Decisions are starting to be made, pitchers are being stretched out for more than 30 pitches an appearance, and lineups are starting to get closer to resembling major league lineups rather than a mixture of hopeful minor league prospects. As the season draws closer, we’re going to give you a preseason set of power rankings to get you up to speed for Opening Day.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: The team that won the division in 2011 finds themselves right back at the top of the list to start 2012. After breakout years on the mound for both Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks were not content. They sought after and acquired former A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill to add to the top of the rotation, building what appears to be a very formidable stable of starters. Justin Upton will look to build on his all-star season, and the Diamondbacks are the early favorites out of the west.
2. San Francisco Giants: After winning it all in 2010, the Giants failed to make the postseason last fall. A season ending injury to Buster Posey derailed the Giants in late May, and they were never able to right the ship. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner are the tip of the spear for the Giants and should keep them relevant late in the season. Add a healthy Buster Posey and they may have enough to push the themselves passed the Diamondbacks in the end.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The kings of Chavez Ravine were sold last week for 2 billion dollars, but being wildly expensive does not translate to wins. Matt Kemp, who nearly hit for the Triple Crown last year, along with Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will lead the way for the Dodgers, but Magic Johnson and his group are going to need some time to pump new life and money into the franchise before they are back to competing for titles.
4. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies conceded a few years on the competition level last summer with the haul they made out with in the Ubaldo Jiminez trade. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales will still be all stars, and the mile high crew could stick around for a few months before fading into the finish line.
5. San Diego Padres: You could say the Padres conceded a few competitive years with their recent set of transactions, but you have to be competitive before you concede it for the future. They traded set-up guy Mike Adams to the Rangers before the trade deadline last summer, top of the rotation starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati over the winter, and recouped a compensatory first round pick for letting closer Heath Bell walk in free agency. The Padres have some young talent coming through the pipeline, but this will not be the year to see it all come to fruition.