The Nationals and Dodgers each had great winters, but which National League power heads into spring training as SI.com'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 SI.com'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.
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.