7. San Diego Padres
6. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. New York Mets
3. New York Yankees
2. Atlanta Braves
1. Houston Astros
Props to the Phillies and Padres, but we'll need to see a bit more consistency from a success standpoint if we're going to toss them in the top-five, regardless of the additions they made to their rosters the last two offseasons. They very well could leap into elite status come 2023, but they're on the outside looking in until they force the issue.
The Dodgers have been the best regular-season team in baseball for the last decade. And even after "taking steps back," there's no denying the talent/depth/pedigree among the remaining cast. The Mets are great, but they lost Jacob deGrom, who saved them from an even earlier postseason exit last year, Chris Bassitt and Seth Lugo. Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana and David Robertson are the newcomers. Not sure that pushes them beyond 100 wins, though they'll remain a team nobody wants to face in the postseason.
On paper, the Yankees seem like they had a pedestrian offseason because their only "additions" were Carlos Rodón and Tommy Kahnle. But they retained Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, which is more immense than many think. They will have a new shortstop, center fielder, left fielder and third baseman on an everyday basis come 2023 -- all of which figure to be upgrades from 2022. They won 99 games and got better. Postseason chokes don't affect the regular season outlook.
In any other offseason, we'd ding a team like the Braves for losing their starting shortstop, closer and catcher. But they have Vaughn Grissom clearly ready to step in, a bullpen that's somehow managed to "make it work" for three years now, and Sean Murphy, who they acquired when they shipped William Contreras off. The offseason changes didn't exactly knock them down a peg and they should still be the favorites to win the AL East.
The Houston Astros are No. 1. It's sad to say it, but that's life in MLB since 2017, pretty much. They lost Verlander and a few notable contributors, but they've survived without JV before and Jose Abreu is now their starting first baseman. They're getting Lance McCullers Jr. back for a full season. Jeremy Peña's postseason might propel him into the MVP discussion for the 2023 regular season. When you win the World Series and keep your identity 95% intact, you can't be bumped off the top spot.
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