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Power Rankings: Nationals take top spot ahead of spring training

The Nationals and Dodgers each had great winters, but which National League power heads into spring training as's No. 1 team in baseball?

It's the start of a brand new baseball season, and that means it's time for the return of's MLB Power Rankings. With spring training slated to begin next week, it's time to see how each team stacks up before pitchers and catchers report to camps in Arizona and Florida, respectively.

Not surprisingly, the Washington Nationals are No. 1. Last year's National League East champions snagged the top free agent of the offseason in starting pitcher Max Scherzer and boast arguably the best rotation in baseball (Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, etc.) to go with a deep and imposing lineup (Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, et al). That was enough to hold off the Dodgers, who remade their front office (most notably, bringing in Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations) and roster (adding second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, among others) in yet another offseason trading and spending spree and are second in the rankings. The Cardinals, Mariners and Angels round out the top five, with three of the winter's busiest and most improved teams — the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Padres — nipping at their heels.

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Things are crowded at the bottom of the rankings as well, with three teams — the Rockies, Phillies and Diamondbacks — all within one point of last place. Ultimately, it was Arizona ending up at No. 30. The D-backs had the worst record in the majors last year at 64-98, and new manager Chip Hale and general manager Dave Stewart will need to get the club out of the cellar it occupied for so much of 2014.

A quick reminder of how our Power Rankings work: Our panel of MLB experts is asked to submit a ranking for all 30 teams. A first-place vote is worth 30 points, a second-place vote 29, and so on all the way down to one point for a last-place vote. Those points are then added up to determine how the teams rank.

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1. Washington Nationals

Low Vote: 2nd (2x)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Low Vote: 2nd (5x)

3. St. Louis Cardinals

Low Vote: 6th

4. Seattle Mariners

Low Vote: 8th

5. Los Angeles Angels

Low Vote: 11th

6. Detroit Tigers

Low Vote: 14th

7. Toronto Blue Jays

Low Vote: 11th (2x)

8. Boston Red Sox

Low Vote: 18th

9. San Diego Padres

Low Vote: 19th

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Low Vote: 15th

11. San Francisco Giants

Low Vote: 19th

12. Cleveland Indians

Low Vote: 18th

13. Baltimore Orioles

Low Vote: 20th (2x)

14. Oakland Athletics

Low Vote: 20th

15. Chicago White Sox

Low Vote: 18th (2x)

16. Miami Marlins

Low Vote: 22nd

17. Chicago Cubs

Low Vote: 22nd

18. New York Yankees

Low Vote: 21st (2x)

19. Kansas City Royals

Low Vote: 23rd

20. New York Mets

Low Vote: 22nd

21. Tampa Bay Rays

Low Vote: 24th

22. Texas Rangers

Low Vote: 28th

23. Milwaukee Brewers

Low Vote: 25th

24. Houston Astros

Low Vote: 27th

25. Cincinnati Reds

Low Vote: 25th

26. Atlanta Braves

Low Vote: 30th

27. Minnesota Twins

Low Vote: 29th

28. Philadelphia Phillies

Low Vote: 30th (3x)

29. Colorado Rockies

Low Vote: 30th

30. Arizona Diamondbacks

Low Vote: 30th (2x)