puts pressure on the Reds’ front office to get more pitching help to boost the bumper crop of position players.
If there is one team that constantly gets overlooked, it is the Miami Marlins. They might not always contend, but the Marlins always compete and seem to have an endless supply of young talent. It also helps to make shrewd trades, such as the one general manager made to acquire infielder Luis Arraez from the Minnesota Twins for starting pitcher Pablo López.
With Sandy Alcantara having a down year after winning the NL Cy Young and Eury Pérez making headlines with his debut this season, the Marlins have a path to remaining in the top three of the NL East with a few more tweaks.
Postseason MLB Power Rankings